We had an internal IBM conference on IT appliances that just ended. There was lots of dicussion about software appliances, virtual appliances, real appliances, etc. I understand the appeal of virtualization--making the most of unused CPU's makes a lot of sense--but a "virtual appliance" is an oxymoron. (BTW, the word itself is an oxymoron; I didn't know that until looking for an online definition.)
An appliance is a combination of purpose-built hardware and software, and the pair should be inseparable. For example, the "business logic" of the appliance should know about, and properly leverage, the number of cores (or hyperthreads) in the CPU's. If running on a conventional operating system, it should be in an embedded context so it can almost completely account for every single byte of physical memory. Virtualization systems like Xen or VMWare just get in the way, at best, or make it impossible to know what's really going on at worst. Java is the worst-case here: the words "virtual machine" in JVM is the give-away. For a real appliance, the mantra should be _write-once run-once._ The Java mantra _write-once, run anywhere_ is just plain wrong.
For the DataPower appliances, the way we do this is through our compiler. We understand many XML-based languages (including XSD, WSDL, XSLT, and XACML) and we generate object code that is highly tuned for the processors and runtime in the box. We know how to multiplex thousands of connections over a finite number of cores, how to provide quality of service without spending too much time looking for higher-priority work, how to use our XML accelerator hardware, and so on. We encapsulate all of that in the compiler, and we make sure that all data manipulation work goes through the compiler. If we add more accelerators or change processors, then it's just a simple matter of changing the code generator.
A "simple matter of changing the code generator." That's another oxymoron. :)[Read More]
Security, Middleware, Appliances
RSalz 2700011QK0 1,013 Visits
RSalz 2700011QK0 461 Visits
... should be very interesting.
I'll be at the IMPACT conference all next week. This is a major conference, the kind that has Drew Carey, the B-52's, car giveaways, etc. Of course that's only the "bling" -- the more important things are the chance to meet some of the more than 6,000 customers and business partners, hundreds of speakers, and so on. I've been big conferences before (RSA, JavaOne, and so on) including speaker and booth duty, but this is the first time I've seen it from the inside.
I'm a tiny cog in the big blue machine, but the little I've seen is fascinating:
If you're coming out next week (and want to talk about DataPower, or anything), get in touch (posting a comment will work).[Read More]