Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Assuring Reliability of Enterprise

Assuring Reliability of Enterprise

The Enterprise JavaBean specification demonstrates the evolution of distributed objects from middleware to application components. In this article we'll discuss where EJB fits into the distributed object landscape.

Middleware in the Middle Tier
The three-tier architecture is fundamental to the deployment of applications on an Internet-based infrastructure. A Web server fronts the middle tier (see Tier 2 in Figure 1), and there are many systems behind it that constitute the value-add for an e-business application. From a practical perspective, e-business applications are assembled from disparate components and must be accessible to Web clients (Tier 1) through the Internet and reach relevant data repositories (Tier 3), such as financial data or travel reservations.

Middleware is the glue that integrates systems within the middle tier. It plays a vital role in application reliability since integration points among the various systems are potential points of failure. As distributed object technology has become well accepted within mainstream software applications, standards such as CORBA and Java's RMI have emerged as preferred object-communication mechanisms. However, from an application perspective, these technologies present a rather low abstraction level, leaving the task of defining how components should interoperate to the programmer. This means inventing proprietary programming interfaces that must be adhered to by all parties involved with the creation of the application.

One fact of life concerning technology is that the "waterline" is always rising, making technology more accessible and easier to use (see Figure 2). In the Internet era the waterline corresponds to the higher level of abstraction presented by technologies for assembling Web-based applications. More to the point, software frameworks provide a simpler model for creating e-business applications, supporting the development of software components that can easily work together.

An application component implements some core business logic for an application. A framework is a software infrastructure that defines certain rules of engagement among application components. These rules are typically implemented as services with standardized interfaces that allow components to interoperate without prior knowledge of other components' existence. The ability to cut and paste information between different desktop tools is a classic example. A framework also provides an execution environment for end users and applications, as in the Microsoft Windows desktop.

Although frameworks and component models offer convenience for quick assembly of applications, only those based on proprietary technologies and captive install bases, such as Microsoft's OLE for desktop integration, have historically enjoyed widespread industry acceptance. But thanks to the Internet, the tide appears to be turning for an open standard framework as the industry embraces EJB.

Relationship of EJB to CORBA and RMI
CORBA is an open industry standard that facilitates remote object invocation via published interfaces. However, it doesn't yet specify a market-accepted component model for plug-and-play interoperability. (We'll touch on CORBA's new component model specification in a little while.) To illustrate this point, contrast CORBA with its parallel universe, Microsoft:

DCOM is to CORBA as OLE is to ________.

In other words, DCOM and CORBA provide the communication substrate in their respective universes. OLE is the framework that sits on top of DCOM; you'd experience it daily as a Windows user. But in the CORBA universe, what is analogous to OLE? What provides the higher abstraction level moving up the waterline?

The answer isn't particularly clear yet, but EJB seems to be emerging as a viable solution for e-business applications.

The EJB specification defines an execution and services framework for server-side Java components. Application servers house EJB containers that together manage threading, transactions, object lifecycle and other EJB needs. EJB's growing acceptance as a standard component model for middle-tier applications is supported by commercial products from industry movers like IBM, BEA Systems and Oracle, and by increasing adoption by customers. For an EJB to be accessed from outside the framework, its container must expose a public interface through CORBA or RMI (see Figure 3). Since RMI is a Java-only communication mechanism, it can be used over IIOP to speak to non-Java applications.

It should be noted that the CORBA Component Model (CCM) ­ part of the recently adopted CORBA 3.0 specification ­ defines a framework for application components implemented in any major programming language. CCM extends the EJB model that will allow Java and other programs to operate on the same CORBA platform.

Challenges for Objects in E-Business
With the rapidly growing need to integrate heterogeneous systems and enable applications for e-business, system components are being tied together as distributed objects. These can be new application modules, such as EJB components, or existing applications that are encapsulated in order to be integrated into the environment. Distributed objects exhibit some very useful characteristics:

  • Objects can be located anywhere across a network, obviously a necessary attribute for distributed applications.
  • Transparent access allows clients to interact with servers regardless of physical location. The underlying CORBA or RMI infrastructure takes care of locating a server resource. Transparency is also very important to developers as it allows them to build applications without having to worry about networking or communication details.

