Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, David Dodd, Brian Daleiden, Dana Gardner, Harry Trott

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Blog Feed Post

JavaOne 2009: Open Source Project Stonehenge

Interoperability is more than just talking with each other

Microsoft and Sun recently announced their Open Source Project Stonehenge at the JavaOne conference. Stonehenge is a reference implementation that shows how to bridge the two major development platforms Java and .NET using Web Services. This initiative definitely puts the spotlight on heterogeneity and the challenges that come with it.
Interoperability on the platform level is just the starting point of bridging the two worlds. It leads to further challenges down the road and several questions that come with it:

  • Who needs interoperability?
  • How does it affect team productivity?
  • Is it all about application stacks?
  • How effective can we diagnose problems?
  • How to calculate TCO 1 + 1 = 2 or 3?

Who needs interoperability?
There are different use cases where companies need to think about interoperability

  • Integrating different systems implemented on different platforms, e.g.: ERP with CRM
  • Integrating 3rd party solutions that only run on a specific platform, e.g.: Enterprise Search Engines
  • Integrate components inherited from acquisitions

The driving factor of interoperability in all these cases is gained productivity. Instead of re-implementing an existing system in order to bring it on to the platform of choice it is more productive to integrate with the other platform.

Individual platforms also have their individual strengths in different areas. Microsoft technologies for instance provide great flexibility and good tools to implement end-user applications whereas the Java platform has proven itself very strong in backend enterprise systems. Leveraging the best of both sides requires the integration of these two worlds.
Microsoft and Sun took the first step by providing a reference implementation that shows how to technically integrate .NET and Java by using Web Services. This is a first important step – but there is more than the technical integration that we need in order to successfully make interoperability happen.

How does it affect team productivity?
How often have you seen a .NET developer that debugs Java code in Eclipse on Linux? Or how often have you seen a Java developer in front of Visual Studio browsing through C# or VB.NET code?
Cross platform developers are a rare “species”. A typical cross platform development team therefore has developers specialized in either Java or .NET. An individual developer most often sees the other platform as a Black Box and as something that should be avoided if possible. Web Services allow calling from .NET to Java and the other way around. Debugging is easy on each side individually but it becomes a big obstacle having to debug transactions that cross platform boundaries. It either requires the developer to be both acquainted with Visual Studio and Eclipse as well as being familiar with both the Java and .NET code – which rarely is the case.
In a typical heterogeneous team it therefore always requires developers from both sides to analyze transaction flows. This is a tedious manual task by setting the correct breakpoints on each side and in each IDE, then stepping through the code. Debugging through code also only works in a single user environment as it is hardly possible to identify the correct thread on the server side implementation of a Web Service that belongs to the calling client side.

If the team collaboration works well – cross platform problem analysis is a doable task – but as outlined above it requires at least one resource from each side. Far too often – these team members don’t communicate well and simply play the “Blame Game” when coming across an issue by simply blaming the problem to be in the implementation on the other platform. This approach of resolving the problem negatively affects team productivity by introducing extra resolution cycles and it also increases tension between teams and team members.
These cross team issues are similar than thse we have seen between development and testing teams – two teams that work in different domains not having the insight into the others problem domain. This similar problem has been solved by providing testers with diagnostics tools that collect more meaningful information during their tests which help developers to quickly identify the root cause of problems. Getting this type of information not only took out the tension but also fastened the overall development cycle.

The logical conclusion therefore is to equip all teams in a heterogeneous team with tools that can collect and visualize the right set of data to speed up problem resolution, take out the tension and improve the overall team productivity.

Is it all about application stacks?
Integrating the different platforms from an implementation perspective is obviously the mandatory step to allow cross platform communication. This goal has been achieved with Web Services and the correct implementation of Web Service Standards by the different application stack providers.
Development tools like Visual Studio and Eclipse make it easy to create the application code (proxy classes) necessary to call from Java to .NET and vice versa. As long as everything runs fine during runtime developers on both sides can focus on their implementation without needing to worry about what is going on in the other cross platform teams.
In case problems come up, e.g.: calling a .NET Web Service from Java that returns a weird error its not possible for the Java Developer to go beyond the error message received in the Eclipse debugger. Tools on each side are very good in debugging, diagnosing and profiling problems on the respective platform. Cross Platform Support is however missing right now – preventing the Java Developer to follow the problem to the .NET side.

