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JNBridge 'Lab' Helps .NET Devs With Hadoop

JNBridge, maker of tools that connect Java and .NET Framework-based components and apps, released a free interoperability kit for developers looking for new ways of connecting disparate technologies on Monday. This second JNBridge Lab demonstrates how to build and use .NET-based MapReducers with Apache Hadoop, the popular Java-based, open-source platform for data-intensive distributed computing.

The company began offering these kits in March. The first JNBridge Lab was an SSH Adapter for BizTalk Server designed to enable the secure access and manipulation of files over the network. This new Lab aims to provide a faster and better way to create heterogeneous Hadoop apps than other current alternatives, the company claims. All of the Labs come with pointers to documentation and links to source code.

The new Hadoop Lab shows developers how to write .NET-based Hadoop MapReducers against the Java-based Hadoop API, which avoids the overhead of the Hadoop streaming utility. The resulting .NET code can run directly inside Hadoop processes.

"Streaming works," said JNBridge CTO Wayne Citrin, "but it's kind of thin gruel. It really makes non-Java MapReducers into second-class citizens in the Hadoop world. You have to manage and configure a separate process. You have to parse the output and put it back together when you're done, which is another overhead cost. Then there's the overhead of going through sockets. It's not surprising that not that many people actually use .NET in this case."

The code provided in the Hadoop Lab can be run as an example, Citrin explained, or it can be used as a design pattern for users to develop their own Hadoop apps using C# or VB.NET.

JNBridge started its Labs project started earlier this year as part of the company's 10-year anniversary celebration.

"It was a way of showing people how to use the out-of-the-box functionality of JNBridgePro to do useful things that they may not have thought of, or that don't exist out there as products," Citrin said.

The company's flagship product, JNBridgePro, is a general purpose Java/.NET interoperability tool designed to bridge anything Java to .NET, and vice versa, allowing developers to access the entire API from either platform. Last year the company stepped into the cloud with JNBridgePro 6.0.

Why would anyone want to build MapReducers in .NET?

"For the same reasons you would want to use JNBridgePro in the first place," Citrin said. "Your organization might have .NET-based libraries they need or want to use in a Hadoop application. Your company might have more people skilled in .NET than Java. Or you might be working with Windows Azure, which supports Java, but the .NET tooling is better."

Citrin confesses that developers have yet to begin trampling each other to download the JNBridge Labs, but there has been enough interest and feedback to keep the project going.

The JNBridge Labs are available for download, free from the company's Web site. Although the kits are free, they require a JNBridgePro license for use beyond the trial period. The company announces new Lab releases on its blog.

Posted by John K. Waters on May 21, 2012