Time spent in the desert …


They may be just lyrics in a song but my recent trip through the wide open spaces of the south provided a backdrop to rethink where NonStop might be headed …



How many books have you read where a central character elects to spend time in a desolate space? For me, there are the books about the fictitious planet DUNE that come to mind. There are also the Mad Max movies with which I grew up many decades ago. Not forgetting, too, the many prophets and sages that forego their lifestyles for time spent wandering the wild spaces – what many Australians simply call the “never-never!”
  
Possibly memories return of the lyrics of that popular song from decades ago
“I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name”

Right now, I have to believe there are many folks back on America’s east coast who really can understand being “out of the rain.” And our hearts go out to them all as they continue to struggle to rebuild following water levels not seen in a lifetime, but when it comes to “walking into the desert” I am also reminded that for the amount of time I have been associated with Tandem Computers and NonStop Systems, we do need to remember our name! We do need to remember our heritage and our culture. And most of all we have to remember all of our colleagues that spent so much time in the very bowels of NonStop to make it well, the NonStop it is today.

So much is written of today that has to do with branding. For what seems to be eternity, banks reinforced their brand with towering skyscrapers adorned with their company name. They just had to be the best bank in town – look at their office building and how it towers over the competition! However, in a digital world, nobody looks up at the skyline. Your business is either super-fast with its responses or it’s ignored by your end user community. Referencing HPE customer, Travelport, once again and the business behind the many travel sites promising the cheapest flight, car rental or hotel room and how, with the new Superdome Flex, they handle today some 5,000 transactions per second even as they strive to meet their own goal of reducing response times to one second. 


This post isn’t about branding just as it isn’t about what is pushing end users to do what they do today, flitting from one app to another, all on a whim. Instead this post is about dogs and who really is driving requirements these days. Yes, a hard rain is falling but fortunately, the NonStop community has shelter at hand. 

True, your business operates at the whim of the end-user. No doubt about that – just check any of the latest analysis from folks like Gartner or Forrester. Often stated down through the ages but today, it is representative of the real world: The tail wags the dog. Or perhaps, we are looking at it all wrong. That much sought-after end-user is the dog and we have become the wagging tail! Eager to please the enterprise and indeed the data center are wagging vigorously, seeking approval. And increasingly so, we are needing to become more responsive, more creative and yes more innovative just to ensure those end-users make a return visit!

For the NonStop community, my recent trip into the wide open spaces of Oklahoma and Texas reinforced my belief that NonStop is destined to return to the front lines. It will certainly continue to be a good choice whenever there is a need for an OLTP SQL database capable of running 24 x 7 x forever – a feat the competition still can’t achieve without a whole bunch of clustering complexity and pricing overkill. Point is, the future of NonStop inside the data center will more than likely be tied to enterprises’ understanding of just how powerful NonStop SQL has become. Not to make too fine a point about this, but HPE is turning to NonStop SQL to anchor much of their own database processing.

NSaaS and DBaaS has been appearing on HPE NonStop slides for quite a while now and for good reason. It is the future of NonStop for new users – yes, it allows the NonStop net to be cast much wider in the past, as NSaaS doesn’t require any initial capital outlay. It’s a cost-effective way to ease into the world of fault tolerance for those who may have remained on the sidelines when it comes to the future of NonStop. It’s also a way to test out something new that may just appeal to those end users the enterprises want to attract even as it allows for quick adjustments being made to critical features as well as to the end user interfaces themselves. NSaaS and DBaaS is a critical component of the NonStop strategy going forward.

However, with the emergence of a viable virtualized NonStop (vNS) offering, it’s tempting to say that there is even greater potential for NonStop positioned out at the edge. Whether the processors are x86, ARM, GPU, whatever – where there is the option to run a hypervisor and the Ethernet fabric is in place then well, why not? Just think about – as we cater to more inputs from people, devices, sensors, etc. there is a lot of value placing your OLTP close to where the first interactions take place as not everything will make it all the way back to the data center.

Finally, when it comes to the tail wagging the dog, there is one more factor to consider. The news here for the NonStop community is that while HPE NonStop is assembling the pre-req building blocks, it isn’t likely that HPE NonStop will be delivering the finished product. Again, think about it – the Nonstop team sorts out how to deliver vNS and comes up with an acceptable pricing model but then there is the hardware and all the services and support that this entails. There is no expectation that HPE will be proactive in supporting vNS on Lenovo or Dell or anything custom built for an enterprise. As much as HPE would prefer to see you select HPE’s products, the game is most definitely on here – build it yourself! So yes, in this respect it will be the vendor community that leads the charge here and not HPE NonStop.

Already we are seeing some prototyping being done by NonStop personnel but when it comes to the finished product well, no – there is a clear line that these NonStop folks will not be crossing. Creativity and innovation will be up to the vendor community to deliver, and it’s already starting. The very prospect of being able to download all the NonStop stack you need and then tailor to your needs to better support a chosen solution suggests that increasingly, NonStop will be taking a hands-off approach to anything other than a delivery mechanism (for vNS and the rest of the stack) but even here, when it comes to delivery mechanisms HPE NonStop may pull back from that as well.

In the desert you can remember your name and for the NonStop community, that name is NonStop! To inform the rest of the enterprise that you are supporting your OLTP on NonStop shouldn’t be something you pull back from or hide under a blanket. For most enterprises, NonStop is already behind browser interfaces and programmed via scripting languages and managed using industry-standard monitoring tools, no different from what is in use across the entire data center.

The unique distinguishing attributes of availability and yes, database, remain rock-solid reasons why enterprises should be running NonStop. Maybe it’s as simple as educating the enterprise about what’s in place already and maybe all that is required  is to better educate the enterprise on all that today’s models for “X”aaS at any level includes NonStop. Any conversations along these lines might even mean that there isn’t any need for you to head out into the never-never! Perhaps there isn’t any reason whatsoever to look past NonStop for edge to cloud processing. And yes, it feels good to be out of that hard rain that is falling!

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