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Leading-Edge Java
Dynamic Clustering with Jini Technology
by Frank Sommers
January 31, 2006

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Why not J2EE?

Before turning to Jini technology, Boomi considered J2EE as the foundation of their system. They felt, however, that the J2EE specs didn't define the kind of system they wanted to achieve, especially because of restrictions on communication patterns with external systems from inside a J2EE container. They felt they would have had to jump through hoops in application-to-application communication, and have to introduce components of their product outside the J2EE architecture. Jini technology, on the other hand, imposed no such restrictions.

More important, Boomi's customers are mid-market and smaller firms that lack in-house technical knowledge to operate a full-fledged J2EE environment. Many small firms do not even use Java in their business infrastructure. Thus, a Java based-solution had to be presented in such a way as to allow non-Java experts to operate the system, including the system's high-availability and clustering features. Because Boomi could not rely on in-house clustering and high-availability systems knowledge, it had to provide these features entirely from within the software. Finally, Boomi's customers use a variety of operating systems, and therefore implementing clustering in an OS-specific way would have limited their product's appeal.

By Boomi's account, the Jini-based solution achieved their objective of providing transparent clustering services. Approximately ninety percent of their customer are not aware of Jini networking's presence in the system. And the system proves to be reliable with minimum administration requirements. Boomi's choice to not build on J2EE had an additional benefit: Since customers are not required to purchase a J2EE server license with the product, Boomi's solution also saves their customers money.

Summary

The most interesting aspect of Boomi's solution may simply be that it leverages Jini dynamic networking technology to provide enterprise quality service from an all-Java system in an environment where J2EE is not an option. Most people in similar situations would either turn to J2EE to help them achieve scale, failover, and load balancing for an enterprise Java system, or try to obtain those system properties from operating system-specific tools. Many of those solutions are presently too costly, or too complex for smaller and medium size firms.

By exploiting the parallelism inherent in the system integration process, Boomi was able to offer a high-availability and scalable solution entirely within its own software offering. Its customers can use their existing servers, and do not have to be experts in cluster setup and maintenance. As a system's load increases, customers can scale the system up simply by introducing additional cluster nodes. While software is still the bottleneck in harnessing the collective power of commodity, off-the-shelf hardware, Boomi's system demonstrates that rethinking a problem from the vantage point of parallelism and scalability can yield surprisingly effective solutions.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Rick Nucci and Mitch Stewart at Boomi Software, for providing a description of their Jini-based system integration architecture, and to Sun Microsystems, Inc., for supporting this research.

Talk back!

Have an opinion about Jini technology? Discuss this article in the Articles Forum topic, Dynamic Clustering with Jini Technology.

Resources

Boomi Software.
http://www.boomi.com

Jini Community Web site
http://www.jini.org

Myricom's Myrinet interface
http://www.myri.com

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