Thursday, September 13, 2018

Summer heat along with summer views …

One of the big advantages that come with driving an RV is the view out front it provides – wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar view of what lay ahead for IT? 

Summer is over, or so we are being led to believe. With the Labor Day weekend now behind us and our children and grandchildren off to school, those lazy, hazy days of summer are being replaced with milder temperatures. Or, are they? Camped here as we are in Arizona, a little to the east of Scottsdale, we have had to deal with daytime temperatures hovering around 105 Fahrenheit. Our Company Command Center’s AC units were no match for such conditions, barely dropping the interior temperature to the low 90s. Back in the township of Windsor, construction teams continue to work long into the afternoon even as there is little respite from the heat and convertibles continue to be seen on our highways.

Through the years we have changed our vehicles regularly. We have always maintained two separate vehicles for business use and we have had two more, sometimes three, for personal use and fun. We continue to have a car we like to spend our weekends laying down laps on race tracks, and we have to have a 4 X 4 SUV for winter use whenever those first snowflakes descend on our lawns and yet migrating from one vehicle to the next has slowed down a little of late, tempered by a general lack of enthusiasm about where the auto industry is headed. While we own a hybrid and have enjoyed the benefits that come from passing gas stations without any need to drive in to fill up, the possibility of a future with autonomous vehicles, all shaped like shapeless pods, isn’t something we are excited about.

When it comes to why we are camped out in an Arizona desert, it’s because we were overnighting before heading to DUST – the local Arizona (Desert USers of Tandem) Regional User Group (RUG) – for a morning listening to a couple of vendor presentations. OmniPayments, ETI-Net and IR all participated and when you think about it, they represent a very good cross section of the NonStop vendor community.

From a private company to a public company, from a solutions vendor to an infrastructure and tools vendor and from software to hardware both real and virtual, the diversity that comes from just these three key members of the NonStop community highlights just how well served the NonStop user community is these days. Yes, HPE may be turning up the heat on its competitors in the all-important mission critical systems marketplace by taking NonStop to x86 and then following that by taking it virtual with support for VMware, but in so doing, HPE is opening up even more opportunities for the NonStop vendor community and right now, for the smart technology shopper, it’s all there for the taking!

When you get behind the wheel of our company command center you sit up high, behind a massive front window. From this position there is very little that escapes your attention as you see everything that’s happening around you. And this is good position to be in as changes of speed or direction take preparation as responses to inputs to the RV unfold at a much slower pace than that of a car. Working closely with NonStop oftentimes I wish there was a way to step back, elevate our view and become better prepared for what is to come.

By this, I mean, it’s all well and good to be familiar with product roadmaps – and yes, the NonStop team have been doing a good job of late to keep us all advised about what is coming down the road – but what I think many within the NonStop community would like to see is NonStop better represented in the world of HPE.

What does HPE mean by Hybrid IT? What is Synergy? What will OneSphere do for us and how will we, the NonStop community, benefit from virtualization, blockchain and clouds?  And is there anything coming from Micro Focus that we should be paying attention to – security, perhaps? I have to admit that I am still not all that sure about why HPE spun off services and helped create a new services company (DXC Technologies) only to then create Pointnext to fill the void that has been created by the spin-merge?

It’s through rose-tinted glasses of course that I look back at a simpler time when there was just hardware, software and some hand-holding consulting services, where the boundaries defining each of the three groups was easily recognized. However, in all seriousness, it is clear HPE is reshaping itself, evolving its messaging even as it gracefully sidesteps business opportunities that aren’t clearly aimed at helping HPE bring added-value to its product portfolio.

But then perhaps it’s all a reflection of just how complicated IT has become of late and of how technology companies are no longer inseparable from other business endeavors. When you read about powerhouse companies like J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) worried about the intentions of Amazon and Google “Intruding on their turf in areas from deposits to payments,” as was reported this week in an article on Chase CEO Jamie Dimon published on, it’s no wonder that the line separating technology from all else has become blurred. Every business is a technology business whether you are in container shipping, auto manufacturing, power generation or simply picking up the trash. Almost everywhere there is a business undertaking, you will come across a technology company taking a second look at it to see where they could become a serious rival to the establishment. 

