Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud

Java IoT: Article

Standardized Tooling: Building Bridges, Not Walls

It’s time to reassess long-cherished practices

Some walls are necessary. We use brick-and-mortar walls to support buildings and firewalls to protect our computers from attack. But not all walls are good. Consider the Berlin Wall, a wall of segregation. It divided a country and its citizens, but has subsequently been brought down by people working together because upon re-evaluation the Wall did more harm than good. These thoughts led me to think about the walls that developers, QA managers, and database professionals have erected over the years to segregate themselves. Is it time to re-evaluate our own walls?

Most organizations, from the small mom-and-pops to the large enterprises, have established all kinds of walls. An example of a good wall is one that is intended to stop or prevent unwarranted access to mission-critical systems. An example of a bad wall would be one that stifles communication or understanding of the data being manipulated. Originally all walls were put in place to save time and rework, but over time it's a good idea to review long-held practices and reassess what's still effective and what isn't.

I've had a varied career; I have been a lone developer, a member of a team, a project manager, and I've run R&D for organizations. It was always been a practice to keep the database in the database professional's hands and away from others, such as application developers and QA staff. Why did I (and as far as I know, the rest of the IT industry) do this?

The answer is simple: the database is always a key fixture in any organization. Since the beginning, companies understood that they needed to have superior applications to collect information; the result was an explosion of invaluable data and information. And the industry learned quickly how bad things could get if that data was corrupted or lost. Based on this fear we established artificial walls that would isolate access, establish access rights, and limit communications between various departments in an organization.

But that was then. Is the same fear-based paradigm still valid in today's IT environment?

Various studies over the years have found that developers with correct requirements and the right tools are more productive and deliver better solutions. This makes sense, and it's been proven to be true across professions such as construction or automobile repair. Over the years, one of the areas that has been lacking in development are tools that cross boundaries to help developers write better SQL and database-related code. In many instances, the initial database interaction created by the developer is little more than a placeholder for the DBA or database professional to review later. This approach is inherently flawed primarily because it enables early mistakes to make it through the entire process to production.

We have all entered mistyped data, which has a cascading effect on the capture and storage of information. Developers who do not understand the database structures will inadvertently create new tables that are sometimes redundant, and don't always write the most effective SQL code. Somewhere in the chain the review process breaks, and mistakes that shouldn't happen do. This leads to DBAs missing or breaking SLA(s), mistrust between developers and DBAs and the application not working as it should.

So doesn't it make sense to put things in place that, at a minimum, help ensure the application developer doesn't just put in some "holder" code, but instead has a fairly good chance of creating a database manipulation layer that if the review breaks down, the code created will work as expected and that most errors or inefficiencies are caught and fixed upfront?

Current Practices: Barricades to Effectiveness
Developers don't want to write code that's incorrect, not up to the best standards, or performs poorly. So having the tools to help developers write solid code is essential. There are next to no developers in the world who think debuggers are bad or believe they shouldn't be used to isolate problems in code. Some problems are easily found using a debugger rather than applying other bug-hunting techniques. The same is true when it comes to optimizing an application.

A long-standing debate exists about the best approach to optimize for speed. Some in the developer community believe that optimization should only happen after the initial QA process has certified the application. Others have learned that making changes for speed and efficiency that late in the process can be dangerous and that it often takes another full QA cycle to ensure that the optimization process didn't break anything. (All developers have been bitten by the "one-line" change that fixes a problem but causes 50 other issues.)

Others in the community believe that initial testing of the software should be optimized before reaching QA. This can be effective, but also means code needs be reworked since QA hasn't certified it as correct. Then there's a school that believes optimization should only happen when the application is in maintenance, since that's the only time the software is usually considered correct.

Most likely an "all of these" approach is warranted. Consider Wall Street: if it didn't build performance and QA into every step its ability to process huge numbers of transactions would be almost impossible, and disastrous code could make it into production. Optimization needs to occur when things can be isolated, so using profiling tools throughout the development lifecycle is important for the developer. For example, how would a developer test the performance of an ‘x' algorithm versus a ‘y' algorithm if he doesn't have the tools to profile it in the first place?

It's been an established best practice that finding bugs early in the development process is a good thing. It saves time, and eliminates rework, retest, and redeploy cycles. It also reduces the possibility of bad code, embarrassing the company and delaying delivery.

Standardized Tooling: Building Bridges, Not Walls
Giving developers advanced tools to help write cleaner, better-performing code is essential in today's fast-paced marketplace. Plus, many organizations have put extra pressure on developers and DBAs, combining roles and making them wear both hats. But, there's a wall we've erected that's causing problems; the tools are not consistent between the two worlds.

But there are new tools on the market that help developers and DBAs visualize rather than read what they are building, and more importantly, reverse-engineer what they've already built. Products that let complex concepts be modeled and discussed from both an application developer, Q/A, DBA, and data center perspective have become critical to organizations. Existing tools will help find nightmares in applications, but the new tools are adding suggestions, best practices, and help in fixing code on the spot, even considering the context of who is making the change. Insights that may not be useful or understood from a developer standpoint may be incredibly important to a DBA and thus solve problems in less time. These new tools have capabilities we only dreamed about a few years ago, such as profiling the entire lifecycle so no one area is left out of the information chain, as well as automatically generating documentation, portals, and Wiki support to expose information to key players.

The walls that have been put up over the years are at least getting fitted with a few doors and windows; and in some cases they are even being taken down brick by brick, allowing for clean and nimble development. Will these changes eliminate all the problems facing developers and database professionals? Of course not, but hopefully standardized tooling will, at a minimum, increase the "vernacular" and reduce the bad code making it to production.

More Stories By Mike Rozlog

Mike Rozlog is with Embarcadero Technologies. In this role, he is focused on ensuring the family of Delphi developer products being created by Embarcadero meets the expectations of developers around the world. Much of his time is dedicated to discussing and explaining the technical and business aspects of Embarcadero’s products and services to analysts and other audiences worldwide. Mike was formerly with CodeGear, a developer tools group that was acquired by Embarcadero in 2008. Previously, he spent more than eight years working for Borland in a number of positions, including a primary role as Chief Technical Architect. A reputed author, Mike has been published numerous times. His latest collaboration is Mastering JBuilder from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
Everywhere we turn in our industry we can find strong opinions about the direction, type and nature of cloud’s impact on computing and business. Another word that is used in every context in our industry is “hybrid.” In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Alvaro Gonzalez, Director of Technical, Partner and Field Marketing at Peak 10, will use a combination of a few conceptual props and some research recently commissioned by Peak 10 to offer a real-world consideration of how the various categories of...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP Integration will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EARP Integration is a passionate software house. Since its inception in 2009 the company successfully delivers smart solutions for cities and factories that start their digital transformation. EARP provides bespoke solutions like, for example, advanced enterprise portals, business intelligence systems an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs oft...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.