September 15, 2009

Infinispan narrows the gap between open source and commercial data caches

Recently I attended a lecture presented by Manik Surtani, JBoss Cache & Infinispan project lead. The goal of the talk was to provide a technical overview of both products and outline Infinispan's road-map. Infinispan is the successor to the open-source JBoss Cache. JBoss Cache was originally targeted at simple web page caching and Infinispan builds on this to take it into the Cloud paradigm.

Why did I attend? Well, over the past few years I have worked on projects that have used commercial  distributed caching (aka data grid) technologies such as GemFire, GigaSpaces XAP or Oracle Coherence. These projects required more functionality than is currently provided by open-source solutions such as memcached or EHCache. Looking at the road-map for Infinispan, I was struck by its ambition – will it provide the functionality that I need?

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September 03, 2009

What's new in Oracle's 11g release?

As probably most of you are already aware, Oracle have just released the second version of Oracle 11g ( known as 11gR2 in Oracle circles) for Linux. Solaris and Windows versions will follow later this year. This is no surprise for me as I was informed about this event almost one year ago in the Oracle Partner Network newsletter.

It is great news for all administrators who complained that Oracle took a step backwards when it released 11gR1, citing that the previous version (Oracle 10gR2) had better stability and faster performance in some functionality as explained here.

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September 02, 2009

Manifesto for secure data sharing

Last year in a project meeting in Dagstuhl, Germany I explained complex security scenarios for remote sharing of databases among multiple teams. My peer Breanndan from the University of Amsterdam commented: 'Why did you make it so complex, when we need it simple? Look: I have a database, my colleague has even more data, and you have the data mining software. We want to run your software over our data, that’s it! Optimally, we need to form a dynamic secure data sharing group on-the-fly. We give each other the access rights, we run the job, and then we immediately disband the group. '

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August 27, 2009

When optimizing - don't forget the Java Virtual Machine (JVM)

Recently, I was working on a project that was coming to a close. It was related to optimizing a database using a Java based in-memory cache to reduce the load. The application had to process up to a million objects per day and was characterized by its heavy use of memory and the high number of read, write and update operations. These operations were found to be the most costly, which meant that optimization efforts were concentrated here.

The project had already achieved impressive performance increases, but one question remained unanswered - would changing the JVM increase performance?

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August 03, 2009

Real-time data integration using Change Data Capture

When decisions have to be made quickly? Access to real-time data is one of the key considerations in almost every corporation. Taking strategic decisions based on out-of-date data can produce painful results. Imagine a stockbroker who works using data that is ten minutes out-of-date – costly mistakes will occur as others react to market events quicker. Very strict requirements about the acceptable latency for decision-making data, where every second is important, force companies to find new solutions that can meet these expectations.

Data from DBMS can be extracted in many different ways using SQL, table dumps or use of application that sits over the database. These solutions are suitable in such scenarios, but the question to be asked is – can they really deliver data in near real-time? I doubt it. The high computation cost of processing large amounts of data and the time needed for data transfer make these solutions too slow.

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July 17, 2009

NoSQL – the new wave against RDBMS

Over the past month, much press has appeared in the blogosphere dedicated to the NoSQL movement. I first came across their existence by reading this article on the Computerworld web portal and have been following the heavy traffic on the subject since.

NoSQL held their inaugural get-together in San Francisco last month to discuss a future where traditional RDBMS's from the likes of Oracle, Microsoft and IBM are consigned to history in favor of open source data stores. Their ethos is that traditional RDBMS's are not scalable and force data to be twisted to fit into the relational world. What is the likelihood of a world where legacy systems are driven by the new breed of data stores?

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July 10, 2009

Is internal database optimization a cure for performance bottlenecks?

How important the fast database response is, I hope I needn't explain. But making database easily available and performing well when a system rapidly grows is hard to enforce even for experienced database administrators. In this post I would like to describe the impact of internal database objects on database performance for different processes taking place in database.

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July 03, 2009

Securing highly distributed data collections

Recently I have attended to the lecture of OWASP's Sebastien Deleersnyder about web applications security. Even though the presentation covered some quite basic issues that websites, portals and maybe (but not likely, I hope) on-line banking systems are having, it certainly was a good opportunity to systematize one's knowledge. Sebastien described most critical web-apps vulnerabilities and demonstrated examples how they can be exploited by an attacker.

It got me thinking, how do web-apps security issues fit into security models of distributed architectures that enable resource sharing among organizations? What I have in mind are systems where data centers are spread all over the world and different organizations have access to different parts of it, while within each organization there are users with many roles assigned and various rights. Such systems need to be protected not only from external threats, but internal unauthorized access to data as well. Although basic web-apps security issues need to be taken into consideration when creating top-level user interface, designing the security framework for such a distributed system is a totally different story.

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June 25, 2009

The difficult marriage of cloud and data-intensive apps

Two days ago, Songnian Zhou, Platform's CEO, sent out an email blast with "one of the biggest announcements in the company's history". Platform, known for its LSF workload management family, just announced their new product iSF. This middleware makes it possible to build private Clouds and run applications on the Cloud.

This coincided (not by chance) with yesterday's announcement from Platform's historically biggest competitor.

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June 10, 2009

Virtualized migration

Live migration (aka on-line migration) is a process of moving running virtual machines from one physical machine to another without perceived downtime. It is one of the most fascinating and complex aspects of platform virtualization. Further in the text, I will examine its pros and cons in order to answer the question "is live migration worth using in a data center of significant size and still growing?".

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