Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Watch the dips …

I was walking to the coffee shop this morning and as I was about to step onto the crosswalk I heard a thunderous crunch. Heading the other way across the intersection was a small car that had driven through a deep drainage culvert running across the street. The impact from driving through this dip was a tearing noise that sounded very much like something under the car was no longer attached. An expensive dip in the road!

And it made me recall the roads I have travelled recently as I have crisscrossed the south west. Readers may have already checked out my social blog buckle-up-travel where on August 26th I wrote a blog posting “Crisscrossing the Continental Divide …”. Many of the highways I took were in pretty poor shape.

On the interstates, it was a different story as nearly every bridge was under repair, but driving any road other than the interstate was fraught with dangers. Washouts, potholes, and crumbling edges pounded the car continuously and often had you peering off the end of your hood to make sure there was actually something stable under your wheels! And the picture I have included here is from the internet but shows clearly what many of us encounter on a regular basis.

From the first time I drove onto a US highway, back in the ‘70s, I have loved to travel across America. I was coming down from Canada and entered Montana on what turned out to be an 8,000 mile drive across ten states and two provinces over a three week period. And I haven’t really cut back at all, even with gas prices now at the levels they are. But the state of the roads is really appalling and with the low clearances of today’s modern cars, every one of these potholes has a potential to create financial disaster.

But it’s not just the highways that are in trouble. I have spent the past weekend in Austin, Texas and flew back to Simi Valley late Sunday afternoon. And the condition and cleanliness of the planes, and the quality of the upkeep of airport facilities, is not far behind. So hearing that the computers of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) went down yesterday during a normal, daily software load, with many flights delayed and many more cancelled, came as no real surprise.

It led to one Atlanta FAA spokesperson remarking “apparently a file was corrupted and that brought the system down… the Naden (facility, south of Atlanta) outage resulted in about 650 flight delays nationwide.” Surely not – one corrupt file brings down an entire communications network? And no way to rapidly back it out and repair? For corporations exposed this way, many more consequences and perhaps a lot more serious than a dip in the road!

It wasn’t too long ago, when working on the Tandem Computers campus in Cupertino, you couldn’t walk past a facility without seeing signs directing FAA personnel to classrooms. It had been a significant win for Tandem and in subsequent visits to FAA facilities back east, I saw a number of CLXs in operation – tied into the national weather services, as I recall. But at the time, it always puzzled me why an agency, like the FAA, didn’t deploy more of its applications on NonStop. It seemed pretty obvious to me that it was like a match made in heaven, given the very nature of the aviation industry. But without knowing too much more, it seems that old systems continue to prevail, outages continue to happen, and the transportation infrastructure crumbles further.

NonStop has had a role in the transportation industry for many years. Whether it’s been car manufacturers, trucking companies, delivery companies, the use of NonStop has been extensive. I was recently on the internet searching for information on NonStop when I came across Marshall Resources, Inc where their “Refurbished Tandem HP NonStop Equipment” Client List included such well known names as USPS, UPS, FedEx – all valued operators in the transportation arena.

As I continued to research NonStop and transportation infrastructure, I came across a recruiter looking for staff for Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) where the requirements were “Experience in SUN Solaris or Linux administration and scripting; good knowledge of TCP/IP and networking concepts; … and HP Non-Stop technology will be advantageous.”


Readers familiar with this blog may recall a previous posting, on March 21 ’08, “The need for standardization!“ where I talked about my early IT experiences in container shipping. This has to be a recent win for HP and I cannot really comment further as I know very little, but it just strengthens my own observations that NonStop servers and major infrastructure industries, particularly transportation, really are a great fit!


