Category Archives: Inverse Code-on-Demand

REST scales across users by executing code logic on the user agent or proxy rather than the host. Inverse REST scales across big data by moving the code to the data rather than attempting to move the data to the code.

Game Over for VMs, what’s next?

That includes the Java VM.  Yes, you heard it.  I’ve been writing Java since 1996 and in 2016 I can officially say that all the reasons I supported Java for all these years no longer apply.  I accurately predicted the rise of Java when the technology was literally a laughing stock, and I have stuck with it for very good reasons until now.  What’s Changed?  And more importantly: What’s Next?

FYI: this post relates to mission critical enterprise software, not desktop software

What’s Changed?

  • Back in the day, there were legions of different processors, endian issues, and not even agreement on how big a “byte” was.  Now only three viable von Neumann architectures exist:  Intel, Intel, and Intel.  The von Neumann architecture itself is dead too.  We’ll get to that.
  • In yesteryear, networks were slow so you had to move the code around to avoid moving the data across the network.  Java Applets and Hadoop are good examples of this.  Java was ideal for this because of platform independence, dynamic class loading, and dynamic compilation to native code.  Now it is actually the software which is slowing the networks today, not the other way around.  We’ll get to that.
  • In the old days, operating systems vied for superiority, spreading FUD as they went.  No one knew who would win (nail-biter).  Now there are only three operating systems vying for dominance: and they are all flavors of Linux.

What’s Next?

Spinning up a Linux container has literally almost no overhead, and yet has enterprise class resource management, security, and robustness.  The industry currently focuses on microservices as a design pattern for client side applications, however this pattern applies equally to server-side applications as well.  New Linux flavors like CoreOS and Alpine build on this concept where everything except the kernel is a microservice operating in a container.  This allows very high levels of performance, security, and efficiency in the kernel that all the other services rely upon.  These new server-side microservice platforms provide all the enterprise class deployment, management, monitoring, security, and interoperability that the Java Platform delivered 21 years ago, without the need for a virtual machine of any kind.  Server-side microservices provide both resource isolation and maximum performance at the same time: at a level which neither the Java VM nor any VM can come close to matching.  And what would be the language of choice for implementing these world changing server-side microservices?

The OS itself is implemented in C, so naturally any server-side microservice not implemented in C will have a very hard time competing with those who are.  Note that the container model completely eliminates the normal native package management hell associated with C, even to the point where an “Apple Store” for containers was recently announced by Docker.

Marketplaces like the Docker Store allow purchasing an entire server cluster pre-configured with server-side microservices of your choice on any cloud platform or even in a local bare metal data center.  The same solution also solves the cloud vendor lock-in that many companies have been struggling with.  Like I said: GAME OVER

On a final note: von Neumann microprocessors no longer fit Moore’s Law and price / performance ratios been degrading for some time now.  The data volumes and low latency requirements of the Internet-of-Things will soon place unbearable pressures on the von Neumann microprocessor model.  Programmable hardware such as FPGA have traditionally required learning different languages and complete software re-write to take advantage of programmable processor architecture.  Seymour Cray founded a company 20 years ago with this exact realization, and the graphic below says it all.  If you want to leverage the power of the Saturn FPGA cartridge, you’ll be writing your code in C, thank you very much 🙂




Watching the adoption of Native Scala is like watching the faces of the Lemmings when…

They realize all their “little friends” have been leading them off the face of a cliff.  I know it’s a bit macabre, but *can* I watch?  The Oracle-hating (read success-hating) that birthed Scala is finally coming to a head.  lemmings

By their fruits you shall know them.  The final fraudulent claim: all the trash code produced by Scala’s over-complexity will somehow run faster natively, and that the saving grace is finally getting rid of that darn JVM.  As I have said previously FYI: creating a new language does’t make your writing better.  Java used to have ahead-of-time compilation too, but that died off because dynamic run time application redefinition is more valuable in a business sense then statically compiled code.  It is easy to criticize a mature, free, and broadly adopted platform like the JVM for the minor flaws it has, and very hard to create a new native platform that actually works.  More likely Scala will loose the tiny market share it has long before this native platform kills off the stragglers.

