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NServiceBus 2.0 Release Candidate 2 Available

Monday, February 1st, 2010

So it’s been about 6 months since my last NServiceBus post and since then about 1000 new people have subscribed to this blog so they might not know anything about it. For a bit of history, see the post (from almost exactly a year ago) describing the 1.9 release of NServiceBus here.

What’s New

The quickly approaching next release of NServiceBus will be version 2.0 and is a big step from 1.9. After 2 betas and 2 release candidates, this version has had a longer stabilization period than any of the versions so far (1.4-1.9). Many of my clients are already using it in production and are very pleased with it. I’ve heard similar reports from others in the community (now with over 500 members in the discussion group). There have been almost 10,000 downloads since the version 1.9 release and in every country I visit I meet people using NServiceBus in new and interesting applications.

With my appearance on Hanselminutes, many in the mainstream .NET industry have started taking a look at NServiceBus. That, and the fact that Microsoft’s Oslo technology has now taken a very data-driven turn (rather than its original service-oriented direction).

Interestingly enough, I’ve been hearing more and more reports about people using NServiceBus as a developer-friendly API on top of other technologies. This includes BizTalk and even Neuron. I never thought that people would take the pluggability of NServiceBus that far.

So, what is NServiceBus?

Well, it’s a service bus, y’know, like an ESB – just an open-source one.

All kidding aside, in a nutshell, it gives you an easy way to integrate transactional messaging into your applications.

One of the reasons why you might want to do that is so that you don’t lose messages containing valuable data when IIS recycles your AppDomain, every 15-20 minutes (as I wrote about in this MSDN magazine article).

There are many other nice things in there, like the ability to unit test your service layers and long-running processes but you can read more about that here…

Documentation

One of the biggest differences to NServiceBus in this release is documentation.

A lot of work has gone into the NServiceBus.com site to help developers hit the ground running with NServiceBus, including the more advanced aspects of transparent scale-out with the distributor and multi-site communications.

There is still work to be done in this area but feedback so far has been extremely positive (except for some grumblings from certain old-timers saying that if they could figure it out by themselves, well, you know the rest).

In Closing

If you’re building a distributed enterprise .NET system, take 5 minutes, download it, and see transactional publish/subscribe messaging working on your machine without any big heavy-weight middleware.

www.NServiceBus.com



Search and Messaging

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

search
One question that I get asked about quite a bit with relation to messaging is about search. Isn’t search inherently request/response? Doesn’t it have to return immediately? Wouldn’t messaging in this case hurt our performance?

While I tend to put search in the query camp in the when keeping the responsibility of commands and queries separate, and often recommend that those queries be done without messaging, there are certain types of search where messaging does make sense.

In this post, I’ll describe certain properties of the problem domain that make messaging a good candidate for a solution.

Searching is besides the point – Finding is what it’s all about

Remember that search is only a means to an end in the eyes of the user – they want to find something. One of the difficulties we users have is expressing what we want to find in ways that machines can understand.

In thinking about how we build systems to interact with users, we need to take this fuzziness into account. The more data that we have, the less homogeneous it is, the harder this problem becomes.

When talking about speed, while users are sensitive to the technical interactivity, the thing that matters most is the total time it takes for them to find what they want. If the result of each search screen pops up in 100ms, but the user hasn’t found what they’re looking for after clicking through 20 screens, the search function is ultimately broken.

Notice that the finding process isn’t perceived as “immediate” in the eyes of the user – the evaluation they do in their heads of the search results is as much a part of finding as the search itself.

Also, if the user needs to refine their search terms in order to find what they want, we’re now talking about a multi-request/multi-response process. There is nothing in the problem domain which indicates that finding is inherently request/response.

Relationships in the data

When bringing back data as the result of a search, what we’re saying is that there is a property which is the same across the result elements. But there may be more than one such property. For example, if we search for “blue” on Google Images, we get back pictures of the sky, birds, flowers, and more. Obvious so far – but let’s exploit the obvious a bit.

When the user sees that too many irrelevant results come back, they’ll want to refine their search. One way they can do that is to perform a new search and put in a more specific search phrase – like “blue sky”. Another way is for them to indicate this is by selecting an image and saying “not like this” or “more of these”. Then we can use the additional properties we know about those images to further refine the result group – either adding more images of one kind, or removing images of another.

Here’s something else that’s obvious:

Users often click or change their search before the entire result screen is shown.

It’s beginning to sound like users are already interacting with search in an asynchronous manner. What if we actually designed a system that played to that kind of interaction model?

Data-space partitioning

Once we accept the fact that the user is willing to have more results appear in increments, we can talk about having multiple servers processing the search in parallel. For large data spaces, it is unlikely for us to be able to store all the required meta data for search on one server anyway.

All we really need is a way to index these independent result-sets so that the user can access them. This can be done simply by allocating a GUID/UUID for the search request and storing the result-sets along with that ID.

Browser interaction

When the browser calls a server with the search request the first time, that server allocates an ID to that request, returns a URL containing that ID to the browser, and publishes an event containing the search term and the ID. Each of our processing nodes is subscribed to that event, performs the search on its part of the data-space, and writes its results (likely to a distributed cache) along with that ID.

The browser polls the above URL, which queries the cache (give me everything with this ID), and the browser sees which resources have been added since the last time it polled, and shows them to the user.

If the user clicks “more of these”, that initiates a new search request to the server, which follows the same pattern as before, just that the system is able to pull more relevant information. When implementing “not like this”, this performs a similar search but, instead of adding to the list of items shown, we’re removing items from the list shown based on the response from the server.

In this kind of user-system interaction model, having the user page through the result set doesn’t make very much sense as we’re not capturing the intent of the user, which is “you’re not showing me what I want”. By making it easy for the user to fine tune the result set, we get them closer to finding what they want. By performing work in parallel in a non-blocking manner on smaller sets of data, we greatly decrease the “time to first byte” as well as the time when the user can refine their search.