The reference to PSA also brought back other memories. I had only just left Nixdorf Computers in Australia to become the Managing Director of Netlink (then called Systems Technology), in its early start-up phase, and one of my first tasks was to oversee the relocation of manufacturing from a local Sydney contractor to a Singapore contractor. Netlink designed and manufactured a line of SNA protocol convertors and hubs and for many years was the provider of a premier product in this market segment. PSA was in the throws of migrating to Fujitsu’s Plug Compatible Mainframe (PCM) computers and needed to support older generation network devices and the Netlink protocol convertors helped them out.


Up until I joined Netlink, my IT career had centered on IBM mainframes – including PCMs – but this was the first step that would lead me to Tandem Computers and to the NonStop architecture. But to my IBM colleagues, this wasn’t a dip in the road or some other inconvenience – this was leaving the road altogether! What was I thinking?


As Netlink grew and began to develop a US business, I moved to the US to take up a corporate position in business development. And it was while working in business development that the deal to bring in Tandem as the major investor was put together. At the time, I met folks like Andy Hall, Suri Harish, and Roger Mathews – and it was after talking to Suri one night, that I decided to leave Netlink, return to Sydney, and join Tandem.


Events took over and things developed rather quickly after returning to Sydney and joining Tandem. Within a year I was commuting to Cupertino where I became a Program Manager before joining Product Marketing and eventually Product Management. With my background in IBM and my experience at Netlink, it was no surprise that I was heavily involved in the product management of networking and communications solutions.


However, while a Product Manager, I was approached to join Insession and the chance to work at another start-up proved irresistible. And it was also the chance to join up with Mark Hutchens once again – Mark had replaced me as Managing Director of Netlink Australia when I left for the U.S. Insession provided alternate communication stack offerings for SNA support and was eventually acquired by ACI Worldwide. I remained with ACI for many years, only recently joining GoldenGate Software whose products had been sold into the NonStop marketplace by ACI Worldwide.


Infrastructure has been a consistent theme for much of my IT career, and has heavily influenced the types of IT positions I have held. And it really bothers me that in today’s world, so much of the infrastructure we depend upon is crumbling away. Am I an evangelist of the use of NonStop for key infrastructure industries – you bet! I can’t imagine another technology providing a better fit – all key infrastructure needs to run 7 X 24 X 365 without disruption. Outages – planned or otherwise – cannot be tolerated, as service is immediately impacted, and in many instances we all hear about it quickly as news scrolls across the bottoms of our television sets under the banner of “breaking news”!


Are we poised to see wider deployment of NonStop in this no-downtime-tolerated market segment? I certainly never considered my move away from mainframes and IBM to Tandem as a dip in the road, even if my colleagues at the time were puzzled by it. I recognized a technology with great potential, and I pursued it. And I am becoming more encouraged as I hear – anecdotally, and even accidently, as I troll web sites - more companies in the infrastructure space turning to NonStop.


The recent driving through the south west highlighted that there will always be dips in the road – unsighted, potentially dangerous, but they’re all the same. Unprepared, and with the wrong platform, incapable of recovering from a simple transfer of a corrupt file, has to rate right up there with “the dog ate my homework”! Shouldn’t we be more vocal as a community about the smooth ride that comes from running on NonStop?


And shouldn’t we be more demonstrable, as we ride on through catastrophes that take down other solutions? Dips in the road will not go away, but their consequences will, in part, reflect the technology choices we make.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summers in Texas!

I will be spending this weekend in Austin, Texas, where I will be mixing a little business with some keenly anticipated downtime. Connect Executive Committee is spending the weekend in meetings there, and thinking about those volunteers - giving their free time to the User Group - brought back a lot of memories. Austin has great barbeque and I am looking forward to enjoying at least one night of dining at one of these establishments, before the Exec meetings start, so I have at least one of this weekend evenings with my dedicated-to-Connect family!

I have been visiting Texas for more than thirty years, and one of the first trips I recall taking was during the hot summer months of 1977 to participate in the Datacom User Group meeting in Dallas, Texas. I had just recommended installing the Datacom product suite to my company, and the folks at Insight Datacom Corp (IDCorp) had invited me to speak. The picture I have elected to include here is of me during one of my earliest visits to the Dallas area with a rental car typical of those times – a monstrous Pontiac Grand Prix.

