Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Microservices - a code problem solved by making it a CM problem.

Microservices is really a buzzword, as in "if you look up the word "buzzword" the explaination is "microservice"". It's a code encapsulation problem solved by making it a CM, which is really just another problem and really not a solution since CM cannot solve code problems since it's not what CM does. It's like saying that REST is a service and not a protocol, because if that's was true you wouldn't need any code implementing the service... eh resource exposer. It's like if you said "honey, could you take out the trash?" in Swahili but it really meant "the weather in north east will be rain" just because you said it in Swahili.

If any starts talking about REST is the shit for solving all your problems, or how you deal with versioning, be afraid... Very afraid.

P.S if anyone starts talks about API management with some product doing that, run... It's ok if you scream too D.S

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Enterprise architecture is fine but redundant

Using EA for describing your business or how your system work is a hazardous thing to do. You can't use EA or any of the modeling concepts EA use because the code is dictating the result. And because the rapid change of code, EA is doomed since it is not modeling the truth any more. Besides a line of code could change the whole EA map and if you don't know where to look you cannot make any decisions about your system. Because how the system is built and where the relative location of the code and the function it represents resides in a system matters this is what you have to track to make sure that your system is even close the the EA model.

Making decisions from a EA model is extremely risky, as I've seen this bring down CIOs just purely because no one checked or understood the importance of the code. Simply modeling part of a system as an entity of a system is not enough and making decisions from this is, most of the time, fatal. If you have bought a system which does the a specific thing, for example a database or system which keeps information about your customers, you cannot treat them as a black box. As soon you do this, the rest of the system is screwed, and particularly each change to this system is doomed to increase costs exponentially. The location of the functions of the system is extremely important but to actually know if a system is an entity you have to look at the code.

The paradox of a system is that if you don't know what the code looks like and get the context of the functionality you won't be able to make decisions about the system. And that means if you cannot look the code you cannot make those decisions. Even if your treat a part of the system as a black box you still have to know how the code is aligned and where the functional chunks of the code is populated to make the right decisions.

The reasons for EA is a bad thing is the thing it tries to solve is in the details of the code and as long those aren't considered your EA map won't be a good baseline to make decisions. If you have architects which are never even close to the code they will supply you with bad intelligence and a decoupled view of your system. And they will cause the system to deteriorate into a system which is extremely expensive to maintain or change.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's damn hard to write software

It's damn hard to write software. There are too many variables to track for writing good and successful product. Even the notion of product is different, sometimes it means a new product from scratch sometimes it's a redefined product, perhaps a product which is split into other products. Sometimes the product you are building is the wrong product, or based on something assumed being right but was the wrong choice. Perhaps the product is so old there is no way of tweaking/building/repairing it so it will be a good product but the customer is too afraid/blind/have no idea/clueless/careless/reckless/"hopefully-you-can-fix-it" to acknowledge that. Sometimes there will be some business case describing some fantasy world where the ability of changing the system is either estimated by an ant or the business haven't even taken things into account that there are a system actually doing the work here. Sometimes you have customers you can ask if you are creating the thing they want, sometimes there are no customers to ask, sometimes the customers doesn't even know what they want, or understand what they need or understand what they are getting. Sometimes the customer is some other system and the true customer has no idea what that system does or even do.

You have project managers which have no idea how to do the things you are doing and how important it is to make sure you are able to do what needs to be done. The same project managers only speak timelines and resources, understanding only the next release and only half understanding the customer or stakeholders. Project leaders with no technical knowledge make decisions they cannot even comprehend since they don't know how to code or they haven't event looked at the code. Most of the project leaders are either strictly religious to some belief of process and/or have minions which notoriously upheld sit, or you have the psychopath which does everything by his or her book, no matter what.

You have architects which are, most probably, the only ones in the whole system which are decoupled, and with reality. They do talk about decoupling and systems but have no idea if it's actually true because they are not in development. They draw fancy diagrams about things which should be like how things should be but they are not even close, so they are just doing drawing things. You have some architects which have no idea what your system really does but still comes up with solutions which just messes thing up more. You have enterprise architects which are even more remotely from the system but dreams up some  un achievable goal, aiming for the stars but satisfied if you end up in the tree tops. Problems are both the goal and the material the goal is decided upon is not even close to the reality since they are not even close to the action. There are also strong religious beliefs making up their decisions because of that (*cough* REST).

