Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java Authors: Elizabeth White, Dan Ristic, Roger Strukhoff, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java

Java: Article

Deutsch's Fallacies, 10 Years After

Deutsch's Fallacies, 10 Years After

In the fall of 1991, when mobile computing involved a hand truck and an extension cord, the idea of an everything-connected world was a leap of faith to some and a really crazy idea to most. But Sun's engineers were already working on notebook computers, and Peter Deutsch, one of Sun's original "Fellows," was heading up a task force to advise Sun on its mobile strategy.

Deutsch just called 'em like he saw 'em. When he got to Sun he began to consider some of the existing notions some engineers had about network computing, some of which were downright foolish.

Coming off a stint as chief scientist at Park Place Systems, Deutsch was looking to hang out and cogitate with and bask in Sun's intense engineering culture. He was a key designer and implementer of the Interlisp-D system and a significant contributor to the design of the Cedar Mesa language and the Smalltalk-80 programming environment. But he hadn't gotten into networking. It might have been some sort of intellectual hazing ritual that made Deutsch co-chair of a mobile computing task force. Or it might have been brilliance.

Bill Joy and Dave Lyon had already formulated a list of flawed assumptions about distributed computing that were guaranteed to cause problems down the road: the network is reliable; latency is zero; bandwidth is infinite; and the network is secure. James Gosling, Sun Fellow, Chief Technology Officer for Java Developer Platforms, and inventor of Java, had actually codified these four, calling them "The Fallacies of Networked Computing."

"It's a sort of funny thing," he says, "that in the large-scale world, networking didn't really exist in 1995. But since Sun was founded in 1982, networking has been at the core of what we do. We cut ourselves on all these problems pretty early on."

What Deutsch saw with fresh eyes was that, despite Gosling's warning, as engineers - inside and outside Sun - designed and built network infrastructure, they kept making the same mistakes, based largely on the same basic yet false assumptions about the nature of the network.

"The more I looked around at networking inside and outside Sun," Deutsch says, "the more I thought I could see instances where making these assumptions got people into trouble." For example, Deutsch could see Gosling's Fallacies coming into play as Sun moved its operations from downtown to its glamorous new campus near the San Francisco Bay.

"There was a lot of thrashing around about the topology of the network for the corporate intranet, where routers should be, etc.," Deutsch recalls. "Things broke all the time. My recollection is that it was watching all that thrashing around that led me to numbers five and six - that there's a single administrator and that the topology won't change." Number seven, that transport cost is zero, coalesced as Sun discussed creating a wide area network to connect the Mountain View campus with a new lab on the East coast.

When Deutsch wrote the list, by this time seven items strong, into a slide presentation, "It was no big deal," he says. Neither was there a roar of acclamation. Rob Gingell, Sun vice president, chief engineer, and Fellow, remembers it as an mmm-hmm moment rather than an ah-ha moment.

But putting it down on paper, codifying it, made all the difference. "The list Peter wrote down was a very pithy summary of the pitfalls people typically fall into," Gosling says. "We had many conversations about it. There would be a presentation where somebody would be proposing some design, and somebody would point out, 'You know, that kind of depends on the network being reliable. And that's false.'"

Gosling added the Eighth Fallacy - the assumption that the network is homogeneous - in 1997 or so. "It reflected a mismatch between our perception and others' perceptions of the network. That the network is homogeneous is never a mistake we've made. But it was clear that lots of people on the outside had a tendency to fall into this."

If the Fallacies pervade networking, Sun was perhaps ideally placed to identify and surmount them, says Gosling. "We have a very strong engineering culture," he says. "A lot of our work is about building solid reliable systems."

Beginning with Java, Sun has explicitly grappled with the Fallacies. Java's "write once, run anywhere" approach celebrates heterogeneity, according to Gosling. While nobody exactly tacked the Fallacies up on the wall when Jini was designed, says Gingell, "If you look at Jini, it's apparent that what it's trying to do is confront some of the Fallacies, because the Jini team and Peter shared a view of those problems." Jini lets diverse devices discover and interact with each other without any administrator at all; it also can deal with multiple administrators acting divergently.

Indeed. "Almost everything in Jini is about dealing with that list," Gosling says. "It's all about the dynamic, spontaneous reconfiguration of networks in the face of a dynamic environment. Things getting plugged in, things getting broken."

