Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Papers? Papers, please!

I was last in Berlin, Germany, in the early summer of 2005 and it was for the European ITUG user community event. There was much to anticipate, as Martin Fink had just been newly appointed to lead the NonStop organization, and the first new NonStop server based on the Intel Itanium chip was to be launched.

This was my last year as ITUG Chairman, and immediately following the user community event I flew to Warsaw, Poland, for a brief family vacation. However, I did take a few days out of my vacation to participate in the launch of the HP Integrity NonStop server at the Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) conference in Copenhagen.

Also in attendance were Chris Rooke and Neil Pringle of HP, and Chris was particularly excited as he showed me a full-page advertisement from the Wall Street Journal. It featured Intel, highlighting the new HP-Intel partnership, and it welcomed the NonStop user community to a new era based on standards and commodity components.

As exciting as this event proved to be, I was anxious all the same to return to Warsaw and to continue with my vacation. However, it was papers of another kind that soon occupied my mind. Plans had changed and Margo and I would be leaving Warsaw by train to Frankfurt and I couldn’t push aside faded images from the cold war, half expecting that at any time I would be told to go back! The picture above is of the station – across the street from our hotel.

We were routed through Berlin and just prior to entry, immigration and customs agents began walking down the aisles. Then I heard it, “papers? Papers, please! I want to see your papers!” The experience felt other-worldly, almost dream-like. All I kept thinking of was the 1960’s movie “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold!”

Somehow, watching officials checking every passenger’s paperwork before allowing them to continue with their journey just didn’t do anything at all for my confidence. It would have been more enjoyable if I had been on the plane!

Whether it’s simply proof of insurance as we register a motor car, or a coupon to redeem our car from a car park or to pass through a turnstile, it often appears that our passage from one line to the next will take place only if we have the right papers!

We are seeing less of it of course, as increasingly all we need is a picture id to pass through any gateway. Even with the pressing need to enforce security as so many countries are trying to do, there’s always a fast lane, or priority queue, where with the right credentials instant passageway is assured, and in almost no time at all you can be about your business.

Papers, credentials, and certificates! All important today when it comes to substantiating or proving conformance. And with the messages coming from HP, programs are emerging and it is becoming important to know where a product line fits within HP’s strategy.

Is this solution really modern, as it’s vendor claims, and does HP acknowledge it’s presence in their modernization program? How do we recognize modern solutions and what clues is HP providing?

As participants of this year’s NonStop Symposium may have heard, HP NonStop management was musing on how, “customers have upgraded their hardware, but their applications have not evolved.” Still using COBOL and TAL as programming languages, still accessing the system via green-screens, and still using Enscribe for file management!

Vendors attending the NonStop Symposium heard of a new program, the Converged Infrastructure “Ready”, or simply, CI-ready Program, that is the first step towards assuring that a solutions suite is modern, and can be deployed on the latest blade offerings no matter the package.

Boundaries, or borders if you prefer, no longer restrict the choices available to run a solution – Linux? Windows? NonStop? All can be options where the final decision will be taken by company or business unit.

Laying out a very level playing field to all solutions and middleware providers, HP’s CI-ready program provides certification to those vendors who can demonstrate that their products run on NonStop Blades Systems (and J-series operating systems) and, uses one of more of the modern and open software infrastructure components on NonStop (e.g. Java, SASH, SOAP / Web services, SQL/MX, etc.) or, is capable of being installed with NonStop Software Essentials (e.g. can then be integrated into the installation repository for any NonStop system).

Well-known infrastructure vendor, ESQ chose to participate and was part of the initial roll-out presentations. ESQ was motivated to participate as one goal they saw was that success with the program would attract the “interest of younger software developers.”

Demonstrating the openness of their solutions was very important as ESQ’s Shridhar Venkatraman suggested in a recent email. The “proof of concept (PoC) was to pick our java based modules,” Shridhar said, and “make no changes and test them on the NonStop, which we did. In order to do this we had to make some open source modules also run on the NonStop including Apache Derby, ActiveMq, Drools and Squirrel.”

ESQ continues with the PoC and believe that one potential outcome will be that they “will make use of the unused headroom on new blades. This will provide integrated alternatives to adjunct Windows / MS SQL servers.” No more duplicating data on NonStop to off-platform MS applications but rather, creating the environment for running the same MS applications directly on the NonStop!

First to officially receive their CI-ready status has been another infrastructure vendor, IR. “For over 10 years, IR adapted their High Definition Monitoring™ software (Prognosis) to address systems beyond the HP NonStop platform,” Pierre Semaan, IR’s head of Product Management emailed me recently.

“We have gained many net new (outside HP NonStop ecosystem) customers (and) our distributed systems product line enjoyed much of its success due to customers choosing to deploy it alongside our HP NonStop solutions to provide a single view of their application ecosystem.

For vendors like IR, who are increasingly seeing deployment in a volatile mixture of platforms where the actual platform running the software frequently varies from one customer to the next, retaining the option to deploy anywhere is an important attribute of the solution.

Semaan then went on to explain “introducing the ‘CI-ready’ program highlights products that address the real customer need of deploying their mission critical applications in a heterogeneous environment.”

“It is very rare these days to see complex continuity or mission critical applications being deployed on a single platform,” Semaan acknowledged. Knowing that a platform has been recognized as a participant in a Converged Infrastructure (CI) program gives the participants the credentials they need to pass through any gateway!

“We are increasingly adding value to our customer’s systems by extending our solutions to cover the applications running on CI, not being restricted to the underlying platform manageability. Migrating across CI systems can finally move from being a dream to reality.”

Papers! When I flew to Warsaw I had forgot that I still needed paper tickets so yes, they were sitting on my desk back in America. The good folks at Lufthansa let me board the plane anyway, but there would be no such luck on the return trip. Margo and I couldn’t take the flight!

Accredited as CI-ready, solutions for NonStop will not be held back from greater participation in the business enterprise either, and their even more widespread usage may develop as a result. For creating this program, HP should be thanked. As ESQ’s Shridhar reminded me, “NonStop is suffering from a ‘Paucity of Cool’; this is NonStop's chance to get back on the plane!”

1 comment:

Donald said...

Although HP is pushing the CI-Ready and NonStop Essentials they seem to be hiding the documentation on what is needed to accomplish this. A search of their website and the NTL has not proven helpful.

Does anyone know where the documentation on how to accomplish this is located?