Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It’s time … and the idea is not as wild and crazy as we might imagine!

Watching this year’s Academy Awards event led me to look again at the success of solutions and middleware vendors and their contribution to renewed interest in NonStop!

This past weekend I reported in a client newsletter on just how wild and crazy the weather has been of late in “Colorful Colorado”. Then again, the locals continue to insist – wait an hour or so, and it will change. With so much snow falling, as shown once again in the picture to the side here, it’s hard to imagine that just a week ago I was turning laps in our car on a local racetrack within the shadow of Pikes Peak.

However, the upside is that we have spent the past couple of days watching newly released DVDs of films that won awards at the recent Academy Awards festival. We have watched the film adaptation of Les Miserables, the winner of three Oscars, as well as taken in the pageantry of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina that won one award. Up next, Life of Pi, a film that had eleven nominations and that came away with four Oscars in all.

Earlier we had watched the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, which had won, somewhat surprisingly for many, two Academy Awards – for original song as well as for sound editing. As one publication noted, “the Academy hasn’t been especially kind to the venerable series in the past. Up until tonight, the entire franchise had only been awarded 2 Oscars. That trend continued, with “Skyfall” winning two Oscars of its own.” 

There is a popular song, It’s Time, by the group Imagine Dragons, that included the lines:

Don't hold back
Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain check

and when it comes to Skyfall, gaining the attention of the Academy has certainly reinvigorated the James Bond franchise. As a November 8, 2012, USA Today article so clearly stated, 'Skyfall' sends Bond franchise soaring again. The columnist then makes the observation on how “Re-booted in intriguing ways, Skyfall still respects its predecessors. Nods to classic Bond-isms are duly meted out, incorporating the super-spy's distinctive martini order, classic Aston Martin and array of snazzy gadgets.”

It takes considerable effort to reenergize a franchise; getting a topic to be the center of popular buzz is no easy undertaking and yet, fifty years on, James Bond seems every bit as relevant and topical is it always has been, or as USA Today observed, “with a powerful jolt, 007 feels relevant again, with serious questions about espionage vs. cyber hacking amid the fun.”

For NonStop systems, while not carrying quite the legacy of James Bond, nevertheless, the general consent among many with whom I have discussed NonStop of late is that perhaps the marketplace is coming back to NonStop. Perhaps there are changes underway that make the NonStop system every bit as relevant as when it was first conceived. Could it be the right time for us to paraphrase the USA Today observation and say, “Re-booted in intriguing ways, NonStop still respects its predecessors; nods to classic Tandem Computers attributes are duly meted out …”

For the past couple of weeks I have been reviewing commentaries provided by Yash Kapadia, CEO of OmniPayments Inc. Yash and I have enjoyed a number of exchanges of late, as he has kept me informed about his latest projects, which I have been able to reference in posts to blog, the e/Newsletter as well as in this blog, Real Time View.

The most recent comments having appeared in the February 25, 2013, post
It’s yet another sign! “There are times when we do struggle hard to make NonStop sound like a normal system… and this is a message not lost on solutions vendors like OmniPayments.” Yes, it’s time but it’s also about no longer holding back. This too is the message that comes through in the comments made by Yash that I have combined into a single opinion paper I am hoping to see published shortly ...

As I wrapped up the opinion paper, I made the comment that the development of the OmniPayments product suite represents a textbook example of what can transpire when a company starts out offering little more than consulting and best practice advice before transitioning to a services company. It is the attributes of a very astute company to then make the jump to middleware tools and utilities (as they leveraged observations made and accumulated knowledge) to pull together a viable product suite.

Today, with the OmniPayments product suite, the company is finding success among financial institutions even as it faces a large and highly successful competitor. That Omni Payments came away having won the business of the fifth largest banks in the U.S. is a testament to the work that went into the development of OmniPayments and a reflection of just how much Yash’s team had learned each step of the way. It is also a message about the value to users from having choices – with multiple vendors to choose from, there’s greater enthusiasm for NonStop systems as it’s hard to argue against NonStop, continuing to attract solutions vendors as it is doing, sending the “franchise soaring again”!

More recently, Yash suggested that with some of the most recent wins that have been made, “don’t rule out OmniPayments combining features that might be on NonStop in part or in whole with OmniPayments features that may be in the Cloud just as you shouldn’t rule out greater support for additional channels such as mobile and online banking. So much is changing that it’s time that we look out as much as we do up; new channels have to be supported even as overall transaction volumes climb.” So much for legacy NonStop systems! Again, having even more options bodes well for keeping the costs of NonStop in line with users’ expectations.

I have always gotten a kick from talking to solutions vendors. For the most part, I work with middleware and tools vendors, whose goals are to complement solutions, adding value with innovative ways to pull additional information from product suites already deployed. These middleware and tools vendors have lengthy feature lists usually addressing multiple disciplines and where, finding the right fit between a user’s requirements and a tool that is beneficial isn’t that hard to do. These middleware and tools vendors too have developed a business model targeting the installed base and there is diversity enough to keep them prosperous.

On the other hand, solutions vendors absolutely need to see the systems they support prosper. OmniPayments is very committed to the NonStop system and are one of many solutions vendors who have come to appreciate the lower prices of entry-level NonStop systems. While it’s perhaps a stretch at this time, given how new these systems are, to suggest that HP has
reinvigorated the NonStop franchise yet for businesses like OmniPayments, there are at least some early signs as one of their latest wins in South America has seen Unix replaced with NonStop!

Payments, too, is but one market segment where NonStop systems provide a good fit but so are mobile phone operations, manufacturing and homeland security. Only a short time ago I became aware of just how many manufacturers were relying on NonStop and that a number of new case studies have been written and become available. This summer I hope to be able to provide even more coverage as I dig a little deeper into the types of manufacturing applications involved.

The good news here is that franchises can be reenergized – the idea is not as wild or crazy as some may think. Products can remain popular over extended periods of time. They may not always be generating the headlines we all think that they should, but that in no way lessens the value they provide to their users. While IT doesn’t enjoy today the thrills of an Academy Awards night, with the global media attention it attracts, it’s still good to know that at the heart of the most important mission-critical applications running today, users have already voted. And it’s NonStop! 

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