Click here to close now.


Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Anders Wallgren, Betty Zakheim

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

SOA Web Services - Data Access Service

How to access relational data in terms of Service Data Objects

Service Data Objects (SDOs) have become a foundation technology for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Recently, BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Iona, Siebel, and Sybase announced their support for an SOA-enabling framework specification named Service Component Architecture (SCA). SD O provides the primary data representation in this framework.

Although not addressed by the current SDO or SCA specifications, there's a definite need for a generic data access service that operates in terms of SDOs. The alternative to this service would be the tedious and error-prone development of a custom mapping between the back-end data representation and Service Data Objects.

The Relational Database Data Access Service (RDB DAS) obviates the need for this custom development by providing a robust data access utility built around SDO. Because of its tight integration with SDO, the RDB DAS is also a perfect solution for data access in an SCA-based application.

By employing the RDB DAS, applications avoid the details and complications of working directly with a relational database and also the complex transformation between relational rows/columns and Data Object types/properties.

Since the release of the specification in late 2003, SDO has proven itself a flexible and robust technology for data representation. Its inherent support for disconnected operations and heterogeneous data sources offers strong support for the needs of modern software architectures. For these reasons, SDO has found its way into several commercial products from major vendors and these same characteristics have led to its inclusion in SCA as a foundation technology.

SDO provides the general case mechanism for moving data around an SCA-enabled application. However, the reality is that most of this data must originate in some database at one edge of the application and be stored in some database at another edge. Unfortunately, database access isn't currently either SDO or SCA. (An early version SDO Data Access Service specification is in progress.)

This leaves the developer with a serious undertaking since there's a fundamental mismatch between the objects that an application works with and the tables and rows of a relational database that provide the persistent store for the object's state (see

For example, let's consider a simple query against a relational database for customers in a certain age range and their related orders.

An SDO-enabled application could most easily and naturally work with a normalized graph of Data Objects representing the query. Figure 1 illustrates this graph of connected Data Objects.

This in-memory graph of data objects brings to bear all of the capabilities of SDO.

  • It's a disconnected representation of the queried data
  • It provides simple traversal between related elements
  • It tracks all changes from its original form via the SDO change summary
  • It contains no redundant information
  • It's easily serialized to XML
But unfortunately the relational database returns a tabular representation of the query result complete with redundant customer information as shown in Figure 2.

The transformation required to convert from tabular format to a graph of interconnected data objects is complicated and the reverse (transforming graph changes to a sequence of SQL inserts/updates and deletes) is even more so.

Because of the difficulties inherent in the transformation between the database and the application object space, an application development project can easily spend a third of its development resources on functions related to moving object state in and out of the database.

Business application developers shouldn't be burdened with this task and should instead be allowed to focus on business functionality.

The RDB DAS offers a solution to the problems mentioned above by providing two major capabilities. The RDB DAS can:

  1. Execute SQL queries and return results as a graph of Data Objects
  2. Reflect changes made to a graph of Data Objects back to the database
Figure 3 illustrates these two capabilities in a typical client interaction. The client starts by reading a graph of data specified by some query. The client then makes modifications to the graph, possibly by adding elements, and then requests the DAS to push the changes back to the database.

The DAS provides an intuitive interface and is designed so that simple tasks are simple to complete while more complicated tasks are just a little less simple.

The application interface to the DAS is based on the familiar Command Pattern and interaction with the DAS consists of acquiring command instances and executing them (see Design Patterns by Erich Gamma, et al). The following example demonstrates the simplest possible read of data.

Command read = Command.FACTORY.createCommand("select * from CUSTOMER where ID = 10021");
DataObject root = read.executeQuery();

In this case the command is created programmatically from a Command factory and the only input necessary is the SQL SELECT statement. Executing the read command returns the root of the resulting data graph and data can be extracted from the graph using the SDO dynamic API.

String lastName = root.getString("CUSTOMER[1]/LASTNAME");

Pushing changes back to the database can be equally straightforward. Continuing with this example we can modify the customer object and then direct the DAS to send the modifications to the database. This line uses the SDO dynamic API to change the last name of the retrieved customer.

root.setString ("CUSTOMER[1]/LASTNAME", "Williams");

Now that we have a modified graph, we can synchronize the changes with the database by passing the data graph to an "apply changes command" and asking it to execute.

ApplyChangesCommand apply = Command.FACTORY.createApplyChangesCommand();

As you may have noticed, the read and write examples each required three lines of code (except the code to get the connection object). So those of you familiar with O/R frameworks might be asking yourself a few questions. What is going on here? Where did you define all the configuration data? I didn't see a deployment descriptor? Where is the object-relational mapping information? Where are the static domain classes like Customer? The answers to these questions are based on two significant SDO capabilities and one design philosophy:

  • Dynamic SDO
  • SDO Change History
  • DAS use of convention
Dynamic SDO
The reason you don't see a Customer interface or class used in this example is because the DAS can work with dynamic SDO data objects. This is a very powerful and often overlooked SDO capability.

