Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A trip to the other side!

The recent predictions provided by The Standish Group in a conference call included forecasts many within the NonStop community would be hard pressed to find fault with – but it will need us to take a second look!

Escaping the cold of winter turned out to be rather easy. And I didn’t have to leave the continental United States. Yes, in my last post I wrote of how shortly I would be in the Florida Keys – specifically, Key West – and now it’s only a day or so before I will be back in Boulder. For the time being, however, I am rested and warm even though a cold front moved through last night and despite the fact that I haven’t strayed too far from my laptop or mobile phone, just looking at the scenery made me feel like I am on vacation!

The photo above was taken as I stood underneath one of Key West’s better known landmarks marking the end of US Highway 1. A bit of a letdown in some respects, as this arterial highway simple peters out on a backstreet a little south of Key West’s more famous thoroughfare, Duvall Street. While the actual southernmost outcrop of land is designated by a highly decorated buoy, the centerpiece of many a T Shirt hanging displayed in the tourist shops, no such luck for the Highway 1. Just a simple green mileage marker zero tacked to a thin metal post.

Somehow it seems highly relevant to see mile marker zero as the year came to a close. It’s hard to escape the feeling that Key West is indeed at the end of the world. Crossing a short bridge only brings you to another small island before there’s another island and another all the way back to Key Largo before one final bridge crossing takes you into Florida proper. It is a 160 mile drive back to Miami airport but looking south, out across the reefs, Cuba is only 90 miles away and you don’t miss the connections that once existed between both locations – an original Cuban Cigar “factory” still exists just behind the bustling Duvall Street.

However, you could also argue that Key West is the beginning of the world as just across the street from mile marker zero is another sign. For drivers headed the other way, they will see that it is the beginning of US Highway 1 and the picture here is of me standing beneath the sign having walked less than twenty feet. The symbolism seems appropriate as the calendar ticks over for the start of another year. Yes, from one side of the street I could look back while across the street, I could look forward – all it took from me was a commitment to cross the street!

For the NonStop community there is so much that we could be concerned about. So many difficulties foreseen as to where the NonStop product line is headed. And yet, there is just as much that we should be pleased about, not the least being that the NonStop Server product roadmaps continue to point to a sustained presence for at least the next five years, possibly longer. Looking up at the signs we can easily see that Tandem is behind us and that NonStop is ahead of us - crossing the street after all isn’t that hard to do.

This is all background, however, to the thoughts I have had as the year begins. Just before leaving Boulder I participated in a research exchange (REX) online meeting put on by Jim Johnson, Chairman of The Standish Group. It was where The Standish Group provided their predictions for the coming year and where, apart from the usual topics, a couple of fun items thrown into the mix to ensure the discussions would be lively. If you are interested to read more about “Plaque Eating Guinea Worm” follow the link http://blog.standishgroup.com/news and scroll down to Standish Annual Predictions.

However, it was within the series of predictions covering likely areas of investment for 2012 – a subject that was subsequently divided into cold, lukewarm and hot markets – where I did think Jim and I were on the same page. Readers will know of my sustained interest in all things associated with the data center so when it came to looking at the data center, The Standish Group suggested that what will be part of a cold market will be “anything that are not cloud, social networks or mobile - the cold markets are enterprise applications, hardware and infrastructure software, and application development tools.” Furthermore, according to The Standish Group, “This is especially true of selling into the corporate data center. There will be good activity for organizations supplying cloud and social network services.”

It doesn’t take a lot of investigation to realize that apart from an increasingly smaller group of institutions most in-house development is being gradually scaled back with ever-widening acceptance of packaged solutions being the way to go. IBM mainframes remain the exception here, as few “modern” applications have been brought to market that target this platform – after all, off-the-shelf CICS application packages were pretty rare even in the 1980s! Not so NonStop and it remains a testament to how relevant the platform remains that packages continue to appear in support of the financial services an telco marketplaces.

My own observation about social networks and mobile solutions touching the data center hasn’t lessened in the years I have been posting to this blog. For me the rise in popularity of Apple’s iPhone and iPad have been due mostly to the availability of apps – and yes, the design of these apps is beginning to change the way we perceive application should be constructed. For instance, why have a single application that captures all of our contact info including name, address and phone numbers such that when it comes to just changing our phone number, we have to load it all and scroll to the section where our phone number was entered.

Separate apps for name change, address change, as well as change of phone number represent a cleaner, more manageable way to capture information and involve less bandwidth and more tailored security. But what has any of this got to do with NonStop? And why would any of us within the NonStop community be interested? Simply put, as we look at new solutions from vendors providing them for the NonStop Server, those applications that provide support for access via social media channels and that present information in the more modular manner we see today depicted on our phones and tablets, will prove to be winners. Other solutions; less so!

It comes as no surprise that The Standish Group then proposed that when it comes to hot markets – those areas that will experience double-digit growth – include “cloud computing, social networking, security and mobile applications.” This is just The Standish Group’s way of saying that traditional views we may retain about what the data center should look like will be changing pretty rapidly in the near term. And by this, I am not so much stressing the cloud computing will permeate every square inch of our data center but rather, become an increasingly important resource.

Got Tapes? Sure do! Disk? Have them as well! Cloud? Yes we are connected and leveraged! Cloud computing will be that extra resource we all wish we could have tapped many years ago. It will become the low-cost service as well as storage option that will save many a data center from any need to make a short term hardware upgrade decisions. It will save a bunch of money when used effectively.

Cloud computing and social media do not represent a threat to the NonStop Server – you just have to cross over to the other side of the street and take a look at sign from a different point of view. One sign may tell us that it is the end and yet, there it is, only a few feet away, another sign telling us it is the beginning. It may be only a few faltering baby steps that need to be taken but I fully expect to see this year a number of data centers where the NonStop Server is actively tapping almost unlimited resources that cloud computing provides. Just as I fully expect to see companies running NonStop serving up business data via social media channels.

All too easy? Twelve months is a long time and we have all seen more dramatic events unfold in less time. Again, it’s all just a matter of wanting to cross the street!


Jim said...

Nice article and thanks for participating in the REX. While the predictions do not focus on the NonStop they do have implication for the future of the platform and the NonStop community.

Richard Buckle said...

And Jim, there's more coverage in the post to comForte Lounge blog as well. Check out "Feeling ssecure?" at comFortelounge.com

Richard Buckle said...

Just to clarify and make up for my poor typing skills, the new post can be found at:


And again, thanks Jim for a highly entertaining discussion!