Why do we need cross platform tools?
Coming back to the example from above: When calling a .NET Web Service that throws an error or that executes slow can have multiple reasons. It could be a bug in the .NET Web Service implementation. It could also be a configuration issue in one of the used SOAP Application Stacks causing interoperability issues or it might be problematic input parameters from the Java side that causes unexpected or slow behaviours on the other side. One approach to analyze the problem is analyzing log files from both sides. The problem here is that there is no common log format and that there is no transactional context available that would allow transactional tracing and correlation of log entries.
In order to analyze cross platform problems we therefore need tools that support all involved platforms. Having this ability enables developers on both sides to understand the dynamics of the whole system better and fastens up problem resolution.

How effectively can we diagnose problems?
The first thing in problem diagnosis is to answer the question whether there is a problem or not. Problems can manifest in different ways

  • Bad application performance to the end user
  • Errors in log entries of individual components
  • Resource issues in infrastructure impacting system components

When we know that we have a problem we need to figure out where the problem is. Looking at log files that indicate a problem is almost a best case scenario as it at least gives an indication where the problem surfaced the first time. Problems perceived by end users, e.g.: bad application performance or error pages are harder to track. Where was the time spent? Which component threw the error that made it to the user interface?
Getting alerts by monitoring individual system components can tell us that we run high on CPU on certain servers or that we consume too much network bandwidth. But which component is responsible for the exhaustive use of resources? Is it a bug in a component that runs on these servers or is it a calling service that makes too many calls to a certain component?

Existing Monitoring and Diagnostics solutions focus on a particular environment or single server instances. Application Servers usually come with their own diagnostics support and additionally export performance counters that can be picked up by Enterprise Monitoring Solutions that enable monitoring of the complete infrastructure. These tools are great to analyze general problems in the infrastructure or to analyze standalone problems within a server. All existing tools however lack in analyzing cross platform issues. There are tools that analyze log files from all different components and correlate events in different logfiles to identify individual transactions. This is the right way to go but it relies on having the log information that can be correlated.

Too often problem diagnosis in heterogeneous environments comes back to being done manually. Collecting all available log information and performance counters. As any manual task it’s not a task that is very effective and does not always lead to a successful problem diagnosis. In order to diagnose problems we require a common way of capturing information from all platforms that participate when executing a transaction. In case a transaction has a problem – all this information must be extractable and easy accessible to developers to analyze the problem.

How to calculate TCO 1 + 1 = 2 or 3?
The tool landscape for Java and .NET is a huge one. There are many specialized tools that help improve productivity by supporting all stakeholders involved in running an application.
When working in cross platform environments it’s necessary to ensure good tool support for each platform. Most of the tools on the market are very specialized on a single platform leading to the need of multiple tools in order to get the best support for each platform. More tools means more costs – especially when we want to ensure productivity.
Total Cost of Ownership for heterogeneous environments however is not just defined by the individual costs of the tools it requires. Additionally to buying individual tools there is extra cost involved to integrate them. Getting information from each of the tools is good – but the information is only really valuable when the information can be integrated in a similar way as our applications are integrated.
The lack of standards makes it very hard to actually integrate these tools to get the value out of it that each individual gives on a single platform.
Tools that support all platforms and that are able to provide the data collected on each platform in an integrated way will save costs that would otherwise be necessary to integrate individual island solutions.

Related posts:

  1. Web Service Interoperabilty Issues I’ve been working on building a .NET Client Application to...
  2. Performance Analysis: Identify GC bottlenecks in distributed heterogeneous environments William Louth made a good reference to one of his...
  3. Getting ready for TechReady8: Load- and Web-Testing with VSTS and dynaTrace I’ve been invited by Microsoft to show dynaTrace’s integration into...


More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner has been helping companies improve their application performance for 15+ years. He is a regular contributor within Web Performance and DevOps communities and a prolific speaker at user groups and conferences around the world. Reach him at @grabnerandi

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. Because they can be accessed via the Internet, these devices create a tremendous opportunity to inte...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).