Reinventing a square wheel is a common anti-pattern. The idea is a) we don’t need to reinvent the wheel because b) we’re likely to recreate it poorly compared to what is already available. But if we never reinvent any wheels, then we never progress beyond what we have. The real question, then, is when does it make sense to recreate a wheel? Some wheels need to be recreated.

I recently reinvented a wheel. A big one. The wheel is “Enterprise Messaging,” which much be complex because it has “enterprise” right in the name! I’d be a fool to reinvent that wheel, right? Maybe. Maybe not. We fit our “enterprise messaging system” into 92kb:

enterprise_messaging_in_92kb.jpg

Some won’t consider 92kb to be “enterprisey” enough, but that’s ok with me. I know we were able to put 1.3 million real-world messages through our bus over a weekend. That’s enterprisey.

Jonas Bonér wrote an article about building a POJO datagrid using Terracotta Server, and I replied on his blog saying we did something similar by using Terracotta Server as a message bus. Another reader asked why I did this instead of using JMS.

I think there are several benefits to this reinvented wheel:

TINY!

92kb contains the entire server framework. We have another jar containing common interfaces we share with client applications that weighs in at 18kb.

It works!

A single “consumer” in our framework is bootstrapped into an isolated classloader, which enables our framework to load applications (the various apps we need to integrate) into their own isolated classloaders. One consumer can process a message for any integrated application.

This is utility computing without expensive VMWare license fees.

We’re consolidating servers instead of giving each application dedicated hardware. The servers were mostly idle, anyway, which is why enterprises are looking to utility computing and virtualization to make more efficient use those spare CPU cycles. In our framework, hardware becomes generic processing power without the need for virtualizing servers. Scaling out the server farm benefits all applications equally, whereas the prior deployments required separate capital expenditures for each new server.

Pure POJO

Our framework runs inside an IDE without any server infrastructure at all. No ActiveMQ, no MySQL, and no Terracotta Server. Developers can stand up their own message bus in their IDE, post messages to it, and debug their message code right in the framework itself.

We introduce Terracotta Server as a configuration detail in a test environment. Configuration Management handles this part, leaving developers to focus on the business logic.

So, I might not be writing my own servlet container anytime soon (not when Tomcat and Jetty are open source and high quality), but I think it made a lot of sense to reinvent the “enterprise messaging” wheel. Terracotta Server allows me, in effect, to treat my network as one big JVM. My simple POJO model went wide as a configuration detail. That makes my bus (and TC) remarkably transparent.