But Google doesn’t work like that

I know that this isn’t like the search UI we’ve all grown used to.

But then again, the search that you’re providing your users is more specific – not just pages on the web. If you’re a retailer allowing your users to search for a gift, this kind of “more like this, less like that” model is how users would interact with a real sales-person when shopping in a store. Why not model your system after the ways that people behave in the real world?

In closing

If we were to try to make use of messaging underneath “classical” search interaction models, it probably wouldn’t have been the greatest fit. If all we’re doing at a logical level is blocking RPC, then messaging would probably make the system slower. The real power that you get from messaging is being able to technically do things in parallel – that’s how it makes things faster. If you can find ways to see that parallelism in your problem domain, not only will messaging make sense technically – it will really be the only way to build that kind of system.

Learning how to disconnect from seeing the world through the RPC-tinted glasses of our technical past takes time. Focusing on the problem domain, seeing it from the user’s perspective without any technical constraints – that’s the key to finding elegant solutions. More often than not, you’ll see that the real world is non-blocking and parallel, and then you’ll be able to make the best use of messaging and other related patterns.

What are your thought? Post a comment and let me know.



Progressive .NET Wrap-up

Monday, September 7th, 2009

So, I’ve gotten back from a most enjoyable couple of days in Sweden where I gave two half-day tutorials, the first being the SOA and UI composition talk I gave at the European Virtual ALT.NET meeting (which you can find online here) and the other on DDD in enterprise apps (the first time I’ve done this talk).

I’ve gotten some questions about my DDD presentation there based on Aaron Jensen’s pictures:

cqs_udi_dahan_presentation

Yes – I talk with my hands. All the time.

That slide is quite an important one – I talked about it for at least 2 hours.

Here it is again, this time in full:

cqs

You may notice that the nice clean layered abstraction that the industry has gotten so comfortable with doesn’t quite sit right when looking at it from this perspective. The reason for that is that this perspective takes into account physical distribution while layers don’t.

I’ll have some more posts on this topic as well as giving a session in TechEd Europe this November.

Oh – and please do feel free to already send your questions in.



Hanselminutes on NServiceBus

Friday, August 21st, 2009


Yesterday me and Scott virtually sat down to have a chat about NServiceBus and service buses in general. While we didn’t get in to many of the more advanced parts, you may find it an interesting introduction to the topic as well as saving yourself the costly mistake of implementing a broker instead of a bus (yes – they’re actually two different things).

Take a listen.



MSDN Magazine Smart Client Article

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

image

My article on “optimizing a large-scale Software+Services application” has been published in the April edition of MSDN Magazine.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“We had to juggle occasional connectivity, data synchronization, and publish/subscribe all at the same time. We learned that we couldn’t solve all problems either client-side or server-side, but rather that an integrated approach was needed since any changes on one side needed corresponding changes on the other side.”

Continue reading…



SOA, EDA, and CEP a winning combo

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

jump in There’s been some discussion on the SOA yahoo group around the connection between SOA, EDA, and CEP (complex event processing) since Jack’s original post on the topic. I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to jump in and it seems to have come.

Dennis asked this:

There are different design choices in a SOA, even when you already have identified the services. I have a simple example that I would like to share:

Imagine a order-to-cash process. One part of that process is to register an order. Suppose we have two services, Order Service and Inventory Service. The task is to register the order and make a corresponding reservation of the stock level. I would be pleased to have the groups view on the following 3 design options (A, B, C):

A.
1. The “process/application” sends a message (sync or async) to “registerOrder” on the Order Service.
2. The “process/application” sends another message (sync or async) to “reserveStock” on the the Inventory Service.

B.
1. The “process/application” sends a message (sync or async) to “registerOrder” on the Order Service.
2. The Order Service sends a message (sync or async) to “reserveStock” on the the Inventory Service.

C.
1. The “process/application” sends a message (sync or async) to “registerOrder” on the Order Service.
2. The Order Service publishes an “orderReceived” event.
3. The Inventory Service subscribes to the “orderReceived” event .

On the whole “already identified the services” thing – naming a service doesn’t mean much. It’s all about allocating responsibility, and until that’s been done, those “services” don’t give us very much information.

 

Business Services

If we were to view this example in light of business services, and look at the business events that make up this process, maybe we’d get a different perspective.

Three business services: Sales, Inventory, and Shipping.

In Sales, many applications and people may operate, including the person and the application he used to submit the order. When the order is submitted and goes through all the internal validation stuff, Sales raises an OrderTentativelyAccepted event.

Inventory and Orders

Inventory, which is subscribed to this event, checks if it has everything in stock for the order. For every item in the order on stock, it allocates that stock to the order and publishes the InventoryAllocatedToOrder event for it. For items/quantities not in stock, it starts a long running process which watches for inventory changes.

When an InventoryChanged event occurs, it matches that against orders requiring allocation – if it finds one that requires stock, based on some logic to choose which order gets precedence, it publishes the InventoryAllocatedToOrder event.

Sales, which is subscribed to the InventoryAllocatedToOrder event, upon receiving all events pertaining to the order tentatively accepted, will publish an OrderAccepted event.

Orders and Shipping

When Inventory receives the OrderAccepted event, it generates the pick list to bring all the stock from the warehouses to the loading docks, finally publishing the PickListGenerated event containing target docks.

When Shipping receives the PickListGenerated event, it starts the yard management necessary to bring the needed kinds of trucks to the docks.

 

What else is possible

I could go on, talking about things like the maximum amount of time stock of various kinds can wait to be loaded on trucks, subscribing to earlier events to employ all kinds of optimization and prediction algorithms, having a Customer Care service notifying the customer about what’s going on with their order (probably different for different kinds of customers and preferred communication definitions). Obviously, we’d need a Billing service to handle the various kinds of billing procedures, whether or not the customer has credit, pays upon delivery, etc.

