Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Scalability & Performance, Quality, Process and Outsourcing. The busy weekend is behind me and I'm ready to face the world of IT and work. Although many of my weekend activities were focused on family and the holiday, I found time to squeeze in a book review and consolidate a few loose ends. The book review first.

Building Scalable and High-Performance Java Web Applications Using J2EE Technology - Clear description of important concepts

While this book uses J2EE as the basis for scalability and performance strategies in web application development, it is also useful regardless of the development and technical environment.

The author begins this book with the clearest and easiest-to-follow descriptions of performance and scalability and how to measure them that I've ever read. The same treatment was given to web applications architecture, which is the second topic in sequence. I like Mr. Barish's straightforward, conversational writing style and use of simple (but effective) illustrations, graphs and examples that make complex concepts easy-to-grasp.

I stated above that this book can be used outside of the J2EE environment, and here are the chapters that are generic enough to accomplish this: 1 (Scalable and High Performance Web Applications), 2 (Web Application Architecture), 4 (Scalability and Performance Techniques), 5 (HTTP Client/Server Communication), 10 (Effective Database Design) and 12 (The Future of Web Applications). While each of these chapters are well written and go into sufficient detail for developers and architects I particularly liked chapter 10 because he explained relational database fundamentals and SQL programming with such clarity that I got more from the 42 pages that comprise this chapter than I did from a 300+ page book on the topic. The follow-on chapter on JDBC and SQL is as well written. Another reason why I liked chapter 10 is many developers understand how to develop servlets and components, but do not have sufficient understanding of relational databases. This book rectifies that, which is particularly important since most real world applications are data intensive and need to connect to databases.

Additional strong points about this book include: code examples are only given to reinforce a concept or show an example. Don't expect to find a recipe book based on code - this book is about making it scalable and giving it performance characteristics. The J2EE-specific parts of the book use realistic examples and propose real world approaches. However, the strongest aspect of this book is the author stays focused on scalability and performance throughout the book, always ending each chapter with scalability and performance hints that are related to the chapter's topic.

This book is for architects and software engineers who are building applications that support business-critical needs. It's clear, concise and exceptionally well written.

Loose Ends. I've recently discussed ISO 9001 and outsourcing in entries here and in Postcards from the Revolution. I am going to devote my next efforts to helping Mike describe the Tarrani-Zarate Model in Postcards from the Revolution, and before I embark on that I want to provide the remaining documents I have on ISO 9001 and outsourcing to cleanly close out those topics (for the time being - I'll revisit them at a later date). The documents are:If ISO 9000-3 is a topic in which you're interested you'll want to visit ISO 9000-3 1997 Guidelines in Plain English.

Parting Note. We frequently address security here and in Postcards from the Revolution. I just discovered International Security Technologies, Inc.'s page on Cost of Risk Analysis. This is a commercial product that is worth investigating. The site also has a collection of whitepapers that are valuable and informative, and independent of the product.

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