  • By using CORBA's IDL for describing object interfaces, an application can be implemented in the programming language that's appropriate for the task at hand and can reside on any platform. For example, a Java object running on a Windows platform can invoke a C++ object on a UNIX platform. The Java client isn't aware that the server is implemented in C++ since it's communicating with the server using native Java constructs.
  • Distributed objects provide the basis for building and deploying component-based applications capable of supporting e-business.
The sophisticated nature of three-tier e-business applications presents several challenges for successful deployment:
  • Complexity: A typical e-business site consists of many different system components, including various platforms, application modules and network connections. Distributed object applications introduce a whole new development paradigm that requires deployment and maintenance issues to be considered as early in the development cycle as possible. Ask yourself: How will I diagnose system problems in the lab or the field? How will I control or log usage of my server objects?

  • Coordination: In a system with this magnitude of diversity and distribution, there are many participants in the creation and deployment of the various components. It's no longer typical for an entire application life cycle to be managed by a single department; input must be marshaled from multiple sources. Questions of coordination include: Does the client application developer understand the semantics of the interface presented by a particular server? Is the correct version of the server implementation being used?

  • Change: In the age of e-commerce, applications are updated more rapidly. Delivery cycles can be months, weeks or even days. Numerous e-business applications are built every day only to fail in production due to a lack of scalability, flexibility or reliability. Middleware products are changed from one vendor implementation to another or even between implementations from the same vendor ­ witness the existence of multiple application servers from leading vendors. Moreover, changes to e-business applications are introduced incrementally into live systems since the entire system can't be brought down to roll out a new release of a component.
Before going live it's imperative to test the system and validate that it'll perform correctly. Rapid change introduces uncertainty: Will the system function properly? Will it scale with anticipated loads in production? What happens if a server object fails? The ability to methodically capture test cases and performance metrics is essential to quantifying the success of change. Even after ensuring that the system will work in a test environment, the behavior of the live system must be monitored. This will uncover potential problems and allow iterative improvements to be made, thereby maximizing the system's reliability.

Application servers based on the EJB specification facilitate the creation of Web-based e-business applications. Such applications operate in the middle tier and rely on distributed object communication for interoperability. To make sure an EJB implemention will run reliably, one can test its behavior and scalability from outside the framework. This can be achieved by exercising functionality and simulating usage models through public interfaces via the CORBA or RMI protocols. Test automation can help streamline the process of assuring the reliability of an EJB application.

Segue Software's reliability solutions address EJB functionality and scalability, and offer mechanisms for diagnostics and control in a distributed object environment.

The power of distributed object technologies such as EJB lies in the support for object-oriented designs and distributed implementations. The payoff for a successful component-based application can be substantial, but the costs can be even more significant if the proper steps aren't taken to guarantee the quality of design and implementation. To ensure the reliability of e-business applications, it's necessary to cover the following essentials for successful deployment:

  • Function: Validate that each component functionally behaves as expected.
  • Scalability: Ensure that components perform well under various load conditions.
  • Diagnostics: Monitor, troubleshoot and analyze behavior anywhere in the system.
  • Control: Meter usage of and control access to objects.
As distributed objects evolve from middleware to application components, the need for advanced test automation grows. EJB is an early example of industry consensus around application components in the middle tier of e-business, and is therefore driving the technology waterline for test automation upward.

More Stories By Todd Scallan

Todd Scallan is the vice president of product and engineering at Axcient, where he is responsible for leading the development team and driving product for the Axcient platform. He has over 25 years of experience in a variety of senior-level product management, engineering and business development roles at companies including Interwoven, Segue Software and Black & White Software (acquired by Segue Software). Todd holds an MS in computing engineering, a BS in electrical engineering and has published numerous articles and papers on a range of computing topics.

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
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
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.
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...