Sundarrajk's Weblog

Some real bad design

Posted on: February 14, 2014


See http://architects.dzone.com/articles/every-programmer-should-know for a comparison of latencies when accessing different parts of the system. This should give an idea of what strategy should be adopted to get better performance.

But even after looking at the latencies people wish to go with “Web Services” even for applications which are hosted in the same data center and have been developed by the same team and in the same technology, just because it is the “in thing”.

To use web services one needs make the following conversion
1. On the client before making the request convert the native format to strings to form the XML to be sent.
2. On the server on receiving the XML request convert to native format for better processing
3. On the server after getting the results convert the native back to string so that it can be sent over XML
4. On the client after receiving convert the string in the XML to native format for consumption.

The steps 1 and step 4 may not be mandatory in some scenarios. Steps 2 and 3 can almost not be avoided. These steps need to be executed irrespective of the protocol that is being used. These conversions are expensive and should be avoided when one is writing applications in the same technology and more so when the applications are hosted in the same data center (read LAN)

In an extreme, one of the projects had the following data flow:
1. User from the Desktop Browser makes a request
2. The Application Server converts this into a Web service request and posts it to another server.
3. This Web Service server makes an EJB call to another server.
4. The EJB in turn invokes one or more stored procedures which actually have the business logic, data access and everything else.
5. The data is obviously returned through the same path.
There is no technology other than Java involved in any of the layers above and they are all hosted in the same data center.

Now the same functionality over a mobile has been implemented as follows:
1. User from the Mobile Application makes a request
2. This is sent to the server as a REST request.
3. This REST request from mobile is converted and another internal REST request is made.
4. This internal REST request is converted into a Web service request and posted to another server.
5. This Web Service Server makes an EJB call to another server.
6. The EJB in turn invokes one or more stored procedures which actually have the business logic, data access and everything else.
7. The data is obviously returned through the same path.

Is it any surprise that this application is facing performance, stability, availability and reliability issues?

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