I started writing about the GigaSpaces customer conference in part I of this post. Here is the rest of it.
The most surprising presentation for me was the presentation by Neil Vernon, Senior Product Manager at SmartStream. SmartStream is one of the leading providers of Transaction Lifecycle Management (TLM) solutions. We started engaging with them about a year ago, when I first presented our Space-Based Architecture (SBA) approach for scaling stateful applications. At the time they weren't even using Java and made a strategic decision to move their legacy application code to Java. They did a very thorough evaluation of our product. The goal of the evaluation was to determine that SBA can truly deliver linear scalability in high-throughput, stateful environments, as we had claimed. During the PoC we built together a small-scale SBA equivalent of their legacy system and ran different benchmarks against it. Not surprisingly, the results showed a perfect graph of linear scalability, i.e., the throughput grew with direct proportion to the number of instances in the cluster and the number of loaders. They were also using our Service Grid to deploy and scale their entire application (not just the data part of it). In addition, they interviewed large investment banks to get their view on a solution that is based on GigaSpaces as the platform. The response they received was extremely positive and showed that our customers view SBA as a competitive advantage. In the process, we also learned a few things about their negotiations skills (I won’t dwell on that, so as not to embarrass our sales guys. Seems like we can learn a few tricks from them
Next came Alejandro Ramallo from British American Tobacco (aka BAT, the world's second largest in their category), one of our earliest customers. Alejandro bought into the JavaSpaces model in the early days, and built a grid-based order processing system with our implementation. His application uses a “master/worker” pattern, which takes orders from field agents and parallel processes them in the backend system. This enables BAT to scale easily as the number of orders and/or field agents grows. [BTW, they are using our 2.5 (!) release in production for more than 4 years without any problem.] Using this approach they where able to replace large, expensive boxes with 15 commodity machines, and achieve a 12x performance gain. Alejandro is now working on a similar initiative in the UK. Way to go, Alejandro!
Baruch Chasid, CTO of TraderTools, presented their global order management system, built entirely in .Net. TraderTools is one of the world's leading suppliers of electronic Foreign Exchange (eFX) white-label software solutions. Their application distributes trade orders and market data across several geographical locations using our distributed clustering mechanism to synchronize the data between the different sites. In order to save WAN bandwidth, each site is maintains its own copy of the order book. Traders use that copy to get updates on market data and orders without going through the WAN.
Next to present was Steve Colwill, Principal at PSJ Solutions, a close partner of ours for several years now. They have been working with some of our customers in the UK helping them implement their applications on top of GigaSpaces. As part of this work they have developed a set of complementary solutions for task monitoring, management and utilities that simplify and shorten the development cycle significantly.
In this specific session Steve presented how they have built for a customer a reliable, distributed order management system with a service-oriented architecture (SOA) using GigaSpaces. He also presented an impressive tool they had built for that customer to handle real-time monitoring of Space activity for operations and real-time business information for a leading telco operator, using GigaSpaces of course. They used Space Based Architecture to maintain workflow between their services and they used the master/worker pattern to parallelize and scale-out the transaction processing work associated with the order processing. They used our persistent space capabilities to handle transparent persistence of the data. The application replaced an existing one, which used a traditional monolithic approach that was very fragile due to the tight coupling among the various application components. This tight coupling led to major failure of their system during the Christmas rush. Since they've been using GigaSpaces, their system has been running in production for a while without any failure.
An interesting point here is that one of the organization’s back-end systems suffered a major failure and was down for several days. Once the system was recovered, all the orders stored in the GigaSpaces application during those days were pooled immediately and executed resulting in zero data loss! You can read an interesting testimonial about that project here. These days, PSJ is working on a Java-based global order management system in Hong Kong, similar to the one TraderTools is building in .Net.
The next session was given by Sebastian Titakis, Project Manager, Commerzbank AG. He presented architecture for speeding up their analytics using GigaSpaces in their risk data for credit applications. They’re using some of our recent Spring stuff and will be among the first converting to our new 6.0 release. They integrated our solution with SunGard mathematical libraries for executing their calculations. Sebastian emphasized how easy it was to develop a highly scalable and flexible application using the GigaSpaces SBA approach.
Biju Potty, Infosys MiFID Solution Group, then presented how they use GigaSpaces as a core component of its new MiFID Execution Solution. Solutions around MiFID are in high demand these days in Europe. In the session, Biju demonstrated how GigaSpaces was integrated with Infosys' post-trade surveillance & reporting best execution solution and made it highly scalable to meet high-volume, near real-time computation requirements.
The final presentation of the day was given by me. I presented our 6.0 XAP (eXtreme Application Platform) release and our future roadmap for scaling out of the entire application in a simple and easy way using our new OpenSpaces framework. I was happy to see that even at such a late hour of a long day, the audience was highly engaged and there were plenty of questions coming from the crowd mostly in the area of how SBA and OpenSpaces relate to SOA, as well as questions about migrating from an existing GigaSpaces environment to 6.0.
BTW, you can find good answers to these questions on our new 6.0 Wiki pages. Specifically, I suggest looking at OpenSpaces FAQ and XAP Overview. Owen Taylor provides additional useful links here. You can now also download our 6.0 RC1 – check it out.
After hearing all those success stories and how customers view the value of what we’re doing, it was pretty evident that linear scalability is the primary objective our customers are looking for -- and were able to achieve with our technology. SBA is real and working in production systems in the most mission critical applications. It also seems that the direction we took with the 6.0 release and OpenSpaces was right on the money and addresses some of the major concerns related to learning curve, development complexity, etc. It was also pretty clear that everyone in that room felt that we’re witnessing the creation of a revolutionary approach that is going to change how distributed application are built. I could actually feel the excitement build in the room.
For those who missed the event – sorry. We can partly make it up to you as we videotaped all of the sessions and some of the presenters have allowed us to make them publicly available on our web site (coming soon).
At the end of the event we had some food and an open bar available in an adjacent room in the hotel – as well as various games (foosball, ping pong, etc.). Thanks go to our partners at BEA Systems who sponsored the cocktail. Amir Prescher from Voltaire was able to beat myself, Onn and Michael Mitrani in almost every game – I don't know if that says something about our gaming skills at GigaSpaces. My excuse is that I was pretty exhausted after all this excitement. I was so exhausted I literally crashed during the dinner party in one of the nice London restaurants (at that point of time I literally lost consciousness so don't expect any recommendation, I don't even have a clue where it was).
That’s it for the Customer Conference. Finally, I want to give a big thanks to our EMEA and marketing teams for putting together such a successful event.