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From Jules Gosnell <>
Subject Dublin - Clustering get-together.... - Report
Date Mon, 03 Jul 2006 12:50:52 GMT
Here is the promised report on the Geronimo Clustering get-together
held on thursday (6:00pm-8:00pm) in Dublin:


In the room :

Aaron Mulder
Alan Cabrera
Filip Hanik
Greg Wilkins
Jan Bartel
Jeremy Boynes
Jules Gosnell
Mark Brewer
Matt Hogstrom
Paul Buck
Phil Robinson
Rainer Jung
Winston Damarillo

On the phone:

Bill Dudney
Dain Sundstrom
Jeff Genender
Rajith Attapattu

We started by enumerating the areas that were felt to require some
form of clustering support (web, ejb, jndi, jms, deployment, management, 
monitoring, pojo, db). The idea was to prioritise the outstanding
issues and thus scope work to be done. We used the first cut of this
document as a basis for this walkthrough :

I shall be bringing this up to date with the meetings findings as soon
as I have arranged write access with the wiki's owners.

All of these areas were covered and priorities were assigned thus :

1 - Web
3 - Management/Monitoring/Provisioning
4 - .. remaining issues

We then looked at the software components available to us (ActiveMQ, 
ActiveCluster, ActiveSpace, WADI, Tribes, Kache, Tomcat Clustering) - 
also listed in the architecture document (to be updated with new 
software components ASAP).

A number of interesting and useful points came up during the
discussion :

The 'fastest to market' clustering solution is not necessarily the
same as the 'optimal' clustering solution.

Multiple clustering solutions must be accomodated - APIs help
abstract away from implementations - facilitating this

Re: Web - although there seem to be two independant routes to a
session clustering API (the containers' own native session management
API vs a common Geronimo API), both must be made accessible since both
native (e.g. Tomcat clustering and WADI) and Geronimo (Kache)
solutions must be pluggable. Furthermore, the adaptor from native API
to Geronimo API requires the exposure of the native API to be plugged
in in the first place.

Re: EJB - stateless session beans, whilst stateless, may still be
facading more 'stateful' components, such as large trees of Entity
beans that may be expensive to throw away/reload - so it may be useful
to treat SLSBs as SFSBs as far as the session management API is
concerned - also providing some form of session affinity rather than
round robin load-balancing in the client stub.

Re: EJB - it may not be a requirement to add further clustered
support for Entity beans (i.e. clustered caches with distributed
invalidations etc).

Re: Management/Monitoring - tooling will hook in via standard and
possibly extended APIs made available via JMX. GBeans managing
e.g. native clustering solutions might adapt and make available
equivalent functionality.

Re: farmed deployment - It was noted that some form of pull/push
support deployment was available. Perhas Aaron's plugin architecture ?

Re: JMS - AMQ clustering is not yet integrated with Geronimo - it is
awaiting decisions on what the integration should look like.

Re: POJO clustering and JCache - whilst interesting, it is probably
better if users bring their own clustered caches to Geronimo and plug
them in, rather than Geronimo mandating the use of a single solution.

Re: Database clustering - This was also marked as probably out of
scope - although there was some discussion about the Sequoia project.

The support of 3rd party clustered components means that a number of
different implementations of a cluster may be in operation within any
given node at any given time. These different implementations may each
be from the ground up and share no code. Questions around this were e.g. :

- can we expose different components' ideas about cluster membership
through a common API (i.e. compare which nodes e.g. ProductA thinks
are running against e.g. what Geronimo thinks are running) ?

- should this preclude the usage of a common clustering layer and
therefore API in areas where we are building clustered Geronimo
services from the ground up - Sessions, Monitoring/Management, JNDI...

The Geronimo Session API came in for particular discussion. This
seemed to hinge around the fact that its aim might be to hide
clustering issues from client containers (although it actually exposes
a session's location and thus clustering issues at this level), but
that it would be useful if a lower level clustering API, on which
other clustered Geronimo services might be constructed, were also
exposed. There were a number of differing and strongly held positions
- including the view that trying to define what a cluster actually
was, was much too hard a task in the first place !

It was finally agreed that there should be a 2 week period during
which modifications and alternate session management apis might be
floated on the dev list. The need for a lower-level clustering API and
potential candidates for this role might also be debated during this
time. Immediately after this period, a vote would decide the way based
on the content of the discussion.

My aim was to return to the agenda after the Session API digression
and to discuss resourcing the work to be done and the possibility of a
rough roadmap from the current point to a realistic clustered feature
set, but the discussion around the Session API so engrossed the
particpants that it consumed nearly all of the second hour. By the
time we had brought it to conclusion, time was up and we had to vacate
the room. So we had to finish up rather abruptly.

In conclusion though - a very successful meeting :

- we brought many interested parties to the table
- all achieved a good overview of the problems confronting us
- we agreed and prioritised the main areas requiring investment
- we broke through an impasse surrounding the most important of these areas
- we set the scene for further debate and progress

My thanks to all the attendees for giving us the benefit of their time
and thought.

Thanks also to Matt Hogstrom and Jan Bartel for making their notes
available to me.

This mail only represents my own understanding of what was discussed
at the meeting. If you were there and have anything to add/subtract
from the above, please join the thread.

Looking forward to more discusion,


Jules Gosnell wrote:
> It looks like I am going to make it to Dublin afterall.
> I think this will be a good chance for anyone interested in Geronimo 
> clustering to get together and talk about scope, architecture, 
> resourcing, roadmap etc - in short, anything that we need to get the 
> beast rolled out.
> Here is a link to a clustering architecture overview that I put together 
> some time ago - it's a little out of date. It doesn't mention Lingo, 
> which should be very useful for cluster management, the proposed Session 
> API or recent developments with geronimo-cache etc... but it is a good 
> starting point to demostrate the direction that I am coming from.
> Covalent have kindly offered to host the meeting - its just up to us to 
> provide some content and some people :-)
> Everyone with an interest in clustering is welcome. It will be very 
> informal, structure depending largely on who turns up.
> If you would like to come, we need to know ASAP so that we can find a 
> window that will fit with the majority of your time constraints, so, 
> please join the thread and let us know. We are thinking of some time 
> thursday afternoon or evening. If you cannot make a slot during this 
> window, please mention it.
> looking forward to seeing you all there,
> Jules

"Open Source is a self-assembling organism. You dangle a piece of
string into a super-saturated solution and a whole operating-system
crystallises out around it."

  * Jules Gosnell
  * Partner
  * Core Developers Network (Europe)
  * Open Source Training & Support.

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