Changing the Java game

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2006-05-15 Print this article Print

"Think of it as a HotSpot for clustering," Zilka said. HotSpot is Suns Java virtual machine. And Terracotta extends the Java run-time, he said.

Among the trends that drove Goldman to seek a solution such as Terracotta were the need to do more for less cost, an increase in use of Java and Web services, a data explosion within the company, and increased complexity in system needs and user requirements, Campbell said.

"Complexity drives increased costs, time to market and outages," Campbell said. "We have 15,000 servers out there doing enterprise apps, and another several thousand doing risk analysis."

Vladimir Zakharov, vice president of technology and technical architect at Goldman, said the companys existing system shared a pool of data across a community of 20 applications.

Zakharov said there was limited scalability: A monolithic cache supported a limited number of concurrent requests and could not scale without explicitly replicating the data. But the companys new requirements called for scalable applications and unlimited system scalability, he said.

Goldman did a lot of testing on Version 1.0 of Terracottas solution but that version performed below the companys requirements, Zakharov said. Version 1.5, which is in test internally at Goldman now, is meeting the companys needs, he said.

"Terracotta DSO [Distributed Shared Objects] is a very compelling solution," Zakharov said.

"Terracottas the only company out there saying you dont need another API," Zilka said. "You dont need a tool to get this done at design time."

Meanwhile, "the status of the app is [that] they are still testing to make sure that everything works," said Campbell of the efforts at Goldman to integrate Terracotta. "So its in test mode. They just received a beta version of 1.5, and that testing should be done over the next couple of weeks. The go-live date for this is later in the year."

Campbell said the application in question is currently taking in 12GB of data.

"It has 5 million positions, and were hoping to take that to 10 million by the end of the year," Campbell said. "A position is a refined view of some activity inside Goldman Sachs. It contains a number of data points. There are 35 data points on your average position. Theres a minimum of 35 data points in any brokerage houses definition of a position."

Moreover, with the goal of 10 million positions by the end of the year, "theyre looking at essentially unlimited scaling for a series of reasons," Campbell said. "The first one is that our business is continuing to grow, and theres an increasing number of complex instruments that are creating even more data. The second reason is that if these position objects become cheap in terms of our ability to continue to invent more, then we can build more applications and start to add more information to extend our business. It becomes a good business for us."

Zilka said he sort of bucked the trend in creating Terracotta. "Java provides a tool kit for developers to take an object and create a copy of it and ship it across the network to another server," Zilka said. "So everybody that preceded Terracotta jumped down that development path and said, Im just going to use this serialization API because its the tool youre supposed to use to copy an object between machines. But in using that tool, Java Native Serialization, youve already jumped down the path of creating copies of data. And youve got a non-drop-in solution."

Indeed, "Interestingly, that serialization tool is really a non-Java-ish tool," Campbell said.

Zilka said Terracotta is about to deliver Version 2.0 of its software, which will "change the game for Java in the enterprise."

Meanwhile, Goldman is not only testing and preparing to go live with Terracottas software, it also has invested in the software company. Goldman was part of a second-round funding of $13.5 million in Terracotta in February.

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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