Sunday, March 11, 2018

Our strategy for new applications is to build and deploy off-premise!

It is becoming all too clear. For the NonStop user the world is changing rapidly as we move to hybrid IT and look to a virtualized NonStop. Where will find the help we will more than likely need?

Only this week I was visiting our new off-premise storage facility where we are now storing vehicles we can no longer accommodate on-premise, at our home. The company command center – yes, our faithful RV that many of you have seen at recent RUG events, our motorcycle, our trailer and even our fifteen year old Corvette “track toy!” It is not a cavernous storage facility by any means but it does come heated and with a number of different power outlets including one 30amp circuit which should be enough to keep the command center’s refrigerator working and the drinks chilled. Now, all we need is a couple of chairs and we have a new weekend retreat! Well, perhaps not …

Fortunately it is all rather simple and we don’t need to have someone present looking after the facility. There is a management company lurking somewhere in the background that watches over the site, but to have someone on hand to consult when it comes to what more we can push off-premise well, that too is fortunately another instance of, perhaps not. In today’s world where we live, work and relax, there are so many instances where you do need to reach out for a helping hand. That it’s as if we are being viewed as totally helpless and yet, if something needs work to be done, I still call for assistance whether it’s a leaking faucet, a misbehaving HVAC or yes, the tires need replacing on the car. As the television commercial promises, “we have people!”

I came across a link this week that took me to the site of and to a Q&A about IT and Business Strategy. DXC having been created late last year with the merger of CSC and the Enterprise Services business of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. You may have seen this link to too as it was being promoted on LinkedIn. “Moving applications to the cloud requires a sound strategy that takes into account technology issues, business needs and embedded IP. Assess your organization’s readiness level and ability to take on this important work …” The topic of cloud always grabs my attention and when it comes to IT and to the data center, there is nothing more topical than cloud computing when it comes to off-premise offloading of both processes and data.

The link on the page took me to a self-assessment page where the first question stopped me from going any further, “How much has cloud affected your IT and business strategies?” For the NonStop community this is currently the topic that is most hotly being debated leading to us all asking the question, “How much has cloud affected my NonStop deployment strategy?” And by this, with options to run on x86 servers, either from HPE (as NonStop X) or third parties (as virtualized NonStop – vNS) with the option to run essentially on-premise as a private cloud or off-premise co-located on a public cloud?

When asked the question above, “How much has cloud affected your IT and business strategies?” you could say you were pursuing a position of leadership by, “using cloud to create new digital business opportunities to better serve customers and to improve employee efficiency and effectiveness.” Or, you could back away from this just a little and say that your, “apps strategy is to build all applications on cloud (such as Cloud native, PaaS, SaaS). Perhaps it was more a case of you “provide cloud services, and you have made cloud a key element for many of our applications and solution architectures.” To be honest, for many members of the NonStop user community I think the correct answer may be, “We don't have a cloud strategy. IT doesn't support cloud. Use of cloud is up to the requestor.”

It is this last observation that truly raises that all-important question – do we need help? Or, put another way, do “we have people?” I may not need a facility manager to help my off-premise storing of vehicles but when it comes to IT and NonStop, from where I sit there is a very strong argument to be made that sure as heck, we do! Language aside, irrespective of the resources available from HPE, any discussions of NonStop, clouds and IT and business strategy leads me to believe that we will be seeing the birth of a rejuvenated managed services ecosystem in the very near future.

And with this still fresh in my mind, I went to TCM’s Daniel Craig for his impression on the options the HPE NonStop development team is providing today. “TCM is very keen to explore the space that is being created by HPE's NonStop development: vNS, Hybrid, DBaaS etc. We have been working towards a NonStop-as-a-Service solution for some time now and we are confident that very soon we will have the right blend of technology and willing users to make this a reality.” When questioned further about vNS, Daniel said that, “Commercially we've held many discussions, but more from hypothetical than practical viewpoint. It seems a lot of Customers, especially those not already setup for private-cloud operations, are holding off to see what HPE is going to do in this space. Certainly the L-Series release with support of vNS with VMware has TCM's attention as we suspect that this may be a more readily deployable solution for most NonStop users.”

TCM is a provider of managed services and was the first to enter this market targeting the NonStop community. Now TCM is the largest managed services provider in the EU, having pioneered NonStop service solutions where mission critical systems and the solutions it supports were of paramount importance to the enterprise. It is only natural then that TCM is anticipating seeing even more business headed its way as TCM definitely can say, “we have people!” and the HPE NonStop team is continuing to advocate to users that they better be well-educated in all things virtual before they begin pursuing a vNS deployment in their data center.

However, the cloud continues to loom large for even the most ardent supporter of NonStop. Whether you follow the path established by HPE IT department with NonStop at the head of their operations serving up NonStop SQL to all and sundry on the basis of DBaaS or simply look to go off-premise and to a side running a combination of x86 servers with VMware as the hypervisor, the challenge remains. Where is the expertise coming from and how do you imagine recruiting the staff knowledgeable in both VM and NonStop? TCM will be the first to acknowledge that this will be a challenge for most enterprises, but it is also quick to highlight that this is precisely the area where TCM is investing today!

“Let’s just look at what we have done in Scandinavia and at the investment we have already made,” said Daniel. “TCM has just taken over from DXC in providing services to their former Scandinavian clients. It has been a lot of work but the TCM team, DXC's staff and the Customers have all been extremely professional, making it all the easier to pull off without a hitch. Great collaboration and teamwork all round!” Furthermore, and with this in mind, Daniel wrote of how, “It has also been a good opportunity for us to try out something new from a services perspective. For the last few years we have been concentrating on our cloud-based services via our Centre of Excellence. Indeed, this was how we first began providing service into DXC (CSC at the time). It is now all working out incredibly well and harkens back to TCM's willingness to adapt, try new things and remain flexible - basically whatever best suits the NonStop user. Yes, we certainly do have people!”  

Whether it has become your strategy for new applications to be built and deployed off-premise and in the cloud, it really is only a case of rethinking your NonStop solution as being just another virtualized workload. Running on the L-Series operating system, it can run anywhere there are x86 servers, some Ethernet deployment (capable of supporting RoCE), and a hypervisor including KVM and now, VMware. I fully anticipate NonStop users to first deploy on-premise and with the help of managed service providers like TCM, gain knowledge of what it takes to successfully deploy NonStop with the same fault tolerance as is supports today running on NonStop X, and then look at the business benefits of moving a lot or perhaps just a little to an off-premise public cloud. And if this is indeed your goal, then perhaps it is time to have the people and the way forward may very well lead you to folks like TCM. You need people? Sure do! Then we can help you – “Just give us a call,” said TCM’s Daniel.

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