Monday, September 17, 2007

Fast Forward! Transformation and Morphing!

I have now returned to the US – after a short stop over in Boulder, I am back in my Simi Valley office and the picture I have included here is of me just off of Presidential Drive overlooking Simi Valley. It doesn’t matter how many times I make the trip to Sydney, I still come back whacked each time … there’s just no fun from those long-haul over-water trips.

But now that I am back at work, with access to my system, I have gone back and added a few comments to earlier postings. I won’t cover them all here, I promise! I have to admit though that I am pretty pleased with the level of response I have seen so far.

The blog postings “Is 30 Minutes too Long?”, “Got Security?”, and “Whereto CTO?” all generated comments that I felt are worth revisiting. A steady trickle of postings is beginning to appear. Clearly, this isn’t the only dialogue taking place across the ITUG Community – a number of online discussion forums are supported by ITUG and can be easily accessed from the ITUG web site – http://www.itug.org/

There are newsletters as well, and Bill Highleyman’s Availability Digest is a particularly good source to learn how users are deploying highly available solutions. Bill has told me that “the Digest really is not a newsletter. It does not talk about current events. It is a Digest in the purest form of the word, summarizing various topics in high availability.”

What’s a little different about this blog is that it is not so much logging questions as they arise but rather, attempting to anticipate the questions that are likely to arise soon; covering topics and trends I pick up on as I talk to clients and partners – and to HP itself. So far, I have discussed the user group itself and where it could be headed, looked at virtualization and Linux, thrown in some thoughts on availability and even given consideration to the roles of architects and technologists. For the next few weeks I will continue to introduce different subjects and see which of them generate traction with the community - I am looking at the comments posted as one way to determine interest levels, and to validate my belief that the issues are about to arise.

What users of HP NonStop servers should be glad to see is that there is a bit of an ecosystem developing around the platform – and more information is becoming available. Whether you pick up information from this blog, a discussion forum on the ITUG web site, or from newsletters or digests, such as the one Bill is producing – the good news is that people are now talking in a public forum about NonStop. In the past, these exchanges have gone on but usually captured within emails so that most of us never had the opportunity to read about and to leverage other users experience is an incredibly important element of growth.

I don’t think there are any of us that do not want to see growth in NonStop, see more users deploy HP NonStop servers. Every time we hear of a new application on NonStop we get excited and every time we hear of a new customer – someone trying NonStop for the first time - we are pretty impressed. Throughout the corporate world, consolidation is rampant and when discussions focus on the consolidation of many servers back onto a single platform – then the question always comes back to “is the platform reliable? Is it highly available?” and “can the platform scale?” and still, there’s no platform the equal to NonStop on both counts.

Now, talking about Boulder and Sydney, have you read the recent announcements from IBM? While most of us have been made aware of HP’s CIO, Randy Mott’s mission to collapse thousands of HP internal servers back to a few large complexes based on HP NonStop, and to deploy them across six data centers – some of which are still under construction – did you pick up on IBM adopting pretty much the same plan?

In case you missed it, check out:

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/21945.wss

ARMONK, NY - 01 Aug 2007:

IBM data centers in Poughkeepsie, New York; Southbury, Connecticut; Boulder, Colorado; Portsmouth, UK; Osaka, Japan; and Sydney, Australia, will participate in the initiative. IBM has established world-class teams to migrate, test and deploy the applications, which include: WebSphere® process, portal and application servers; SAP applications; and DB2®.

And for even more details, check out:

http://www.ciol.com/content/980798930.aspx

Thursday, August 09, 2007

In a significant transformation of its worldwide data centers in a generation, IBM has announced that it will consolidate thousands of computer servers onto about 30 System z mainframes running the Linux operating system. "The mainframe is the single most powerful instrument to drive better economics and energy conservation at the data center today," said James Stallings, general manager, IBM System z mainframe. "By moving globally onto the mainframe platform, IBM is creating a technology platform that saves energy while positioning our IT assets for flexibility and growth."

When you take a good look at the configurations – each of these System z mainframes will be a hybrid of sorts – with z/OS and DB2 being at the center, and the application code (mostly Java) running within Application Servers on Linux. Sound familiar? Among the locations will be Boulder, Colorado as well as Sydney, Australia. Go figure … and I had nothing to do with it!

The point here is that the HP NonStop server was not only the logical choice to anchor HP’s consolidation, but HP’s main rival also picked it’s own largest system in pretty much a parallel move to HP’s. It’s kind of reassuring, at the end of the day, to see both HP and IBM electing to go with systems most of the customers have been depending on for key transactional and data base applications for several decades.

Over time, you will see both of these mainframes, or “mainframe class of servers” morph to where they will be very similar in many ways – the main difference will always be that the HP servers have NonStop highly integrated for better availability and scalability. HP will leverage industry-standard chips – and as long as IBM continues to own its own chip technology, IBM will depend on higher-cost proprietary technology. I kind of like where this is headed – I have worked with both systems over the years – and they are both suited to the consolidation tasks awaiting them.

I think most of us understand that we live with a many-tiered technology deployment model with Microsoft on the desktop, some Microsoft and even Linux on the web servers, mostly Unix on the application servers, and significant populations of NonStop and zOS at the core. So what we are seeing today from HP and IBM plays into this many-tiered model and potentially reflects where many of us are headed. Perhaps more as Blades becomes better defined.

With the advent of newsletters, digests, discussion forums, and blogs – an information ecosystem focused on providing independent news to the NonStop community, it will become much harder to ignore the success that HP has with NonStop. And so the question needs to be asked – are we taping into these services? Are we forwarding information to our management? Or do we think that the moves being made by the two biggest vendors don’t really apply to our situation?

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