It turns out that many business domains map very well to this join of SOA and EDA.

 

What an ESB is for

When we have these kinds of business services primarily publishing events and subscribing to those of other services, you don’t need much else from your “enterprise service bus”. All sorts of transformation, routing, and orchestration capabilities don’t come into play at all.

In all truthfullness, those bits of functionality are really just a historical artifact of their broker heritage.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a broker is a nice thing to have – behind a service boundary in order to perform some complex integration between existing legacy applications.

Just keep that stuff in its place – not between services.

 

Complex Event Processing

We can look at how Sales transitions an order from being tentatively accepted to being accepted as requiring event correlation around InventoryAllocatedToOrder events. This isn’t exactly “complex” in its own right. If there were some kind of CEP engine that did this for us out of the box, it might be a possible technology choice for implementing this logic within our service.

As we add more concerns, like time, we may find new ways to make use of this engine. For instance, if the time to provide the order to the customer is approaching, we may choose to split the order into two – accepting one for which we have all the stock allocated, and leaving the second as tentatively accepted.

 

Summary

While it is difficult to move forward on service responsibility without discussing the events it raises and those it subscribe to, the whole issue of CEP can be postponed for a while.

Although there aren’t many who would say that EDA is necessary for driving down coupling in SOA, or that SOA won’t likely provide much value without EDA, or that SOA is necessary for providing the right boundaries for EDA, it’s been my experience that that is exactly the case.

CEP, while being a challenging engineering field, and managing the technical risks around it necessary for a project to succeed in some circumstances, and really shines when used under the SOA/EDA umbrella, it should not be taken by itself and used at the topmost architectural levels.

 


Related Content

SOA and Enterprise Processes

How client interaction fits with SOA

Time and SOA

Durable Messaging for Fault-Tolerant Services

And if you’re wondering about how to handle all that complexity inside services (different kinds of billing, periodic tests for electronics inventory, etc), you might like listening to this podcast about business components.



Additional Logic Required For Service Autonomy

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Of the tenets of Service Orientation, the tenet of Autonomy is one that many understand intuitively. Interestingly enough, many in that same intuitive category don’t see pub/sub as a necessity for that autonomy.

Watch that first step

Although sometimes described as the first step of an organization moving to SOA, web-service-izing everything results in synchronous, blocking, request/response interaction between services. The problem being that if one service were to become unavailable, all consumers of that service would not be able to perform any work. With the deep service “call stacks” this architectural style condones, the availability and performance of the entire organization will be dictated by the weakest link.

 weak link

So, while I’d agree that many organizations do need to take this step, I’d caution against going into production at this step.

Pub/Sub Considered Helpful

When services interact with each other using publish/subscribe semantics we don’t have that technical problem of blocking. Subscribers cache the data published to them (either in memory or durably depending on their fault-tolerance requirements) thus enabling them to function and process requests even if the publisher is unavailable.

Consider the following scenario:

Let’s say we have an e-commerce site, a part of our Sales service responsible for selling products. Another service, let’s call it merchandising, is responsible for the catalog of products, and how much each product costs. Sales is subscribed to price update events published by Merchandising and saves (caches) those prices in its own database. When a customer orders some products on the site, Sales does not need to call Merchandising to get the price of the product and just uses the previously saved (cached) price. Thus, even if Merchandising is unavailable, Sales is able to accept orders. This is a big win as our merchandising application is not nearly as robust as our sales systems.

Yet, there are scenarios where data freshness requirements prevent this.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Technically, the above story is accurate. There is nothing technically preventing Sales from accepting orders. Yet consider a scenario where Merchandising is down or unavailable for an extended period of time. While this may not be entirely likely for two servers in the same data center, consider physical kiosks which customers can use to buy products. Those kiosks may not receive updates for days. Should they accept orders?

That’s really a question to the business. If pricing data is stale for a time period greater than X, do not sell that item. The value of X may even be different for different kinds of products. Keep in mind that this issue only arose since we architected our services to be fully autonomous. In a synchronous systems architecture, this issue would not come up. As such, it is our responsibility as architects to go digging for these requirements as well as explaining to the business what the tradeoffs are.

In order to have more up to date data, we need to invest in more available hardware, networks, and infrastructure. This needs to be balanced against the predicted increase in revenue that more up to date (read higher) prices would give us.

You Can Get What You Pay For

Beyond the additional cost of writing that additional logic, and the perceived increased complexity, another difference to note between this architectural style and the synchronous/traditional one is that it puts control of spending back in the hands of business.

In a synchronous architecture, in order to achieve required performance and availability, all systems need to be performant requiring across the board investments in servers, networks, and storage. Without investing everywhere, the weakest link is liable to undo all other investments. In other words, your developers have made your investment choices for you. Scary, isn’t it.

A more prudent investment strategy would prefer spending on services that give the biggest bang for the buck, better known as return on investment. A pub/sub based architecture allows investing in data-freshness where it makes the most sense. For example, in sales of high profit products to strategic customers rather than inventory management of raw materials for products slated to be decommissioned.

That sounds a lot like IT-Business Alignment.

Maybe there’s something to this SOA thing after all…


Read more about:

7 Questions for Service Selection

7 Questions around data freshness 

Event-Driven Architecture and Legacy Applications

Autonomous Services and Enterprise Entity Aggregation

Or listen to a podcast describing Business Components, the connection of pub/sub and SOA.



NServiceBus Performance

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

I’ve gotten this question several times already but now companies are beginning to look for performance comparisons in making decisions around the use of nServiceBus. It’s often compared to straight WCF, BizTalk, and now Neuron ESB. In Sam’s recent post he posts to a case study of Neuron doing 28 million messages an hour. That’s far more than I’ve ever heard quoted for BizTalk.

Disclaimer

Before giving some numbers, please keep in mind that high performance of system infrastructure does not necessarily by itself mean that the system above it is running that fast. For instance, you may have server heartbeats running really quickly but the time it takes to save a purchase order borders on a minute. So, please, take all benchmarks with a grain of salt, or two, or a whole shaker-full.

