Thursday, November 13, 2014

Modernization – and NonStop is a key part of the landscape!

Even as many NonStop users need to look to modernize their existing applications there’s a pressing need to include modern platform support on NonStop to attract new applications – and shortly, at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp we will hear more of one project in support of such a mission.

Pictured to the right is an architect’s representation of an addition to the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and from what I read this morning it would appear that it is about to open to the public. In an article just published in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, UTS unveils 'paper bag' building, the future home of the UTS business school certainly isn’t escaping comments –calling it a paper bag, tells its own story.

However, for those who have seen some pretty far-out structures in Prague, Vienna and even Barcelona, they can’t help but wonder about the intrusion of highly fluid lines that has worked their way into the form of these buildings. Whether or not they appeal to everyone, they do stand out as very modern interpretations of what a structure can look like – fluid? Definitely; when it comes to modernization of a city’s skyline the eye tends to gravitate to these examples of somewhat extreme architecture.

Watching Sydney develop in the 1970s was surely entertaining. On the one hand, we experienced considerable façade architecture being practiced – something I touched on several years ago in the article Façade - Architecture! One Way to Avoid Scarring As We Soar Into the Clouds that was published in the May – June, 2011, issue of The Connection. Back then, I wrote that when it comes to modernization and using modern technology to empower an enterprise to become more innovative, it comes as no surprise that CIOs are loathe casting aside all that is in place.

In other words, there were very legitimate reasons why modernization programs built on what already existed – a fresh coat of paint, a new entrance lobby, even a complete gutting of the premises – preserving the foundations while presenting a new face to the general public was considered an important element in retaining the distinct characteristic of the city. What was happening to Sydney in the 1970s has born a lot of similarity to what has been happening across IT and CIOs everywhere have been able to bring a wealth of business logic into the 21st century.

However, there is a very big distinction between the pursuit of modernization and the creation of something that is modern. I touched on this just recently in a private emailing to a number of managers and executives that I work with, but it’s worth repeating to a wider audience. Whenever the topic of modernization is raised across the NonStop community, it generates considerable passion even as it pushes community members into different camps. Such discussions, I observed, go down one of two paths: modernizing what is already in place or leveraging modern tools, services and frameworks for something new.

Both camps are well served today by a number of middleware vendors and the product offerings from the NonStop vendors such as comForte, CAIL and NuWave represent the end-result of considerable investments they have made. All financed off their own dime, no less. This was something I wrote about in my most recent post to the comForte blog, For those NonStop systems looking too much like legacy; replacement potential is high! It was comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, who made the case for modernization even as he observed that at comForte, “from our roots in terminal emulation and our desire to freshen the user experience, I think the opportunity for comForte supporting modernization is about as large as the market for security. We do have plenty of material in this area – as of late, the NonStop for Dummies book as well as the modernization white paper.”

Not surprisingly, what concerns Burg most of all is that, when it comes to modernization, “it’s unfortunate but still a realistic observation - with no modernization effort undertaken, even the most recently deployed application will be gone in as little as five years and with their demise, the explanation will likely include references to NonStop simply being an old (dare we say, legacy) system and that today, makes my blood boil.” Fortunately, modern applications are appearing and the success of some solutions vendors can be attributed to those applications being based on modern technologies, architectures and platforms.

The most apparent examples come from the Payments Processing marketplace. Lusis Payments and OmniPayments have enjoyed success of late as they have both embraced modern methodologies. With embracing SOA and incorporating a hybrid NonStop / Linux configuration, OmniPayments, Inc. has produced an extremely price competitive solution that focuses on NonStop even as it has not neglected including features all Financial Institution’s demand, and in so doing, highlights the benefits from leveraging modern programming languages, database systems and network connectivity. However, following the announcement of NonStop support for the Intel x86 architecture, focus has swung back to the consideration of supporting additional services, frameworks and product utilizing the latest programming models on offer today.

In the upcoming November – December 2014 issue of the NonStop community magazine there is an article jointly written by InfraSoft Pty Limited founding executives, Dave Finnie and Neil Coleman. Based in Sydney, Australia, InfraSoft has already successfully introduced a modern approach to networking with their product uLinga and is now in the early stages of launching services, gateways and APIs to make Cloud access transparent with their maRunga product. Now InfraSoft has elected to capitalize on the arrival of NonStop on x86 in a rather novel, yet highly significant manner.

