Welcome!

Industrial IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, SmartBear Blog, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT: Article

Parallel Processing for the Real-Time Enterprise

Deploying Web services on a solid platform for growth

Service orientation, Web services, self-describing data, loosely coupled applications - choose your favorite term. The enterprise IT world is moving inexorably towards architectures that will allow rapid development of applications that provide real differentiated value to their businesses.

The goal is a virtualized, real-time, extensible enterprise architecture that can quickly offer new functionality, yet integrates easily with legacy assets. This architecture must be reliable, extensible, and manageable. It must offer the highest performance for peak loads, yet not be oversized, leaving assets underutilized for typical workloads. It should offer the highest availability without duplication of expensive components.

Is it possible to build such an architecture in today's budget-constrained environments? Are standards maturing quickly enough to at least settle on a plan? Can an enterprise embark on such a quest in an evolutionary manner?

The industry answer has been "Yes, probably." Although there are many emerging standards and systems vendor strategies there is agreement in at least two areas:

  1. A service-oriented architecture is a "good thing."
  2. The foundation for loosely coupled applications using self-describing data is XML.
The momentum behind service orientation/Web services and XML in recent years has been stunning. Today, the majority of Fortune 1000 enterprises are utilizing XML-formatted data both for business-to-business communication and for data center applications. Zapthink, an industry analyst company with a focus on service orientation, estimates that by 2006, 25% of all LAN traffic will be XML-based, indicating a massive growth in data center XML and service orientation. It is this very growth of XML in the data center that presents an emerging concern to data center architects and those responsible for providing a high-performance infrastructure to support service orientation - how do we parse, validate, and transform all this XML data?

It's becoming clear that XML processing has a significant overhead associated with it. Large documents require manipulation at several points in the data life cycle. If done inefficiently, up to 80% of application server processing can be consumed manipulating and reformatting XML.

Throw Servers at It
The traditional solution to application server performance issues is to increase the amount of processing power on tap. If the server farm is already part of a tiered architecture it can be relatively easy to scale the farm by just adding another. Many of the costs in doing this, however, are hidden beyond primary hardware acquisition expenses and include:

  • Server options such as memory, PCI controllers, and drives
  • Network infrastructure (cables, switch ports, etc.)
  • Software licenses for the application software
  • Database software licenses
  • Management software licenses
  • Deployment and configuration time
  • Test time in a simulated environment
  • Implementation and benchmarking
  • Ongoing management costs
These costs can quickly become prohibitive as the deployment of Web services and associated applications continues to grow. If industry estimates around the growth of data center XML LAN traffic are true, the average application server farm size will almost double by 2006. At some point, a more architecturally appropriate approach to solving this problem is required.

Upgrade to Bigger, Faster Servers
Moore's Law states that processing power effectively doubles every 18 months. Surely this provides an answer to the XML processing problem...unfortunately, it does not. While servers are indeed adopting new architectures and processors that increase the raw processing power available, it is the type of processing in addition to the amount of data center XML traffic that makes the XML problem at the same time unique and ubiquitous.

Processing of XML documents is most efficient using powerful document-processing languages like XSLT. XSLT allows the programmer to parse the XML document, transform data into other formats, and perform complex business logic dependent on the nature and content of the document. The tree structure of XML means that this is best done utilizing parallel processing methodologies that can traverse many variables at the same time. At any point in the tree, other processes may be spawned to perform logic on the data or on other tree elements. Complex style sheets representing real-world business logic and data transformations can consume significant processing cycles from an application server pool. These complex, highly parallel-processing tasks cannot be performed efficiently using a general-purpose architecture.

The Appliance Approach
At some point in the technology life cycle customers look to solve problems with a dedicated, custom-built device. This is the reason every household (with owners who enjoy consuming hot bread products) has a toaster instead of making toast in the oven (a general-purpose device that also cooks roast beef and bakes cakes).

In the same way, when general-purpose servers become inefficient at solving a particular problem, server appliances become the favored approach. Routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers are all particular instances of dedicated solutions focused on performing one task, or a range of related tasks, in the most efficient manner.

Server appliances offer a range of advantages over the equivalent general-purpose server approach.

Simple and rapid deployment
Since these appliances are dedicated to a particular task the setup, configuration, and deployment of the solution becomes more "turnkey" in nature. The solution vendor knows exactly what this device is to be used for and, as such, can develop installation and management tools that are dedicated to that purpose.

