Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CI-Ready or Not!

ISV’s are pursuing certification; the credentials obtained will sort out whose embracing modern programming models and frameworks and it’s a good start! But it has HP’s full attention!
This weekend I paid a quick visit to the vineyards near Los Olivos, just outside of Solvang. Deep in “Sideways” territory that includes a number of the vineyards and restaurants featured in that film. Since the weather wasn’t particularly helpful, after tasting a flight of wines at Fess Parker winery, we selected a bottle of Syrah and enjoyed it with a little cheese we had brought with us.

The photo above is of me in the midst of reminiscing on the film and devouring the cheese that included a very good English Stilton. For those who may not recall the specifics of Sideways, two aging former college roommates that had been unsuccessful in their respective careers – one a television actor and the other a writer – elect to just get away from it all and spend the week in the Santa Ynez Valley prior to the television actor’s getting married.

“Heavy week of posts behind me – think I will head for the wineries; about time,” I tweeted early Saturday morning as I added a baguette and a little pâté to the cheese I already had pulled out from the refrigerator. Somehow I recall that’s exactly what the characters in the movie did at one point and you can’t really blame them - it was difficult to miss their passion for wine!

This all leads into the exchanges I have had earlier this week, all triggered from commentaries I provided in earlier posts to this blog, as well as to a short post provided to the new comForte Lounge blog. Both of these posts were influenced by the recent article in The Connection, “NonStop ISVs can now earn ‘Converged Infrastructure Ready’ Insignia”, where author Sundaresh Krishnan (Sundar) provided a quick snapshot of what the program entails and why the community should pay attention to it.

In short, as HP was designing the Converged Infrastructure Ready, or CI-Ready, program it was the NonStop participants within HP who selected the tenets of CI-Ready applicable to NonStop – common modular infrastructure, common management, standards based software and came up with the criteria to determine whether an application or critical infrastructure software were CI-Ready.

In my November 9, 2010 post “Papers? Papers, please!” to this blog, I described how at this year’s NonStop Symposium HP NonStop management mused that “customers have upgraded their hardware, but their applications have not evolved.” How could we expect to see anything different? Wasn’t it up to the ISV community to embrace modern programming practices?

In fact, should an ISV develop solutions around modern tools, how could we be assured that these solutions would be compatible with the new tools being introduced by HP for NonStop? CI-Ready would provide these credentials, according to HP, and help assure IT that such a product satisfied the key criteria. ISVs would also benefit from the internal HP programs, as those with the CI-Ready credentials would gain increased mindshare with HP at large!

The Fess Parker winery is steeped in history and was one of the few wineries not to be featured in the movie Sideways. The winery’s founder, Fess Parker, was the actor hired by Walt Disney to play the role of Davy Crockett. The motif on the wine glasses of Fess Parker winery is the coonskin cap made popular by Parker’s character. On the walls around the tasting table are memorabilia from the Parker’s time with the Disney Corporation.

And yet the winery’s mission is among the simplest I’ve ever seen, admitting only to wanting “to grow the finest wine grapes on earth.” Somehow, I could hear in this admonition some of the same phrases from the NonStop Symposium of how NonStop is not a Tandem and how “the difference is real and significant, but the fundamentals are the same.” The platform of today is modern, open, standards based, deployed on commodity hardware without price premiums long associated with Tandem’s of the past.

The need to upgrade to modern applications was not just recognition that running yesterday’s software on today’s modern hardware wasn’t going to yield the ROI you would expect, and it was a huge dose of reality. Fresh from college, computer science graduates were coming well-equipped to work with development platforms capable of producing the types of solutions companies needed to compete and yet, there was nothing in the way that prevented the solutions created from running on NonStop.

But which tools? Which frameworks and runtime environments? And which ISV products provided options that didn’t simply compound the problem, as after all, the intent was to produce the finest applications on earth! “Modernization leads to business advantages,” Sundar suggested in a recent email exchange, adding “as the converged infrastructure strategy gains even more momentum this year, CI-Ready certification will be a key differentiator for partners.”

In the short post of December 3, 2010 “Call this art?” to the blog, comForte Lounge, I referenced a recent article of Marty Edelman where he rightly described modernization as “a journey of many steps,” and where he notes how “no one coming out of college has ever heard of (Tandem’s tools)!” What the intent of CI-Ready is to make the platform running the finest applications on earth completely transparent to those who develop them.

There’s now many managers who tell me that new hires fresh out of college have no idea at first that they are deploying their code on a NonStop server and when they do, they become quite passionate about it, marveling at all the steps they don’t have to take to ensure their applications will scale and remain available – all steps that required considerable programming discipline and called on techniques many found difficult to embrace.

There will be a period of overlap where more seasoned IT staff continue to maintain existing applications, even as they come up to speed on more modern languages like Java, all the while the college graduates, the new kids if you like, turn out new applications using the modern environments they were exposed to as part of their education.

This still doesn’t detract from the central topic. What about new applications being acquired – how can companies really tell if they won’t compound the problem and simply add to the complexity? After all, many IT departments have failed after bringing in the latest “Gucci Development Environment” only to realize what once was consider fashionable and trendy lost steam, as newer more modern technologies arrived!

“Converged Infrastructure (CI) is THE strategy at HP. It has resonated really well with the customers for the past year or so, and various business units within HP are strongly aligned to this,” Sundar continued in his latest email to me.

And in pursuing this strategy, HP has to be lauded for kicking off a program as ambitious as CI-Ready, as they could have as easily stood aside; the results may be questioned and some of the ISVs will be unsure of the true value. However, only a few weeks into the program such heavyweights as Integrated Research, ElectraCard Services, comForte, and even GE Healthcare with Centricity Enterprise have gained CI-Ready credentials so I can only assume in time, the majority of ISVs we all work with will pull out all the stops and follow suite.

“To grow the finest wine grapes on earth,” and then, to produce the finest applications on earth! There is a synergy between producing wine and applications – and I’m sure there will be many who want to help me out on this point. Bring a good English Stilton, of course!

1 comment:

Robert said...

Surprised they didn't have something on the wall related to the phrase made famous by Parker as Davy Crockett, "Be sure you're right, then go ahead."