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CoreOS Fest: Runway Provides a New Model Distributed Systems Design

BERLIN - Diego Ongaro, lead software engineer at Salesforce is well known in the computer science community for his work on the Raft fault-tolerant consensus algorithm, which is used in etcd (used by CoreOS and a key part of Kubernetes) At the CoreOS FestRunway here Ongaro detailed his latest big idea called Runway.

Ongaro explained that Runway is a new tool for distributed systems design. He noted that distributed systems are hard, they are hard to understand and hard to communicate about.

"Machines are spread across a network all communicating at the same time, so there concurrency issues and possible delays," Ongaro said. "Failures are common."

The typical approaches to find design issues are often too late in the process according to Ongaro, and it's always better to find the right design sooner.

"Design tools use system models," Ongaro explained. "A model is a representation of a system that captures its essential concepts and omits irrelevant details."

The Runway approach takes a model, runs it through a randomized simulators, then executees and is fed in to a visualization. In a pair of demos including a 'too many bananas simulation' Ongaro demonstrated how Runway can work.

Ongaro noted that specification, simulation and model checking all benefit from visualization, which is all part of Runway. Runway combines spec, model checking, simulation and interactive visualization and demos are available on Runway.systems.

"I'm a Salesforce and we're now applying this internally," Ongaro said. "Solve design problems in the design phase."


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist