There is “A Defense of Java” post over on DZone, which is an interesting enough post itself, by a guy from AppDynamics. What verges into very cool reading is the comment section (which made it DZone’s #1 commented article on Monday). There is a strong debate about the future of Java, other languages like Python and Node.js, and how major enterprises are building apps for high-traffic sites.
Your business has probably purchased a lot of proprietary software the same way it purchases any other goods – you buy product A and install it on machine B. There was something like a warranty period, where you may receive a certain level of support or a replacement for serious issues, but otherwise, it was just a good that was purchased. If it doesn’t meet your needs, you go out and buy something else – even if it is the same product just a version or two later.
But with open source, there’s a slightly different approach. There has to be. Unlike proprietary software, where the software is the product, with open source software, everything is already out there and available. And not just the end package; the sourcecode itself is freely available to your engineering department.
According to Gartner, 95% of companies are using open source software, so it is entirely reasonable to ask what are we purchasing?
What open source companies (like Red Hat) offer you isn’t a product; it’s an ecosystem of improvement and support.
A License Isn’t a Subscription
One thing to clarify – a software license is not the same thing as a software subscription.
Scalability is one of those words that can mean very different things to different people, even in the same context or the same project. It’s not so much nuanced as it is that the definition matters on perspective — scale can be different for different goals.
There will be upcoming posts on data virtualization, in-memory data grids, integration methods — all areas where an understanding of your current and future needs, resourcing, and loads are critical for planning. Going into those concepts, it helps to understand scale — not just “make it bigger,” but how you make it bigger and when and why.
The Red Hat Developer’s Program has added something new: A developer’s subscription. For free.
Typically Red Hat subscriptions are associated with a system (physical, virtual, or cloud) to make it easier to audit where software packages are installed and how many subscriptions you need to purchase. Developer’s subscriptions work a little differently; they’re associated with a specific person, not a specific machine. This allows developers to have multiple systems running in their dev environment without being limited by available corporate subscriptions.
Some of the vital statistics for the developer’s subscription:
- A developer’s subscription is available for users with an account at developers.redhat.com.
- This subscription covers systems within a development environment only, not QA or production systems.
- This subscription — as with all Red Hat subscriptions — allows full access to the Customer Portal, knowledgebase articles, discussions, and labs.
- They can be used on systems running on physical machines or virtual systems including Hyper-V, KVM, VirtualBox, and VMware.
- The developer’s subscription is for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (not Workstation, Power, or other flavors). It includes access to Red Hat Developer Toolkit and Software Collections, which include common developer tools like Git and Eclipse; languages like Python, Java, GCC, Node.js, PHP, and Ruby; databases like MongoDB and PostgreSQL; and web servers like Apache HTTP and Tomcat.
The developer’s subscription covers Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its toolsets, but there is another toolset available that is critical for developers who are using container-based applications. That’s the Container Development Kit (CDK). Members of the Red Hat Developer Program can access the CDK in addition to the developer subscription. The CDK helps create containers which can run on Linux, RHEL Atomic, or OpenShift v3.
In case you missed it, there is an infographic based on research from IDC that IDC and Red Hat released (executive summary), nicely illustrating the business value of Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6.
If all men were angels, no government would be necessary.
James Madison made the case that no system is perfect precisely because people aren’t perfect. That was, admittedly, a defense of a political revolutionary moment, but it holds true in software design as well.
Mark Little, vice president of engineering for middleware at Red Hat, has a blog post on this topic this week on jboss.org. The entire post is terrific (and readably brief), but there are a couple of points worth highlighting. His premise starts with the idea of what causes (or devolves) a system into a monolith, and he points to this:
Lack of architect (leadership); the original architect(s) leave the project and those who come in to replace them (if they are replaced) can’t control the developers or perhaps don’t understand the architecture enough to ensure it remains “pure”. Likewise, different developers coming into the project to either add to or replace those there already, can dilute the group knowledge and understanding of the architecture, leading to unforeseen and accidental divergence from the original plan.
What leads to an inflexible, centralized monolith application is, ironically, a lack of central vision. Mark sums it up with a really good point about the risks in microservice architectures:
I believe in and understand the need for distributed systems composed of (micro) services. However, what worries me about some of the current emphasis around microservices is that somehow they will naturally result in a better architecture. That’s simply not the case. If you don’t put in to place the right processes, design reviews, architecture reviews, architects etc. to prevent or forestall a local monolith then you’ve no hope of achieving a good microservices architecture. [emphasis added]
This is such an amazing point, it bears repeating. There is frequently this unspoken, sometimes unrecognized, belief that The Next Good Thing will some how solve all of the issues of the Last Good Thing without requiring special effort. But there are no perfect systems — clear planning, good communication, good team processes are required no matter what architectural pattern you’re using to develop your applications.
The story of Wildfly Swarm, from a business perspective, is kind of a story of microservices. Microservices are small, isolated, and focused service applications; as an architecture, microservices is an approach that decomposes larger systems into those smaller, focused, isolated services. These services talk to each other through a shared, common API, but are otherwise independent in design and deployment. Microservices, then, are frequently aligned with DevOps – which uses small, agile teams to quickly develop and push software for continuous integration (of systems) and continuous delivery (of software).
But what is Wildfly Swarm, in that context.
An increasingly common buzzword in cloud computing is microservices. Like a lot of things associated with cloud technologies, a precise definition is difficult to find — and it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, depending on the context. Since this is a blog devoted to middleware issues, I want to define microservices within the context of that middle layer in computing, for application development.
Microservices is an architectural approach for a software system. Meaning, it defines how individual services fit together and how those services are constructed (like, general constraints or best practices). What sets microservices apart from other architectural approaches is that it treats each service as a discrete and independent part of the architecture. That means that services themselves (within that system) have very clear definitions:
Part 1 looks at a handful of business considerations that you need to account for when you’re looking at Java EE application platforms — but that is only a part of selecting anything for your IT environment. In addition to treating an IT decision as a capital asset, your planning has to include technical factors: current and future development models, different types of applications, even rapid data processing.
Success today depends on achieving high levels of agility and flexibility. Major technology trends like mobile, the Internet of Things, and big data rely on lightweight, iterative environments like virtualization, cloud, and containers. This is forcing organizations to rethink their application development and deployment processes, application architecture designs, and choice of technologies used to build and run applications.
Historically, choosing a Java EE application platform was like any major capital planning — it was driven by a clear business logic:
- Support for your current platform was expiring.
- You had to standardize your systems.
- You needed to accommodate a legacy system.
- You needed to reduce costs.
- You needed to take advantage of a specific advancement in Java technology.
Those are still primary factors, but there are a lot of additional factors to consider for something as foundational as an application platform. Part one of this series covers the business questions; part 2 will be out later this week to look at some of the technical considerations. [UPDATE: Part 2 is now live.]
Business considerations have a significant role in IT decision-making because your partnerships and budget commitments directly impact your company’s development agility, ability to adopt new technologies, and internal and external design decisions. When you start weighing your options, aside from transaction costs, there are a handful of questions you must ask to make sure that you maintain business agility.