Five years later, in the heat and humidity of another Texas Summer, I went to Houston for the 1982 National Computer Conference and experienced my first major computer industry trade-show. Renting a car was out of the question – Hertz had brought in trailer-loads of additional cars but they were all snapped up well before I arrived. My good friends from CIMS Labs, Larry and Ken Lynch, picked me up in a Rent-A-Wreck that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a demolition derby, and I will never forget the look on the valet parking attendant, of a very up-market Houston restaurant, when they asked to have it valet parked!

But the intimacy and closeness of the Datacom user event in Dallas was in stark contrast to the continuously-swarming crowds at the NCC event in Houston. It may have been my first taste of a small, focused user community and my first exposure to the value of open dialogue between users and developers, but it made a lasting impression on me.

I have always enjoyed the NonStop user events. The first one I ever attended was in 1992 when I had the good fortune to be able to participate in the event in Nice, France. At the time I was working for Tandem and I was able to witness the incredible networking that went on at these events. I looked on as Tandem executives provided hospitality on a scale I had never seen before, as many intense discussions developed around the bar of the hotel that had been quickly transformed into the temporary headquarters of Tandem Computers. Many drinks were consumed as the problems of the global computer world were solved, and never before had I tasted Armagnac’s of such quality!

This is the heritage and tradition of ITUG and why so many in the ITUG community keep returning to events year after year. With the focus on the ecosystem that grew up around the NonStop platform, the ITUG events developed a closeness and respect, not easily replicated at the larger industry events, while providing more diversity than product-specific events I had attended earlier in my IT career.

For the past two years I have been on the board of IBM’s SHARE user group. My term ended last week, as I did not stand for re-election. For obvious reasons, this has left me on the sidelines for the past year, watching the formation of a new user group out of the membership of ITUG and Encompass communities. But with my recent involvement in SHARE, I can’t help but make comparisons between the two organizations.

Both SHARE and Connect cater to large, Global 1000 corporations. Both user groups address the needs of users of the premier product offerings of their respective vendors, IBM and HP. And both organizations rely heavily on their volunteers. However, there’s a lot that the Connect community can learn from SHARE just as there are warning signs coming from that oldest of all user communities.

When I joined the SHARE board of directors, there were a number of times when the other directors would reflect on times when the events drew crowds of 6,000 + and how the excitement around mainframes was attracting a global audience. And these weren’t numbers from the ‘70s or ‘80s either – as recently as the late ’90s attendance had been up in this range. Inside of a decade, however, the slide has been very visible as the numbers have declined substantially.

A few years back, SHARE put together programs aimed at IBM’s Unix and System p community but it failed to attract an audience. The System i community remains fiercely independent with their own leadership and events, and cooperation with them in pursuit of growth through joint events, hasn’t proved to be attractive to either groups.

I learnt very early on at SHARE that it was very difficult to develop programs outside of core subject areas. Halting the slide in user participation while, at the same time, attracting additional audiences – even when it was within the same vendors product portfolios, as the case was with IBM, wasn’t an easy task. There were concerns of the community volunteers to be addressed as well as the need to be cautious about taking the spotlight away from what was working. And I quickly learnt that not everyone in the community was enthusiastic about change of any kind, no matter what the potential benefits entailed.

Back in October ’07, I wrote two blog postings on user groups. In the October 17 posting, “You can’t survive if you ain’t got drive …”, I made the observation that, as a user community, “we have to try! We either adapt to our environment or we fade into oblivion … (and) we have to keep pushing, or we will cease to be relevant. The lifecycle of corporations, of technology, of products is all about adapting … holding the course, maintaining the status quo, resisting change, never wins out.”