You have management which only thinks of their next promotion, and thus they just need to make decisions which are just enough so it will look good to their management. The management just over your management makes descisions about things they cannot make since the information about which decision they should do are in the code. They most often have no idea that they are not in charge anymore since every decision is ruled by your system. It really doesn't matter what the management wants, it's the system which has to be convinced.

You have developers which just want to go home for the day, bored at work, disgruntled. You have developers which want do a perfect job but there are no time. You have developers which doesn't understand what they are doing or why. They don't understand the current technology they are using or language. They are swapping between different languages which makes their code less efficient because it's hard enough with context switching as it is. You have developers which works best in a closed room but they are out with everyone else. You have developers that doesn't talk, doesn't share or even care. There are developers with beliefs they cannot prove, they have beliefs which are true to them but irrelevant to everyone else. They are developers which believe what they are doing is art, and in that case everything that applies artistry should apply to their coding and because of that flame wars starts and things turns ugly.

Then there are the system which hosts the products. If you are lucky there are no previous system and you are building it, but then you probably have to deal with politics and religious flamewars. Otherwise you have to wade through bad decisions, all those quick fixes which bleeds the system until the system is no more than duck tape, because some managers just didn't have the balls to do the right thing. You have to write code with technology which is either outdated or not suitable for the things you try to do. You have to integrate with a system which some suit have bought because he believed the sales guy that sold the system to him, and it turns out it doesn't do what he suit thought he needed or it doesn't work with your current tech stack and somehow your competence suddenly is at stake. You have to integrate with a system which is outdated and even if you applies every tech known to man to make it scale it won't. Or you have to deal with some tech consultant which has "the new next super tech which solves all your previous and new problems" and it still won't fit in with the current technology.

Luckily none of this have happened to me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

SOA is most probably dead at your company.

There are many ways of implementing SOA, now latest buzz word for example is micro services. Many are using some sort of enterprise bus, some says that REST is the way of implementing SOA. Problem is that neither is enough for being even capable of being SOA. It's because they are only dealing with protocols, and protocols are never services and when talking about services the means by reaching it, even REST(whatever flavor) cannot act or even be a service. Even some notation of not using services, whatever that might be, like just wrapping data to JSON, is begging for trouble.

If your goal is to write a sustainable, maintainable and flexible system it will never be about what protocols you are using. It will never be about which application server you are using, or if you are using micro services and particularly never if you are using an enterprise bus, or using some sort event driven distribution. It will and will always be about when you are doing transformations.

Now for example you are using a enterprise service bus with an application server you have failed to being even remotely close to deliver a SOA system. This is because you are not keeping track of your transformations, and fundamentally spread your functionality over several abstraction layers, just by using an ESB. Are you trying to aggregate other services with an ESB you are still creating stronger coupling by just using it because you are not adhering to those interfaces which are defined by either service/resource.

You have just begun your journey to a incredibly much more expensive development, much more entangled system and not creating a flexible system. Everything else is just sales talk. The only way of creating a flexible system is by WRITING it in a way so it won't entangle into a big ball of mud. No external system will or cannot fix anything just by adding it as some additional layer. It will look perfectly good in the simplest cases, particular in a PoC, but in all scenarios and over time you will end up with a more complex solution which will create a less flexible solution as you would without it. If you are using a product for "managing" your API's (WSDL's) or anything which describes your service, you are by just doing this, creating a non-flexible system, because you are not using your abstractions correctly. Using an ESB for anything else than translating a protocol to another protocol is abusing your abstractions and cause your system to turn into a ball of mud over time.

So why is it important to keep track of your transformations? We'll this is because this is where you are providing the interface for your data. But when doing this you must transform your functionality as well if you are going to use your abstractions correctly. Whenever you are transforming data 1:1 and there are some notion of functionality present, directly or indirectly, you are abusing your abstractions and creating a worse system. Which is ALWAYS the case when using an ESB with an application server, other than when transforming from one protocol to another (and that's only because you have no other choice because the application server doesn't understand the protocol).

I don't know when it became some sort of standard when protocols became services. Protocols to me is how you talk to a service, by such means, you could talk about decoupling, ie you have decoupled how you would talk to the service. But a protocol cannot decouple the service from the client since the protocol is not the service, thus the contextual meaning of whatever data you receives from the service cannot be decoupled. The only thing you can decouple from the client is theimplementation of the service. But that will not be done simply by putting a WSDL infront of the service. This also applies to REST, since this is just a protocol a swell, a means of how to reach your resources whatever they be. However the service still needs to define what the resource means. And that will never be done by the protocol.