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Of integration, interoperability and co-existence

Stacy Baird | Aug. 25, 2010
Middleware, virtualisation, translators and converters blend technology regardless of the approach, be that proprietary or open source.

In my last commentary, I elaborated on how open source and proprietary technology have progressively come together for the benefit of the modern enterprise.

This increasingly common practice often requires translators or converters. One popular approach to integration, service-oriented architecture (SOA) uses middleware; a second approach uses virtualisation. Translators and converters can also be more task-specific.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) organises enterprise business processes as services to the end-user and allows different applications to share data to participate in those services. Software called middleware serves as an adaptor between various software layers. Oracle Fusion Middleware, Microsofts .NET framework and SAP Netweaver are among the SOA middleware offerings. Microsoft Biztalk Server and IBM Websphere integrate business processes, and Redhat offers open-source, cross-platform Java-based JBoss middleware.

For example, the Portuguese government used SOA to integrate its open source and proprietary IT and ensure continued access to valuable legacy resources. Agency systems include IBM AS/400s, proprietary Oracle and open-source PostgreSQL database systems, Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE), JBoss middleware and four operating systems (Microsoft Windows, Linux, and proprietary versions of Unix, IBMs AIX and Hewlett Packard HU/UX).

The system had to be scalable from the initial five to now over 800 agencies and present the government in a unified way to the end-user. The Public Citizens and Business Portals use Web services to provide citizens access via the Internet, mobile and SMS. Eliminating redundant equipment and point-to-point data flow, and improving information management resulted in significant cost savings.

In todays environment, CIOs look for every opportunity to cut costs. Virtualisation enables one operating system (OS) (e.g., Linux) to operate in a virtual machine on top of another OS (e.g. Windows, Apple OS X), sharing hardware resources and facilitating the sharing of data between applications on each OS. Server virtualisation allows an enterprise to use a mix of server OS, often both open source and proprietary, on their server hardware. It increases system efficiency and reduces the number of machines required, lowering operating costs and energy consumption.

Because virtualisation can place high demand on processors and require substantial memory for effective implementation, only in the last few years has it become a viable large-scale solution due to improvements in virtualisation software, increases in processing power and reductions in the cost of memory.

Take the example of the United States House of Representatives buildings which could no longer meet the electrical capacity demands to run and cool the centralised and federated computers in their system. The IT team chose virtualisation to consolidate, setting goals to reduce from 450 to 100 servers and increase server utilisation from seven per cent to 60 per cent; expecting energy savings up to 45 per cent and substantial heat reduction.


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