Monday, February 27, 2012

It's the data ...

My earlier forecasts of a hybrid world, based on the flexibility inherent within HP’s BladeSystem are closer to realization and that user acceptance may be driven by our needs to more easily and cost-effectively pursue data integration.

In a recent posting to another blog I opened with a storyline about my affinity for the open road. I have developed a preference for driving and am now very familiar with the more popular motels along the way, and given a Friday afternoon departure, come Sunday evening I could be anywhere including San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, even Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Flying is no longer fun and the sense of adventure long gone – we all lost something following September 11th, 2001, and I get the sense we will never again enjoy the freedoms once so readily accepted as just part of everyday life.

So now, meet the new mobile command center of Pyalla Technologies, as we opt for something a little more to our liking than we typically find at motels. Parked temporarily in the driveway, is the new RV and Margo and I are busily engaged in fitting it out in a style suitable for both, event participation, such as HP Discover, as well as the many weekends we spend promoting Pyalla Technologies at road courses around the countryside. The picture above is of us both after we had closed the deal. More about this latest development will follow shortly in a separate posting to the blog, Buckle-Up-Travel.

However, out on the highways, it’s not just about the motels. There are plenty of other things to be concerned about as you proceed to your destination. Anyone who has had to traverse Los Angeles and been forced to “jump” freeways – connecting with the needed exit from the correct lane, all the while watching everyone else trying to kill you (as they clearly appear to be doing from my vantage point behind the wheel), knows of the risks involved and how to do so as non-disruptively as possible takes years of practice and an iron-clad sense of immortality.

A modern RV is very much a hybrid – anyone who has attempted to lift up the user-manuals provided by the manufacturers quickly becomes aware that this is not a vehicle that is quickly mastered. And there is little opportunity to learn as you go when you pull away from the dealer’s parking lot. A modern RV is built on a truck frame – and this chassis comes complete with its own set of manuals. Everything electrical, for instance, is 12 volts DC. But then a modern RV is also a home – and the accommodation element is similarly supported with another set of manuals, this time, everything electrical, for instance, is 110 volts AC.

Early observations suggests that nothing should work seamlessly together and yet, driving down the highway, it all seems to work just fine with the driver so effectively shielded from the complexity implicit in managing multiple systems concurrently. As I paged through the documents I had been provided I couldn’t help thinking about the convergence that had to have gone on behind the scenes to make it all work, and of how a series of monitoring systems were taking the guess work out of which button to press – yes, if the RV was moving, it made sense for the refrigerator to use battery power and not to switch to propane gas!

In the post of August 11th, 2011, “GuardianAngel? NonStop revels in Clouds!” I wrote about how I continue to speculate about the future of NonStop and that I had a strong sense that the industry is turning ever so slightly and pursuing a course where the capabilities of NonStop will come to the fore. As I wrote that post I once again mused about what I sensed was a return to what NonStop has always proved effective at doing; shielding imperfection behind a level of availability simply not matched in any other manner.

The focus of this post had been the GuardianAngel demonstration, performed at the 2011 HP Discover event, that I had found most intriguing and where I suggested how this was something that’s exciting and is now out there, demonstrable. End users working with NonStop solutions, developed using modern standards that leveraged open interfaces, were unaware that NonStop was leveraging private as well as public cloud resources to offset unexpected loads making extraordinary demands on NonStop resources.

One of the products that had been used in the demonstration had been the database and underlying message environment of newcomer, uCIRRUS, and I was reminded of the post I wrote following an email exchange I had with uCIRRUS CEO, Peter Richards. I must admit, I have been very impressed with what uCIRRUS has accomplished with their product XPRESSmp and how as an in-memory database, it was able to front-end NonStop SQL/MX for the GuardianAngel demonstration in an extremely abbreviated timeframe. As a kind of continuous ingest and load front-end, it was XPRESSmp interacting with the potential myriad array of sources including social network feeds, RSS feeds, even items such as web logs, as well as other data streams, structured or unstructured.

Richards provided me with more information as we discussed a possible future play of uCIRRUS as part of HP's mission-critical x86 roadmap announced with Project Odyssey back in November, 2011, but given uCIRRUS ability to easily port its parallel software processor XPRESSmp to other chipsets - such as Itanium – would provide a kind of “standards compliant, systems level, micro-cloud providing uniformity of environment of those chipsets at the OS systems level thereby enabling commonality and / or connectivity of application environments, in addition to an unprecedented scale-up of multicore efficiency,” according to Richards, effectively shielding the layers above the micro-cloud from potential complexities that could arise with the presence of multiple chipsets.

Throw into this mix how the product XPRESSmp is being targeted towards time-critical Big Data, there clearly could be some advantages to the NonStop community as we all come up to speed with where Converged Infrastructure, Project Odyssey 's mission-critical x86 offerings and Cloud Computing are all headed – greater exploitation of the one platform; the HP BladeSystem.

For nearly five years I have been extolling the benefits of hybrid clusters, all within the same box – mixing NonStop with HP-UX or Linux and even Windows. And now with Project Odyssey, and with x86 chipset supported in the same chassis as HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop, my vision for NonStop may be realized. There's still a ways to go, of course, but I have to believe that at some point, something along these lines is likely to appear. After all as far as connectivity goes, in the heterogeneous environments we have today, outside of any single chassis NonStop continues to play well with others!

But what applications will be first to exploit this hybrid capabilities? I have often been asked this question and the push-back (on potential benefits) I have received has centered on whether with the potential hybrid nature of Project Odyssey – is this really a solution looking for a problem.

However, in the discussions and emails I have had with Richards, and more recently with Justin Simonds of HP, where we covered micro-clouds, Big Data, unstructured data, etc. I saw a distinct possibility that those asking these questions may have overlooked the obvious. It’s all about the data and perhaps less about the business logic! “The idea of a loosely federated group of systems makes sense,” suggested Simonds as we looked at why we would want to have a hybrid configuration within the HP BladeSystem.

“Expect to have Vertica, say in support of Big Data, Autonomy for Unstructured Data, NonStop SQL/MX for ODS / Operational BI, maybe a legacy style Data Warehouse on Unix – all platforms are best-of-breed in their respective areas,” added Simonds. “Furthermore, imagine a smart front-end router, in particular uCIRRUS with XPRESSmp, that could also analyze queries as they arrived and ensure they made it to the right platform. Furthermore, should data need to get from say NonStop to Vertica then uCIRRUS (given its massive ingest, broadcast and data stream analysis capabilities) also provides the massive load support needed.”

Now there will be other products that will be able to play here and about that I have no doubt; what this highlights for me is that there will be real requirements to move data. Just as there will be real requirements for monitoring solutions to step up and oversee this movement of data as happening on just a single entity. Make it too complex and it will simply prove too difficult to “drive”. uCIRRUS with XPRESSmp may hide the differences of the chipsets just as the HP BladeSystem will simplify the infrastructure, but NonStop may end up overseeing it all, 24 X 7 and scalable in ways that make other architectures envious.

Shielding complexity has been a feature of NonStop for decades – one of the lesser-known attributes of NonStop, perhaps. HP’s one platform, the BladeSystem, is only going to make greater shielding even more imperative. And perhaps it is the potential conflagration of data that is arising all around us that will add the impetus to greater reliance on NonStop. Given the opportunity to be behind the wheel of that system could prove to be even more attractive than anything we could come across on any highway!


Anonymous said...

I can't quite locate the Pyalla logo on the vehicle - is that yet to come?


Richard Buckle said...

Ah - good observation; we are working to get Pyalla brand on vehicle and have a couple of options ... Should be sorted out by Summer :-)