But seriously, is it too much to hope that *all* the talent-haters and success-haters will be killed off by this one Darwin Award qualifying mass extinction event?


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Oracle SWiS DAX APIs: instant classic

The Software In Silicon Data Analytic Accelerator (SWiS DAX) APIs released by Oracle this week signify a sea change for big data and fast data analytic processing.  SWiS-DAXNatively accelerated common analytic functions usable in C, Python, and Java have already shown a 6x lift for a Spark cube building applicationApache Flink and Apache Drill completely eclipse Spark performance so it will be very interesting to see upcoming benchmarks of these higher performing frameworks on SWiS DAX.  There is nothing to keep any vendor or group from bench marking with these APIs as they will work with any C, Python, or Java application.

I’m also looking forward to testing performance of SWiS DAX on non-partitionable data sets in a big memory SMP architecture as well.  The easy problems are partitionable, and true data discovery should allow any-to-any relations without injecting a-priori partitioning assumptions.

It seems that Oracle’s long standing commitment to developing Sun’s Sparc processors is about to pay off in a very big way for big data and fast data analysts.

FYI: creating a new language does’t make your writing better

Remember back in the the day when the some kids would invent their own language like Pig Latin and then talk it amougst themselves?  And if you didn’t talk to them in Pig Latin you just weren’t cool enough to be part of the conversation.  I was more like the “why bother” kid.  Not that I couldn’t learn Pig Latin, I just didn’t see the point.  Seriously, not that much changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m being hard on Berkley out of love.  Several of my relatives went there during the People’s Park era.  I get that having your own language like Swift or Go provides artificial culture creation and built-in revenue protection.  That’s fine if you want to program to the Google or Apple cool-aid culture and plug right in.  Not my thing, but it takes all kinds.  It’s just that I’m not getting this whole Scala thing.  Why it exists.

Ok so I get that for a lot of people the Java music died when Scott McNealy finally sold out to Oracle.  And the whole Bill Joy thing and how that was handled…  Shameful, all.  Oracle’s attempts to profiteer and build an empire off Java with things like the OpenOffice purchase: ridiculous.  But the funny thing is, Oracle has taken a beating from their industry customers (like me) and has actually realized that being a great Java stakeholder is the best chance they have of preserving market share.  Of course they would never admit that publicly but that’s what I love about Oracle: they spend a lot more time delivering than talking about it.  They’re kind of like the quiet doer kid who thinks he’s Iron Man.

The thing I don’t get is that if you want to go functional, why not go all the way?  Why create a Java hybrid, and then keep backing it even when the parent language already added functional constructs?  Lisp has been around forever.  Heck back in the 90s I did functional programming in C with void pointers.  And Java *gained* more than twice the market share than Scala ever had between 2015 and 2016.  Talk about a moving target.

So lets take a look at a shining example of how Scala is such a more elegant and maintainable language than Java:

Spaghetti alla Spark e Scala del primo

So a couple of points about the above, which sits at the core of the Spark tool which is driving most of this Scala noise:

  1. I’ve seen better spaghetti code written in C using goto statements
  2. No knowledge of and/or respect for Gang of Four patterns, Enterprise Integration Patterns, or any other principles self-respecting programmers follow
  3. Hard coding Hadoop dependencies in because that’s for sure how I’ll store data when everything is on Non-volatile RAM

It’s not really about the language in the end: it’s about who’s writing it and the quality and integrity of what is written.

So I just want to say it clearly and definitively for all to hear: Twitter is dead wrong, Nathan Marz is right, and the coolest kids are alive and well and speaking Clojure just because they love it.  Nothing personal.