While I’m not at liberty to say on which specific domain/company these numbers were measured, I can say that we had the full gamut of “stateless services”, statefull services (sagas), number crunching, large data sets, many users, complex visualization, etc. Also, this wasn’t the largest installation of nServiceBus that I’m aware of, but its the one I have the most specific numbers for.

Setup

OK, so using the default nServiceBus distribution using MSMQ, on servers where the queue files themselves were on separate SCSI RAID disks, we were pumping around 1000 durable, transactionally processed messages per second, per server. That means that similar to the Neuron case, no messages would be lost in the case of a single fault per server per window (time to replace a failed disk set at 3 hours from failure, through detection, to replacement per site – but that’s more an operational staffing concern, not the technology itself).

So, that’s 3.6 million messages per hour per server, at full load. We had a total of 98 servers doing these kinds of processing, not including web servers, databases, etc. Keep in mind that web servers would be communicating with other servers using nServiceBus, but that would maybe be an unfair comparison to the Neuron numbers.

Server Breakdown

Anyway, the 48 number crunching servers (blade centers) we had were at full load, so we were pumping more than 170 million messages there. Keep in mind that those servers had a really fast backbone so weren’t held up by IO. Your environment may be different.

Another 30 (regular pizza boxes) were doing our sagas. Saga state was stored in a distributed in-memory “cache”, so once again IO wasn’t an issue for processing those messages. We were at about 70% utilization there, coming to just over 100 million messages an hour.

The last 20 were clustered boxes (fairly expensive) that handled the various nServiceBus distributor and timeout manager processes were at full load since they handled control messages for all the servers as well as dynamically routing the load. However, on those boxes we used much higher performance disks for the messages, since they had to feed everything else, capable of doing, on average, around 5000 messages a second. That adds up to 360 million messages an hour.

Unnecessary Durability

Later, we moved a bunch of messages that didn’t need all that durability and transactionality off the disks, pushing the total throughput over 1 billion messages an hour. That was about 100 million per hour durable, 900 million per hour non-durable. You can guess that we were left with plenty of IO to spare at that point while we weren’t yet pushing the limit of our memory.

One thing that’s important to understand is the size of the messages that didn’t require durability was less than 1MB, with most weighing in under 10KB. Also, since most of those messages were published, less state management was required around them, enabling us to further improve performance.

Summary

NServiceBus didn’t give us all that by itself. It was the result of skilled architects, developers, and operations staff working together for many iterations, deploying, monitoring, re-designing, etc. You need to understand your technology, your hardware, and your specific performance, availability, and fault-tolerance requirements if you want to get anywhere.

There’s no magic.

I didn’t see the number or kinds of servers involved in the Neuron case study so this wasn’t ever really a comparison. Nor or we talking about the same system here.

So, please, don’t base your decisions on arbitrary numbers. Spend some time setting up a scaled down version of your target architecture with all the relevant technologies and measure. Be aware that you want high performance end to end, not just of the messaging part. At times, it makes sense to actively throw away messages (of the non-durable, published kind) to help a server come online faster especially after a restart.

Thus ends the tale of another “benchmark”.



7 Simple Questions for Service Selection

Friday, May 16th, 2008

“So, which services do I need?”

This innocuous question comes up a lot. Usually I get this question after a short problem domain description. One of these came up on the nServiceBus discussion groups. Ayende took it and ran with it turning it into a nice blog post, An exercise in designing SOA systems. I’ve been meaning to write something myself. Bill put up a response already in his Service Granularity Example. So, I’m late to the party, again, but here we go.

It’s almost impossible to know, right away, which services are appropriate.

So, I’m going to focus more on the process of getting there, rather than describing the solution itself.

The domain deals with a placement agency placing physicians in positions at hospitals. doctor

1. So, what does it actually do?

In Ayende’s post, he describes several services, but I’d rather look at them as use cases: registering an open position, registering a candidate, verifying their credentials, etc. It’s worth going through this requirements process. It doesn’t necessarily translate immediately to services, but there’s value in it.

2. What does it do it to?

We should also be looking at the data model, an entity relationship diagram (ERD) , where we see that we may have placed a certain physician at a number of positions. It’s also important for us to know about under which circumstances a physician finished their employment at a previous position before, say, trying to place them at a position in the same hospital or chain of hospitals. Don’t go thinking that this what the database schema will look like, it’s all about understanding connections between various bits of data.

3. When does that happen?

The next step is to map the uses cases above to the entities in the ERD, which entity is used in which use case. It’s also important to differentiate between entities (or even more importantly, specific fields of entities) that are used in a read-only fashion within a given use case. For instance, when registering a new position, we’ll want to check that against other open positions in the same hospital so we don’t end up registering the same position twice. Also, we might want to suggest verified physicians whose credentials match the position’s requirements. Data we wouldn’t be interested in might be which other physicians we placed at that hospital.

4. What just happened?

Another valuable perspective on the problem domain is the business process view – what are the interesting business events in the system and how they unfold over time. For instance, physician registered, position opened, physician’s credentials verified, and physician placed in position (or position filled by physician) are events that describe a different business perspective than use cases.image

5. How do I decide?

Once we know what events there are, we can start looking at what kind of decisions we might want to make when those events occur and what data we’d need to make those decisions. These decisions may be as simple as updating a database or sending an email to a user. They also may include more advanced logic like when the profitability of an agreement with a specific hospital chain changes, prefer placing physicians in positions in that chain over others.

6. How do I deal with all this information?

After we have all of this information, we can start looking for cohesive bunching across all of these axes using these rules:

  • Data that is modified by a use case gets published as an event.
  • Data that is required by a use case for read-only purposes, arrives as the result of subscribing to some event.