When I revisited this topic a few days later in the October 26 posting, “Changes of Attitude …”, I passed on a comment a former ITUG Chairman, Bill Highleyman, made to me when he wrote “I have to admit that I was one of the supporters of keeping the ITUG Summits ‘pure.’ … but the advantages of sharing community across the product lines (at recent HPTF&E events) clearly showed.”

I went on to say, in that later blog posting, that “… (as) I reflect back and ask myself – are the culture and our heritage, and the voices of those that have been around the user groups for a long time, now at odds with the new reality? Shouldn’t I be trying really hard to work together to build something better?” Perhaps, what I encountered at SHARE, and the difficulty that they had with developing a sense of community across product lines, could be overcome this time at Connect.

It doesn’t escape me that as a user community, we have to reinvent ourselves every few years. It also doesn’t escape me that user groups, just like technology and products, have lifecycles. My enthusiasm for creating a new group out of the communities so closely associated with platforms with significant histories, as is being done now, remains high.

But nothing is certain or comes with a guarantee, when it comes to user communities, and perhaps the warning signs I saw at SHARE weren’t all that unique to them after all.

Scott Healy, the former Chairman of ITUG and now the first immediate Past President of Connect, told the HPTF&E audience this past June “why are we pursuing this joint undertaking? Why are we getting together, as we are now doing, to create something new? I will tell you why – go down onto the exhibition floor and look at the new technology. Look at Blades. Look at a Blade Center prototype running a mix of NonStop, Unix, Windows and potentially OpenVMS! And I will tell you – that’s why!”

I have to agree with Scott – I see the inevitability that the differences between the communities will dissolve. The physical attributes will standardize the server “package” and the ease with which users can launch any mix of operating systems will be greatly simplified. And as this transitions, and becomes the normal way to run HP servers, having a single united community makes all the sense in the world.

And I think Scott has it right, and am encouraged but what I have seen transpire to date – but the work has only just started and none of us can drop our guard or loose focus. My passion for user groups is well known. My participation in communities of all types has been something I have done for decades. And I continue to look forward to participating in a far bigger community.

As the physical product differences recede, don’t we all really have the same agendas? Isn’t community participation all about doing the right thing for our companies and through networking with our peers, become beter informed? Sometimes big events loose their sense of shared purpose and, where the opportunity to network lessens, fade away with time. At the core of every community success, lays a desire and need that can only be met through sharing experiences and concerns.

I saw much that was good at SHARE, but I also saw the downside from trying to break with the past. Let’s all hope that this time, with Connect, it will be different and that we maintain our sense of community and with it, our desire to network. Perhaps it will be more than the quality of the Armagnac I will remember in future years! Yet, I have to admit, the “royal treatment” extended by Tandem Computers to their customers certainly helped building an unparallel loyalty to the platform and to the company that brought it to the market.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Networking? Take it easy ...

Celebrating my first year of blogging to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View ...

Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent most weekends out on the highways somewhere between Simi Valley and Boulder. I haven’t travelled exactly the same route twice during all that time. For readers who may be interested in a more complete description take a look at my other blog site http://www.buckle-up-travel.blogspot.com/ next week.

This past weekend, I decided to travel back to Boulder along the Interstate system that now closely follows the “Mother Road” – Route 66. The picture I have included here was taken of me “standing on a corner, in Winslow, Arizona” – a site made famous in the song by the Eagles “Take it Easy”. It’s a 20 miles off the Interstate with next to nothing there, but I had always wanted to do it. I spent a few dollars on a cap and a T Shire before returning to the Interstate and heading to Albuquerque.

Back in the late ‘30s, over a million people left townships in the prairie states and headed to California. The great depression era “Dust Bowl” conditions forced many of them from their homes with little choice but to seek work in the rich farmlands of California. After the Second World War, there was another major migration, as servicemen stationed in the Pacific retold adventures they had in California and elected to start over in places other than the frozen north of the country.

