Monday, March 24, 2014

300 posts? It’s been all rather simple to do!

Celebrating an anniversary is not something I am all that good at – the number affixed to our track car reminds me of my wedding anniversary and is a constant reminder not to forget that important date – however, 300 is not an insignificant number and worth reflecting on … 

It would be so tempting just to let this hold over for a couple of days. Say till April 1st, maybe? But for those tracking posts to this blog, this post represents the 300th posting in almost seven years. Yes, I have been helped along the way with a couple of posts from Margo, but all the same, to those who think there’s not much that’s new about NonStop – will hit the print key and see how much paper you will need!

The picture above was taken from the movie of the same name but don’t read too much into this choice of celebratory graphic. Apart from a nonsense storyline, I liked the technology used in its creation and that’s all I have to say at this point. However, celebrating 300 is still a feat that I wouldn’t have reached if it hadn’t been for a lot of encouragement along the way, and for that, I am most appreciative. To the NonStop community, my grateful thanks as posting to this blog I never take lightly.

Anniversaries are still important to me. Not that I am always punctual with cards and well wishes – the number plastered to the side of our race car was chosen so that each time I pass it in the garage, I would be reminded of one important date. Yes, our wedding anniversary.

After 45 years NonStop certainly has much to be thankful for. In many ways, it still comes as a surprise every time I count back the years to figure out just how long NonStop has been around, but its longevity certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

What’s hip? What’s modern? What’s cool?

I’m often asked how best to explain the success of NonStop – and yes, it definitely is being considered successful when so many companies continue to rely on NonStop. And keep on upgrading to newer models each and every time a new model is released – it shouldn’t shock anyone that there never was a model of NonStop introduced that failed to attract customers. Not that I can recall, despite some curious model assignments back in the early to mid-1990s as the first RISC-based systems rolled out.

So as to hip? Well being able to write and run Java applications on NonStop is pretty hip according to programmers I talk to!

As for modern – well it runs on Intel. Enough said – and yes, plans to support the Intel x86 architecture only adds to this story.

When it comes to being cool then this is not a label appended to items of mass appeal, but rather to a select few items that those in the know fully appreciate. And NonStop wears that label with considerable pride that few in the community discount, even after all this time.

Owning select niches the way NonStop does, for me is the very essence of cool. And with that I get few arguments – even my good friends working with IBM mainframes understand NonStop was pretty cool the way it handles networks and requires only minimal oversight, then that’s cool. As a retailer once told me, they only ever concern themselves with the NonStop system when the (very old) system console starts chattering away and paper logs start spooling onto the floor, at which time someone will wonder over and take a look!

If we are keeping everyone honest here – how many system managers have become aware that a processor was down only as routine maintenance was being performed by NonStop hardware engineers? No interruption of service – the system just kept on processing transactions. Cool! The architecture of NonStop was innovative in the 1970s and it’s just as innovative today.

However, today, it’s not that simple and what NonStop achieves in a world as diverse as we see it becoming, connecting all the wires, monitoring all the session activity across a plethora of servers, and keeping an eye open over database performance only goes to show how advanced NonStop systems have become. Complexity abounds and yet, NonStop keeps on running. 24 x 7 x 365!

This past week I attended a regional user group – the first in quite some time, if I don’t count last year’s highly successful NonStop Advanced Technical Boot Camp (TBC). The occasion this time was SunTUG’s event and it always attracts a good size crowd and it didn’t fail to deliver again this year – there was a strong customer presence, along with an energetic group of vendors.

In the exchanges I had with the NonStop community, and in the sidebar conversations over coffee, the mood was definitely as upbeat as ever – definitely a change from years past. And at the heart of these conversations was the innovation inherent within today’s hip, modern and cool NonStop systems that made complexity, simple.

When I wrote the 200th post, it was just after HP Discover 2011. In that post of June 28, 2011, Responsible CIOs show restraint! I made the observation that “NonStop will never be general purpose … It’s a specialty system and there’s a place for specialty systems within company data centers for many years to come.” Going back to even further, when I wrote the 100th post on November 13, 2008, Innovation – simply put! I noted that as it was my 100th posting, “I think it’s fitting that in this post I continue to link NonStop and Innovation.”

Looking back at these statements, I have been consistent with the messages presented to the NonStop community. NonStop is based on commodity hardware. It’s open, supporting industry-standard interfaces and services. Porting has become a lot easier and there’s numerous examples today of successful ports of sizable solutions.

It glosses over much, and it is an oversimplification, I know, but when I am asked about what to port to NonStop my simple answer is, everything! If you have an application in C/ C++ or Java, then it takes very little to have it up and running on NonStop – particularly if you seek out the folks at the ATC.

NonStop occupies a powerful niche! No, it’s not general purpose nor will it ever be. NonStop embraces innovation! This message hasn’t changed in the years I’ve posted to this blog. No, it’s not old fashioned and it’s most definitely not legacy.

And having said that there’s absolutely no downside, or reason as to “why not?” when you consider all that’s being talked about, as hybrids and clouds for NonStop not to be included in the conversation. NonStop systems today are hybrids in a box already, and looking at the history of NonStop, as I have been doing with colleagues from IBM, its very presence in the data center for all these years has been in hybrid configurations – that’s what NonStop does best.

Again, it simplifies otherwise complex configurations. Embellishing the messages of specialty, innovative, commodity and open with the addition of simplification is something we all need to pursue in our everyday conversations within IT. After 300 posts to this NonStop community blog, this has become central to what I write and present.

Anniversaries and milestones are important. For the NonStop community it is indeed an opportune time to check the pulse of NonStop. It’s alive, it’s thriving and it’s still the best at what it does – supporting mission-critical real time applications, 24 x 7 x 365. Here’s to 300 more posts and another 45 years of NonStop!  

1 comment:

Justin said...

Congratulations Richard (and Margo) - that's a lot of posts. We appreciate your efforts.