Look for rules that differentiate behaviour based on the properties of data. Look for a correlation to some business concept. For instance, physicians probably won’t be changing their specialization, and open positions often deal with a certain specialization. Therefore, specific data instances tied to two different specializations can be said to be loosely coupled.

7. Which property slices across the domain?image

Even though the ERD may not have made it clear, and the use cases didn’t show any particular break-down, nor did the events call out this point, the key to finding the way a business domain decomposes into services lies in decoupling specific data instances.

Actually, at this point we can clump autonomous components (mere technical bits) that handle a single message, into more granular business components.

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The kind of credential checking you’d do for physicians specializing in brain surgery would likely be different than for general practitioners. The kind of information you’d store would, therefore, also be different.

But, which services do I need?

Quite frankly, I don’t have enough information to know.

But if we had continued this conversation, going through issues like transactional consistency, availability requirements, and other non-functional issues we could have  gotten there.

If there’s one thing that I hope you got out of this, it’s that the questions are what’s important. The iterative process of looking at the problem domain from various perspectives, incorporating the new-found knowledge, and asking more questions is what leads us to a solution. But we don’t stop there. We keep looking for characteristics which split services apart into business components, and for consistency requirements that brings autonomous components together into services.

It’s not easy, but by focusing on these simple questions, you can get to a coherent service oriented architecture.



The Abbott & Costello of SOA

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

My long-time readers will no doubt remember Bill, he who has sent me so many great questions around SOA and gotten me to put some of my best podcast episodes out. Well, Bill’s now got a blog and he’s putting up a lot of great information on SOA (and that’s saying quite a bit, I barely agree with myself when it comes to SOA). In his post on Publish-Subscribe with Legacy Applications he discusses some ways to do the integration, but I want to talk here about WHO does the integration.

What’s on first?image

Many times I see SOA projects integrate existing/legacy systems focusing only on getting those systems to talk to the ESB (bits flowing) using the right structures (canonical schema, oy). However, little attention is often given to where that integration code runs – in other words, which endpoint does the rest of the system talk to? Who’s in charge of the integration?

The answer is usually muddled – sometimes its the ESB itself (serving more as an EAI broker at that point), sometimes its some DLL that the calling service uses, but I VERY rarely hear anything about the actual process that’s hosting that code, the endpoint itself, or anything that will help us deal with Service-Level Agreements.

No. What’s on second.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) change the legacy application at all, I suggest setting up a new endpoint and an additional process which listens on that endpoint. That process is in charge of communicating with the legacy application and translating whatever is going on to the messaging semantics of the SOA environment. Not everything may be publish/subscribe – other systems may send command messages to the endpoint, resulting in API calls on the legacy application.

One of the things that the process can/should do, is to subscribe to events/messages from other services and feed the relevant information to the legacy application. At times this will be done on an as-needed basis from the legacy application’s perspective – it will call some API/web service that will need to communicate with the afore-mentioned process, and the process will return the data needed.

How is playing a different game

From the perspective of all the other services, the legacy application might as well not even be there – they communicate via the regular messaging semantics with everything.

What is important to understand is that developing that kind of process is not a trivial undertaking. In DDD terms, it can be called an Anti-Corruption Layer, as it prevents the legacy from influencing the structure of any other service. This procedure is one of the ways one can go about slowly getting data and functionality off of mainframes and into more versionable and change-friendly (and cheaper) environments.

I don’t give a darn!

Oh, that’s our esb.



   


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Bryan Wheeler, Director Platform Development at msnbc.com
Udi Dahan is the real deal.

We brought him on site to give our development staff the 5-day “Advanced Distributed System Design” training. The course profoundly changed our understanding and approach to SOA and distributed systems.

Consider some of the evidence: 1. Months later, developers still make allusions to concepts learned in the course nearly every day 2. One of our developers went home and made her husband (a developer at another company) sign up for the course at a subsequent date/venue 3. Based on what we learned, we’ve made constant improvements to our architecture that have helped us to adapt to our ever changing business domain at scale and speed If you have the opportunity to receive the training, you will make a substantial paradigm shift.

If I were to do the whole thing over again, I’d start the week by playing the clip from the Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo the choice between the red and blue pills. Once you make the intellectual leap, you’ll never look at distributed systems the same way.

Beyond the training, we were able to spend some time with Udi discussing issues unique to our business domain. Because Udi is a rare combination of a big picture thinker and a low level doer, he can quickly hone in on various issues and quickly make good (if not startling) recommendations to help solve tough technical issues.” November 11, 2010

Sam Gentile Sam Gentile, Independent WCF & SOA Expert
“Udi, one of the great minds in this area.
A man I respect immensely.”





Ian Robinson Ian Robinson, Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks
"Your blog and articles have been enormously useful in shaping, testing and refining my own approach to delivering on SOA initiatives over the last few years. Over and against a certain 3-layer-application-architecture-blown-out-to- distributed-proportions school of SOA, your writing, steers a far more valuable course."

Shy Cohen Shy Cohen, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft
“Udi is a world renowned software architect and speaker. I met Udi at a conference that we were both speaking at, and immediately recognized his keen insight and razor-sharp intellect. Our shared passion for SOA and the advancement of its practice launched a discussion that lasted into the small hours of the night.
It was evident through that discussion that Udi is one of the most knowledgeable people in the SOA space. It was also clear why – Udi does not settle for mediocrity, and seeks to fully understand (or define) the logic and principles behind things.
Humble yet uncompromising, Udi is a pleasure to interact with.”

Glenn Block Glenn Block, Senior Program Manager - WCF at Microsoft
“I have known Udi for many years having attended his workshops and having several personal interactions including working with him when we were building our Composite Application Guidance in patterns & practices. What impresses me about Udi is his deep insight into how to address business problems through sound architecture. Backed by many years of building mission critical real world distributed systems it is no wonder that Udi is the best at what he does. When customers have deep issues with their system design, I point them Udi's way.”

