Thursday, March 25, 2010
More new engines for NonStop!
The existence of such extreme machines was brought to my attention by my good friend Aldo Adriaan who, being somewhat more conservative, owns a Boss Hoss motorcycle, another manufactured custom but this time, sporting only a V8 as its power-plant. Aldo manages education and training for the NonStop Enterprise Division, and is well known to many of us. A quick check of Aldo’s LinkedIn profile reveals how his “primary hobby is touring the U.S. on a Chevy V8 motorcycle.” I shouldn’t be too quick to comment mind you, as I spent several years converting my first motorcycle to a replica café racer!
Conversions often have their roots in necessity. I converted my motorcycle as it was no longer in production and upgrading to more current, easier to support components, made some sense. For anyone working in IT the story takes on quite a different tone as change is a constant and pursuing conversions a regular activity involving nearly everyone working with computers. Vendors pursuing aggressive timetables as they change hardware or infrastructure will often necessitate conversions, but unlike the glamorous results produced by today’s metal sculptors working with two and four wheeled vehicles, conversions and customization of computer applications rarely generate any emotion other than a relief!
For anyone working with NonStop it’s been hard not to notice all the excitement that has followed the surprise announcement by ACI Worldwide in December, ’07, that they would be forging a new alliance with IBM and the NonStop platform would no longer be a part of their strategy in the years to come. At the 2008 European BASE24 User Group meeting in Vienna, ACI’s product management announced that the sun-setting of BASE24 would take place in November 2011 and that all existing users need to plan on converting to BASE24eps. However, BASE24eps wasn’t merely an upgrade, but a completely new product optimized for hardware and infrastructure alien to the NonStop community.
The first reports from industry analysts that followed the ACI announcement were quick to highlight the challenge that would lie ahead for existing BASE24 users, suggesting that perhaps the time was right to more formally evaluate alternative payment engines. As 2008 and 2009 went by, few BASE24 users elected to move to the new BASE24eps and their continued allegiance to the NonStop platform was clearly in evidence as one after the other, they upgraded to the new NonStop Blades servers in preference to any purchase of IBM’s System z mainframe. As we progress further into 2010 the first viable alternatives to converting to BASE24eps are beginning to surface and one such alternative is a new payments solution created by the French company Lusis.
The first I heard of Lusis was in presentations made by Neil Pringle at the user group event late last year in Darmstadt, Germany. Highlighting vendors committing to support the NonStop platform Neil introduced Lusis as a new entrant in the payments platform space, and told the audience how this company was pursuing a deep port to NonStop of their current product offering on Unix. At the heart of the Lusis offering is the Tango “engine” – and the Tango-based offering provides a competitive EFT Switch alternative.
“I was really impressed by three things - the comprehensive business functionality, the professionalism and technical skills of the management and staff, and the complete belief that NonStop was THE platform for this type of application,” Dave McLeod, Director, Financial Services Industry, HP was quick to point out when I raised the subject of Lusis with him recently. It only took a couple of briefings to convince David, and then Neil, to commit resources to help with the port of Lusis.
“Porting Tango was one of the easiest non-Java ports I have encountered; primarily because it had a well-implemented modular architecture capable of flexible deployment across multiple processors,” HP’s Moore Ewing then told me in a follow-up email exchange. Developed mostly in C++ with some Java for scripting, and using the NonStop SQL/MX data base, it lends itself well to running on NonStop.
Lusis may be a bit of a surprise for many NonStop users, but the company has a solid heritage behind it. The founders include many from ATOS, perhaps the biggest software company in France with experience in many banks. For a period of time, ATOS was even the distributor for the S2 payment platform, prior to the time ACI purchased S2. This background certainly equips Lusis with the experience to extend its reach into banks and other financial institutions particularly now that its products support NonStop.
“It is very clear that HP Non-Stop remains the preferred platform for retail payments, and that clients need a flexible, modern payment engine to support their ongoing business strategy on that platform. Tango from Lusis gives Non-Stop clients exactly that, but, at lower cost and less risk than a typical BASE24-eps migration strategy,” according to Lusis CEO Philippe Preval. In all the exchanges I have had with NonStop users of late very few of them are contemplating leaving the platform given the path ACI is pursuing.
In fact, while many of these users aren’t absolutely certain about what they will do, the arrival of alternate offerings certainly will set many of them at ease. Conversions certainly do have their roots in necessity and this time, no matter what path is pursued there’s a conversion in store for all ACI customers. So it is encouraging to all associated with NonStop that Lusis is stepping up to support NonStop. Among the executives of Lusis is a familiar name, Richard Launder, now a member of the Lusis board of directors.
“Knowing many of these customers for nearly twenty years I knew very well how important the Non-Stop platform was to them. It was also clear that with the sunset announcement for BASE24 many of these customers would want an alternative solution to run on Non-Stop. The Lusis technology made the Tango solution an obvious choice,” was how Richard explained it to me in another email exchange.
Lusis has put together a solid customer reference base with the existing Tango implementation and I think there will be a number of tier 2 and tier 3 financial institutions that will find their offerings attractive. While Lusis was being coy about landing a tier one bank, just yet, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to read of one such bank succumbing to the opportunity to pursue a Lusis conversion.
Over the past couple of months I have chronicled a number of companies that are porting their products to NonStop. Lusis is another such vendor with a product initially developed for the Unix marketplace who has experienced little difficulty converting to NonStop. As I remarked in earlier posts “NonStop customers clamor for more solutions, more ways to exploit the NonStop investments they have made, and if their favorite Unix or Window application can be easily supported on NonStop, then the opportunities for NonStop become limitless.”
For those concerned about this message making into the mainstream marketplace, I also remarked on how “it can be to our detriment if we fail to recognize the value that continues to be unlocked from NonStop – HP’s commitment to marketing may be difficult to see, but that’s not saying that it’s lying dormant!” To listen to Neil, David, and Moore as excited as they have become certainly bodes well for vendors like Lusis.
“The NonStop team is excited to add Lusis to its ecosystem of payment solutions. As the premier platform for payments world-wide, NonStop is pleased to be working with this leading European software company. Additionally, the Lusis-HP NonStop partnership is a significant proof point that our efforts to modernize the software environment in NonStop are paying off; the Tango application port went smoothly and quickly. We look forward to continuing this strong partnership and to delivering our joint value to many customers in the months to come" was the response from Steve Saltwick, Director NonStop Marketing and Vertical Solutions, Business Critical Systems
The coming summer may bring a number of conversions alright – the IT ones will not be visible along streets or outside cafes and bars. Within data centers however, where the glamour from conversions is less likely to be noticed, the excitement levels might be just as high. After all, for the members of the IT community, the engines driving financial institutions will be every bit as impressive as anything to be found in a custom car or bike!