Route 66 became a communications channel with information passing rapidly between townships by word of mouth. It developed into the go-to source for all information about the boom-times on the Coast. The opportunities in California soon provided a compelling reason to uproot from the many small cities along the way and to seek new lives amid the booming economy out on the West Coast. Route 66 faded with the arrival of the Interstate Highway system that bypassed these small communities, but the legacy of Route 66 remains with us today. It’s a small coincidence that one of the last sections of the Interstate system to be completed in the ‘80s was the bypass of Winslow, Arizona.

The passing of information through a society, as happened with the people living along Route 66, reminded me of the power and immediacy that comes when a society communicates in this fashion. Even today, marketing companies still include word-of-mouth, or one-to-one, marketing tactics as one avenue that generates awareness. Perhaps its appeal is not valued by all companies, particularly those looking for very rapid growth, but for some companies it remains a valuable tool in getting information about their products into the marketplace. As I walked out of Albuquerque with another T-Shirt featuring the Route 66 highway sign, I couldn’t ignore the similarities between this road, and the role it played, with today’s social networks.

For many of us, the web has become our go-to source for information. In a recent exchange with our daughter Anna, she explained to me how ingrained the web has become to her and her friends. “Discussion forums still seem to be big; as for product info, I still rely on Consumer Reports online a fair bit, and CNET for electronic stuff; and people still blog. In my circle it seems particularly big among people with new kids, as an easy way for the ‘busy mom’ to update everyone. Facebook is huge!”

Throughout history, there have been many infrastructures over which information flowed. From the time the Phoenicians sailed to every port in the Mediterranean, to the time the Romans pushed roads into every corner of Europe, to what happened with Route 66, knowledge grew as information flowed freely over seas and up and down roads. And with the world wide web, this process continues but at an accelerated pace way beyond anything previously seen.

There’s always a downside, of course. Just as the residents along Route 66 found themselves victimized by those within the community that preyed on unsuspecting neighbors, as has happened since long before there were Roman highways, so too has the web become home for a lot of questionable information. Just because it’s in the public domain doesn’t mean that it’s accurate and of any use. As is the case when dealing with any information, the credibility of the source and integrity of the site are extremely important and questioning everything remains the sensible thing to do.

But blogging is certainly opening up new ways to get the story out into the wider community and who would have guessed that with this post, I am celebrating a full year of blogging! And yes, there's 80+ posts already made to this NonStop community blog and I am sure, there will be many more to follow. In a blog I posted back on September 24, ’07 “What did you have in mind, eh?” I made the observation that the “creation of this blog is not in competition to any other exchanges that exists within the ITUG community, it is being undertaken to complement other programs. The thought behind the production of this blog is that across today’s community there are different generations of users.”

And then I added in a subsequent posting on January 9, ’08 “I got my new horizons!” that “I am not yet convinced that there will ever be a substitute for face-to-face networking, particularly for my generation, where participation in events, conferences, and seminars is how we stay current with IT … But more often these days, I am finding that with time and budget constraints I can’t always attend them all and I don’t get to listen to everyone I should. Social networking helps me stay connected when otherwise I wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

It was only a week or so ago that I first heard that Martin Fink was authoring a blog. He is calling it “Musings on Mission Critical Computing” and it can be found on the HP web site at http://www.communities.hp.com/online/blogs/musings-on-mcc/default.aspx Already it’s developing readership and comments are beginning to appear. I see this as a very positive development for the community of HP users, particularly those now participating in Connect. There’s nothing more relevant than the opinions and observations of the person in charge, and I find it very encouraging to see Martin step up to blogging. I for one will be a regular reader of his musings. Clearly, the HP site is not one that falls under the classification as questionable, nor does Martin bring any concerns about credibility. There’s no downside in going to this site and checking out Martin’s musings and I have to believe he will welcome all community commentary.

