Udi Dahan   Udi Dahan – The Software Simplist
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Archive for the ‘Master Data Management’ Category



Self-Contained Events and SOA

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

diamondIn the architectural principle of fully self contained messages, events “can – instantly and in future – be interpreted as the respective event without the need to rely on additional data stores that would need to be in time-sync with the event during message-processing.”

Also, “passing reference data in a message makes the message-consuming systems dependent on the knowledge and availability of actual persistent data that is stored “somewhere”. This data must separately be accessed for the sake of understanding the event that is represented by the message.”

The discussion of self-contained events can be compared to integration databases vs application databases.

Centralized Integration – Pros & Cons

If everything in a system can access a central datastore, it is enough for one party to publish an event containing only the ID of an entity that that party previously entered/updated. Upon receiving that event, a subscriber would go to the central datastore and get the fields its interested in for that ID. The advantage of this approach is that the minimal amount of data necessary crosses the network, as subscribers only retrieve the fields that interest them. Martin Fowler describes the disadvantages as:

“An integration database needs a schema that takes all its client applications into account. The resulting schema is either more general, more complex or both. The database usually is controlled by a separate group to the applications and database changes are more complex because they have to be negotiated between the database group and the various applications.”

This is far from being aligned with the principle of autonomy so important to SOA. In that respect, the architectural principle of self-contained messages points us away from those problems and towards more autonomous services.

However, once we have these autonomous business services in place, we may find that we don’t need 100% fully self-contained messages anymore.

A Real-World Example

Let’s say we have 3 business services, Sales, Fulfillment, and Billing.

Sales publishes an OrderAccepted event when it accepts an order. That event contains all the order information.

Both Fulfillment and Billing are subscribed to this event, and thus receive it.

Fulfillment does not ship products to the customer until the customer has been billed, so it just stores the order information internally, and is done.

Billing starts the process of billing the customer for their order, possibly joining several orders into a single bill. After completing this process, it publishes a CustomerBilled event containing all billing information, as well as the IDs of the orders in that bill. It does not put all the order information in that event, as it is not the authoritative owner of that data.

When Fulfillment receives the CustomerBilled event, it uses the IDs of the orders contained in the event to find the order information it previously stored internally. It does not need to call the Sales service for this information or contact some central Master Data Management system. It uses the data it has, and goes about fulfilling the orders and shipping the products to the customer, finally publishing its own OrderShipped event.

Notice, as well, that in the original OrderAccepted event there were the IDs of products the customer ordered. These product IDs originated from another service, Merchandising, responsible for the product catalog. The same thing can be said for the customer ID originating from another service – Customer Care.

The Issue of Time

One could argue that since subscribers use previously cached data when processing new events, that data might not be up to date. Also, we may have race conditions between our services. In the above example, if Billing was extremely fast and more highly available than Fulfillment. Billing could have received the OrderAccepted event, processed it, and published the CustomerBilled event before Fulfillment had received the OrderAccepted event. In short, the CustomerBilled and OrderAccepted messages could be out of order in Fulfillment’s queue.

What would Fulfillment do when trying to process the CustomerBilled message when it doesn’t have the order information?

Well, it knows that the world is parallel and non-sequential, so it does NOT return/log an error, but rather puts that message in the back of the queue to be processed again later (or maybe in some other temporary holding area). This enables the OrderAccepted message to be processed before the CustomerBilled message is retried. When the retry occurs, well, everything’s OK – it’s worked itself out over time.

In the case where we retry again and again and things don’t work themselves out (maybe the OrderAccepted event was lost), we move that message off to a different queue for something else to resolve the conflict (maybe a person, maybe software). If/when the conflict is resolved (got the Sales system / messaging system to replay the OrderAccepted event), the conflict resolver returns the CustomerBilled message to the queue, and now everything works just fine.

As all of this is occurring, the only thing that’s visible to external parties is that it happens to be taking longer than usual for the OrderShipped event to be published. In other words, time is the only difference.

 

Summary

The problem of non-self-contained events is mitigated first and foremost by business services in SOA, and the apparent issue of time-synchronization by business logic inside these services.

