GigaSpaces XAP 7.0 was released in mid-July. For those who missed the buzz, in this post I’ll try to provide a summary of the main perspectives that were voiced about the new release. At the end of this post is a list of additional articles and sources for those interested.
Gartner – cloud-enabled XTP, greater appeal to mainstream enterprises
Massimo Pezzini from Gartner wrote a detailed review, GigaSpaces Focuses on Cloud-Enabled XTP With XAP 7.0, where he covered the main points of the release as follows:
Version 7 introduces several technical improvements aimed at better supporting cloud deployments, including:
- Full service-level-agreement-driven autoscaling of the platform — now extended to a Java EE Web container (currently Jetty, though others will be added)
- New administration application programming interfaces, extending the XAP management tooling, that enable integration with third-party monitoring environments and make it possible for XAP applications to “automanage” themselves (for example, triggering a new virtual machine in a cloud environment to increase processing capacity)
- Significant performance improvement and a simplified programming model for multicore processor environments
- Metadata-driven, multitenancy support for cloud deployments
- Improved integration with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
GigaSpaces’ progressive and well-established support for popular standards like Spring and parts of Java EE is already helping lower users’ concerns about use of an “unusual” platform. More user support will likely come from the planned adoption of OSGi Alliance standards in future versions. The full integration of Jetty is a notable new marketing proposition that can appeal to mainstream enterprises looking for ways to non-intrusively scale up and down Java ServerPages/Servlet applications. This paves the way for more strategic adoption of XAP full capabilities in these accounts. The core DCP, the cloud deployment options and the new multitenancy capabilities are likely to appeal to independent software vendors, system integrators (SIs) and leading-edge organizations looking for new technology opportunities for business diversification.
Wall Street & Technology Journal – private clouds, commodity hardware, faster time to market
Penny Crosman from the Wall Street & Technology Journal provided a fairly detailed overview on who is using GigaSpaces XAP on wall street:
Wall Street clients are using XAP to create private clouds, allowing applications to share resources. One firm is using it for applications that support real-time portfolio analysis of profit and loss. Another is using an XAP-powered private cloud for a reconciliation service; prior to XAP, each application at this firm had a dedicated infrastructure. To prepare for peaks and lows, they had to provision many hardware units. Today, two applications share the same infrastructure, and the firm is creating infrastructure as a service.
A market data distributor is planning to go live with XAP 7.0 in August to provide certain online services. The company will use XAP to better allocate resources and better scale and integrate the web tier of applications.
One big financial organization had a high-end hardware infrastructure that cost over $1 million per year in annual maintenance. The company switched to XAP, invested $300,000 in commodity hardware, and achieved an annual savings of $946,000 in hardware maintenance alone, because of the fact that they’re running on simple commodity hardware, according to Bar Sadeh.
Another big financial service organization estimated the cost to redesign a customer support application using open source tools at $425,000, just for development time and resources. “They didn’t bother to add the expenses of memory and hardware because this cost estimate already exceeded what they would have to pay for XAP,” Bar Sadeh recalls. The firm also estimated a nine-month effort for the project, however, using the GigaSpaces software it took four months, she says.
DZone interview – all the patterns you need to build scalable applications, working out-of-the-box on a single platform
I had numerous interviews describing the new release. I’d like to point out the one that was published on Dzone specifically:
XAP 7.0 offers all the patterns you need to build scalable applications in a simple and cost-effective way – based on lessons learned from our demanding enterprise customers and from the new generation of Internet services such as Google, Amazon and Twitter. These patterns include asynchronous even-driven design, partitioning/shards, parallel execution and Map/Reduce, consistency without distributed transactions, and moving the database to the background while persisting all data with 100% reliability and consistency (more details on all of these in my blog). XAP 7.0 offers all these patterns working out-of-the box, on a single platform, without forcing the user to shop around for different packages and point solutions, figure out how to glue them together, and take the risk that the weakest link in this complex chain will break the entire application.
You can read the full story here
eBay Marplaats.nl – map/reduce for simple aggregated search, massive hardware savings
This was followed by joint webinar with Cees de Groot, Lead Architect of eBay Marktplaats.nl; I’ll probably cover the Markplaats project in more detail in a future post. Cees discussed how they used the patterns I mentioned above to scale their hugely popular classifieds site (over 6.4 million unique visitors per month) and how he used patterns like Map/Reduce to execute a simple aggregated search. Cees also mentioned why they ended up choosing GigaSpaces over Terracotta. He discussed their challenges with their current PHP application and how they where able to take a gradual approach to overcome those challenges with XAP. One of the interesting outcomes of this process is the fact that they were able to reduce the number of servers in their data center by at least 65%, through the use of XAP’s in-memory clustering and by employing a combination of advanced scalability patterns.
I highly recommend listening to Cees talk – even as someone who was closely familiar with this project, I find that I learn a thing or two every time that I hear him discuss it (Cees’s talk starts 20 minutes into the session).
Shay Bannon and Uri Cohen – distributed autowiring, custom SLAs, multi-core performance boost
I would also recommend looking into Shay Banon’s blog post, Distributed Autowiring with GigaSpaces Executors, where he provides a good technical overview of Map/Reduce, a common pattern for executing complex aggregated queries, made famous by Google and used in many other scenarios, including social networking sites.
Banon also provides a good technical overview, together with Uri Cohen, of a real-life usage scenario of Map/Reduce, in a webinar which took place last week. The webinar also covers other areas of the release, such as the new administration API and how it helps users write their own SLA.
I can’t help but show a slide from the webinar presentation, which shows the performance improvement we’ve achieved in a multi-core environment. I’m really proud of this. Here it is:
Summary and future Road map
As a summary, I’d like to quote Massimo from Gartner, who concluded his review of the 7.0 release as follows:
Other vendors, including Oracle and IBM, plan to extend their DCPs with OSGi, Spring and Java EE elements. But none has yet architected a full cloud-enabled XTPP like GigaSpaces. This gives the company at least a year’s competitive advantage on the technology front.
In future releases, we plan to continue in the same direction, bringing the value of virtualization and cloud computing to our enterprise users. This will include better support for data center integration, extended integration with production monitoring, built-in SLA and deployment automation, and of course, additional improvements to our In-Memory Data Grid in terms of performance and resource utilization. At the same time, we’ll continue our efforts to make the product simpler and reduce the learning curve, by adding more support for standard APIs like JPA. Stay tuned…