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Asynchronous Messaging is Dangerous
Messaging is hot
A small sign of life



The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.

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# Friday, March 28, 2003
Asynchronous Messaging is Dangerous
Friday, March 28, 2003 11:30:36 PM UTC ( Architecture )

Messaging as an application design pattern has been around in enterprise applications for decades, but recently it has been getting a lot of community press as web services are starting to roll out and service oriented architectures are climbing the preferred design ladder.

One of the most interesting aspects of a message oriented programming is the inherent ability to approach an asynchronous design. Yet, for some reason the transition from synchronous operations seem to be very hard. I suspect that it is not necessarily the added technical complexity, but rather the fear of loosing control that is the primary obstacle. Now that we are moving towards factoring our systems into services this is a situation we must learn to master.

Looking at the way business transactions are done today, and the way they have been done for ages, we can easily see that quite a few of them are asynchronous. Either it is a matter of message exchange via regular mail, fax, e-mail or some messaging product like Microsoft BizTalk Server. When for instance a user compiles a set of requests into an order with a procurement system the transaction is committed long before the order has reached the supplier, or even before the order has left the procurement system. In this particular scenario we are used to an asynchronous interaction, and it is indeed the only way.

Keeping in mind the before mentioned example it is strange that we seem to be unable to apply the same pattern within our own applications. I guess to some extent it is because we feel that we are the masters of our own system and that we have the ability and the right to perform synchronous operations, and that we should do so either to uphold consistency or to provide accurate and immediate user responses. Just because we can!

Even though a synchronous design may provide you with the comforting feeling of control, as business processes become more complex and the amount of users increase this will prove to be a troublesome preference. As we start refactoring our applications into services and begin to enjoy the dynamic nature of GXA it will be unreasonable to except a synchronous processing pattern for a variety of different reasons; some concerning processing time, load balancing, transactional boundaries, internal system restrictions and manual processing tasks just to name a few.

I guess what I am saying is that we need to learn to let go, to be able to trust individual part of our own systems as well as external systems and embrace the black box nature of services. It’s important to note that asynchronous messaging is in no way synonymous with unreliable messaging. If we are able to do this then at least the fear of loosing control may fade away, and I guess the immediate user response is a user education problem.

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# Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Messaging is hot
Wednesday, March 26, 2003 5:40:53 PM UTC ( Architecture )

The blog community is discussing message oriented programming, service oriented architectures, and of course SOAP and RPC. It’s great to see so many smart people seeing the potential of these emerging architectural principles!

And for what it’s worth; I’m in the messaging camp!

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# Tuesday, March 25, 2003
A small sign of life
Tuesday, March 25, 2003 7:22:19 PM UTC ( General )

It has been some time since my last update. I guess there isn’t much to say except I’ve been really busy trying to combine downhill skiing with a lot of research and work. On top of that I’m squeezing in time to complete a couple of slide decks about message oriented architecture and GXA in dynamic environments.

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