This is part 3 in a 10 part series: 10 reasons for the growth in middleware appliances. The series summarizes what we’ve learned from our clients about what they value in appliances and why they selected Solace.
So far I’ve talked about saving money and making life easier. The third leg in the stool of commonly recognized advantages of appliances is higher performance. There is no one definition for “kick-ass performance” – it has to be defined in context of some set of rules or objectives. Sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest man in history over 100 and 200 meters, but at 400 meters the edge goes to Michael Johnston. And neither could hold a candle to Haile Gebrselassie in a marathon. Of course, any of these three elite athletes would be schooled playing one-on-one hoops against LeBron James.
General purpose computers are remarkably flexible—you can use a high-end server (with the right OS and software) to run a powerful database, perform high-end 3-D modeling or execute real-time trade order management. But that flexibility is precisely why software on servers can’t compete with purpose-built hardware when it comes to performing a specific task. Software designers are constrained by what servers and operating systems offer them while appliances can design hardware, firmware and software to all aid in solving a particular problem.
Using another analogy, BMWs are high performance cars in comparison to the majority of commuter cars they share the road with, but it’s not a BMW that holds the land speed record, it’s the ThrustSSC (see picture at right). As you can see, you can achieve some pretty amazing performance when you design the hardware with a specific goal.
At Solace, we see messaging middleware as an inextricable combination of network computing and information distribution, and have designed our products to solve just those problems. We use the right technology for each problem, such as network processors for network connectivity and I/O management, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for unique indexing and filtering of information, graphic processor units (GPUs) for high-speed multi-dimensional calculations, and battery-backed memory to accelerate “persistent” storage. Our modular appliances house purpose-specific “blades” that have been specifically designed to perform one function each, better and faster than any software solution. Customer decide what functionality they need and mix and match the blades to end up with a box that meets their requirements.
Here are some examples of how customers use Solace to differentiate from their competitors through higher performance:
Solace delivers best in class performance for each of the messaging middleware problems above. It’s like one integrated, morphable athlete that is Usain Bolt when the challenge is sprinting, Lebron James when the challenge is dunking and Haile Gebrselassie when the challenge is endurance. The reality is that many business applications present a combination of performance challenges, which have historically led firms to choose different messaging for different problems. With a purpose-built appliance that can deliver ultra-high performance for all of the major types of messaging, middleware becomes a scalable shared service, rather than a constant multi-vendor integration project.
There is an old IT saying “Faster, cheaper, easier—Pick any two.” The idea being that solutions that are fast and cheap will be complex, cheap and easy will be slow, and fast and easy will be expensive. With these last three posts I hope I’ve showed how appliances can legitimately be all three: faster, cheaper and easier than software alternatives.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks for seven more reasons why companies tell us they are investing in messaging appliances.