As I have remarked in previous blog postings, for all of us within the NonStop community, any buzz that’s generated around the NonStop platform is important and any vehicle used in the creation of that buzz, including social networking across the web, is valuable. But is social networking just a passing fad?

Earlier this year, in a posting on April 21, ’08 “We all have opinions!” I asked the question “Social networking has now made its presence felt on us all … will these communication and networking vehicles survive over time, and will we always turn to them for information? Or will this be viewed as just a fad, popular with a younger generation of users?” And now, only a few months later, I am coming to the conclusion that this communication vehicle is here to stay, providing us all with a valuable service.

As pressures continue to mount on us in our daily IT lives to deliver more with less, so to is the tolerance for mistakes decreasing. Information from any source, whether vendor or industry analyst, can be more easily validated than at any other time in our history. There’s no excuse any more for pursuing any technology or solution undertaking without first checking the web. Indeed, for most CIOs questioned in one recent community survey I was involved with, the first place they turn to for information is Google – even before they call any of their peers in the industry.

Route 66 witnessed multiple population migrations as information about a better future passed from one community to the next. As hope emerged for those who survived the ‘30s Dust Bowl, and as prosperity beckoned to those who returned from the war, Route 66 provided the “network” across which news travelled. It became “America’s Highway” and the “Mother Road” to all those looking for information about a better place to live.

And for many of us, the web has become the World’s Highway in much the same way. And blogging has become an easy way to communicate observations and to express opinions to everyone with access to the web. Social networking is here to stay, in one form or another, and we do need to ask ourselves “are we staying connected?” While the Eagles song “Take it Easy” suggests we need to lighten up while (we) still can and to take it easy, I have to ask if we can only do this after first checking out the web?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On higher ground – one step at a time!

I have spent the past few weekends travelling back and forth between the front ranges of Colorado and the coastal valleys of Southern California. And even though these trips have become routine, they are proving to be anything but boring or tiring. The changes in elevation that you drive through, offer some spectacular scenery and the picture that I have included here is of me with my back turned away from one of the more scenic sites as I check up on my mail from my Blackberry.

Between the different mountain chains forming the backbones of Colorado and Utah, there are incredibly beautiful elevated planes of stone that push up from the river canyons. As National Geographic has reported “sandstone buttes seem to whirl in place on the Colorado Plateau in Utah.” These areas of high ground, with varying amounts of level surfaces, have become a major feature of the region and groupings of them seem to be giant stepping stones leading up into the Continental Divide visible on the Eastern horizon.

It was against this landscape that I read the latest stories coming out of Beijing in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games. Athletes were participating in various warm-up events as they worked hard to time their performances so as to peak on just the right day. And the focus of the coaches was on making sure their star performers didn’t fall into a routine and tail-off prematurely. There was nothing these coaches feared more than to see their charges plateau too early, and fail to live up to the expectations of their legions of fans. Ensuring that their athletes build on each new personal best, and to use each success as a launching point for even greater achievements is what brings the world’s athletes together for each Olympic event.

Regular readers of this column will know of my own endeavors in learning to better drive high performance sports cars, and how I am paying a lot of attention to the instruction I am being given. While this can’t be compared with what the elite athletes in Beijing are accomplishing, I am progressing one step at a time as well. Through repetition, the elimination of mistakes, and eventually consistency, I am learning each track circuit and developing new skills along the way. It’s all about focus and concentrating on execution. And this is the way each student improves their times.

John, the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) instructor overseeing my development, provided the following advice “most people progress in stages, or plateaus. I found that with my own skill, I didn't have a problem going fast (I knew the lines around the track) and that it was true car-control I was missing. Stick to the basics, like looking ahead and smooth stuff, and you'll do great!”

I have been digging through back issues of the Connection magazine as well. I had been looking for articles on Web services and SOA recently, and came across an article by Wil Marshman “What is Real Time?” Wil has been a Product Manager with HP going all the way back to Tandem days, and we had the good fortune working together for a number of years. As I read the article again, I was struck by how often our industry hits plateaus and how it takes considerable creative thinking to move beyond them.