Don’t be afraid to put IDs in your messages and events.

Do be afraid of using those IDs to access datastores shared by multiple “services”.

Using IDs to correlated current events to data from previous events is not only OK, it’s to be expected.

The architectural principle of fully self-contained messages steers us away from the problems of Integration Databases and towards Application Databases, autonomous services, and a better SOA implementation. From there, following the principle of autonomy from a business perspective, will lead us to services not publishing data in their messages that is owned by other services, taking us the next step of our journey to SOA.


Related Content

[Podcast] Message Ordering – Is it cost effective?

Don’t EDA between existing systems

[Podcast] Handling dependencies between subscribers in SOA



Time Dimension Necessary For Successful SOA Data Strategy

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

I often run into companies working on an SOA initiative where certain information aspects are given more importance than is warranted and, as a result, the overall service coupling is increased. Sometimes this takes the form of a Canonical Data Model or as a Master Data Management service. In both cases, information is divorced from its business context. Steve Jones (one of the SOA guiding lights out there) states “data only counts where it works” and I strongly agree. Due to the somewhat “wishy-washy” definition of services, I’ve found that the term Business Component captures that essence – data encapsulated in a business context.

In his post, Steve provides concrete guidance on how to look at data:

“The point about these bits of data is that they are about recording what has happened. Where this approach falls down is when you try and apply that approach to what is happening.”

One of the core ways that I suggest you avoid falling down the Data Services rabbit hole is to keep the context of time in mind as you analyse the data your services use and are responsible for. Ask yourself questions like:

  1. Who creates this specific data element – not just this kind of data?
  2. Can we partition these creators based on some property of the data?
  3. When do they create it?
  4. At what point can others access this data?
  5. Do others need to use this data in their own business processes?
  6. If so, how up-to-date does the data need to be? Up to the minute? Up to the millisecond?
  7. Can we avoid transactions between those who create data and those who use it while maintaining business correctness?

In a follow up post, I’ll be analysing how we can identify services and business components in a domain by using these questions. More importantly, we’ll see how the message contracts of our services can be driven out by answering them.

Stay tuned.



Sundblad Mistaken on Services

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

The brilliant guys at 2xSundbland have launched their architect academy and it looks quite promising. I haven’t yet taken the trial lesson, but its in the queue. I have taken a look at the articles they have on the site as well, and they’re quite good. I especially like the Software Architecture vs. Software Engineering one. There is one topic in that article where I beg to differ, and it’s around services. The article (on page 7) describes the following scenario:

Typically, in such an environment [SOA], services tend to be parts of multiple systems. For example, consider a Products service! It might start its life as part of a sales system. Later it might be involved in a purchasing system, a product development system, a marketing system, a warehousing system, and perhaps in several other systems too. This process may take years, and it really never ends. The service is the same, but its responsibilities and its external exposure are increased with each system it’s enrolled in.

One of the core tenets of SOA that all vendors and analysts agree upon is that there should be loose coupling between services. If you were to design such a product service, it’s clear that changing part of its interface could break almost every system in the enterprise. That doesn’t sound like loose coupling to me.

If there’s one place that is the source of loose coupling – it’s the business. Warehousing is viewed by the business as being fairly independent of Marketing. While Sales might make use of data created in Product Development, business wouldn’t want any problems in IT related to Product Development to inhibit Sales ability to accept orders. That is another kind of loose coupling – the ability of one service to make use of “not-accurate-up-to-the-millisecond” data created by another service. That’s known as loose “temporal” coupling, as in loose coupling in the dimension of time.

Loosely-Coupled Services

So, in the example described we’d see the following services:

  • Sales
  • Purchasing
  • Product Development
  • Marketing
  • Warehousing / Inventory

Product data would flow between the services but each would have a very different internal view of it.

  • Product Development would be more interested in managing the schedule and risk around a product’s development.
  • Marketing would probably be more focused on its relation to competing products and pricing.
  • Purchasing would be maintaining data as to which suppliers are being used to supply raw materials for the production of the product.
  • Sales would be looking at actually accepting orders and giving discounts.
  • Warehousing would be focused on the storage and transportation aspects of the product.

