Welcome!

Linux Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Sematext Blog , AppDynamics Blog, Pete Pickerill, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: Linux

Linux: Article

Automated Error Prevention for Linux

Protect the reliability and cost-effectiveness of Linux

Most organizations that use Linux as a business operating system are developing their own applications for Linux - perhaps in response to the current scarcity of packaged applications available on Linux. With so much internal development for Linux, it is critical that the IT groups building your Linux-based applications have a means to efficiently produce reliable code. If they don't, you will jeopardize the very reliability and cost-effectiveness that most organizations are trying to achieve by turning to Linux.

However, most development teams follow a development process that is far from efficient, and the applications they provide typically experience functionality problems and security weaknesses that require patches, updates, and redeployments. In fact, most IT organizations waste a great deal of their time, effort, and resources fixing what is essentially the same error. As a result, applications are not deployed on time and on budget, applications are not reliable, and/or the organization's developers are probably following the standard rule of 80% time spent debugging and 20% time spent writing new code. Here's why: traditional software testing methodology tries to control costs and improve quality by promoting the tactic of testing "early and often." If an error is detected at any time during the software life cycle, a bug report is filed, the responsible developer tries to reproduce and repair the problem, then testing must verify that the modification corrected the reported problem and did not introduce any new problems. This approach is not only time consuming and costly, but also inefficient because it doesn't do anything to prevent the same types of errors from happening again. Consequently, a single IT group probably wastes a significant amount of time, effort, and resources on the same types of errors thousands of times over.

With the error prevention knowledge and technology available today, an IT development team should never encounter the same type of software error twice. By applying a concept called Automated Error Prevention (AEP), you can ensure that any time an error is discovered, the development process is improved, and that error - along with entire classes of similar errors - is prevented from recurring. If this methodology is implemented throughout your organization's IT groups, the developers will have the infrastructure and process essential for efficiently producing applications that leverage the strengths of Linux.

What Is the Parasoft AEP Methodology?
The Parasoft AEP methodology defines the practices that apply the concept of AEP to the software life cycle, and describes how those practices can be used in a group environment. The concept of AEP advocates the automation of five specific procedures, which are combined to improve the development process and prevent software errors:

  1. Detect an error
  2. Isolate the cause of the error
  3. Locate the point in the process that created the error
  4. Implement practices to prevent the error from reoccurring
  5. Monitor for improvements
The key to AEP is that you should find a bug only once (or learn from someone else who has already found and analyzed that bug). The knowledge you gain from finding and analyzing bugs should be used to improve your process so that you never encounter repeat occurrences of bugs similar to those you have already found.

For example, imagine that you have an n-tier system that includes a client, middleware written in Java, and a database. Assume that load tests revealed that a heavy load stopped the system. After detailed analysis, you discovered the problem was caused by a resource leak from open connections to the database. Normally, you would simply identify and modify the code to close the connection.

However, if you were to approach this situation from the perspective of AEP, you would try to determine how to prevent the problem from recurring. After isolating the problem as an open connection, you would determine that the error was introduced because a developer wrote code to open - but not close - a connection. You might then try to stop this error from recurring by implementing a practice that ensures that code written to open a connection is always accompanied by code to close that connection.

One way to implement this practice is to establish a Java coding standard requiring that each class that opens a connection must have a finalize() method and the finally block to close the connection. If code follows this rule, the error won't reoccur. But how will you enforce this? You could try to enforce the practice by having the team conduct code reviews. However, this is inefficient because the team would need to manually review and analyze all of the code to determine whether all of the connections were closed.

A more efficient strategy is to use a static analysis tool that can analyze the code and automatically identify any violations of this guideline. The team can then prevent leaks by ensuring that all connections are closed.

This is the idea behind AEP. You found an error during load testing, then isolated the error's source as a resource leak from an open connection in the Java middleware. You found that the Java code was missing a finally block and finalize() method, defined a coding standard to specify how code should be written in the future, and automated the process to ensure that this standard is actually followed.

How Is AEP Implemented?
You implement AEP by defining error prevention practices - including coding standards, static analysis, unit testing, regression testing, load and stress testing, functional testing, integration testing, application testing, and monitoring - and integrating these practices into the software life cycle as shown in Figure 1.

 

Whenever an error is detected during a specific practice, you modify an earlier practice to prevent that error and all similar errors. For instance, in the example from the previous section, an error was identified during load testing, then the coding standard checking practice was modified to include a new coding standard.

How Do I Implement AEP Practices?
The way that you implement AEP practices can determine whether AEP becomes an effective and sustainable part of the development process, or just another fad that sounded good in principle, but never produced the promised results. Each AEP practice implemented must satisfy three requirements for success. Each practice must be:

  1. Implemented as a group practice
  2. Embedded in the software life cycle
  3. Automated to ensure that it does not decay
All three requirements are critical for every practice, which is why I recommend that you implement each practice in a similar manner. The recommended group workflow for all practices is described in Figure 2.

