We all understand Big Data but what about Big Transactions as in lots and lots of transactions – so many that today’s showcase Big Data Centers will only get bigger and bigger … and when discussions turn to transactions, it’s hard to overlook Nonstop!
Big things have always fascinated me. My very
first job was at the Steelworks, south of Sydney, where air conditioning of the
computer facility was its only redeeming feature. Otherwise, the heat and noise,
and often the sheer terror it espoused, gave it a sense of being otherworldly
when first encountered. Nothing about a steelworks is minute or delicate and
finesse has no place in the presence of such massive structures visible
everywhere you turn.
For more on my days at the steelworks, check
back to the post of March 26, 2008, A question of balance! I came across this
reference when I was scrolling through earlier posts looking for a particular
post, written while attending an earlier user event in Las Vegas, before HP
Discover came about. It wasn’t so much the post per se as the reference it
contained to yet earlier observations I had made about NonStop and the IT
Turns out that the post I was looking for came out
only a few months after my post about the steelworks. In the post of June, 16,
path well-trodden – to Mandalay Bay! I referenced
the launch of the Cyclone system. It had been announced around the same time as
the latest IBM mainframe, the ES/3090, and as everyone connected with the
Cupertino campus will recall, at the same time as the Loma Prieta earthquake. On
first viewing Cyclone, it had me writing about the return of big systems and of
how the technology pendulum had swung back to a centralized model for IT,
featuring a return to very big data centers.
Today, we are seeing yet another return to big as the size of data centers
explodes and the numbers being thrown around to describe them exceed all
comprehension. In the August 2013 edition of Musings on NonStop
just published in the Tandemworld e/Newsletter (you will need to scroll down a
fair bit to find it), I turned to an automobile magazine, Motor Trend, for
interesting data points on one of the U.S. governments biggest data centers –
the newly commissioned NSA facility here in the west.
“The government’s $2-billion, million-plus-square-foot Bluffdale, Utah, data
storage and analysis facility opening this month (and depicted above) is equipped
to handle yottabytes of data.” OK, so we have yottabytes and as the columnist
then points out, “Yotta signifies 10 to the power of 24 – that’s the largest
numerical prefix coined to date, and it equals a million exabytes.”
As an impressionable youngster working in the steelworks, writing programs to
retrieve data from IBM 2311 disk drives with a capacity of 7 Megabytes of data
was tantamount to magic all those years ago but if I tried hard, I could
visualize just how big that was. Yottabytes, on the other hand, cease to hold
any real meaning for me, as I cannot imagine how big that would be. However,
all of us collectively are producing so much data that it’s really not
surprising that data centers with such capacity are being built.
Moreover, it’s all because of our love of mobile devices and the ease with
which we can access anything or anyone at any time when we have one of these
devices in our hands. Yes, the growth in mobile phones, and with it the desire
of companies, governments and just about everyone else with an interest in what
we are doing to collect information about us all. Doing so, of course, is
what’s driving the return to gigantic data centers we are reading so much more
about of late and yes, this growth is not exclusive of NonStop participation.
Mobile devices (including smartphones and tablets) create transactions and with
each new transaction there’s a likelihood that during the process of passing
information to a friend, or business, it will pass through a NonStop system.
Mobile devices are simply jumping on the back of much of the infrastructure that’s
in place to handle financial transactions, travel reservations and hotel
bookings, as well as to view business activities. Mobile devices are even
finding their way into schools, car showrooms and yes, the data center itself!
I have just completed an opinion paper for Integrated Research (IR) that is
titled “Smarter devices, smarter applications; smarter monitoring. Always aware
of business availability!”, which should become available for downloading shortly after
I complete this post. In that paper you will read that, on a recent trip to the
shops, I heard a page over the loudspeakers, “Mobility to the front!” The lines
at the cash registers had grown long and the request was for an available store
assistant on the floor, equipped with an iPod Touch (with a shop-specific back
cover) and the store’s check-out application, to help out and indeed, my
purchase was completed with a simple scan of my credit card and, via a simple
Bluetooth connection, the printing of my receipt.
The store was Nordstrom’s and it was the feature of a New York Times article
only a short time later. Yes, Mobile to the Front is certainly a catch-phrase
resonating not only with CIOs but with the leaders of technology companies
including HP. “Mobility, Security, Big Data and Clouds” continue to be the main
focus of HP management these days and it’s hard to miss messages in support of
these topics present on communications HP make to the industry and user
Yes, mobility is a big thing and its impact on NonStop is unmistakable. As I
wrote in that opinion paper for IR, mobility is proving to be so much more than
just another channel accessing applications already deployed. Separated from
everything that used to hold us to our desks, allowing us to live in a world
where we are always connected, moving seamlessly between social and business
interactions, it’s a whole new way for business to view us, their employees,
business partners and customers. Those on the move, mobile device in hand, will
also include IT departments and in particular, those overseeing their
operations and this is a development not lost on IR as they prepare to enhance
the mobile operator experience via Prognosis 10.
Even so, the move away from relying solely on a bricks-and-mortar presence, I
then wrote in that opinion paper, is just the first step; an overture
signifying what is to come. And what is coming are more transactions;
Yottabytes may indeed prove to be “small potatoes” as the whole world - indeed
every known device on the planet - start communicating. To plagiarize a popular
saying, “who you goin’ to turn to (and trust) to process your important
It’s easy to see just how big a steelworks is just as it’s easy to see how many
mobile devices are in use. These are big infrastructure plays and rely on sizeable
investments to deploy productively. Today, emerging markets demonstrate their
technical prowess by building steelworks even as developed countries,
increasingly dependent on services, are demonstrating their prowess with
landscapes dotted with wireless network towers everywhere you turn.
Million-plus-square-foot data centers may impress a lot of us even as they are
raising the eyebrows of communities and legislatures alike, but there’s more to
come. This is just the start and even as Neo, of Matrix fame, awakens to look
out on a landscape of “storage” capsules stacked in towers as high as he can
see and duplicated without apparent end, so too will our desire to capture
transactions lead to big data centers every bit as impressive as seen on any
Big Data is becoming better known to most of us in terms of the benefits it is
providing business, but in the coming
months Big (numbers of) Transactions could be every bit as important and this
will be news to many companies; really big news, in fact! On this point, no one
I have talked to of late has disagreed with me over the potential for even
greater NonStop involvement. “NonStop; ‘got transactions?’” may soon become a
popular tee shirt and much, much, more!
We are in the middle of yet another road trip, driving across the United States. This time, it’s a trip that will take us to the east co...
It’s London and it’s the BITUG Big SIG. The NonStop community is gathered to hear more of NonStop and it’s a lot happier community these da...
With the arrival of 2018 I am celebrating thirty years of association with NonStop and before that, Tandem Computers. And yes, a lot has ch...
Social media may not hold all the answers and may be a poor substitute for actually meeting face-to-face. And yet, it's proving to be a ...