Saturday, June 30, 2012

There are rewards ...

In the past couple of posts I first wrote of the value that comes with choice and then of how this is only warranted when there are options. In this post I move further along this path as I recognize that choosing wisely will be rewarded.

It was only a few days ago when I walked onto the showroom of the local motorcycle dealership heading to the service desk, towards the back of the shop. Our Yamaha cruiser needs a service and I wanted to check on dates and times for our next service and the picture above is of me taking a look at what needs to be done. It had been a while since I had been on this bike and I just knew it would need an oil change.  I have been walking into this shop for over a decade, but all the same, I was caught a little off-guard by just how few motorcycles they had on display – the inventory was abysmal, to say the least.

Later that same day I was making reservations for a flight to the Bay area and had entered the site of a well-known rental car agency and was providing the information that they needed one screen at a time. Sure enough, towards the end of the process, I was asked whether I had a preference in particular rewards programs, and to provide my airline loyalty number. As a frequent traveler, this was something I was only too happy to do, as over the years I had benefited greatly from narrowing my choices down to just a few options - one airline, three hotel chains and two car rental agencies. Over the years the rewards I was given certainly has lightened the load from being on the road as often as I have.

With these two observations I came to realize that having options only makes sense if there’s something to choose from, and then, too, with the right choice there can be tangible rewards – a connection I hadn’t appreciated at the time I wrote my last two posts to this blog. On June 12, 2012 I wrote “
It's still‘all about choice’!” and then on June 21, 2012 I wrote “I have options!” both posts pulling from observations I had made while preparing for, and then participating, in this year’s HP Discover event. I find it inescapable that facing any purchase I want to make sure I go with the best option, but then I want it to reward me in some fashion.

In Formula One (F1) racing it’s hard for the casual viewer to keep up with the rules, and watching a television broadcast can only add to the confusion when the commentators begin to discuss how these rules should be interpreted. This year there’s been a change of tire manufacturer with regulations about which tires the F1 teams can use - when it’s a dry day, with no possibility of rain, F1 teams have to pick a harder “primary tire” as well as a softer “option tire”, and during the course of the race they need to make use of both of them.

Forced into racing with the primary and optional tires, such as we see with F1 racing, brings me back to our perception of value that comes with making the right choice, and in having the “option tire” the sense that we may be better rewarded should we make the right choice. Nowhere is this becoming more apparent than when it comes to matching the right resources with the mix and volume of transactions we are processing; the challenge of truly understanding which transactions can be left to be processed on a less dependable platform versus those which have to have absolutely reliable platforms!

Of course, this is all a reference to the deeper penetration by Windows and Linux into mission-critical processing within the enterprise. If the highly competitive heavy-lifting transaction processing is being performed on the primary NonStop, shouldn’t we all know when to switch to Linux, for instance? When we need to add resources, even just temporarily, can low-value transaction spill over to Linux? Is the risk in so doing mitigated in any way with the enterprise benefiting from the outcome? Or are the temporary benefits simply not worth it?

In each of the previous two posts I wrote of how in pursuing the strategy, as it is doing today, HP’s belief that providing more to choose from and with less lock-in is in the best interests of all of HPs customers. To this I added in the most recent post that with the vendors stepping up and providing many more options, the course that HP is following is being validated emphatically. We do have choice, and there are plenty of options available, but what of the rewards? Surely, enterprises that understand the need for the “option tire”, and choose wisely, should be rewarded with greater market-share!

For the NonStop community, perhaps the biggest reward is in lower costs. As long as I can recall, NonStop systems were sized to handle peaks and enterprises paid the price to do this; but do we truly need all the capabilities of NonStop all the time? Do we really need to treat all transactions equally and must we deploy NonStop systems that for most of their life, remain underutilized? Many years ago the highly-skilled technicians at Sabre implemented what became the “look-to-book” model and offloaded less valuable transactions to Linux and MySQL; could this model become more affordable for all within the NonStop community, from off-the-shelf solutions?

It was in the post of July 24, 2011 “
Nostalgia;comfortable and seductive! And yet …where I first raised the prospect of NonStop, front-ending Clouds, offloading low value transaction to clouds both private and public, and taking advantage of Clouds as a go-to resource in times of crises, where traffic peaks unexpectedly. Even among the NonStop community, as we all witnessed as Bank of America provided and update (and an insight) as to what they are doing with BASE24 running on NonStop.

Availability will be an issue, but even here, enterprise managers are working on addressing this. As BCS head, Martin Fink, highlighted for me in that post of July 24, 2012 “it’s always our responsibility (as CIOs) to plan for how we will operate our business if a utility disappears; we need to plan and provision accordingly.” Yes, clouds will be a utility to be treated no differently from any other utility we depend upon.

Overlooked in many of the discussions about clouds, private and public, is that for many enterprises some semblance of cloud computing has started to emerge. Forget the debates about what should be inside the cloud, or whether SaaS will gain a stronger footing with enterprise managers than either IaaS or PaaS. What’s really the sweetener for many enterprise managers is the “extensibility of provisioning” afforded by clouds, and these enterprises are all off happily building their own collection of resources accessible by even the hardiest of mission-critical systems.

As for the rewards, no longer will sizing NonStop servers in support of mission-critical applications to handle peak workloads, such as “black Friday”, prove as expensive as it may once have been as NonStop servers can now be sized to support just normal, daily workloads. For a number of enterprises these savings could be huge. When it comes to making choices, the NonStop community does indeed have options and with the right option chosen, the rewards will be sizeable and recognizable across the industry.

I was able to get the Yamaha ride-able but surprise, it still would require a trip back to the motorcycle shop for it to be completely fixed. This time, I wasn’t tempted to buy another motorcycle as I crossed the showroom floor this weekend. Had I been, I would have been disappointed with the choice on hand. Fortunately, for the NonStop community this is not the case, and already the rewards that will follow making the right choice are becoming evident.

With so much focus on removing as many costs as possible from the NonStop server, perhaps the choice of offloading peak workloads will prove every bit as rewarding as all the steps taken to date. Ultimately, just having the option of clouds will be all the reward many in the NonStop community will ever need.

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