SOA


An interesting conversation yesterday with folks from AMD, on what’s going to be happening with the next generation or two of their virtualisation technologies in Opteron.

There’s a lot to be said about “Trinity”, their secure virtualisation platform, and “Raiden”, a client model for blade servers – but the really interesting story is “Terrazzo”. This is where AMD opens up its HyperTransport pipeline to third-parties – as well as its socket specifications. So on a multicore, multiprocessor motherboard, you could drop in a physics coprocessor for fast gaming, or (and this is where I think things will get very interesting) a dedicated processor for additonal server functionality.

This is where AMD needs to talk to companies like Azul. Dropping one of Azul’s 48 core VM-specific processors onto a HyperTransport bus alongside a set of Opterons could really speed up your Java applications (with direct access to the system memory) – and get rid of all that nasty non-deterministic garbage collection…

AMD is taking the enterprise server game in a very different direction to Intel. Let’s see if the industry takes them up on it…

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While I may be buried in the ballroom of a hotel in Brooklyn, well into my second day of non-stop PowerPoint on the next Microsoft Office (I'm assuming that there are five boroughs out there somewhere…), here's a little SOA associated piece from El Reg for your delectation:

The recent 4.1 release of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) from Research in Motion (RIM) opens the door to a new set of mobile development tools and technologies. BlackBerries aren't just for email – they're also a secure pipe to and from your network. With the latest build of RIM's MDS (Mobile Data Services) platform bundled with BES 4.1, BlackBerries are able to take advantage of any web services in your, and your partners', networks, and can quickly become a secure input device. If you've got BES 4.1 running on your network, turning your Blackberry services on is nearly as easy as downloading RIM's MDS Studio application, although it's a hefty download at well over 230MB. You'll also need to pull down the documentation and sample applications at the same time. The Studio includes a BlackBerry simulator, so you can test applications as you build them.

Read on here. And a big hand to the folk at RIM, who were able to get me the code despite their download server having a serious meltdown, so I was able to deliver my copy literally as the taxi driver who was taking us to Heathrow rang the doorbell…

I spent last Friday morning braving the delights of Highway 17 over the Santa Cruz mountains in the rain at Azul Systems' offices next door to Google in Mountain View, learning lots of interesting stuff about their Vega processor and their network attached processing tools, including their "pauseless" Java garbage collection.

You can read about some of my morning at The Register:

Adding storage to a network is straightforward; adding processing power tends to involve a lot more complexity. This is something Azul Systems aims to change. Following the recent announcement of its second generation Vega processor, is today’s news that BT will be using the company's processing appliances to handle both its existing web applications, as well as providing the foundation for a utility computing farm – part of BT’s 21st Century Network.

The Azul platform is more than just a box you connect to your network, which replaces software virtual machines. It’s also a set of tools for managing application performance and handling how you bill the rest of the business for CPU usage. Mainframe administrators will be familiar with these techniques, but they’re still new to the arrays of application servers that now run many of our businesses. Being able to bill for actual CPU and memory usage is a key part of any utility computing platform – whether it’s Sun’s $1 per CPU per hour or an IT department billing the rest of the business for application operations.

They've got quite an impressive server room too, especially when you realise that each of those boxes has 384 cores – so that's the equivalent of 9600 CPUs in this rack alone:

Not bad – and what's more important, not too power hungry.

Most UI tools come with libraries of reference controls. Coding up a drop down menu can be a more of a problem than you first think – so approaches like Flash’s Halo and the control libraries shipping with Microsoft’s Expression Interactive Designer are considerable time savers…

Yahoo! has given AJAX developers the same sort of bootstrap, with its User Interface Library.

The Yahoo! User Interface Library is a set of utilities and controls, written in JavaScript, for building richly interactive web applications using techniques such as DOM scripting, HTML and AJAX. The UI Library Utilities facilitate the implementation of rich client-side features by enhancing and normalizing the developer’s interface to important elements of the browser infrastructure (such as events, in-page HTTP requests and the DOM). The Yahoo UI Library Controls produce visual, interactive user interface elements on the page with just a few lines of code and an included CSS file. All the components in the Yahoo! User Interface Library have been released as open source under a BSD license and are free for all uses.

Components include Calendar controls, sliders and tree views, as well as utilities for handling animations and working with the DHTML document object model more effectively. There’s an associated library of design patterns as well.

