Solace recently announced a new network card that can boost the capacity of each Solace’s appliance to 80Gbps of bandwidth. As more companies embrace real-time computing and “big data” fueled by information flowing between mobile devices, sensors and social networks, this kind of capacity will enable some seriously cool innovation. But I believe there’s even more to it than that – I think this kind of massive capacity will influence the very nature of enterprise applications.
Think about the fact that smartphones didn’t exist just ten years ago. Think about the server-side ramifications of all that recent change, and where we are today. Having a hardware-based HTTP termination point, WebSocket wireline support, higher connection density and using messaging as a communication paradigm even over HTTP is allowing front end applications to become much more scalable, faster, and most importantly easier and more intuitive.
Lets examine this from an application developer’s perspective to see if we can extrapolate what’s next.
Remembering Darwin – the front-end evolution with the changing ecosystem
The evolution of application front ends and back ends (i.e. client side and server side) has been a game of leapfrog, with one’s evolution enabling and driver the other. This is not surprising as the division of responsibility in a typical IT organization has had different people developing front end and back end systems. It’s also interesting to note that the footprint and sophistication of clients has cycled between thick and thin several times.
So what does back-end bandwidth have to do with front-end applications?
The 6x10Gbps Ethernet card from Solace is the next generation termination point for the modern web and mobile client. It terminates HTTP in Hardware, supports WebSocket wireline for HTML5, supports binary payloads and brings messaging in hardware as a paradigm to web and smartphone applications.
It supports classic request reply, and the very interesting push messaging a.k.a pub sub, where the app can get updated content by listening to relevant “topics”, which the server side can publish. A modern stock ticker or flight information display system, or sports scorecard or betting odds display, or an object updating on a map – all these are “push” messaging by nature – which we have implemented as “pull or poll”. But with Web messaging, they can now be implemented the way they should be – publish /subsribe, and only data and not html flowing from server to client (browser and app alike).
And for most interactions, the good old request reply is also supported, via messaging in hardware. I.e. you can click a button to buy or sell stocks, or place a bet or buy a ticket or pay a bill – isn’t that just a message going from you client (browser or app) to the serverside (Solace hardware), which then goes to the business logic systems?
No OS, no external hardware, no interrupts, 99.999 reliability and 1 appliance easily taking 20 web servers out, simplifying the app server greatly, by making it to what it should do – application business logic, and not what it ended up doing – transport handling. Let’s move the transport into hardware. We run switches or Wifi hardware even in homes – so that we don’t see BSODs or Out of Memory Errors in them. Transport can be and should further be moved to hardware.
Messaging – Simplifying the Web and Mobile Platforms
Modern web apps are leveraging this new architecture rapidly. And M2M integration is naturally following as well. A hardware endpoint for all channels – front ends or sensors – changes the game completely. Much larger volumes or data can be now handled. Big Data in Motion is as critical as Big Data Analytics – and appliances make that possible. Most importantly, much richer and more responsive and functional apps are being created – by dropping the baggage of handling HTTP and HTML in app servers, moving this to hardware.
In Part II of this article, I’ll go through how a web app can be migrated to leverage this hardware HTTP server architecture in detail, explaining the diagram shown here.