Saturday, September 29, 2007

The ebb and flow in technology deployments!

Back home in Boulder again - and this is my Boulder office. For those of you who were present at the closing session of the ITUG 2005 Summit, you may recall the gift I received from Volker Dietz - a painting created for the Tandem Germany office. It's now framed and takes pride of place in my office.

I am pleasantly surprised with the readership this blog is receiving and with the number of good comments being posted. Just to let you know more about how this works, at the request of ITUG, all comments that are posted are sent my way before appearing on the blog – I can accept, or reject complete postings – but I cannot edit them. So what you see posted is what was submitted – in total.

I am also pleased with the marketing done by others – already the link to this blog is being promoted in other newsletters – electronic and printed. Watch for even more references in upcoming ITUG Connection issues. I have always been a fan of “guerilla marketing” and the support I am receiving is clear evidence to me that this is always a good avenue to pursue – especially for support of a medium like this blog.

The dialogue I am having with a number of HP NonStop product managers is also encouraging. Having said this, I understand HP has a policy in place that really does limit how much feedback is provided to issues and comments posted in a blog – for HP, as you can imagine, there’s just a lot of topical blogs out there and it would be an endless, and perhaps thankless pursuit, to chase down every one of them and to sort out the fact from fiction. The channel they do watch is obviously the SIG discussion forums – and I just want to reinforce the necessity for maintaining SIGs exchanges. My blog is intended to complement these more formal channels, and not to replace them.

Having said that, I am particularly interested in any comments you elect to post about new clients and new applications for the Integrity NonStop server. I hear a lot of buzz that’s anecdotal about this agency purchasing a large NonStop server, and about a new NonStop server being deployed for that new application. Later this year I am going down to Singapore to look at one such new customer deployment.

There’s a lot that I hear, but like many of you, until it comes out in a press release, it’s hard to just jump in and talk about it. And there are some categories of users, government agencies in particular, especially any to do with state or homeland security that could tell you about this new application or that new deployment – but then perhaps they would have to kill you, if you know what I mean. But I have to add, from some of the licenses I have seen being prepared even within my own company – there are some pretty big configurations out there that are still covered by nondisclosure.

So, where it’s appropriate, just add a comment or two to let me know what you are hearing about and I will follow-up and report back on this blog. It’s very important for most of us to know that the need for NonStop is still alive, and that fault tolerant servers remain a much sought-after solution.

There are a lot of external factors now that suggest we are returning to a “centralized deployment model” once again. For as long as I have been associated with IT, I have watched the ebb and flow that takes place between IT groups and business units. Companies have let the end users add more smarts into their groups and then, over time, re-thought the deployments and moved whatever smarts were deployed back into the data center.

Whether it was out of frustration over the timeliness of a new application, the angst over the inflexibility of legacy applications, or quite simply the discomfort over the manner in which some IT chiefs used information in much the same way as feudal chiefs did back in the dark ages, there was always the potential to argue strongly for local control of selected information.

From distributed computing with remote minicomputers, to client/ server computing with departmental servers, or even today, with web services and the multi-tier architectures that they introduce, the arrival of each of these has spawned the appearance of computing power outside of IT’s direct management control.

Distributed computing fell out of favor as the people costs skyrocketed – just how many people were hidden inside headcount allocations that were really working on IT support? How much additional software did we need to oversee it all? Client / Server began to loose ground when we added up how much we were paying for the Wintel platforms springing up everywhere – and companies could not standardize on anything with the arrival rate of new applications that was exceeding the then-current tracking systems. When even Dell said it couldn’t fill some major orders because the technology would change across the delivery timeframe then yes, customer did have every right to question the value proposition.

The latest push for some centralization is coming from two sources – security, and the need to reduce the energy bill. I heard a term for the first time, only a few months back, when a client talked about a new metric – MIPS per Kilojoules! It turns out that in some markets – the island of Manhattan being one – that only so much power could be delivered. In the ongoing battle to balance computing power with heating / cooling needs, trade-offs were being made to the point where you could introduce no additional processing power.

Security these days has more to do with compliance than with shutting off access, I suspect. Recent legislation has made the whole process onerous, but like just about anything else tied to government, now that legislation is in place and agencies established to monitor, I can’t see us changing it any time soon.

Energy, and security, are among the most widely covered topics in the press and on the web. Back at a Gartner Symposium and IT expo in 2003, researchers Carl Claunch and Al Lill said in their keynote presentation “Gartner Predicts: The Future of IT” that we will see the next massive wave of innovation and demand for IT starting in 2006 and the drivers will include:

Transition to SOA
Low power consumption mobile devices
Secure broadband networks
Real Time Infrastructures

Gartner has its critics, for sure, but I recently paged through this particular presentation and found its accuracy uncanny. SOA, Security, Real Time, and Energy Usage are all front and center in most discussions I have participated in lately.

And this bodes well for the future on Integrity NonStop. This is a definite elevation in visibility of a platform that highlights the support of many of the above drivers and includes mature technology options among the platform’s attributes.

So, as this blog continues to develop and as the guerilla marketing expands and more of the NonStop community shares information, I would really like to get more feedback from you all on the many daily successes you experience from you own internal promotion of NonStop. Large, highly energy-efficient and extremely secure server packages, have now become very important. And to paraphrase a well-known declaration by an Ork in Lord of the Rings: “Well boys, look like NonStop is back on the menu”!


Bill Highleyman said...

Richard -

I wish you luck in getting information on current and new installations. That is always of great interest to the NonStop community - new names in the NonStop world, new applications in the NonStop world.

I for one try to get any case study I can on active/active implementations for the Availability Digest. It is like pulling hens' teeth. Most companies do not want to expose what they are doing for competitive or legal reasons. I hope that this doesn't extend to people feeding you information.

By the way, if you or anyone else know of a system that I could do a case study on, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

I can't say I don't appreciate the press that security gets, if I am to be honest.

In doing research myself, I often come across the same Gartner quote time and time again. I suppose its over-use can be attibuted to its accuracy and the fact that you can't say it any clearer than this:

"Enterprises that implement a vulnerability management process will experience 90 percent fewer successful attacks than those that make an equal investment only in intrusion detection systems."

Mark Nicolett
Security & Privacy, Gartner, Inc


RT Writer said...

So Lisa, what you are saying really here is that unless you look at the whole thing, just preventing the obvious intruder is only a band-aid and not guaranteed to protect you from more serious attacks including those from within. That about right?

Anonymous said...

Its a generally accepted statistic that the majority of breaches at financial institutions and big companies (like NonStop users) usually come from within. Be they intentionally malicious or just a grave error on the part of someone with too much authority in their logon.