Looking good, and hopefully making it easier to deliver the type of web-based UI that works well with SOA applications.

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I’ve been doing some writing for the new developer section of the Register – looking at tools that could help businesses deliver better SOA implementations.

First, a look at Microsoft’s next generation UI development technology Expression Interactive Designer.

It’s been a long time coming. First rumoured at the 2003 PDC (Microsoft Professional Developers Conference), Microsoft’s Sparkle has finally made it part way out the door.More than two years after the original whispers of a Microsoft competitor to Flash, Expression Interactive Designer has arrived. Now you can finally start building all those innovative Windows Vista applications Microsoft has been hoping for.

And secondly, a look at how Salesforce.com is delivering a platform that can be used as a standalone application, a service host, or a service in its own right (all at the same time).

If Web 2.0 mashups are the future of the internet , what will the enterprise application look like? The folk at Salesforce.com think they have the answer, in the shape of the winter 06 release of their web application platform – and the introduction of a web service and application directory, the AppExchange

I’ve realised I’ve mentioned the idea of the hypervisor wars without explaining what I mean by it.

The underlying virtualisation technologies used in Intel’s VT and AMD’s Pacifica curently only allow a single VM Manager to run. This means that the VMM (the hypervisor) installed has an incredible amount of power – it controls what runs and how it runs. Install yours first, and the machine is yours – especially if you lock your hypervisor into TPM or similar security mechanisms.

So what would the hypervisor wars mean? Firstly an end to the open systems model that’s been at the heart of enterprise IT for the last 25 years.

If Microsoft and VMware fell out, VMware could reduce the priority of Windows partitions. Other hypervisors might have licensing conditions that make it impossible to run non-free OSes as clients.

You could end up with a situation where each OS installation would attempt to insinuate its own hypervisor onto the system partition. Security partition developers may find that they are only able to code for one set of hypervisor APIs – locking end users into a closed platform.

The end state?

Co-opetition breaks down, the industry becomes enclaves built around hypervisor impementations, and the end user finds that they’re unable to benefit from the possibilities of an open hypervisor architecture.

Can we avoid the hypervisor wars? Optimistically I think we can. There are pre-requisites. We need an agreed hypervisor integration architecture, and we need it quickly. Let VMM developers compete on ease of operation and management, not on who controls your PC.

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Adobe’s new Lightroom is, as they say, the bee’s knees.

Fast, responsive and ideal for working with RAW images, it takes the best of CameraRAW and Adobe Bridge and turns them into a one stop shop for basic image manipulation and comparison. Best thought of as a digital lightbox, its adaptive UI makes it easy to hide the elements you don’t need and just concentrate on the images. An image workflow tool, it helps you manage how you work with images – and how you capture them.

Lightroom Beta lets you view, zoom in, and compare photographs quickly and easily. Precise, photography-specific adjustments allow you to fine tune your images while maintaining the highest level of image quality from capture through output. And best of all, it runs on most commonly used computers, even notebook computers used on location. Initially available as a beta for Macintosh, Lightroom will later support both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Which means it runs quite happily on my aging G4 PowerBook (unlike the G5 optimised Aperture)

That’s not say that Lightroom is competition for Aperture.

This is more a first look at how Adobe is rethinking what people are doing with the Photoshop toolset, and putting together the beginnings of a script-controlled service framework for its next generation of imaging applications. It’s a model that fits in nicely with a conversation I had recently with Adobe’s CEO Bruce Chizen (which should be in the next issue of PC Plus), where we talked about Adobe’s strategic direction after the Macromedia acquisition. I’ll leave the conversation to the article – but one thing, I think Adobe are one of the companies that bear watching over the next 3 to 5 years.

(I’m glad I can talk about it now – I saw it in December, and was very impressed at the time – unfortunately I’d had to sign an NDA.)

Betanews notes that there won’t be a Windows version until Vista hits the market. I’m not surprised. I strongly suspect that Microsoft is working with Adobe to make Lightroom one of the apps that will be demoed at the Vista launch. The UI of the version that Adobe demoed back in December would work very well on WinFX – it’s ideal for XAML. Microsoft has had Adobe on stage showing proof-of-concept XAML applications in the past, so having it showing shipping code at the launch would make a lot of sense…

Cross posted to Technology, Books and Other Neat Stuff

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