|By Yakov Fain||
|July 18, 2005 08:45 AM EDT||
Several years ago I was thinking about buying a small gas station in my local town. I went to my friend Gregory Z., a successful businessman in this field, and asked him, "How do I start a gasoline business?" He gave me simple but wise advice: "You know nothing about gas, but know a lot about computers. Keep doing what you're doing. Just be a little better than others".
I'm trying to follow his advice but I keep thinking how would I apply my software skills had I bought such a business. So here I am again asking for your help, advice, and experience: let's automate my virtual gas station.
I've borrowed the money from a bank and now I have:
- A four-car gas station
- A small convenience store (coffee, cigarettes, milk, newspapers)
- A repair shop that changes oil, brake pads, and tires
- Six employees: one American, two from India, one from Russia, and two from Pakistan; one employee speaks English, and the others speak well in their native languages. I think they have work permits.
- Three decent Wintel computers
- $1,000 USD software budget
The only difference between my gas station and Wal-Mart is that they have more suppliers, sell more products, and have more customers. But I'm facing similar challenges: I need to deal with various suppliers of gas, food products, and car parts. I also need to have accounting and payroll systems. That's why I'm planning to architect a system that has different services communicating with each other. I need a service-oriented architecture (SOA).
In a perfect world, all service providers use the same protocol, which is as challenging as having all my employees use only the English language. My employees are trying hard, because for them it's a matter of surviving. Initially they are exposing just a minimal number of public services like fillItUp, getCash, processPlastic, marlboroLightsPlease, oilChange, and takeTip. Smarter employees quickly add more services to their vocabulary to become more competitive. Each of these coarse-grained services may consist of several smaller steps, but consumers don't need to know about them.
When the guy who sold me the business gave me a pile of different forms to use with suppliers, I thought to myself, "Tight coupling in action." I need to know where these suppliers are located, their services, and how to request them. If a particular vendor changes its request form (the protocol), I'll need to get a new one, otherwise I may lose this service. I'd rather be sending a message to some destination saying, "Yakov needs 1,000 gallons of 93-octane gasoline." Expected response: several price quotes from different vendors. This would be an example of decoupled services. I don't know who they are and they don't know who I am, but we've dynamically discovered each other. I've heard that Jini could help me with this. Is this right? Anyway, in a loosely coupled system a service requestor needs to know the name of the service, what data to provide, and what to expect back, but it should be easy to switch from one provider to another.
Messaging and Transport
One of the best ways to request and receive services is by using asynchronous messaging. JMS is an excellent API, but you still need a transport to deliver your messages between the services, for example, message-oriented middleware (MOM). IBM and Tibco offer great MOM products, but I'd need to sell my gas station and get another loan just to pay for it. No, I need to find something for free.
Web services seems to be a decent way to arrange my interaction with external suppliers using a free Internet-HTTP-WSDL-UDDI-SOAP combo. If my external vendors will start publishing their gasoline-tires-milk quotes, I'll write a program that will automatically be looking for the best deal in my neighborhood. Can Eclipse IDE help me with automatic generation of all supporting files for Web services?
OOP Plus AOP
It goes without saying that I'm thinking objects (thank you, Bruce). When I close my eyes, I clearly see the classes Product, Order, and Customer…but after reading about aspect-oriented programming (AOP) these objects become blurry. But AOP is a way to go and I'll dig more in this direction.
Storing My Data
I need a free DBMS. It doesn't have to be fancy and implement sophisticated SQL constructs. Inner and outer joins plus indexing will do. Coding business logic in stored procedures is not in fashion these days. Hibernate looks nice for object-relational mapping. Is this my best option?
For thin Web clients I'm planning to learn AJAX. If Google did it, so can I. How about rich clients? Swing is not there yet; SWT looks better; .NET is the best but isn't free. Should I spend my money on VB.NET? But I don't know VB! Let me ask my Russian employee Alex if he knows it. He looks like a PhD (does he really have a work permit?).
I'd love to hear your input to this new column. You don't need to write any code, but rather suggest some affordable tools and architectural solutions for my small business. Just provide your feedback to the online version of this article at http://jdj.sys-con.com/read/108260.htm.
|Tamizhan 07/16/07 02:49:46 AM EDT|
It may be a very late mail to suggest your small business solutions.I believe that the following open source softwares can be used to create cross platform multitiered application for any small business.
OS : Linux
Fron End : JSPs,Struts,Ajax.
Back End : MySQL or DBMaker
Middleware : Stateless Session Bean,MDB,Java Webservice
Server : JBoss
Object Relational Mapping : Hibernate
Logging : Log4J
IDE : Eclipse,Netbeans
Build tool : Ant
Version Control : CVS
Bug Reporting tool : Bugzilla
Many Systems running successfully using the above mentioned tools.I don't know the Free MOM tools and Content Management tools.