Hermetic Lambdas: a Solution for Big Data Dependency Collisions

Dependency collisions furnish plenty of headaches and late nights while implementing Lambda Architecture.  Java class loading containers tend toward complexity and many frameworks such as Hadoop, JCascalog, and Storm provide tons of transitive dependencies but no dependency isolation for third party Lambda code deployed in the same JVM.  So currently to benefit from running in the same JVM, all the transitive dependencies come along for the ride.  This impacts:

  • Portability: Lambda logic shared in the batch layer and the speed layer must cope with at least two different sets of dependencies.
  • Manageability: framework version upgrades may cause hard failures or other incompatibilities in Lambda logic due to changing dependency versions.
  • Performance: solving the problem by forcing JVM isolation incurs overhead from IPC or network chatter.  Likewise, utilizing scripting or dynamic languages merely hides the problem rather than solving it, while imposing additional performance penalties.
  • Complexity: developing Lambdas requires knowledge and accommodation of all the dependencies of all frameworks targeted for deployment.

Many developers and architects rightfully shy away from deploying bloated dependency container frameworks such as Spring or OSGI inside of a big data framework.  Big data and fast data provide enough complexity already.  So lets look at how we can use a simple pattern, along with basic core Java libraries, to avoid “Dependency Hell“.

Signs you may be encountering this problem include these types of exceptions occurring after deployment:

  • java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: when a method no longer exists which your code depends on
  • java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: when a class your code uses cannot be found in the deployed class path
  • java.lang.IllegalAccessException: when conflicting versions of an API mark methods or fields private

Please reference my github project for a complete working implementation along with unit tests.

Shows how the Lambda executes within the big data framework in an isolated dependency context
Lambda Execution Model

Hermetic Classloading

The Java Service Loader framework introduced in JDK 1.6 provides a way to dynamically bind an implementation class to an interface while specifying an alternate class loader.  Loading a Lamda implementation with ServiceLoader forces all code called within the context of the Lamda to use the same class loader.  This allows creating a service which supports parent-first class loading, child-first class loading, or child-only (or hermetic) class loading.  In this case, the hermetic loader prevents any possible dependency collisions.  To create a hermetic loader, we need simply utilize the built-in URLClassLoader in Java.  Our implementation jar can reside on the local file system, on a web server, or in HDFS: anywhere a URL can point to.  For the parent class loader, we specify the Java bootstrap class loader.  So we can implement a hermetic class loading pattern in one line of code:

ServiceLoader<Map> loader = ServiceLoader.load(Map.class, 
    new URLClassLoader(urls, Map.class.getClassLoader()));

Note that we intentionally avoid calling ClassLoader.getSystemClassLoader() in order to prevent the calling context (such as Hadoop or Hive) form polluting the Lambda class path.  Core packages such as java.lang and java.util use the bootstrap class loader, which only carries core Java dependencies shipped as part of the JDK.  The diagram above shows how the LambdaBoot framework fits within a big data framework such as Hadoop.

Mapping the World

In the example above, we use a Map interface to interact with the Lambda.  This allows us to avoid having a separate jar containing a Service Provider Interface (SPI).  Instead, we can subclass the Map and provide any behavior desired by intercepting get and put calls to specific keys.  By optionally returning a Future from a get or put call on the Map, we get asynchronous interaction as well if desired.  In addition, the non-sensitive Map keys can provide metadata facilities.  In the example of linear regression implemented as a Map, we use a conflicting version of Apache Commons Math not yet supported by Hadoop to calculate the regression.

Shows how the LambdaBoot framework can work with deployment tools such as Jenkins, Puppet, and Git
Lambda Deployment Model


Using a very simple pattern, we can deploy Hermetic Lambdas to any Java environment without fear of dependency collisions.  The ServiceLoader also acts as a service registry, allowing us to browse metadata about available Lambdas, dynamically load new Lamdas, or update existing Lambdas.

Titan: Cassandra vs. Hazelcast persistence benchmark

10 node load test comparison using Amazon EC2 SSD-based instances.  1 billion vertices and 1 billion edges processed for each test run.  Used the titan-loadtest project to run each test.


Experiment maximizes data locality by co-locating load generation, Titan graph database, and Cassandra/Hazelcast within the same JVM instance while partitioning data across a cluster. Exploration of methods for tuning garbage collection, Titan, and Cassandra for the peer computing use case.