As you can see, there is very little overlap in the data between these services even on something similar like product data. The logic of each service around the management of its data would be even more different. This leads to services with a high level of autonomy.

There Be Dragons…

Without starting at this business-level loose coupling, I doubt that any technical effort will succeed. That is to say every time I’ve seen this style implemented it has failed, but that’s no proof. Conversely, every time that we did start our SOA efforts by identifying the clear business fracture lines, we were able to maintain loose coupling all the way down. That is not to say that it always will succeed, but the logic is sound.

I suppose that the difference between my view on SOA and Sundblad’s stems from the fact that they put systems at a higher level of abstraction than services, and I put services on top. Regardless, I do agree with their views about architecture and engineering and consider them quite valuable.



SOA, Service Broker, and Data

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Roger Wolter, who is trying to evangelize the architectural aspects of data in SOA, has this to say:

After all, you don’t have to go too far down the SOA path before you realize that unless you build reliable, asynchronous, loosely-coupled services, your SOA architecture is going to have serious reliability problems and Service Broker brought reliable, transactional messaging to a whole new level of reliability and efficiency. What I found was a bunch of architects trying to figure out how to use WS-Transactions to build tightly coupled services to replace their tightly coupled objects.

So far, I’m thrilled that he is pushing this message in, and out of, Microsoft.

He then goes on to debunk the idea of Entity Services:

I next ran into a lot of people architecting SOA systems to provide a common services interface to a lot of diverse back-end systems. I’ve talked to people who had over 100 systems that handle customer data for example. If you build a perfect customer service to wrap all these systems with a common schema for the customer record you have a single view of the customer right? The first time your user tries to change the phone number for Acme Rockets Inc. and gets back 80 records which may or may not be for the same customer, the single view of the customer loses some of its appeal.

I’m loving it.

He then suggests a solution:

That’s how I got interested in Master Data Management. I really believe that accurate, unambiguous clean data is a prerequisite to an SOA project.

Hmm, from what I’ve seen of MDM, it puts a different spin on all the other things he said above.

Other than that, I’m totally with him. A deep understanding of data is necessary to get a good service decomposition. Without understanding the transactional nature of that data, you just might end up back tightly coupled and with a monolithic web service mess.

Whether or not you use Microsoft’s SQL Server Service Broker, Roger is definitely a guy worth listening to.



[Podcast] Master Data Management and SOA

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Udi describes what Master Data Management (MDM) is, where it came from, and how it relates to SOA. He also differentiates between SOA and common project-management techniques that are employed on SOA projects.

Get it via the Dr. Dobb’s site here.

Or download directly here.

Want more? Go to the “Ask Udi” archives.



Autonomous Services and Enterprise Entity Aggregation

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Published in Issue 8 of the Microsoft Architecture Journal.

Summary: Enterprises today depend on heterogeneous systems and applications to function. Each of these systems manages its own data and often doesn’t explicitly expose it for external consumption. Many of these systems depend on the same basic concepts like customer and employee and, as a result, these entities have been defined in multiple places in slightly different ways. Entity aggregation embodies the business need to get a 360-degree view of those entities in one place. However, this business need is only one symptom of the larger issue: business/IT alignment. Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) have been hailed as the glue that would bring IT closer to business, yet the hype is already fading. We’ll take a look at concrete ways that autonomous services can be used to transform the way we develop systems to more closely match business processes and solve immediate entity aggregation needs.

Continue reading.



[Podcast] BPM vs. SOA

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

Udi analyzes the relationships between Master Data Management, Service Oriented Architectures and Business Process Management.

Get it via the Dr. Dobb’s site here.

Or download directly here.

Want more? Go to the “Ask Udi” archives.



   


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Recommendations

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.

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A man I respect immensely.”





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"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."

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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.”

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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.”

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“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.”

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Awesome. Just awesome.

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“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.
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“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.

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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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