Base One Update Brings Grids of Clusters
June 14, 2005 Alex Woodie
Base One International, a maker of grid development tools, recently introduced a new data transfer capability that lets organizations build grids of clustered applications. The data facility, called High Performance Information Sharing, enables users to move data among the DB2/400, DB2, Oracle, Sybase, and SQL Server databases, which function as the control points in Base One’s grid architecture.
Base One is a New York City software company that has been writing tools that help developers build grid applications since the mid 1990s. Its grid development tools, called Base/1 Foundation Classes, integrate with Microsoft Visual Studio, and enables organizations to put underutilized Windows PCs to better use processing transactions that are normally done on large multi-processor servers. In Base One’s grid architecture, the database server maintains control over the clients and assigns work sets to be completed by the Windows clients as needed.
In May, Base One debuted a new feature in version 7.2 of its Base/1 Foundation Classes that introduced High Performance Information Sharing (HPIS). This new capability is designed to enable users to securely transmit large amounts of data among disparate databases.
HPIS addresses the logistical and administrative hurdles in getting two or more organizations to share information, says Steve Asherman, president and CTO of Base One. Problems occur when organizations have different administrative, security, and business rules for granting outsiders access to their data. “You can’t create such a rigid structure that everybody obeys the same rules,” Asherman says.
HPIS addresses these hurdles by helping organizations build “loosely coupled” database connections that let two or more disparate databases share data, while simultaneously ensuring that database rules are faithfully reproduced on the target system.
HPIS deals with this hurdle by assigning a neutral third-party database that all parties agree will be the shared information repository. In this way, users can maintain strict control over access to their database, and not have to worry about their referential constraints, triggers, and stored procedures being broken. “We create files using our database interface, and those files can be deposited at another site through the control of their database administrator,” Asherman says. “Each organization’s systems administrators can control very limited access that makes it possible to deposit database extracts. The mechanism looks like reading and writing to a database, but what’s happening is your writing [and writing] with maybe incompatible databases, maybe Oracle to DB2.”
HPIS can be used to migrate large data sets, while maintaining the integrity of the database’s architecture. “It’s not just bare bones data [that you can move with HPIS] but you can completely reconstruct the database architecture from scratch,” Asherman says.
With HPIS’ capability to share data among these database hubs that control the Windows clients, Base One now enables customers to build “grids of clusters,” Asherman says. Now, companies can link their previously disparate clusters, enabling, for example, a DB2-based credit check application to connect with a business intelligence system running on Oracle.
Base One offers two ways to actually move data over the network: XML, and a proprietary format. The proprietary format is preferable if speed and efficiency are important factors, Asherman says. “There’s much less redundancy [in the proprietary format] than XML,” he says. “It can easily be 10 times larger to send in XML.”
Asherman says HPIS’ capability to integrate loosely coupled databases could help the branches of the U.S. military, which are notoriously strict about maintaining their own internal controls, communicate more effectively with other branches. “Why is it the Air Force and Navy have so many problems sharing information about their tires?” he asks. The question is not rhetorical: Asherman wrote a paper for the office of the Secretary of Defense that proposed ways that the chemical industry could share information safely with the government.
Base One unveiled support for DB2/400 about a year ago (see “DB2/400: The Heart of a Supercomputer Cluster?”). While the company has not generated a lot of interest in its grid tools among OS/400 shops, it continues to maintain and test the DB2/400 connections, Asherman says. Considering that Base One is targeting standard back-office applications with its grid tools (as opposed to the scientific workloads typically associated with supercomputing and grid computing), this is probably a wise move.
Pricing for the Base/1 Foundation Classes development tool is unchanged, and starts at about $3,495 for a license for five developers. For more information, visit www.boic.com.