 

To achieve automation, you ensure that each developer is equipped with the technology required to automate the practice. The technology might be scripts or programs developed internally, open source tools, or commercial tools.

To promote the necessary uniformity and enforce group behavior, you ensure that all team members are automating the practice in exactly the same way, and that only the team architect can modify the tool settings. Moreover, to maintain the integrity of the code base, you require that developers apply the practice to their code before they add that code to the source control system. Any practice violations must be remedied before the developers check in the code.

To verify that developers actually adhere to the required practices, you configure the technologies that automate the practice to run regularly scheduled batch mode tests on the code available in the source control system. No violations should occur at this point. If any do occur, the tools notify the architect and the developer; this notification serves as an invitation for a code review. During the code review, the architect and developer review the violation of the practice and determine whether this was an appropriate violation.

Information from the regularly scheduled batch mode tests should be collected in a central location (such as a relational database), and then analyzed to measure how well the practice is implemented. In addition, managers can use this information to better assess group productivity and project progress.

A Final Word
The software industry must mature, and there can be no maturation without effective error prevention and process improvement. We have no other options - we must do it. If we don't, we will pay dearly for it in functionality and security problems, excessively high development costs, and depressingly low productivity.

The Parasoft AEP Methodology
The Automated Error Prevention (AEP) Concept has been developed over the course of many years through close work with the software industry, Parasoft development personnel, and the personal dedication of Dr. Adam Kolawa, chairman and CEO of Parasoft Corporation. The AEP Concept addresses a basic need within the software industry, that of improving application quality through the automatic prevention of errors during the entire software development lifecycle. We believe that the AEP Concept is fundamental for improving the efficiency of the software industry and is critical for the software industry to mature.

Because the AEP Concept is so important, it must be shared with others in the industry. Therefore, Parasoft is pleased to place the Automated Error Prevention (AEP) Concept, the "five steps plus automation," into the Public Domain. Parasoft is very committed to the AEP Concept, and wishes to see it embraced by companies and organizations that want to improve their software manufacturing and development processes. We encourage others to adopt the Parasoft AEP Concept, to improve it or change it as needed, and build their own methodologies and products from it. To this end, Parasoft will soon unveil the AEP Consortium, a think-tank that will bring together software corporations and leaders to foster support and practical implementation techniques for the AEP Concept.

Parasoft AEP Methodology is a specific application of the AEP Concept to the software development life cycle. It defines how you place the automated procedures into the software life cycle and how you ensure that the development group works together to implement and maintain the practice. The Parasoft AEP Methodology is not a product. Rather, it is the definition and description of a process in which proven error prevention practices are automated for the software development industry.

We believe that there are other AEP Methodologies that are waiting to be discovered and applied to the software development life cycle, and we encourage others in the software industry to conduct research to facilitate the creation and dissemination of these additional methodologies. We have simply conducted the first phases of this research - there is still much more that can be done.

Parasoft AEP Solutions are specific implementations of the Parasoft AEP Methodology that combines tools, services, and know-how to support the full software life cycle. Companies such as IBM, Cisco, and Warner Music Group have adopted Parasoft AEP Solutions and are already reaping benefits throughout their entire software development programs.

More Stories By Adam Kolawa

Adam Kolawa is the co-founder and CEO of Parasoft, leading provider of solutions and services that deliver quality as a continuous process throughout the SDLC. In 1983, he came to the United States from Poland to pursue his PhD. In 1987, he and a group of fellow graduate students founded Parasoft to create value-added products that could significantly improve the software development process. Adam's years of experience with various software development processes has resulted in his unique insight into the high-tech industry and the uncanny ability to successfully identify technology trends. As a result, he has orchestrated the development of numerous successful commercial software products to meet growing industry needs to improve software quality - often before the trends have been widely accepted. Adam has been granted 10 patents for the technologies behind these innovative products.

Kolawa, co-author of Bulletproofing Web Applications (Hungry Minds 2001), has contributed to and written over 100 commentary pieces and technical articles for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Java Developer's Journal, SOA World Magazine, AJAXWorld Magazine; he has also authored numerous scientific papers on physics and parallel processing. His recent media engagements include CNN, CNBC, BBC, and NPR. Additionally he has presented on software quality, trends and development issues at various industry conferences. Kolawa holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology. In 2001, Kolawa was awarded the Los Angeles Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the software category.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Dan Kegel 12/29/03 11:59:48 AM EST

Parasoft just wants to sell you expensive tools.
Skip their sales pitch, and go check out Valgrind
(http://valgrind.kde.org). It's a free tool that
finds a lot of the same problems the Parasoft tools
do. And it doesn't even require you to recompile your
apps. Valgrind was used recently by the Openoffice team
to find and fix a large number of subtle bugs in their
extremely complex C++ app. If it's good enough for Openoffice,
it's good enough for your app. Valgrind rocks!

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...