SOA has brought a lot of benefits to application development, but few would suggest that speedy processing was one of those benefits. SOA incurs overhead, and overhead is the nemesis of fast action, especially of the type required for real-time systems.
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The typical Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) middleware at the heart of many of SOA implementations itself has drawbacks for real-time applications – while it provides useful transformations it does tend to be implemented as a central node, offering a possible bottleneck and a single point of failure. Variations address some of these issues, and the basic format works well in a large swath of applications, of course.
But alternatives to typical ESBs have been emerging over time. They are found in some of the harshest environments, but may deserve a look-see in less volatile spaces.
Software house Real-Time Innovations (RTI) has been bringing real-time capabilities to middleware for some time, mostly in the world of military applications but also in financial and other markets. Its products natively support the Real-Time Publish-Subscribe (RTPS) wire protocol for peer-to-peer interoperability.
The company offers software that supports the Object Management Group (OMG) Data-Distribution Service for Real-Time Systems (DDS) standard. A driving force behind the DDS effort has been an attempt to bring componentization to the military systems world – where a navy ship may have to serve up to 40 years, and its computer system have to be able to adjust as software architectures evolve over the same 40-year period. RTI has focused on supporting adaptive component architectures, but fast ones.
“Our communication paradigm is a multicast publish-subscribe – our architectural implemenation is peer-to-peer,” said David Barnett, Vice President of marketing at RTI. “We talk directly to other applications with no software itermidary whatsoever.” Yet the APIs support JMS, and RTI provides a WSDL interface. The company alternatively supports an OMG-defined serializing CDR wire protocol as well.
Uses of the RTI solutions are diverse. The companies software was recently implemented as part of the adaptive optics systems at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile. There, more than 1,000 actuators precicesly and continuously deform telescope mirrors to adaptively neutralize the efects of humidity, light pollution and other effects that obscure a true view of the sky. ESO employs the RTI Data Distribution Service for data concentration and analysis related to that process.
The European Sourthern Observatory continually achieves astounding results. Just this month, the researchers at the facility disclosed the most massive stars imaged to date. Located within the Tarantula Nebula, one of these stars, called R136a1, is said to measure 265-times the mass of the Sun.