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Does scalability only apply to very large deployments ?
Try this, fold a piece of paper in half by bringing the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. Now imagine an OpenEdge application with a 20GB database that uses either wifi or cabled network to run a small business. Imagine the business system occupies that half-sheet of paper, uses 2 watts of power, weighs two pounds, and costs $400 US.
That's reality today. I bought one of those little Eee laptops recently, and was delighted at how easy the linux system is to use, and how easy it integrates with my Windows-dominated infrastructure. Nice job. Linux even runs my spreadsheets and presentations unchanged (you can even change the laptop to XP if you want). What a nice parallel this "mini-system flexibility" is to OpenEdge! The ability to scale down is partly one of architecture and partly discipline in the implementation.
But why scale down? One reason could be new products or new markets. Another reason is to focus on providing a consistent service at a high performance level. Have you seen applications that have just seemed to grow and grow. Application bloat leads to a loss of control over the key function of the software, and it seems that poor usability and uneven performance come right along for the ride. So maybe scaling down is another way at looking for clear boundaries between layers of an application as well as separation of functions in an application environment. That highly connectable 2 pound workstation was no accident! It was drawn from the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) design effort which is spawning a lot of creativity in the Ultra-Mobile PC market. A solid software architecture has some similarities in terms of defined interfaces, guiding principles, and scalable design.
Does your application scale up? Or down? Or out? Sometimes a "readiness review" of your architecture from scalability or an service-oriented view can lead to a plan that leads into the business roadmap by opening up new options. We hope that the new capabilities in OpenEdge ABL can help you implement that roadmap in a smooth way that phases in the stages you plan for your evolution. Are you trying this approach? How well is this working for you? The AutoEdge application gives some nice examples of how the ABL supports the scalable OpenEdge Reference Architecture. I was just reviewing a presentation about AutoEdge that will be done for Exchange in Paris. If you are attending, this session could be very useful. Another interesting session shows a racetrack example which illustrates how a SOA environment comes together with Sonic, OpenEdge, and other fine products. Check them out and let me know what you think.
What about Deployment?
From the deployment side we still support efficient storage of data, so that 20GB database on the tiny laptop might hold a surprising amount of business data. we still support compatibility of the database from the little laptop up through large systems too. With OpenEdge 10.1B, every database can grow to have very large tables, wide indexes, and a full range of datatypes. You even get built-in management features like automatic defragging now. On a small database, it is easy to make it run "hands off". For large databases, you get on-line management of table space, schema additions, and the ability to increase some key performance parameters without taking downtime. OpenEdge needs less tuning than those big databases, and we are still the #1 pure-play database for applications that need a capable database "built right in". Our vision is to let your production environment evolve smoothly with a self-tuning, self-healing, and self-provisioning database that handles the transactional business load. What else? Well, improvements in appservers keep coming, as do improvements in the reporting capabilities of OpenEdge SQL. Similarly, support for Sonic keeps getting easier with 10.1C, and we'll talk about that in a separate note. We do take performance and manageability seriously, and the roadmap for this area really features a lot of customer-requested capabilities. We really appreciate your advice and insights into your needs. Please keep them coming! What are your top 5 needs in the database and appserver area?
Whatever happens in the scalability area, one thing remains. Scalability is not about standing still. It's about a dynamic range and that means opportunity for you and for us. Together.
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