My Initial Impressions of Zircomp

I checked out a webinar yesterday describing Zircomp by Zircon Computing. I’m always interested in new tools for developing distributed systems that make more effective use of networks and available systems, and that’s just what the description of Zircomp billed it as. I have no relationship with Zircon Computing or Zircomp, but ACE’s inventor and my co-author of C++ Network Programming, Dr. Douglas C. Schmidt, is Zircon’s CTO and Zircomp uses ACE, so I was immediately interested.

I have to admit, I expected this to another CORBA-esque heavyweight conglomeration of fancy-acronymed services. I was surprisingly delighted to find no CORBA mentioned anywhere – the framework described is all layered on ACE, and my come-away summary was this is like RPC on steroids, then simplified so humans can understand it and distributed across an incredibly scalable set of compute nodes. I was duly impressed.

There are, as I understand, a series of webinars planned to address the various aspects of Zircomp’s range of uses. This first webinar focused on distributing a parallel set of actions around a set of compute resources. It allows one to take the code for an action, wrap it for distribution, and replace it with a proxy that finds available servers and forwards the call. After having programmed RPC and CORBA, as well as hand-crafting RPC-ish type services, the simplicity of this new framework really blew me away. A lot of thought went into making this easy to use for your average programmer while allowing power users to really push the envelope.

I’ll be saving this one away as another tool in my bag of tricks for helping customers get the most value from both their engineering budgets and their computing equipment. Congrats, Zircon!

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