Monday, July 7, 2014

Opportunities presented by multi-process architectures

So after stating that I was thinking about what comes "after convergence" I rambled on a bit about social networks and the cloud before veering wildly towards applications written as sets of processes, or multi-process architectures (MPA). I wrote about the common benefits of MPA and then the common downsides of them. Before trying to pull this full-circle back to the original starting point all those blog entries ago, I need to say a few things about opportunities presented by MPA systems that are rarely taken advantage of and why that is.

I don't want to give the impression that I think I've come up with the ideas in this blog entry. Most already exist in production somewhere in the world out there. There are certainly great academic papers to be found on each of the topics below. It just seems to be a set of topics that is not commonly known, thought about or discussed, particularly outside the server room. So nothing here is new, though I suspect at least some of the ideas might be new to many of the readers.

Before getting into the topics at hand, I'd also like to give a nod to the Erlang community. When I started toying about with the questions that inspired this line of though, I went looking for solutions that already existed. There almost always is someone, somewhere working on a particular way to approach a given problem. This is the beauty of a global Internet with so many people trained to work with computers. While looking around at various things, Erlang caught my eye as it is designed for radical MPA applications. While messing around with Erlang I began to understand just how desperately little most applications were getting out of the MPA pattern, and it helped illuminate new possible paths of exploration to tough challenges we face such as actually getting the most out of "convergence" when the reality is people have multiple devices (if only because each person has their own device). It's pretty amazing what many of the people in that community are up to .. for instance:

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