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Making real-time real by giving developers the tools they need

Thu 18 Feb 2021 | Denis King

It’s time to help developers by giving them what they what. Denis King, Chief Executive Officer, Solace

Despite significant advancements in the software development community, many developers are handcuffed to outdated, complex platforms that were implemented before the developer first said “Hello world”. These relics from the batch era are depriving the brightest brains in our industry of the capabilities they need to create applications which truly move the needle for today’s digital enterprises.

The speed of business continues to move forward rapidly, and enterprises need to react to events almost instantly. Events are those occurrences or state changes that can be recognized, transmitted, processed, and reacted to by other applications. All of the things that happen within and to your enterprise are “events” – customer requests, inventory updates, sensor readings, the works.

But in-motion events are only the beginning of innovation. Today’s application development teams need to write event-driven applications so they can take advantage of the continual stream of events. This demands an event-driven architecture designed to facilitate real-time capabilities. Today’s enterprise applications, whether they navigate rockets or match digital soulmates, need to deliver positive outcomes at the touch of a button or flick of a thumb, no ifs or buts about it.

Event-driven applications take advantage of a middleware layer that enables developers and architects to connect crucial events in real-time across enterprises from transportation to gaming. This is an exciting time to be coding and connecting enterprise applications.

As an example, a manufacturing customer of ours saw significant disruption to their supply chains as a result of the Covid pandemic: toilet roll was in the wrong packaging and wrong locations, for instance.

As they struggled to adjust their supply chain to rapidly changing needs, shipping containers were often in the wrong locations and being left underused. Shipping companies charge fees (“defence and demurrage”) for this, costing the customer over €15M a year.

Using event-driven technologies, the customer was able to tap into the stream of logistics events to create a real-time dashboard of shipments, containers, customs interactions and contracts. The customer could visualize, react to and automate the redistribution of these containers.

Now, developers have the event platform they need to embrace event-driven architectures.

There are two core components within this platform – an event mesh and an event portal – that solve different problems.

An event mesh is a network of interconnected event brokers. It’s a configurable and dynamic infrastructure layer for distributing events among decoupled applications, cloud services, and devices. If you want your event communications to be governed, flexible, reliable and fast, this is the necessity.

An event portal is where you manage your events ecosystem. It’s the homebase where you design, create, discover, catalog, share, visualize, secure, and manage your events and event-driven applications. If you are stitching together your events ecosystem through some unwieldy combination of Excel sheets and Visio files, an event portal solves all that and more.

What developers want

There are many programming languages, software automation, and protocols used across different development teams and groups. From the mainstream to the emerging newcomers, one size never did fit all, now less than ever.

Today’s digitized organizations face tough challenges as they try to mitigate coding complexity while achieving uniform data access when and where it is needed.

Open protocols like MQTT, AMQP, or JMS; open APIs such as Paho and Qpid; various flavours of Kubernetes such as Anthos, Rancher, or Tanzu; or coding languages such as iOS, Java, and JavaScript provide an immense and complex palette for the modern developer. But when it comes to deployment, this embarrassment of choice can make significant demands on IT operations.

There is a critical trade-off between the creativity developers crave and the limited IT Ops resources of most organizations outside the financial sector.

If developers are programming across an open, secure platform with the tools they need to document and share their events, they can create applications and solutions that impact a business positively. They want to be writing mission-critical code, not worrying about managing the life-cycle of event streams.

It’s time for real-time business

The ability to manage events in real-time is at the heart of the productivity leap promised by DevOps and the nascent ITops and ITSecOps movements. Whoever does it better is likely to be more agile as an enterprise and more equipped to deliver world-class customer experiences.

Processing events both at enterprise scale and in real-time is invaluable because it creates an architectural response to real-world sensitivities. There is simply no other way to deliver the responsiveness needed for modern use cases.

Letting applications act on information based on user actions and changes in condition (rather than request/reply polling) makes it possible to identify and act on opportunities as and when they occur, instead of processing them after opportunities have passed. This applies whether you are making complex financial instrument swaps or bidding to secure a taxi ride late at night.

Again, this is why an event portal is so critical. For application and data architects, it enables them to define events, design real-time data flows, discover what exists, and model new components to build a discrete application. For developers, the event portal allows collaboration with architects before ultimately generating the core code required to build central application elements.

Connecting tomorrow’s enterprises for real

When developers are building an application, they need to be cognizant of where its functionality fits within the wider enterprise, and crucially how this will connect with different applications. More than anything else, though, they need to understand how events can be processed and brokered across the entire architecture, from the application layer to every endpoint.

Modern development ultimately comes down to this question: given the swathes of events across their network, how can we make real-time operations as easy as possible for enterprises?

It’s a complex question, but one essential facet to the answer is to provide enterprise solutions architects and developers with an event streaming and management platform that supports open standard protocols, makes it easy to connect event brokers to form an event mesh, and provides a centralized event portal to manage the whole ecosystem of events.

This is how the connected, event-driven world of the future will be built.

Experts featured:

Denis King


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