Karl Wannenmacher Karl Wannenmacher, Senior Lead Expert at Frequentis AG
“I have been following Udi’s blog and podcasts since 2007. I’m convinced that he is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the field of SOA, EDA and large scale systems.
Udi helped Frequentis to design a major subsystem of a large mission critical system with a nationwide deployment based on NServiceBus. It was impressive to see how he took the initial architecture and turned it upside down leading to a very flexible and scalable yet simple system without knowing the details of the business domain. I highly recommend consulting with Udi when it comes to large scale mission critical systems in any domain.”

Simon Segal Simon Segal, Independent Consultant
“Udi is one of the outstanding software development minds in the world today, his vast insights into Service Oriented Architectures and Smart Clients in particular are indeed a rare commodity. Udi is also an exceptional teacher and can help lead teams to fall into the pit of success. I would recommend Udi to anyone considering some Architecural guidance and support in their next project.”

Ohad Israeli Ohad Israeli, Chief Architect at Hewlett-Packard, Indigo Division
“When you need a man to do the job Udi is your man! No matter if you are facing near deadline deadlock or at the early stages of your development, if you have a problem Udi is the one who will probably be able to solve it, with his large experience at the industry and his widely horizons of thinking , he is always full of just in place great architectural ideas.
I am honored to have Udi as a colleague and a friend (plus having his cell phone on my speed dial).”

Ward Bell Ward Bell, VP Product Development at IdeaBlade
“Everyone will tell you how smart and knowledgable Udi is ... and they are oh-so-right. Let me add that Udi is a smart LISTENER. He's always calibrating what he has to offer with your needs and your experience ... looking for the fit. He has strongly held views ... and the ability to temper them with the nuances of the situation.
I trust Udi to tell me what I need to hear, even if I don't want to hear it, ... in a way that I can hear it. That's a rare skill to go along with his command and intelligence.”

Eli Brin, Program Manager at RISCO Group
“We hired Udi as a SOA specialist for a large scale project. The development is outsourced to India. SOA is a buzzword used almost for anything today. We wanted to understand what SOA really is, and what is the meaning and practice to develop a SOA based system.
We identified Udi as the one that can put some sense and order in our minds. We started with a private customized SOA training for the entire team in Israel. After that I had several focused sessions regarding our architecture and design.
I will summarize it simply (as he is the software simplist): We are very happy to have Udi in our project. It has a great benefit. We feel good and assured with the knowledge and practice he brings. He doesn’t talk over our heads. We assimilated nServicebus as the ESB of the project. I highly recommend you to bring Udi into your project.”

Catherine Hole Catherine Hole, Senior Project Manager at the Norwegian Health Network
“My colleagues and I have spent five interesting days with Udi - diving into the many aspects of SOA. Udi has shown impressive abilities of understanding organizational challenges, and has brought the business perspective into our way of looking at services. He has an excellent understanding of the many layers from business at the top to the technical infrstructure at the bottom. He is a great listener, and manages to simplify challenges in a way that is understandable both for developers and CEOs, and all the specialists in between.”

Yoel Arnon Yoel Arnon, MSMQ Expert
“Udi has a unique, in depth understanding of service oriented architecture and how it should be used in the real world, combined with excellent presentation skills. I think Udi should be a premier choice for a consultant or architect of distributed systems.”

Vadim Mesonzhnik, Development Project Lead at Polycom
“When we were faced with a task of creating a high performance server for a video-tele conferencing domain we decided to opt for a stateless cluster with SQL server approach. In order to confirm our decision we invited Udi.

After carefully listening for 2 hours he said: "With your kind of high availability and performance requirements you don’t want to go with stateless architecture."

One simple sentence saved us from implementing a wrong product and finding that out after years of development. No matter whether our former decisions were confirmed or altered, it gave us great confidence to move forward relying on the experience, industry best-practices and time-proven techniques that Udi shared with us.
It was a distinct pleasure and a unique opportunity to learn from someone who is among the best at what he does.”

Jack Van Hoof Jack Van Hoof, Enterprise Integration Architect at Dutch Railways
“Udi is a respected visionary on SOA and EDA, whose opinion I most of the time (if not always) highly agree with. The nice thing about Udi is that he is able to explain architectural concepts in terms of practical code-level examples.”

Neil Robbins Neil Robbins, Applications Architect at Brit Insurance
“Having followed Udi's blog and other writings for a number of years I attended Udi's two day course on 'Loosely Coupled Messaging with NServiceBus' at SkillsMatter, London.

I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in how to develop IT systems which provide immediate and future fitness for purpose. An influential and innovative thought leader and practitioner in his field, Udi demonstrates and shares a phenomenally in depth knowledge that proves his position as one of the premier experts in his field globally.

The course has enhanced my knowledge and skills in ways that I am able to immediately apply to provide benefits to my employer. Additionally though I will be able to build upon what I learned in my 2 days with Udi and have no doubt that it will only enhance my future career.

I cannot recommend Udi, and his courses, highly enough.”

Nick Malik Nick Malik, Enterprise Architect at Microsoft Corporation
You are an excellent speaker and trainer, Udi, and I've had the fortunate experience of having attended one of your presentations. I believe that you are a knowledgable and intelligent man.”

Sean Farmar Sean Farmar, Chief Technical Architect at Candidate Manager Ltd
“Udi has provided us with guidance in system architecture and supports our implementation of NServiceBus in our core business application.

He accompanied us in all stages of our development cycle and helped us put vision into real life distributed scalable software. He brought fresh thinking, great in depth of understanding software, and ongoing support that proved as valuable and cost effective.

Udi has the unique ability to analyze the business problem and come up with a simple and elegant solution for the code and the business alike.
With Udi's attention to details, and knowledge we avoided pit falls that would cost us dearly.”

Børge Hansen Børge Hansen, Architect Advisor at Microsoft
“Udi delivered a 5 hour long workshop on SOA for aspiring architects in Norway. While keeping everyone awake and excited Udi gave us some great insights and really delivered on making complex software challenges simple. Truly the software simplist.”

