Tag Archives: Cloud

Keeping up with technology…a lot like Formula 1

Uniface, being a low-code platform which shields developers from technology changes in the application stack, takes pride on staying on top of the leading edge of technology. To start, the application stack I refer to is based on the Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI) defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) about the interoperability and communication layers. So all the technologies needed to maintain applications’ interoperability while communicating to achieve the business goal as programmed by the developers.

In Uniface development, we have a track record of keeping up with technology, nowadays more challenging than 33 years ago when Uniface started of course. 😉

Let me share how Uniface development approaches technology and technological paradigms. Uniface is a technology partner for our customers and partners. As such, we take pride in actively participating in the technological world around us, which should add value to our customers. It also reinforces our relationship with technology resulting in the Uniface direction. Additionally, and with the intention of being transparent, we blog about it.

I want to start by making an analogy between Uniface and Formula 1 (F1 Championships). In F1 racing there are also a lot of technological developments on which all car manufacturers and teams rely on (powertrains, ERS, ES, power units, tire compound, telemetry, DRS, KERS, chassis, etc.). Actually all of the participants follow the evolution of these developments actively or passively depending on their area of expertise (additionally sanctioned by the FIA).

It is the same in our application development world, there is a lot of technology involved and we do actively follow it. Essential to that and following the Uniface value proposition, we need to be up to par with the latest trends in what applications need from technology.

Following our analogy, the Uniface car might today have a power unit from Mercedes, while we simultaneously look at the power units from Ferrari and Renault.

The Lab and the engineers look at all technologies and we make sure that the leading edge in technology is used by the car we build (Uniface) because that is what makes us different. Product Management makes sure that our customer requirements plus the technology innovations are included in the Uniface portfolio.

I think that all of the above confirms to our customers the value Uniface provides is much more than one mere technology, but they can be confident we are looking at a much broader spectrum of the application technology stack.

Rest assured that the direction that Uniface takes will be defined and determined by Product Management and reflected in the Uniface roadmap.

 

Red Hat/OpenShift – Finding the silver lining

I have been in the Uniface business for longer than twenty years. I have experienced the GUI baby steps of Uniface 6 at around the same time Windows 95 saw the light. I could keep up with the new features that were presented with each new version of Uniface that was released. So, with regards to Uniface, I can proudly say that although I may look like a monkey, I am an old monkey. I know a lot of tricks.

The world is changing at a fast pace and it is necessary to keep my bag of tricks up to date. With Uniface moving into the direction of supporting cloud features, I feel that it is necessary to do a bit of homework to prepare myself for this mind shift.

As a first step, I joined a few colleagues at the Red Hat Openshift Roadshow that was held in Amsterdam. With many similar cloud-technology related events currently taking place and with Uniface being so strong in supporting multiple platforms, it seemed like a good idea to search for the silver lining at the Red Hat event.

Red Hat Cloud Blog

Why Red Hat?

Red Hat is just one of multiple platforms that Uniface supports. It is a leading enterprise Linux platform. It is supported on both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. These two providers are currently the preferred providers for Uniface cloud support. In addition, it is also open, reliable, secure and flexible for customers who have business-critical systems.

How does Red Hat align with the goal of supporting multiple platforms for Uniface?

At Uniface we are not in the business of putting one platform in front of the other. We want the client to make the decisions around the technologies that are going to be used and we want to fit into it. Red Hat is just one of the platforms that we as well as the cloud providers do support. What makes us strong, is the fact that we can confirm that Red Hat is one of the many platforms that are on our list that we can tick off.

What benefits does this bring?

As a result of our work, we now have the infrastructure in place to verify and test Uniface on cloud platforms, therefore enabling us to tick the box that Uniface is supported.  This means customers do not need to make changes to their application source code, because, we can deploy to Red Hat as well as other platforms in the cloud in the same way as if they were deploying to on premise operating systems.

What is OpenShift?

Before we understand what OpenShift is, we first need to understand a few other terms (in short of course).

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

When a provider runs computers on demand with specified configurations. This is alternative to rack and stack hardware. You specify the amount of RAM, CPU, disk space and operating system and the provider starts up a machine that meets these specifications within minutes.

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

Requires zero or very little maintenance or setup. You just sign up for a cloud based service and it is available for you to use. A simple example of SaaS is Gmail.

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This falls between IaaS and SaaS. Currently it is targeted at application developers. With PaaS, all the necessary pieces of your application are spinned on a server up from either the command line or a web interface. These pieces can be applications and databases.

This is where OpenShift starts to play a role. OpenShift provides the command line/web interface for the developer to spin up everything. From one command, all the necessary networking and server installs are done and a Git repository is created. OpenShift administrators will update the operating system, manage the network and do other admin work so that the developer can focus on writing code. The interface also allows the user to scale his application and do some performance tuning.

What does this mean for Uniface?

The strategy of Uniface has always been to support multiple platforms/databases etc. Internally, we are currently using Ansible as part of our build processes rather than OpenShift, but we are always investigating new ways to improve our processes and we try not to focus on specific technologies or tools. Therefore, from a DevOps point of view, I do see that OpenShift could play a part for us.

By making use of Infrastructure as Code, we can spin up multiple processes in the cloud to assist us in our build and verification processes. In our case, our application(s) are our tests, and we can now run them in parallel. We are also able to research new platforms without making investments in new physical infrastructure. This is a micro services approach which is the magic of the cloud.

I see OpenShift as a possible tool that can be used by our users. It is very powerful and useful and could be used to deploy applications into cloud environments, and to scale or contract as required.

