Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Idempotent and Nullipotent in Cloud

I was going through the documentation of Oracle Cloud IaaS, when I came across the vaguely familiar term Idempotent.

One great thing which I have felt very strongly with all this Cloud-mania is the recall of various theoretical computing concepts which we learned/read in university courses way back. From networking through web concepts to operating system; there are plethora of concepts which are coming back to be in practice very actively in everyday life of cloud professionals.

Two such mouthful words were Idempotent and Nullipotent. These are types of actions. Difference between Idempotent and Nullipotent action is the result they return when performed.

In simple terms;

    When executed an Idempotent action would provide a result first time and then this result would remain same, no matter how many times the action is repeated after that first time.
    An Nullipotent action would always provide same result whether executed several times or not executed at all.
So in terms of Cloud where REST (Representational State Transfer) APIs and HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) are norm, these 2 concepts of Idempotent and Nullipotent are very important. In order to manage resources in cloud (through URI), there are various HTTP actions which could be performed. Some of these actions are Idempotent and some are Nullipotent.

Like GET action of HTTP is nullipotent. No matter how many times you execute this, it doesn't affect state of the resource and would return same result. And Put is Idempotent action of HTTP which would change the state of resource first time its executed and all subsequent executions of same PUT action would be like as first time.

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