Motty Cohen, SW Manager at KorenTec Technologies
“I know Udi very well from our mutual work at KorenTec. During the analysis and design of a complex, distributed C4I system - where the basic concepts of NServiceBus start to emerge - I gained a lot of "Udi's hours" so I can surely say that he is a professional, skilled architect with fresh ideas and unique perspective for solving complex architecture challenges. His ideas, concepts and parts of the artifacts are the basis of several state-of-the-art C4I systems that I was involved in their architecture design.”

Aaron Jensen Aaron Jensen, VP of Engineering at Eleutian Technology
Awesome. Just awesome.

We’d been meaning to delve into messaging at Eleutian after multiple discussions with and blog posts from Greg Young and Udi Dahan in the past. We weren’t entirely sure where to start, how to start, what tools to use, how to use them, etc. Being able to sit in a room with Udi for an entire week while he described exactly how, why and what he does to tackle a massive enterprise system was invaluable to say the least.

We now have a much better direction and, more importantly, have the confidence we need to start introducing these powerful concepts into production at Eleutian.”

Gad Rosenthal Gad Rosenthal, Department Manager at Retalix
“A thinking person. Brought fresh and valuable ideas that helped us in architecting our product. When recommending a solution he supports it with evidence and detail so you can successfully act based on it. Udi's support "comes on all levels" - As the solution architect through to the detailed class design. Trustworthy!”

Chris Bilson Chris Bilson, Developer at Russell Investment Group
“I had the pleasure of attending a workshop Udi led at the Seattle ALT.NET conference in February 2009. I have been reading Udi's articles and listening to his podcasts for a long time and have always looked to him as a source of advice on software architecture.
When I actually met him and talked to him I was even more impressed. Not only is Udi an extremely likable person, he's got that rare gift of being able to explain complex concepts and ideas in a way that is easy to understand.
All the attendees of the workshop greatly appreciate the time he spent with us and the amazing insights into service oriented architecture he shared with us.”

Alexey Shestialtynov Alexey Shestialtynov, Senior .Net Developer at Candidate Manager
“I met Udi at Candidate Manager where he was brought in part-time as a consultant to help the company make its flagship product more scalable. For me, even after 30 years in software development, working with Udi was a great learning experience. I simply love his fresh ideas and architecture insights.
As we all know it is not enough to be armed with best tools and technologies to be successful in software - there is still human factor involved. When, as it happens, the project got in trouble, management asked Udi to step into a leadership role and bring it back on track. This he did in the span of a month. I can only wish that things had been done this way from the very beginning.
I look forward to working with Udi again in the future.”

Christopher Bennage Christopher Bennage, President at Blue Spire Consulting, Inc.
“My company was hired to be the primary development team for a large scale and highly distributed application. Since these are not necessarily everyday requirements, we wanted to bring in some additional expertise. We chose Udi because of his blogging, podcasting, and speaking. We asked him to to review our architectural strategy as well as the overall viability of project.
I was very impressed, as Udi demonstrated a broad understanding of the sorts of problems we would face. His advice was honest and unbiased and very pragmatic. Whenever I questioned him on particular points, he was able to backup his opinion with real life examples. I was also impressed with his clarity and precision. He was very careful to untangle the meaning of words that might be overloaded or otherwise confusing. While Udi's hourly rate may not be the cheapest, the ROI is undoubtedly a deal. I would highly recommend consulting with Udi.”

Robert Lewkovich, Product / Development Manager at Eggs Overnight
“Udi's advice and consulting were a huge time saver for the project I'm responsible for. The $ spent were well worth it and provided me with a more complete understanding of nServiceBus and most importantly in helping make the correct architectural decisions earlier thereby reducing later, and more expensive, rework.”

Ray Houston Ray Houston, Director of Development at TOPAZ Technologies
“Udi's SOA class made me smart - it was awesome.

The class was very well put together. The materials were clear and concise and Udi did a fantastic job presenting it. It was a good mixture of lecture, coding, and question and answer. I fully expected that I would be taking notes like crazy, but it was so well laid out that the only thing I wrote down the entire course was what I wanted for lunch. Udi provided us with all the lecture materials and everyone has access to all of the samples which are in the nServiceBus trunk.

Now I know why Udi is the "Software Simplist." I was amazed to find that all the code and solutions were indeed very simple. The patterns that Udi presented keep things simple by isolating complexity so that it doesn't creep into your day to day code. The domain code looks the same if it's running in a single process or if it's running in 100 processes.”

Ian Cooper Ian Cooper, Team Lead at Beazley
“Udi is one of the leaders in the .Net development community, one of the truly smart guys who do not just get best architectural practice well enough to educate others but drives innovation. Udi consistently challenges my thinking in ways that make me better at what I do.”

Liron Levy, Team Leader at Rafael
“I've met Udi when I worked as a team leader in Rafael. One of the most senior managers there knew Udi because he was doing superb architecture job in another Rafael project and he recommended bringing him on board to help the project I was leading.
Udi brought with him fresh solutions and invaluable deep architecture insights. He is an authority on SOA (service oriented architecture) and this was a tremendous help in our project.
On the personal level - Udi is a great communicator and can persuade even the most difficult audiences (I was part of such an audience myself..) by bringing sound explanations that draw on his extensive knowledge in the software business. Working with Udi was a great learning experience for me, and I'll be happy to work with him again in the future.”

Adam Dymitruk Adam Dymitruk, Director of IT at Apara Systems
“I met Udi for the first time at DevTeach in Montreal back in early 2007. While Udi is usually involved in SOA subjects, his knowledge spans all of a software development company's concerns. I would not hesitate to recommend Udi for any company that needs excellent leadership, mentoring, problem solving, application of patterns, implementation of methodologies and straight out solution development.
There are very few people in the world that are as dedicated to their craft as Udi is to his. At ALT.NET Seattle, Udi explained many core ideas about SOA. The team that I brought with me found his workshop and other talks the highlight of the event and provided the most value to us and our organization. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to recommend him.”