Developers : Free Lance Programmers!. If you make BIG MONEY after successful Launch of Business or Application,You can PAY money to Free Lance Programmers.
|Gabriel 12/21/05 03:34:53 PM EST|
Many people here didn't get the point quite right. 1st, there is no gas station. 2nd, this article is about trying to find ways to build an IT infrastructure for small business, which are low on budget. What development tools and technologies best fit in this scenario? Based on this, what is the best way to acomplish the needed tasks? Remember, this article is about how to develop software for the small business, using open source software¹, based on the same technologies used by the big guys.
¹ I think open standards are more important than open sourse, but none of them are problems for Java.
|nick patel 12/13/05 03:49:44 PM EST|
plese let me know how much cost to build new gas station plese email or call 865 690 4670
|nick patel 12/13/05 03:49:39 PM EST|
plese let me know how much cost to build new gas station plese email or call 865 690 4670
|nick patel 12/13/05 03:49:38 PM EST|
plese let me know how much cost to build new gas station plese email or call 865 690 4670
|Ted Weismann 09/14/05 05:26:14 PM EDT|
For the front end, have you considered using Sun's Java Studio Creator? It combines 100% Java standards with visual programming, e.g. JavaServer Faces for visual UI design and simplified coding, JDBC Rowsets for drag-and-drop data access and visual query building, and Java API for XML Web services, for simplified access to WSDL based services. It includes drag-and-drop UI design and access to databases and Web services, as well as visual page flow design - all for $99.
|Jay 09/07/05 09:05:21 PM EDT|
Try using ServiceMix which is an open source Enterprise service bus product by Apache. Its very nice tool for integration and they use JBI (Java Business Integration) and JSR 208 and EDA (Event Driven Architecture) which makes it best ESB framework for SOA i.e SOA + EDA. You can deploy this on JBOSS which is also open source application server.
|moshe sheleg 08/29/05 06:08:05 AM EDT|
Regarding you gas station software needs, i would be happy to offer our services.
Please visit http://www.siteron.com for more information.
Do what you do best, outsource the rest...
|Yakov 08/05/05 01:53:20 PM EDT|
Having done both Java Swing and .Net, why you do not recommend .Net? What's wront with it?
Also, what's so good about JBoss in terms of monitoring? JMX is available in any J2EE compliant server. I wonder what kind of monitoring JBoss provides off the shelf that does not require additional programming?
|Greg 08/04/05 02:29:14 PM EDT|
Interesting way to write an article. It will be fun to see how it turns out.
Looks like you are trying to determine some tools to use first. You should probably define your business needs first. Anyway, here are some suggestions for tools...
For the front end, you asked about using either .Net or Java. I'm currently using both Java and .Net. I have a lot of Java Swing experience and some (<6mo) experience with .Net. From what I've seen of .Net 1.1, I would go with Java unless you find a Windows specific need that you cant solve in Java. If you don't need a super-rich front end, you should just make it a web-based client.
If you are looking for free databases consider MySQL or Cloudscape. However, those are only relational databases. Why not consider using a OO DB?
Another thing you will need is a good way to run, configure and monitor your system. Since you are looking for free open source stuff, you should look at JBoss. It makes a great micro-kernal for running Java as Managed Beans. JBoss lets you control and monitor the beans with JMX.
|Bill McCuistion 07/29/05 09:19:02 AM EDT|
1. You won't be the same as the others, as you'll use your JAVA skills to integrate your unique twists into the QB framework, such as your SOAP service for scouting lowest-cost / best value suppliers. JAVA works just fine with the QBSDK, which is XML-based. Included in the QBSDK is a SOAP-to-COM bridge, so your JAVA code can run anywhere.
2. When you sell the station next year, you'll likely retain a consulting contract to maintain the custom apps you developed. You'll also likely be able to negotiate a higher sales price due to the increased profitability due to your "special" integratons with QB for general accounting, purchaing, point-of-sale, credit card processing, payroll processing and customer relationship managment.
3. Run QB on Linux using Cross-Over Office. Use LAMP/J for apps. OpenBooks, the open-source alternative to Quicken is not really (yet) an alternative to QB, and you've now got a gas station to run. You'll have enough to keep you busy with the add-in modules to not have to worry about how the system calculates sales taxes, payroll taxes and on-line banking using OFX. In other words, use Open Source where it makes sense, and use the classic "Make or Buy" decision to guide that decision. $800 for the QB/POS package license gets you a lot of functionality in an accounting system.
As for your need to mix purposes with the magizine articles, the other stakeholders in the gas station might not be happy with sub-optimization of the gas-station business for your side-line businesses.
