Monday, April 25, 2016

Snakes and ladders – the games continue!

Looking back at what was presented at recent Regional User Group (RUG) meetings here in America it was clear that the commitment to keeping NonStop systems attractive to the next generation of developers is materializing. And it all has to do with HPE’s commitment to open systems and industry standards …

While dancing across the grass this past week with our just-turning-three granddaughter Ella, I was reminded of the fears of youngsters. It was a simple case of not wanting to attract insects and bugs for me, but for her, it was all about the possibility of running across snakes. In a suburban Boulder garden? Not likely, although there was an occasion where good friends from one of my clients joined us for an outside barbecue only to see one of Colorado’s rat snakes slither along the stonework of our home. So perhaps it wasn’t such an unusual concern of Ella’s, after all.

Reading the latest update from the Node.js community I couldn’t help but remember this incident even as my immediate reaction to the article also brought back childhood memories of playing the game Snakes and Ladders where, on the roll of the dice, you could either ascend to higher squares after landing on a ladder or worse, descend to lower squares should you land on a snake.

The April 12, 2016, article New Node.js Foundation Survey Reports New “Full Stack” In Demand Among Enterprise Developers referenced Python, after all, but there was more to this article than a reference to a snake as it was the ladders I visualized that held a lot more importance for members of the NonStop community actively engaged in developing new products, services and features.

“With over 3.5 million users and an annual growth rate of 100 percent, Node.js is emerging as a universal platform used for web applications, IoT, and enterprise,” was the article’s opening sentence. Yes, the “and enterprise” reference might surprise many who continue to think Node.js may just be for simple tasks associated perhaps with mobile phones, the “chat” option, and the like. Having just briefly mentioning Node.js in my previous post, The more things change, the more they stay the same … it is safe to assume I was primed to be receptive to what I was reading. 

Fortunately, the article then adds that, “The Node.js User Survey report features insights on emerging trends happening in this massive community that serves as a leading indicator on trends like microservices architectures, real-time web applications, Internet of Things (IoT). The report paints a detailed picture of the technologies that are being used, in particular, with Node.js in production and language preferences (current and future) for front end, back end and IoT developers.”

But here’s where the reference to snakes and ladders came to the fore and while some readers may think more in terms of swings and roundabouts, either image is hard to ignore. When it comes to the “Other languages, beyond JavaScript, that were popular for all three developer types included PHP, Python and Java,” there are winners and losers. JavaScript is clearly winning, “However, when looking to the future, back end, front end and IoT developers planned to decrease their use of Java, .Net and PHP (PHP averages a 15% decrease) and increase the use of Python and C++.” 

There are those images of snakes once again – not so much rat snakes, of course, but pythons. On a more serious note, the erosion of support for Java continues and you have to begin wondering whether Oracle 0versight of Java has turned away many potential advocates or could it simply be a case of moving forward once something better has come along. For the NonStop community, having the option today to develop applications on the new NonStop X family in languages including JavaScript , Python and C++ is a real boost for NonStop finding greater acceptance among the more forward thinking of our development community.

In the post of March 13, 2016, Pulling at the RUG; NonStop resilience firmly on display around the globe! I promoted upcoming RUG events in Chicago, Illinois, and Columbus, Ohio, where HPE’s Keith Moore was scheduled to give updates on IoT and Node.js, including a demo of Node.js running on NonStop X systems in the Advanced Technical Center (ATC). In that post I wrote of how, according to Keith, “Almost all of the demo is using InfraSoft’s new bomBora product and I make a point of saying this.” Keith then shared how, “There are two new tools / features I will highlight: firstly, Node.js (bomBora), which I call out, and then secondly, Redis which is the pub/sub database.”

I have since followed up with Keith to get feedback following these presentations and demos in order to get a better feel for how the message of Node.js was being received. “There is more and more curiosity about JavaScript and the possible future uses of Node.js on NonStop,” Keith told me. “To-date, no customer is jumping on the product but literally every day I hear someone ask me (specifically) about JavaScript on NonStop.”

To which Keith then added, “I think that 2017 is the year where it becomes more of a requirement. This is because we are just now hearing movement toward JSON and RESTful services on NonStop. Those discussions eventually lead to websockets and web apps, which eventually lead to JavaScript.” While the deep port of Node.js to NonStop is available, support is strictly for NonStop X systems as it leverages the underlying Intel x86 architecture. However, this represents a really big opportunity, according to my contacts inside HPE.

With as much usage of NonStop i systems as there are today together with the promotion by HPE of hybrid infrastructures, the more forward thinking members of the NonStop user community might be well served looking at Node.js for deployment on NonStop X systems as they deploy them right alongside existing NonStop i systems.

Hybrids of NonStop X and NonStop i Systems are to be expected in the near term and adding something as modern as Node.js with the boost in productivity it provides, will be something the team at HPE NonStop will be promoting in the lead up to summer. While 2017 may indeed be an accurate forecast for when Node.js on NonStop really takes off in the eyes of the NonStop user community, what is taking place this year are several initiatives within the NonStop vendor community and already a number of them have reached out to me for further information as to where I am anticipating a number of intensive PoCs to begin this summer.

Obviously the developers at InfraSoft are well aware of these vendors’ requirements and continue to complement the services already supported as part of bomBora with a couple more key services. Support for Pathway and IPC will be joined by support for other important NonStop subsystems and I hope to be able to write about it shortly.

Snakes and ladders; swings and roundabouts, even what goes up must come down. Everyone is familiar with such expressions and it takes very little to conjure up appropriate images. Determining what is most appropriate for your business continues to come with many tradeoffs. However, at a time when there is mounting concern over just how much experience is leaching from the NonStop community as staff reductions, layoffs and even retirements are having a dramatic impact on just how many knowledgeable NonStop people remain in the industry but I am holding out hope for the future. It’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to the next generation appreciating NonStop.

Those students graduating from college and entering IT are firmly grounded in platforms and languages such as JavaScript, Python and C++ and with Node.js on NonStop, these options lessen any apprehension they may have about investing time in NonStop.  An influx of younger generation of developers working with the technologies and platforms familiar to them, on hardware on which they have been educated, represents a huge step up for all involved in NonStop.

This is a message we all need to actively communicate to everyone we come in contact within the businesses where we work. There will always be missteps even as we dodge the snakes and look for the ladders, however, isn’t it good to know NonStop possesses the critical ladders that can keep us ascending to new heights and for that, the thanks has to be liberally given to all members of the NonStop community – HPE, the vendors and indeed the users willing to roll the dice just one more time. 

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