Listening to Yash, OmniPayments CEO, giving an update during DUST on recent customer wins and new feature introductions, reminded me that even in the staid business of payments, change is taking place are a pretty rapid clip compared to the almost glacial like movements by Financial Institutions (FIs) in former times. And yes, IT is complicated even as IT can be confusing for many of us.

What became very clear from Yash’s presentation this week was that mobile devices were drowning out almost every other conversation at FIs as every FI looked to add features to make it even more attractive to do business using just a mobile device. “And we have done all the prereq development to ensure mobile phones are supported today by all users of OmniPayments,” said Yash.

The only other conversations making any noise within FIs, according to Yash, were blockchain and clouds and “that’s where we are now focusing more of our time!” Coming off a successful PoC of OmniPayments own blockchain implementation in support of an FI needing to implement Know Your Customer (KYC), OmniPaymnts is now confident that it will shortly have its first blockchain customer up and running in a production environment.

Perhaps it was the topic of clouds where Yash really came alive and where his recent meetings with customers and industry analysts highlighted a number of issues that most advocates rarely mention. If you are looking to embrace clouds and are expecting a reliable platform for your applications then think again. The cloud neither provides the reliability of an on-premise deployment nor does it come with guarantees about uptime. When it comes to meeting strict SLAs which so often are in force today between IT and business units then yes, forget about it! Not going to happen. Finally, looking to save money then you might be surprised to hear that clouds don’t save money – they are more expensive.

So why clouds? Well with cloud computing you can tap into a wealth of applications being developed worldwide, but for enterprise users, these offer little appeal as these applications only succeed as they appeal to mass markets that are mostly focused on individual consumers. No, for most enterprises, the transition from traditional computing to cloud computing involves renaming some of what already exists, calling it a private cloud. Wow!

Yes, that’s it … and here’s the deal for the NonStop community. Think of front-ending cloud(s) with NonStop or, as Yash fervently explained, when you build out a cloud offering for a specific marketplace, like payments, then think of having a server farm running virtualized with Linux OS images and then underpin with NonStop to ensure the level of reliability CIOs think that they should be getting with cloud offerings.

Turns out OmniPayments foray into cloud computing with OmniCloudX isn’t just one thing – not one service or one product – but a collection of technologies and products. Lots of Linux servers running virtual with NonStop holding it all together and being the home for the critical aspects of payments processing that just  have to be completed no matter what – when you audit transaction logs, you want to know every transaction was executed and completed in a manner that left no doubt as to where the money went. It’s just that simple.

“For years now we have been demonstrating no loss of transactions the traditional way, pulling CPUs and disk drives, to showcase how NonStop just keeps on running,” explained Yash to those gathered for DUST. “Now, we can do a similar exercise where resources are scattered across a cloud front-end; you want the ease with which you can provision resources for new applications or increased transaction volumes which our cloud provides and yet, you want to be sure the conventional side of payments continues without loss. We can now demonstrate this in a very real way and it’s getting the attention of those in the industry – even those jaded analysts promoting cloud for everything are aware of what really needs to be done in support of the biggest FIs on the planet.”

It was hot when we were in Mesa and even hotter by the time we made it to Scottsdale for DUST. But this isn’t the only heat that was observable during the event. We may not get the opportunity to see for miles or have a panoramic view of all of IT set before us, as is the case sitting high behind the wheel of an RV. Mobile Devices, blockchain, and clouds are the hot topics being addressed by NonStop users and while not everyone is on board today with the value NonStop can bring to conversations on any of them, it’s going to get even hotter for HPE as the message gets out among FIs. You want to save money? You want something a lot cheaper than Linux? But you want x86 and you want virtual machine support? Then think NonStop – it’s all there for the taking! 

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