|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're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Oct. 24, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,925
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Oct. 24, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 34,149
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,004
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 843
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Oct. 24, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 868
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Oct. 24, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,712
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 996
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
Oct. 24, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 8,424
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Oct. 24, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,313
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Oct. 24, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,523
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Oct. 24, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,876
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service.
Oct. 24, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,078
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Oct. 24, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,328
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
Oct. 24, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,159
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
Oct. 24, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 873
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Oct. 24, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,588
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Oct. 24, 2016 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 11,407
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Oct. 24, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,556
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, discussed how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from millio...
Oct. 24, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,114
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
Oct. 24, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,519