The Liberty Project is another example of Sun engineering's acknowledgment of the single administrator fallacy, according to Juan Carlos Soto, product marketing group manager for Project JXTA and the jxta.org open source community manager. "Liberty provides a federated identity mechanism that makes it convenient for businesses to interact while still respecting privacy, because there's no single point of control," he says.

JXTA goes perhaps furthest in turning all of the Fallacies into truths. It creates an ad hoc virtual private network among peer devices that aren't always at stable addresses, Soto says, so it solves the problems of multiple administrators, changing topology, and heterogeneous networks. Moreover, because JXTA makes it easy to create multiple instances of a service, and peers cooperate to move messages through the network, it creates great resiliency that counteracts the inherent unreliability of networks. It's designed to be efficient and conserve bandwidth as much as possible, reducing the impact of Fallacies Two and Three, and it accepts every authentication method for flexible and tight security.

"P2P is turning the computer into both a server and a client," Soto says. "It's way beyond a single administrator and a homogenous network. It abstracts a lot of those issues away."

The Sun days are a long time ago for Deutsch, who now, as president of Aladdin Enterprises, consults for technology and venture capital companies. He's a bit bemused that his short list of big goofs has become institutionalized as Deutsch's Fallacies. "If you had told me when I was at Sun that 10 years later, this one page of maxims was going to be one of the things I was best known for," he says, "I would have been floored."

Although networking has changed plenty since 1991, and some of the Fallacies, such as betting on a secure network, are more obvious, they are all still as applicable, Gingell says, and they continue to be driven into the hearts and minds of Sun's engineers. "Cultural reeducation is more important than any one product," he says. "If all our engineers understand networking at a very large scale... the products will take care of themselves."

More Stories By Ingrid Van Den Hoogen

Ingrid Van Den Hoogen is the senior director of software strategy and marketing for Sun Microsystems.

Comments (1) 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
Cees de Groot 03/18/05 08:58:09 AM EST

Could you get your facts straight, please. In 1991, people at Sun where *already* working on a notebook computer?

Lessee... Try Googling for 'Dynapad'. You're off by a couple of decades with your qualification of "already". And way before 1991, lots of people where on Bix, Tymnet, CompuServe, FidoNet, Usenet, Janet... Starting off like that really kills an article...

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services 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. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-critical systems. ISS has completed many successful projects in Healthcare, Commercial, Manufacturing, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud, a provider of enterprise resource planning software, 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. B2cloud develops the software you need. They have the ideal tools to help you work with your clients. B2Cloud’s main solutions include AGIS – ERP, CLOHC, AGIS – Invoice, and IZUM
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tufin, the market-leading provider of Security Policy Orchestration Solutions, 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. As the market leader of Security Policy Orchestration, Tufin automates and accelerates network configuration changes while maintaining security and compliance. Tufin's award-winning Orchestration Suite™ gives IT organizations the power and agility to enforce security policy across complex, multi-vendor enterprise networks. With more than 1...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, 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. Cloudian, Inc., is a Foster City, California - based software company specializing in cloud storage software. The main product is Cloudian, an Amazon S3-compliant cloud object storage platform, the bedrock of cloud computing systems, that enables cloud service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable cloud storage solu...
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, 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. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard 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. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
So I guess we’ve officially entered a new era of lean and mean. I say this with the announcement of Ubuntu Snappy Core, “designed for lightweight cloud container hosts running Docker and for smart devices,” according to Canonical. “Snappy Ubuntu Core is the smallest Ubuntu available, designed for security and efficiency in devices or on the cloud.” This first version of Snappy Ubuntu Core features secure app containment and Docker 1.6 (1.5 in main release), is available on public clouds, and for ARM and x86 devices on several IoT boards. It’s a Trend! This announcement comes just as...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable older adults to live independent lives while staying connected to loved ones. M2M will continue to gr...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provides a high level technical overview of many cloud services available to mobile app developers, includi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vicom Computer Services, Inc., a provider of technology and service solutions, 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. They are located at booth #427. Vicom Computer Services, Inc. is a progressive leader in the technology industry for over 30 years. Headquartered in the NY Metropolitan area. Vicom provides products and services based on today’s requirements around Unified Networks, Cloud Computing strategies, Virtualization around Software defined Data Ce...
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) application providers dating back to 2004. Cybozu's kintone.com is a leading global BYOA (Build Your O...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will meet your customers' needs of tomorrow - today! Ciqada. Let your products take flight. For more inform...
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to offer disruptive APIs to developers.