Technical Consulting Services
Alternative Technologies provides technical consulting services to consumers, vendors, and venture capitalists. These services may involve either audits or design and development. Technical consulting services include:
- Software architectures - Alternative Technologies has many years of experience designing architectures that support scalability, flexibility, and performance. Our clients often ask us to design or redesign their software architecture, with attention to process management, data management, distribution, and administration issues. We also audit existing architectural designs or the architectures of systems that have failed (post-mortems).
- Benchmarks, benchmark audits, and capacity modeling - Consumers and vendors alike have used our services to design and implement benchmarks. Custom, special-purpose, and industry "standard" benchmarks (such as the TPC DBMS benchmarks) can provide insights into product performance and functionality, system design, and application requirements when properly run and audited. We designed the DCB (Database Connectivity Benchmark) in 1992. We also audit benchmarks, insuring that the benchmark has been properly run and reported. Capacity modeling is sometimes advantageous. This involves creating a model of the intended application and database prior to implementation or scaling up the application. Capacity modeling, when properly reflective of the intended application environment, can permit a user to identify capacity bottlenecks and functional flaws for a fraction of the cost of the full application. It can help vendors identify both strengths and weakness in their products, and compare and contrast them with competitive products or solutions.
- Performance audits and tuning - Performance has many facets including throughput, response time, and concurrency (numbers of simultaneous users). Alternative Technologies has been tuning database servers for performance, identifying physical and logical design errors that affect performance, evaluating and tuning transaction designs, and redesigning application structure for performance since 1982. Alternative Technologies recognizes that DBMS performance can be obtained when application requirements are understood, and is usually able to recommend design changes that result is significant performance gains.
- Database administrative audits - Techniques for achieving administrative tasks within a window, minimizing time and resources, making operations more robust, and establishing 24 by 7 operations continue to become increasingly important to DBMS consumers. Using the functionality of today's database servers to advantage can provide a more automated system which a high degree of reliability and availability. We identify existing weaknesses and explain the techniques necessary to achieve administrative goals. We also evaluate DBMS product's administrative features and functionality on behalf of vendors and consumers.
- Application design - Today's applications are often developed with a focus on ease of use and rapid development. The host of tools, standards, and technology (BPML, Java and JDBC, XML, .NET, DCOM, ActiveX, application servers, web servers, database queues, asynchronous transactions, message-based middleware, TP monitors, OLE and OLEDB, ODBC, and so on) has created numerous business and technical opportunities, along with a great deal of confusion. We examine application requirements, evaluate the tools available, and show our clients how to design applications that scale and perform without subverting the power of key infrastructure technologies such as the relational DBMS.
- Application development - The process of application development is as important as the tools used. We evaluate existing application development, and guide our clients in the establishing an efficient and sustainable development process. With proper organization of and interaction among the staff, assignments of personnel, and classification of tasks, rapid design, development, and maintenance are enabled. From time-to-time Alternative Technologies is also engaged to manage off-site application development projects, where clearly defined deliverables can be identified.
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