Every cloud has a silver lining. The new silver lining is the fact that the cloud opens up so many restrictions. With new tools released every day, it is important to stay informed so that we can also be as open minded as the cloud.

Picking up on the latest and greatest on Microsoft’s Azure Platform

I recently attended Microsoft’s tech summit, held at Amsterdam’s RAI convention centre. For those of you who know me, my computing background is on the other side of the spectrum with predominantly UNIX and Linux derivatives. This was my first Microsoft event ever so it was with great anticipation and somewhat uncertainness that I attended the keynote.

From the word go it was clear that Microsoft is heavily vested in Cloud Technologies with customer stories from the Dutch Railway (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) who use Azure’s Big Data platform to predict when train components are about to fail, before failing and causing unnecessary disruptions. Abel Wang proceeded to guide us through a demo using Azure which would predict crime hotspots in certain areas around Seattle. Very impressive all of it.

The main reason however for attending the conference was to pick up on the latest and greatest on Microsoft’s Azure Platform. Microsoft Azure holds second place in the Cloud provider arena but, did experience the biggest growth compared to other players over the last year. Here at Uniface we already use Azure daily, the goal was to see if there were ways to better utilise Azure’s IaaS and PaaS offerings.

From all the Azure and Application Development sessions I learned a lot more about Azure’s PaaS offerings. In the ‘Protect your business with Azure’ session it was evident that Microsoft is fully committed to security and availability. By far, one of the most interesting sessions was ‘Building Serverless Applications with Azure Functions’ in fact. The session demonstrated how simple it is to run a basic event driven application without vesting any time in infrastructure or PaaS offerings.

All in all, the Tech Summit was a great success, I learnt a lot and will be applying the knowledge on workloads we execute in Azure.

Attending a cloud infrastructure training – A truly AWSome Day in Amsterdam

Last week I attended, along with a few other Uniface software engineers, the AWSome Day Amsterdam event, organized by Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS). The event was a one-day training in Amsterdam delivered by AWS technical instructors. More than 300 (maybe even 400) people attended the event. It was very crowded, but a very well-organized event.

From Uniface, a few people from the cloud, mobile and security teams attended the event, each with their own project in mind.

The interactive training provided us with a lot of information about cloud deployment, security and usage for the web and mobile environments. The focus was on AWS as a provider of cloud infrastructure services. In a nutshell, technical instructors elaborated on the following:

AWS infrastructure with information about the three main services they offer:

  1. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to store objects up to 5 terabyte in multiple buckets. This service includes advanced lifecycle management tools for your files.
  2. Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) which offers virtual servers as you need. EC2 has advanced security and networking options and tools to manage storage. Also very interesting, you can write your own algorithm to scale up or down to handle changes in requirements or spikes in popularity, to reduce costs and improve your efficiency.
  3. Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) which provides persistent block-level storage volumes that you can attach to a single EC2 instance. Interesting is that EBS volumes persist independently from running life of an EC2 instance. You can use EBS volumes as primary storage for especially data that requires frequent updates and for throughput-intensive applications that perform continuous disk scans. EBS is flexible, in the sense that you can easily grow volumes.

 AWS Event

During the event we discussed extensively the security risks, identity management and access functionalities. But also the usage of different databases (SQL vs NoSQL) together with the cloud services. Interesting topics discussed at the event were concepts such as Auto scaling of EC2 instances, Load Balancing, and management tools such as CloudWatch and AWS Trusted Advisor, which seems to be very useful to track security and costs issues.

Uniface Attending AWS Event

In general, the event has broadened my view on cloud deployment using AWS, but also using other cloud infrastructure services as the same concepts can be applied to other cloud providers. 

It was truly an AWSome Day in Amsterdam!

Uniface Training Modules offer more Flexibility

With the development of faster and even better Uniface software there was clearly a need for better and more flexible and efficient Uniface education and training. With the release of Uniface 9.7 the training materials were revisited, redesigned and partly redeveloped. The input from many Uniface consultants during and after the train-the-trainer session, conducted in October last year, seemed invaluable.

The training materials have been developed in a more modular way to even more meet the needs of our customers and enable a more flexible delivery. Three tracks have been defined. The courses can be delivered as classroom training or over Web, using the CloudShare® platform.

This blog briefly describes the available tracks and modules for these trainings.

After having successfully completed the two days Uniface Essentials, there are three options. Each option takes three days to be completed.

Uniface Training Modules

  • The Uniface Essentials training focusses on the model-driven and component-based development and will equip students, new with Uniface, with the necessary basic skills to develop software applications with Uniface. Students will be prepared for the next module. The Uniface Essentials module is a prerequisite for the Uniface Mobile, Uniface Web, and Uniface Client Server training.
  • With Uniface Mobile students will learn to develop responsive applications that can be deployed on mobile devices and tablet computers. Attention will be paid to some supportive frameworks for building responsive applications.
  • In the Uniface Web development class students are taught how to develop Uniface applications by building Dynamic Server Pages for the Web. All aspects of stateless software development are covered in this course. Some attention will be given to HTML5, and CSS3.
  • Uniface Windows Client means building application for the Windows platform.

For each module students are encouraged to make a number of exercises to become more acquainted with the specific topics covered in the training modules. There will be enough time to ask questions, for discussion, and the exchange of ideas and information to optimize the learning process.

Besides these trainings, where students will learn the basic skills, more advanced topics and techniques can be covered in custom made trainings. These customized training are delivered on customer demands only, and can be geared toward specific customer situations.

For questions, comments or remarks about Uniface training please contact uniface.training@uniface.com, or download this fact sheet with more information.