4. The decision to use QB is not at all different from using SAP (or Lawson or whatever) and needing to integrate with it, except that the little guy usually can not take the risk of custom development in the same way the the big guy does.
Look for the competitive advantage where you can get it. Make the other guys *think* you're running a stock version of QB. Make them wonder how you keep finding the best purchasing deals. Make them wonder why you have customer loyalty and are able to charge a premium for regular gas. Make them wonder why this and that. Let them make mistakes, while you take baby-steps learning to run a gas-station. Join a local gas-station owners support group, so you can pick-up tricks. Listen to their pain-points, which will give you ideas on how technology might help you prevent / address them before they become your pain points.
You will have a hard time being a consultant to yourself. Get your chart-of-accounts in order. Get your item master set-up. Get your vendor list set-up and get manilla files going too. Get your bar-coder and credit card reader working. You're in retail and need to at least last a year.
BTW -- Reportedly, the largest concentration of bootleg QB software is in the former Soviet countries. It's very likely that your help already knows how to use QB. It was an easy switch from Communism to Capitalism for most of those guys. If the CIA had dropped QB into the Soviet Union 20-years ago, the cold war might have ended a lot sooner.
|Yakov Fain 07/29/05 08:46:56 AM EDT|
I like Bill's comment!
Most likely QuickBooks can solve most of my needs, but...
|Bill McCuistion 07/28/05 01:01:19 PM EDT|
Dude! Get a copy of QuickBooks and the QB Point-of-Sale system and be done with it!
Then, if you need to integrate applications, there's a great SDK that let's you do this.
Now, I didn't write QuickBooks, and don't really wish to have to defend it, but if you've got to sell gas and need an immediate off-the-shelf solution in your price range, then go to Best Buy and get the QBPOS bundle, which also comes with a Dell computer.
|Branden 07/26/05 06:56:18 PM EDT|
Seems like a few assumptions in the article were a little.. off base.
Using tomcat, hibernate, mysql, a free operating system, and OS jms products you should be able to do this project with a minimal budget.
|jay patel 07/25/05 10:27:56 PM EDT|
jms: many open source products available (jboss,objectweb???,etc)
|Scott Fingerhut 07/21/05 12:27:00 AM EDT|
AJAX? Check out InfoWorld's Jon Udell speaking to TIBCO and recording a live demo of the AJAX tool TIBCO General Interface -- something anyone can use (without a Google budget) to develop compelling rich internet applications.
Here's a link to the InfoWorld blog: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/05/25.html
Interested in getting your hands on the priority preview version? Join the AJAX Accelerator Program: http://www.tibco.com/mk/2005/gi.jsp
|James Brockman 07/20/05 09:27:07 AM EDT|
>> For thin Web clients I'm planning to learn AJAX. If Google did it, so can I. How about rich clients? Swing is not there yet; SWT looks better; .NET is the best but isn't free. Should I spend my money on VB.NET? But I don't know VB! Let me ask my Russian employee Alex if he knows it. He looks like a PhD (does he really have a work permit?). <<
Actually, .NET is free, it's just Visual Studio.NET you pay for. Download the .NET SDK from MSDN, then for rich client development download SharpDevelop at http://sharpdevelop.com, or opt for ASP.NET WebMatrix at http://www.asp.net/webmatrix/ if you're thinking of browser front-ends to your apps. Then, enjoy.
SharpDevelop's support for VB is secondary to its C# support, but not only is SharpDevelop open source, but it is not limited to .NET projects.
|JDJ News Desk 07/20/05 08:02:08 AM EDT|
Small Business Solutions. Several years ago I was thinking about buying a small gas station in my local town. I went to my friend Gregory Z., a successful businessman in this field, and asked him, 'How do I start a gasoline business?' He gave me simple but wise advice: 'You know nothing about gas, but know a lot about computers. Keep doing what you're doing. Just be a little better than others'.
|Mark 07/20/05 07:43:30 AM EDT|
Having done plenty of Java and VB6(<) and .Net, I would say that Swing is more than there and .Net is definitely not better(overall). If decide you do want to do .Net DON'T do VB.Net. Do C#, if you have a Java background.
For doing AJAX, I would suggest looking Echo2.
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 865
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jul. 1, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,077
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 1, 2015 02:21 PM EDT Reads: 663
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,256
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 803
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 1, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,146
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Jul. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,954
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, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context wi...
Jul. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 949
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
Jun. 29, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,709
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Jun. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,200
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jun. 29, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,549
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
Jun. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,251
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Jun. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,267
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Jun. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,257
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 Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jun. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,136
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Jun. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,040
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
Jun. 25, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,199
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, and the “Third Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place June 7-9, 2016, at Javits Center in New York City. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Jun. 22, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,845
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Jun. 20, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,914
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in 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 change in personal an...
Jun. 15, 2015 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,170