PrismTech To Offer Mission-Critical SOA Solution

PrismTech plans to launch the latest version of its quality of service (QoS) solution for service-oriented architectures (SOAs) on August 15. The solution, OpenSplice Version 3, is designed to ensure scalability and "real-time service delivery" in SOAs, according to an announcement issued by the company.

The product is aimed toward large-scale IT environments where there's a need for "mission-critical" performance, such as air traffic control, military, healthcare and finance, as well as industrial applications such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

PrismTech, a middleware solution provider with expertise in providing wireless telecommunications solutions, originally partnered with Thales on that company's SPLICE-DDS implementation of the Object Management Group's (OMG's) Data Distribution Service (DDS) specification. However, the company is now marketing its OpenSplice technology independently of Thales.

"DDS is a technology that's come out of the mission-critical systems space," said Steve Jennis, PrismTech's senior vice president of corporate development. "More specifically, DDS has come out of combat management systems in military applications."

An example of a mission-critical combat management system is a threat evaluation and response system on war ships, where the system might detect an incoming missile and respond accordingly, he explained. Another is a SCADA for a nuclear power plant.

"All of these high-performance computing applications have traditionally been done in a very constrained, self-contained systems environment, but what is starting to happen now is that these high-performance systems are being integrated into the wider enterprise infrastructure," Jennis said. "And people are starting to look at concepts like service-oriented architectures as the basic architectural design of these systems."

The integration of these high-QoS systems is where DDS and OpenSplice fit into the overall computing environment, Jennis added.

Various implementations of DDS are now starting to appear on the market, he said. The company's closest competitor is a company called RTI, a spinoff Stanford University's real-time computing laboratory. And there are open source implementations of DDS as well.

"It's nothing different conceptually to JMS or .NET or any other open standard that a number of people can support," Jennis said. "DDS is differentiated from other standards like FQ Series from IBM or JMS (Java environment) in terms of QoS. And when we talk about QoS, we talk about real-time predictable performance, bandwidth optimization, fault tolerance and security. All of those high-end system requirements are captured in the DDS standard."

The company's announcement makes the claim that XML-based Web services or J2EE/JMS-compliant messaging can't match the scalability and real-time service delivery of PrismTech's DDS-based solution.

Web services, as a technology standard, is still relatively immature, Jennis said. DDS is based on technology that is at least 20 years old in the military sector. The technology was classified at one time, but about two years ago it became an industry standard with open specifications. Web services is not mature enough right now to support the fault tolerance and performance required by some of these systems, he added.

On the other hand, massive scalability is inherently supported in the DDS specification, enabling the handing of large-scale networks. Some military systems can have around 3,000 nodes, Jennis explained.

DDS is well supported in the niche-vendor community at this point, but PrismTech is working with IBM and Oracle to add DDS to their portfolio of solutions, Jennis said. And PrismTech is doing that through organizations like the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC).

While most might think that QoS might be essential for an SOA, Jennis said that the vast majority of enterprise integrations have come from back-office systems. So the real requirement for this DDS technology comes from a corporate SOA philosophy where there's a need to integrate high-performance systems into a back-office system through an SOA approach, Jennis explained.

PrismTech is currently offering a low-cost, entry-level package of its OpenSplice solution. The company licenses OpenSplice by the number of seats, developers and nodes. For smaller systems, the cost might be a few hundred dollars per node, Jennis said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.