Integration into existing environments
Regardless of the type of hardware, flavor of operating system, or nature of software and tools on the system, server appliances should fit seamlessly into any given enterprise environment. Appliances should be viewed as "black box" environments that are accessible via standard interfaces (TCP/IP, SOAP, etc.) and manageable with standard tools.

The highest availability
Any dedicated server appliance should offer higher availability than its general-purpose equivalent. In a dedicated device, the usage conditions and scenarios can be predefined, preconfigured, and tested. Most server appliances offer redundant components within a single box and provide load balancing and failover for even higher availability.

'Orders of magnitude' performance gains
The major reason for implementing an appliance approach to a given problem is that it just does a better job. It's architecturally the right thing to do. In many cases, server purchases can be deferred, or existing general-purpose servers redeployed, because the appliance solution offers significant performance advantages.

XML in Hardware - Performance Gains
Deploying an XML appliance can significantly reduce the bloat of additional application servers in an enterprise, increasing application performance and reducing the cost of XML data processing by a factor of 10-15. In addition, cost savings continue throughout the life of the implementation as management, sparing, infrastructure, and availability advantages begin to accumulate. The very fact that a single two-node cluster of appliances can replace dozens of general-purpose servers makes these savings apparent.

So, how are these performance gains realized? These incredible efficiencies are delivered through the appropriate mix of hardware and software technologies specifically designed and built for the unique processing of declarative data.

The engine
These hardware solutions may be built upon custom ASICs that perform parallel processing of XML and compiled XSLT in hardware. As shown in Figure 1, the solution interfaces to the outside world via standard networking interfaces and protocols such as HTTP, TCP/IP, SOAP, etc.

The data flows through the system as follows:

  1. XML documents are passed to the solution via one of these networking methods.
  2. The document is then parsed and validated in parallel using dedicated processing hardware.
  3. A custom transformation engine manages the processing of a precompiled style sheet using dedicated parallel application engines that process the document.
  4. The document is then reconstituted into the output format and passed out of the solution.
Each of these functions is accelerated by the use of dedicated hardware where appropriate, providing dramatic performance advantages over traditional sequential processing methodologies.

The compiler
Any parallel processing engine has to be coupled with highly efficient compiler technologies to ensure that the efficiency of the processing engine is realized. These compiler technologies expose the available parallel processing opportunities of a declarative programming model, allowing architecturally specific hardware engines to process data for Web services with more throughput than a general-purpose processor.

In the appliance case, the compiler software is fully aware of the hardware architecture beneath it, ensuring that the maximum processing efficiencies can be gained.

Enterprise-Class Solution Components
Any solution designed for business-critical applications within the enterprise data center also demands reliability, ease of use, availability, and scalability features. These features should include:

  • Software tools for rapid deployment
  • Configuration tools for Web services
  • Interfaces to standard SNMP-based management utilities
  • Fully redundant single-server platform
  • Support for failover and load balancing
  • Standard software APIs for integration with Web services
  • Adherence to data center industry standards
Revolution or Evolution in the Data Center?
As enterprise customers continue to search for architectures that can quickly adapt to the rapidly morphing business environment, XML (as the data standard) and Web services (as the processing standard) will become the foundation on which the majority of business logic is built.

Most enterprise customers cannot flip a switch to full service orientation. Legacy systems and applications abound in today's data center environment and will continue to remain critical to the health and success of the business. However, by basing the architecture on Web services and XML, legacy systems and data can be viewed as an asset and the organization can evolve to fully enabled service-orientated architecture in a controlled, step-wise fashion.

Web service appliances built specifically for the processing and manipulation of XML data can utilize architecturally advantaged methods to address both performance and cost challenges. This places extensible Web services and the organizations that use them on a very solid platform for growth and expansion for years to come.

More Stories By John Derrick

John Derrick is currently CEO of turnkey cloud provider Jelastic. He has extensive business leadership experience in the private and public cloud, big data, database, and enterprise markets. John focuses on the intersection of these markets, technology and teams to deliver solutions that really work for people. He has delivered product and profit at IBM, Chicory Systems, Conformative Systems, Intel, MIPS, and now Jelastic. Between these companies he has led and advised about 50 different startups and public companies.

John can be reached at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
"DX encompasses the continuing technology revolution, and is addressing society's most important issues throughout the entire $78 trillion 21st-century global economy," said Roger Strukhoff, Conference Chair. "DX World Expo has organized these issues along 10 tracks with more than 150 of the world's top speakers coming to Istanbul to help change the world."
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence...
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st 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 change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, discussed the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information.
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.