Posts

The Growth of Middleware Appliances and Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

SearchSOA had an article yesterday on the rapid growth in SOA and middleware appliances, a subject near and dear to our hearts here at Solace. Obviously we agree with the observations, given that we are the leading supplier of messaging middleware appliances globally, and have experienced 1512% growth of our own over the past 5 years.

bigdata-paperAs the megatrends of big-data-scale applications and the move from batch to real-time business processes merge, far more information than ever before is on the move. The resulting data volumes and increases in complexity are the key drivers behind the growing adoption of easier to manage and higher capacity application infrastructures.

In fact, we just prepared a fun little piece of visual collateral highlighting the crazy growth in data rates in virtually every industry and the changing requirements that growth places on your middleware  (…and yes, it also addresses what to do if zombies take over your datacenter).… Read the rest

2010 World Cup: Bet on Solace and NovaSparks

Over the past two to three years financial services firms have gone from viewing hardware appliances as a curiosity to viewing them as a necessity. There are three key reasons that hardware has caught on:

  • Performance — for high-volume, highly repetitive tasks, special-purpose chips such as FPGAs, network processors and GPU’s have consistently been shown to outperform software running on general purpose CPUs. For many use cases, especially relating to market data and trading, performance alone is enough of a justification to choose hardware.
  • Simplicity — the turnkey nature of many appliances such as messaging middleware, ticker plants, monitoring tools and security enforcement is appealing to many firms. They are so much easier and less costly to procure, deploy and configure that firms can focus on what they do best instead of getting bogged down with implementation details.
  • Low TCO — appliances can often do the work of many equivalent servers running software, which significantly reduces the overall cost of operating an application or infrastructure.
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Back to the future: the return of appliance-based computing

There was a good article on the Enterprise Systems website this week about the increase in popularity of purpose-built appliances on many fronts across the datacenter.

The points it makes will be familiar to readers of this blog:

IT organizations like the model for the same performance and security reasons vendors do, but also because deployment is a breeze and the initial and on-going costs of appliances are considerably less than software-only solutions or SaaS-based solutions. With the appliance model, gone are additional hardware and software prerequisites because the black-box approach of hardware appliances bundles everything needed into an all-in-one, turnkey solution.

Also gone, and far more considerable, are the professional services costs of the integrator needed to handle the complicated task of installing and integrating new software into an existing environment. Finally, and although varying by solution area, the inherent focus of most appliances is to hide complexity from its end user and thereby simplify its installation, integration, and use.

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Hardware trading: The machines are taking over…

The machines are taking over.With each day that passes it becomes more obvious that hardware is replacing software in the critical path of high performance trading. It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s happening, as the evidence is everywhere:

  • Feed handlers: All of the recent entrants into the feed handler market are using custom hardware.
  • Messaging middleware: Appliances from companies like Solace are winning a larger footprint for market data delivery and back-office order routing.
  • Algo engines: Leading algo trading engines are heavily leveraging FPGAs and GPUs to do ultra-fast simulations that accelerate trading decisions.
  • TCP offload engines: TOEs are taking the place of software TCP stacks on servers.
  • Trading apps:  We’ve even seen a flurry of requests from high performance trading firms looking to execute pre-trade risk checking directly in network processors inline with the hardware messaging bus.

Feed handlers, messaging, algos, network stacks, risk-checking all in hardware.… Read the rest

Specialty hardware named a Gartner top strategic technology for 2009

Gartner just released their list of their 10 top strategic technologies for 2009, and ‘Specialized Systems’ came in at number six on the list. From their press release:

Specialized Systems. Appliances have been used to accomplish IT purposes, but only with a few classes of function have appliances prevailed. Heterogeneous systems are an emerging trend in high-performance computing to address the requirements of the most demanding workloads, and this approach will eventually reach the general-purpose computing market. Heterogeneous systems are also specialized systems with the same single-purpose imitations of appliances, but the heterogeneous system is a server system into which the owner installs software to accomplish its function.

Gartner, in their best Alan Greenspan-esque obfuscation of a simple concept, is calling for this to be the year that specialty hardware (like Solace) that has been successful in high performance computing applications (like financial services) begins crossing into the mainstream.

It doesn’t happen often, but for once I agree with Gartner!… Read the rest

Hardware acceleration in the spotlight at HPoWS

Last week at the High Performance on Wall Street conference, conversation was dominated by the role that specialty hardware can play in accelerating financial trading environments. Technologies like FPGAs, network processors, ASICs and even GPUs were the center of discussion as firms with direct experience shared performance metrics, specialty hardware providers communicated their advantages and software-only solutions took pot shots.

There are now compelling specialty hardware components for nearly all of the end-to-end performance chain including:

At last year’s HPoWS, hardware acceleration was an emerging story. This year it was center stage in the industry’s premier event focusing on ultra-low latency and coping with data volume growth. … Read the rest