Computerworld posted a story yesterday about hybrid systems speeding up corporate apps. Without getting into the obvious joke about how many miles per gallon these systems will get, this echoes conversations we are having daily with Wall Street and cloud computing firms about how hardware assist can help deal with performance issues – both volume of data, and latency of response
In the article, Steve Conway, an analyst at IDC, is quoted as saying: “[Performance issues] are causing a real shift in the capability to get the work done, ” he said. “It’s no secret that microprocessor speeds stalled out a few years ago. [Computer makers] need to do something, [so] they’re adding accelerators.” The reality is that most enterprise coders are looking to write more abstracted code (C, Java, CEP engine rules, etc) not more processor specific code. It is beyond the capability of most enterprise programmers to parallelize their code across CPUs and consolidate the results. Vendor coders eventually make strides in these directions, but they too have plenty of motivation to stay processor agnostic. For hardware assist to catch on quickly, it has to be seamless to the people writing the apps. Best of all is if it can slip in with no changes to the app at all. This is much easier to do for standardized protocols like messaging and caching than it is for custom algo trading or other customer-specific coding.
The great debate right now, on Wall St. in particular, is how much of the future of fast distributed computing can be ’off-the-shelf‘ in software/hardware and how much of it will require customers to re-architect their apps, which still represent the largest portions of end-to-end latency in most cases.
This is where the crystal ball is needed and the implications of this story really get interesting. Who will bring to market the component tools to make hardware assist as easy and seamless as possible for enterprise IT-grade coders to take advantage? Will the next hot recruits in finance be video game designers (who understand how these ultra-fast graphics chips work)?
One thing is for sure, this hybrid space will move a lot further a lot faster than the evolution of greener transportation has…