In his article, published in the January / February 2003 issue of Connection, Wil makes a couple of observations I find interesting. He wrote “the term real time was coined in the days when computers were first used with missiles, both indirectly to simulate their flight and directly to control them. Real time meant that the computer program was ‘keeping up’ with the missile.” But then Wil asks the question “can we translate the concept of tracking a missile to operating an enterprise?” And then adding a little later “we have the technologies today to integrate disparate databases, to utilize rules engines for well-known business rules, to interconnect multiple computer platforms, to provide modern command and control centers for management.”

In the early days of applying computers to military “Mission Critical” applications, Wil also notes that there were real issues tracking, and controlling, missiles and that the concept of real time was considered more or less a goal. Computers and the applications of the day just couldn’t process all the data generated during the flight of a missile. But with each subsequent chip generation, together with major software breakthroughs, the real time goal was realized.

The evolution wasn’t linear. This wasn’t about incremental change adopted on a regular basis. Moore’s law worked against simply refining processes – it mandated “break-through” developments in order to leave one elevated plane behind and reach for one that’s even higher. Just as the buttes on the Colorado Plateau in Utah begin to look like a sequence of giant stepping stones rising up to meet distant mountains so too, has been the course of silicon research. From valves (or tubes), to transistors, to integrated circuits, to simplex cores, to the multi-core technologies of today, at every step along the way innovative engineers dragged the rest of the community up onto the next plateau.

Wil raised the notion that with the coming of the “real time enterprise … a company can manage all its data (and) that it can all be so well integrated that brand new things can be done.” While many institutions question the value, and indeed necessity, to provide a real time view into a company’s data – the reality is that there’s a huge competitive advantage to those companies who see trends and recognize business shifts, and can react accordingly.

Often the supporters of less-than-real time, or near-real time, technologies or solutions are simply those vendors without solutions capable of supporting a real time environment. Can you ever really justify not stretching to achieve more – users may elect not to deploy a technology or solution to its full capabilities, but they should never be constrained by a product’s short-comings or limitations.

In my day job here at GoldenGate, real time is something everyone in the company consciously focuses on – everything we do helps reinforce the thought that you can access current information in real time. And the comprehensive scope of the product today is a reflection on the number of steps, or plateaus, it has ascended laying one feature on top of another. But just as an athlete uses a personal best as a launching pad for even greater achievements, and as the demands of the military focused the minds of technologists, it is very evident that companies like GoldenGate advance by progressing in stages, mounting one plateau at a time.

“The contribution our customers have made helping us ascend from one plane to the next,” suggests Sami Akbay, VP Marketing for GoldenGate, “cannot be understated. Without the partnership with Sabre, we would not have pursued data base tiering and without the engineering support from our partner ACI, it may have taken a lot longer to develop support for dual site and active – active product features. Each of these undertakings helped focus the company on what needed to be done to propel us further into supporting real time access to real time information.”

In today’s Mission Critical world, where many HP NonStop Servers are deployed, there really isn’t any practical limit to keeping operational systems fully synchronized with the reality that is the business of the moment. When I asked Wil if he still agreed with the article he wrote back in 2003, he quickly responded “it stands up pretty well, even regarding companies moving to become real time businesses, (and the) importance of decisions based on real time data.”

Will we ever stop trying to run or swim faster? Will we ever turn down the opportunity to drive a car with too much power and too much speed? Will we ever be completely happy with old information?

We are all driven to improve on our personal bests and to perform better at every opportunity. Mission Critical technologies and solutions require no less of an effort and the companies that capitalize on products that operate in real time, can flex competitive muscle in ways others may be compelled to match.

Have you taken a good look at the landscape around you and begun to step up to higher plateaus? Or are your coaches unimpressed with your lack of focus and despairing at your sub-par performances?