The following components were utilized during the experiment:

Technology Version
RHEL x64 HVM AMI 6.4
Oracle JDK x64 1.7_45
Apache Cassandra 1.2.9
Hazelcast 3.1.1
Titan 0.3.2

Each test iteration has 6 read ratio phases starting with 0% reads (100% writes) all the way up to 90% reads and 10% writes.  For all tests, the persistence implementation executes in the same JVM as Titan to avoid unnecessary context switching and serialization overhead.  Tests were conducted using an Amazon placement group to ensure instances resided on the same subnet.  The storage was formatted with 4K blocks and used the noop scheduler to improve latency.

For each phase, new vertices were added with one edge linking back to a previous vertex.  No tests of update or delete were conducted.

Please see the titan-loadtest project above for all Cassandra and Hazelcast settings and configurations used in the test.


Titan 10 node Summary
Titan 10 node Summary

Please note: the results are listed in rates of thousands of vertices per second and include the creation of an edge as well as a vertex. Also, the Hazelcast SSD x1 results used a custom flash storage module for Hazelcast developed privately so those results are not replicable without that module installed.


Hazelcast performed better than Cassandra for all tests and demonstrated one order of magnitude better performance on reads.  Surprisingly, Hazelcast slightly outperformed Cassandra for writes as well.

The Elephant and the Rhino

If we use JavaScript for Code On Demand couldn’t we also use it for Inverse Code on Demand using Hadoop?  It’s not as hard to find people who know JavaScript as it is to find people who know Groovy or Python.  Less of a learning curve for everyone involved if we use the most popular scripting language for our embedded business rules.   Plus if we build them right we could use the same business rule across our entire ultra high scale web presence: from the browser to the elastic map reduce

Mozilla Rhino doesn’t have a lot of marketing behind it, but it’s been around.  Feature rich, mature, and embeddable: Mozilla’s JavaScript engine looks like a winner. We could inject input splits and emit results with ease.

Plus if you thought the Bull in the china shop was fun, wait until you see the Elephant and the Rhino!

Make the Elephant and the Rhino your partner, and utterly destroy a china shop near you!  China Shops don’t scale anyway…

Tips for Implementing Rhino in Hadoop

Make sure to use the Java scripting API compilation option in the setup and cleanup method of your mapper or reducer. Please see this article on how to compile scripts.  This dramatically reduces the CPU requirements and execution time for scripts.

Inverse REST

The principles of REST allow HTTP to scale to Internet user volumes, and code-on-demand provides one of the building blocks of REST.  Code-on-demand allows rich content on the browser via JavaScript or browser plug-ins, and this technique has matured so much that it requires minimal server interaction to run even the most sophisticated applications.

In short, code-on-demand enables scaling across across users by moving the code (logic) to the consumer, instead of requiring the consumer to make a remote request to the code.

It follows logically that any successful approach to scaling across big data requires inverting REST and executing the code as close to the data as possible, rather than trying to move big data to the code.

Likewise, the web architecture scales across users by utilizing caching to provide data locality for shared data.  Scaling across big data also requires data locality for reference data. We must move our small data close to our big data to scale efficiently.

The major flaw designed into many current big data applications involves the failure to utilize the inverse of REST: SOA and integration vendors sell customers on the idea that big data problems can be solved by moving all data through a layer of middle-ware: whether this be a J2EE application server, a service bus, or an integration tool.  I have literally spent years of my career trying to tune and optimize middle-ware solutions for big data.  That’s why I can say definitively that the middle-ware concept does very well at selling a lot of consulting hours, software licenses, and hardware.  What it does not do is scale to big data.

You could code all the big data logic in stored procedures, assuming willingness to embed business logic into a closed system, and assuming that a database will scale to your data volumes.  Database vendors are only beginning to utilize Inverse REST: evaluating filters , transformations, and lookups in the storage pipeline is a new (or non-existent) feature in most DBMS systems.  Yet another opportunity for vendor lock-in.

Hadoop Map Reduce follows an open system implementation of inverse REST.

Regardless of who wins that battle between RDBMS and Map/Reduce one thing is certain: anyone not leveraging the principles of Inverse REST will be left in the dust.

Google, Yahoo, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and others have already hit the wall, and it’s only a matter of time before we all do.