Many applications today use the Transfer Object(TO) pattern to move data around tiers within an application (see Core J2EE Patterns by Deepak Alur, et al). Since these TOs typically have no behavior, there's little justification for Java interfaces and classes to implement the TO. These artifacts just represent more code to write, maintain, and manage.

One argument for TOs as Java interfaces/classes is the potentially cleaner API:

Static API
customer.setLastName("Williams") Dynamic API
customer.setString("lastName", "Williams")

However, the SDO dynamic API is straightforward and can even be simpler to read than a static equivalent. For example, we can use the SDO XPath capability to access properties like this:

amount = customer.getFloat("orders[17]/price");

The equivalent, with normal static Java APIs, would look something like this:

amount = ((Order)customer.getOrders().get(17)).getPrice();

The dynamic API can also be useful in applications where the data model is likely to change often during development. It lets developers use the full breadth of Data Object function without having to generate a new static model (Java classes and interfaces) every time a change is made.

SDO Change History
The change history feature of SDO data graphs is another reason that SDO data objects can be thought of as transfer objects on steroids. Not only do data objects provide a snappy dynamic API and XML serialization, SDO data objects also remember any changes that have been made to them.

The change history capability means that SDO data objects aren't dependent on a container or some persistence manager to track their state. In fact, since the change history is serialized along with the associated data objects, a graph of SDO data objects can flow through different tiers of a distributed application remembering all the changes that may occur along the way. Later, when it's time to reflect those changes back to the database, the DAS can process the change history and build the set of create/update/delete commands needed to flush the accumulated changes.

The Change History tracks changes made to all data object properties including fields and relationships. Using this information, the DAS can handle the complex task of reflecting object graph changes back to the database without exposing this complexity to users. The DAS translates object property changes into database column updates and object relationship changes into database foreign key updates.

Use of Convention over Configuration
The DAS makes use of convention to simplify the programming model. For instance, in the simple read example above we have this statement to access the last name of a customer:

String lastName = root.getString("CUSTOMER[1]/LASTNAME");

Notice the path name: "CUSTOMER[1]/LASTNAME". This suggests that there is an SDO Type named CUSTOMER with a property named LASTNAME. If you remember, the command used to read this data was created like this:

Command read = Command.FACTORY.createCommand("select * from CUSTOMER where ID = 10021");

The RDB DAS, by convention, creates an SDO Type for each database table represented in the query result. In addition, it creates a property for each table column represented in the query result. In the absence of any additional configuration data, the names of these Types and Properties will exactly match the names of the database Tables and Columns. So given the SELECT statement above and the knowledge that the CUSTOMER table has a column named LASTNAME, we can assume that the data graph returned will be populated with instances of Type CUSTOMER that have a property LASTNAME. This capability is made possible by using the metadata associated with the ResultSet returned from the query execution.

If the application developer wants the names of Types and Properties to vary from the names of the Tables and Columns then he or she can override this convention with a bit of configuration. We'll get into the details of providing configuration to the DAS a little later.

Another bit of convention that this example demonstrates is exploited when flushing graph changes to the database:

ApplyChangesCommand apply = Command.FACTORY.createApplyChangesCommand();

In the absence of instruction (configuration) to do otherwise, the DAS will scan the change history and generate the create/update/delete (CUD) statements necessary to flush the changes to the database. Since we just changed a single property of a single data object, the change history processing produces a single statement to be executed:

update CUSTOMER set LASTNAME = 'Williams' where ID = 10021

More Stories By Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is a software developer with IBM and is leading IBM’s participation in the DAS subproject of the Apache Tuscany incubator.

More Stories By Brent Daniel

Brent Daniel is a software developer with IBM. He currently works on a JDBC data mediator service for WebSphere Application Server.

Comments (4) View Comments

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.

Most Recent Comments
Augustine J. Cannata 09/20/06 11:32:55 AM EDT

what about stored procedures?

n d 08/27/06 03:31:45 PM EDT

Service Data Objects (SDOs) have become a foundation technology for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Recently, BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Iona, Siebel, and Sybase announced their support for an SOA-enabling framework specification named Service Component Architecture (SCA). SD O provides the primary data representation in this framework.

n d 08/27/06 12:15:18 PM EDT

Service Data Objects (SDOs) have become a foundation technology for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Recently, BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Iona, Siebel, and Sybase announced their support for an SOA-enabling framework specification named Service Component Architecture (SCA). SD O provides the primary data representation in this framework.

n d 08/27/06 11:33:13 AM EDT

Service Data Objects (SDOs) have become a foundation technology for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Recently, BEA, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Iona, Siebel, and Sybase announced their support for an SOA-enabling framework specification named Service Component Architecture (SCA). SD O provides the primary data representation in this framework.

@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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
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).
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
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...
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....
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.
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.
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...
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...