The article, under the heading Node.js on the HP NonStop Server is as much an announcement of a new product – yet again, leveraging the Australian Aboriginal language the product is named bomBora - as it is a primer on the value of developing modern applications using Server Side JavaScript (SSJS). “For the last 18 months, Node.js has been gaining popularity as underlying technology for enterprise applications,” note the authors. “Large organizations including Wal-Mart, eBay, PayPal, MasterCard, and LinkedIn have all rolled out Node.js applications. Why? For many candidates for both increased usage and new adoption of the HP NonStop, modernization of existing applications is no longer the challenge. The Node.js platform has the potential to support applications that meet a wide range of business requirements.”

But what really makes it pertinent to NonStop, particularly NonStop on x86? “The Node.js model of event-driven, non-blocking I/O that is particularly suited to I/O bound applications,” the authors state. “It may have almost been dictated by the fundamental concepts of writing a high-performance OLTP application running on the NSK operating system. Current implementations of Node.js, obviously, do not possess the level of fault tolerance and scalability that software running on the HP NonStop Server can offer. One of the attractive attributes of Node.js is its ease of extensibility. Areas that we have extended, especially those that will be familiar to NSK users, include:

Process-pair support so that Node.js runs non-stop, without any extra work by the application.

Enabling Node.js to run as a TS/MP serverclass, transparently providing the inherent scalability and persistence that TS/MP offers.

Providing a simple JavaScript Pathsend interface so that a Node.js application can front-end TS/MP.

Extensive operational control and diagnostic capabilities built-in to simplify usage and contribute to maintaining availability.

So yes, this is pretty cool stuff. 

How close are Dave and Neil to having a commercial product in place? After developing an effective Proof-of-Concept on much older MIPS-based S-Series servers – something that will not make it as a product, according to InfraSoft - attention moved to x86-based servers and just recently, the team enjoyed seeing an early success that exercised a considerable amount of the code. As for a commercial product, there’s still more work ahead but the goal is now clearly in sight. Again, the forthcoming article in the November – December issue of The Connection will be a must-read for many in the NonStop community. 

Dave will be flying up from Sydney for NonStop Technical Boot Camp and will join HP’s Keith Moore for Monday morning’s presentation, HP-26 Going beyond SOAP for a cleaner, fresher web services architecture. The lads will face some stiff competition given that HP’s Jim Smullen will be giving the community a technical preview of NonStop on the x86, something I know many will be interested in hearing, but if you have already heard all you need to hear about x86, then perhaps you will find Keith and Dave presentation rather stimulating.

Last week I wrote about a refreshing new endeavor focused on NonStop and now, this week I am writing about another endeavor every bit as exciting. The point I hope isn’t lost on anyone within the NonStop community – yes, there’s numerous developments under way in support of NonStop that are all aimed at making it a lot easier to bring new applications to NonStop. And this is what I find just as important to ensuring NonStop remains a modern system. comForte’s Burg is absolutely right in stressing the sense of urgency that those looking after NonStop systems must embrace but adding the tools necessary for running the latest modern solutions is every bit as important. It’s going to be one very interesting Boot Camp, I suspect!

Like art in general, while we may not be able to describe what is modern, we certainly can point it out when we see it. City skylines have seen an explosion in modern architecture and it’s every bit as easy to spot as say, a painting. When it comes to solutions, there will always be those applications that all that is needed is a new coat of paint but there’s always room for something completely modern to be embraced. And with this, the NonStop community is the richer! Looking forward to seeing as many of you as I can so if you see me walking the corridors, stop me, and I will be only too happy to chat!


Richard Buckle said...

I am posting imrressions and observations about Boot Camp to the LinkedIn group - Real Time View. Check them out ...

Anonymous said...

It has been done all ready.
Check out the which has a full JavaScript core JS backend fully cross platform. On top it has a DDL to JS model and many more.

Richard Buckle said...

Well Marius - that's a "stretch" ...This is Node.js, a complete open ecosystem not another JavaScript interpreter. You have done some cool stuff but AtomBox shouldn't be compared to bomBora!