Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Deutsch's Fallacies, 10 Years After

Deutsch's Fallacies, 10 Years After

In the fall of 1991, when mobile computing involved a hand truck and an extension cord, the idea of an everything-connected world was a leap of faith to some and a really crazy idea to most. But Sun's engineers were already working on notebook computers, and Peter Deutsch, one of Sun's original "Fellows," was heading up a task force to advise Sun on its mobile strategy.

Deutsch just called 'em like he saw 'em. When he got to Sun he began to consider some of the existing notions some engineers had about network computing, some of which were downright foolish.

Coming off a stint as chief scientist at Park Place Systems, Deutsch was looking to hang out and cogitate with and bask in Sun's intense engineering culture. He was a key designer and implementer of the Interlisp-D system and a significant contributor to the design of the Cedar Mesa language and the Smalltalk-80 programming environment. But he hadn't gotten into networking. It might have been some sort of intellectual hazing ritual that made Deutsch co-chair of a mobile computing task force. Or it might have been brilliance.

Bill Joy and Dave Lyon had already formulated a list of flawed assumptions about distributed computing that were guaranteed to cause problems down the road: the network is reliable; latency is zero; bandwidth is infinite; and the network is secure. James Gosling, Sun Fellow, Chief Technology Officer for Java Developer Platforms, and inventor of Java, had actually codified these four, calling them "The Fallacies of Networked Computing."

"It's a sort of funny thing," he says, "that in the large-scale world, networking didn't really exist in 1995. But since Sun was founded in 1982, networking has been at the core of what we do. We cut ourselves on all these problems pretty early on."

What Deutsch saw with fresh eyes was that, despite Gosling's warning, as engineers - inside and outside Sun - designed and built network infrastructure, they kept making the same mistakes, based largely on the same basic yet false assumptions about the nature of the network.

"The more I looked around at networking inside and outside Sun," Deutsch says, "the more I thought I could see instances where making these assumptions got people into trouble." For example, Deutsch could see Gosling's Fallacies coming into play as Sun moved its operations from downtown to its glamorous new campus near the San Francisco Bay.

"There was a lot of thrashing around about the topology of the network for the corporate intranet, where routers should be, etc.," Deutsch recalls. "Things broke all the time. My recollection is that it was watching all that thrashing around that led me to numbers five and six - that there's a single administrator and that the topology won't change." Number seven, that transport cost is zero, coalesced as Sun discussed creating a wide area network to connect the Mountain View campus with a new lab on the East coast.

When Deutsch wrote the list, by this time seven items strong, into a slide presentation, "It was no big deal," he says. Neither was there a roar of acclamation. Rob Gingell, Sun vice president, chief engineer, and Fellow, remembers it as an mmm-hmm moment rather than an ah-ha moment.

But putting it down on paper, codifying it, made all the difference. "The list Peter wrote down was a very pithy summary of the pitfalls people typically fall into," Gosling says. "We had many conversations about it. There would be a presentation where somebody would be proposing some design, and somebody would point out, 'You know, that kind of depends on the network being reliable. And that's false.'"

Gosling added the Eighth Fallacy - the assumption that the network is homogeneous - in 1997 or so. "It reflected a mismatch between our perception and others' perceptions of the network. That the network is homogeneous is never a mistake we've made. But it was clear that lots of people on the outside had a tendency to fall into this."

If the Fallacies pervade networking, Sun was perhaps ideally placed to identify and surmount them, says Gosling. "We have a very strong engineering culture," he says. "A lot of our work is about building solid reliable systems."

Beginning with Java, Sun has explicitly grappled with the Fallacies. Java's "write once, run anywhere" approach celebrates heterogeneity, according to Gosling. While nobody exactly tacked the Fallacies up on the wall when Jini was designed, says Gingell, "If you look at Jini, it's apparent that what it's trying to do is confront some of the Fallacies, because the Jini team and Peter shared a view of those problems." Jini lets diverse devices discover and interact with each other without any administrator at all; it also can deal with multiple administrators acting divergently.

Indeed. "Almost everything in Jini is about dealing with that list," Gosling says. "It's all about the dynamic, spontaneous reconfiguration of networks in the face of a dynamic environment. Things getting plugged in, things getting broken."

The Liberty Project is another example of Sun engineering's acknowledgment of the single administrator fallacy, according to Juan Carlos Soto, product marketing group manager for Project JXTA and the jxta.org open source community manager. "Liberty provides a federated identity mechanism that makes it convenient for businesses to interact while still respecting privacy, because there's no single point of control," he says.

JXTA goes perhaps furthest in turning all of the Fallacies into truths. It creates an ad hoc virtual private network among peer devices that aren't always at stable addresses, Soto says, so it solves the problems of multiple administrators, changing topology, and heterogeneous networks. Moreover, because JXTA makes it easy to create multiple instances of a service, and peers cooperate to move messages through the network, it creates great resiliency that counteracts the inherent unreliability of networks. It's designed to be efficient and conserve bandwidth as much as possible, reducing the impact of Fallacies Two and Three, and it accepts every authentication method for flexible and tight security.

"P2P is turning the computer into both a server and a client," Soto says. "It's way beyond a single administrator and a homogenous network. It abstracts a lot of those issues away."

The Sun days are a long time ago for Deutsch, who now, as president of Aladdin Enterprises, consults for technology and venture capital companies. He's a bit bemused that his short list of big goofs has become institutionalized as Deutsch's Fallacies. "If you had told me when I was at Sun that 10 years later, this one page of maxims was going to be one of the things I was best known for," he says, "I would have been floored."

Although networking has changed plenty since 1991, and some of the Fallacies, such as betting on a secure network, are more obvious, they are all still as applicable, Gingell says, and they continue to be driven into the hearts and minds of Sun's engineers. "Cultural reeducation is more important than any one product," he says. "If all our engineers understand networking at a very large scale... the products will take care of themselves."

More Stories By Ingrid Van Den Hoogen

Ingrid Van Den Hoogen is the senior director of software strategy and marketing for Sun Microsystems.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Cees de Groot 03/18/05 08:58:09 AM EST

Could you get your facts straight, please. In 1991, people at Sun where *already* working on a notebook computer?

Lessee... Try Googling for 'Dynapad'. You're off by a couple of decades with your qualification of "already". And way before 1991, lots of people where on Bix, Tymnet, CompuServe, FidoNet, Usenet, Janet... Starting off like that really kills an article...

@ThingsExpo Stories
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy high-performance Java applications that use Java 3D and/or Jogl without having to run an installer. We are subject to the constraint that the applications be signed and deployed so that they can be run in a trusted environment (i.e., outside of the sandbox). Further, we seek to do this in a way that does not depend on bundling a JRE with our applications, as this makes downloads and installations rat...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...