.NET StockTrader app targets services, load balancing and fail over

On the road to the Oslo SOA scheme, Microsoft added new Configuration Services to its .NET StockTrader sample application. The tools are said to improve scalability, load balancing and fail over.

The benchmark has grown up. That could be one take on the .NET StockTrader application built by Microsoft's Greg Leake, which started life as an attempt to compare IBM WebSphere with Microsoft Windows Server running .NET. Along the way, it also became a tutorial and sample application, showing a way of using Web Services to create bidirectional communications between Microsoft's Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) software framework and IBM WebSphere.

.NET StockTrader 2.0 shows how Microsoft thinks many people will use WCF to build SOA applications. It also may be a preview of Microsoft's next push into Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Elements in the new StockTrader indicate Microsoft is creating a test bed for services, which will help inform its decisions when it rolls out (according to the present plan, later this year) a CTP for its Oslo service-oriented modeling architecture.

At the same time, .NET StockTrader 2.0 addresses some down-to-earth problems people have with distributed computing generally. In effect, it offers dynamic clustering of nodes that run services.

Microsoft has been at work uncovering user issues in WCF and composite application deployment. Elements of Leake's new StockTrader seem to address deployment issues and related matters of distributed application server resilience.

In the new version of .NET StockTrader, Greg Leake has used NET 3.5 and WCF to create Configuration Services 2.0. The services manage host processes, endpoints and connections between services. They also include re-usable shared libraries, and provide centralized configuration management of service nodes. According to Leake, the libraries will allow developers to mix and match services in composite applications running across both Java and .NET.

Leake recently told SearchWinDevelopment.com that, while working with the distributed .NET StockTrader, he found that managing applications was challenging. That is where Configuration Services 2.0 comes in.

"The Configuration Services provide a way to scale out a service on multiple nodes with load balancing and fail over," he said. "It's a reusable library, and it is based on all-.NET 3.5 technology." The fail over here applies to nodes at application server level. The system works so that traffic is not directed to nodes that are down.

Elements of Leake's sample app include a service configuration database. Host and application-specific settings are moved from a config file approach to a repository approach. Leake told us that distributed caching is supported too.

Leake has been on the lecture circuit, lugging around a mini-server farm that the .NET StockTrading app runs on. The goal of the tour is to gain feedback on the services, said Burley Kawasaki, director of Product Management for Microsoft's Connected Systems Div. Expect more details at TechEd in June.

For more info, click over to view Inside the Lab - Greg Leake's blog.

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