Eytan Michaeli Eytan Michaeli, CTO Korentec
“Udi was responsible for a major project in the company, and as a chief architect designed a complex multi server C4I system with many innovations and excellent performance.”


Carl Kenne Carl Kenne, .Net Consultant at Dotway AB
“Udi's session "DDD in Enterprise apps" was truly an eye opener. Udi has a great ability to explain complex enterprise designs in a very comprehensive and inspiring way. I've seen several sessions on both DDD and SOA in the past, but Udi puts it in a completly new perspective and makes us understand what it's all really about. If you ever have a chance to see any of Udi's sessions in the future, take it!”

Avi Nehama, R&D Project Manager at Retalix
“Not only that Udi is a briliant software architecture consultant, he also has remarkable abilities to present complex ideas in a simple and concise manner, and...
always with a smile. Udi is indeed a top-league professional!”

Ben Scheirman Ben Scheirman, Lead Developer at CenterPoint Energy
“Udi is one of those rare people who not only deeply understands SOA and domain driven design, but also eloquently conveys that in an easy to grasp way. He is patient, polite, and easy to talk to. I'm extremely glad I came to his workshop on SOA.”

Scott C. Reynolds Scott C. Reynolds, Director of Software Engineering at CBLPath
“Udi is consistently advancing the state of thought in software architecture, service orientation, and domain modeling.
His mastery of the technologies and techniques is second to none, but he pairs that with a singular ability to listen and communicate effectively with all parties, technical and non, to help people arrive at context-appropriate solutions. Every time I have worked with Udi, or attended a talk of his, or just had a conversation with him I have come away from it enriched with new understanding about the ideas discussed.”

Evgeny-Hen Osipow, Head of R&D at PCLine
“Udi has helped PCLine on projects by implementing architectural blueprints demonstrating the value of simple design and code.”

Rhys Campbell Rhys Campbell, Owner at Artemis West
“For many years I have been following the works of Udi. His explanation of often complex design and architectural concepts are so cleanly broken down that even the most junior of architects can begin to understand these concepts. These concepts however tend to typify the "real world" problems we face daily so even the most experienced software expert will find himself in an "Aha!" moment when following Udi teachings.
It was a pleasure to finally meet Udi in Seattle Alt.Net OpenSpaces 2008, where I was pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth and approachable he was. His depth and breadth of software knowledge also became apparent when discussion with his peers quickly dove deep in to the problems we current face. If given the opportunity to work with or recommend Udi I would quickly take that chance. When I think .Net Architecture, I think Udi.”

Sverre Hundeide Sverre Hundeide, Senior Consultant at Objectware
“Udi had been hired to present the third LEAP master class in Oslo. He is an well known international expert on enterprise software architecture and design, and is the author of the open source messaging framework nServiceBus. The entire class was based on discussion and interaction with the audience, and the only Power Point slide used was the one showing the agenda.
He started out with sketching a naive traditional n-tier application (big ball of mud), and based on suggestions from the audience we explored different solutions which might improve the solution. Whatever suggestions we threw at him, he always had a thoroughly considered answer describing pros and cons with the suggested solution. He obviously has a lot of experience with real world enterprise SOA applications.”

Raphaël Wouters Raphaël Wouters, Owner/Managing Partner at Medinternals
“I attended Udi's excellent course 'Advanced Distributed System Design with SOA and DDD' at Skillsmatter. Few people can truly claim such a high skill and expertise level, present it using a pragmatic, concrete no-nonsense approach and still stay reachable.”

Nimrod Peleg Nimrod Peleg, Lab Engineer at Technion IIT
“One of the best programmers and software engineer I've ever met, creative, knows how to design and implemet, very collaborative and finally - the applications he designed implemeted work for many years without any problems!

Jose Manuel Beas
“When I attended Udi's SOA Workshop, then it suddenly changed my view of what Service Oriented Architectures were all about. Udi explained complex concepts very clearly and created a very productive discussion environment where all the attendees could learn a lot. I strongly recommend hiring Udi.”

Daniel Jin Daniel Jin, Senior Lead Developer at PJM Interconnection
“Udi is one of the top SOA guru in the .NET space. He is always eager to help others by sharing his knowledge and experiences. His blog articles often offer deep insights and is a invaluable resource. I highly recommend him.”

Pasi Taive Pasi Taive, Chief Architect at Tieto
“I attended both of Udi's "UI Composition Key to SOA Success" and "DDD in Enterprise Apps" sessions and they were exceptionally good. I will definitely participate in his sessions again. Udi is a great presenter and has the ability to explain complex issues in a manner that everyone understands.”

Eran Sagi, Software Architect at HP
“So far, I heard about Service Oriented architecture all over. Everyone mentions it – the big buzz word. But, when I actually asked someone for what does it really mean, no one managed to give me a complete satisfied answer. Finally in his excellent course “Advanced Distributed Systems”, I got the answers I was looking for. Udi went over the different motivations (principles) of Services Oriented, explained them well one by one, and showed how each one could be technically addressed using NService bus. In his course, Udi also explain the way of thinking when coming to design a Service Oriented system. What are the questions you need to ask yourself in order to shape your system, place the logic in the right places for best Service Oriented system.

I would recommend this course for any architect or developer who deals with distributed system, but not only. In my work we do not have a real distributed system, but one PC which host both the UI application and the different services inside, all communicating via WCF. I found that many of the architecture principles and motivations of SOA apply for our system as well. Enough that you have SW partitioned into components and most of the principles becomes relevant to you as well. Bottom line – an excellent course recommended to any SW Architect, or any developer dealing with distributed system.”

Consult with Udi

Guest Authored Books
Chapter: Introduction to SOA    Article: The Enterprise Service Bus and Your SOA

97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know



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