Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Here comes NonStop X and here’s to another decade or two, or four, of NonStop excitement!

It’s been a little over a year since the NonStop community heard the news that HP was adding support for the Intel x86 architecture and now the day has come. It’s here with the first model, the HP NonStop X NS7 X1 just announced!

What a whirlwind time these past fifteen months or so have been for the NonStop community. From the time the news broke at the 2013 NonStop Advanced Technical Boot Camp that there were firm plans for NonStop to support the Intel x86 architecture, the NonStop community has been abuzz with interest – first selected vendors were invited into HP’s Advanced Technical Center (ATC) to validate their middleware and solutions and then select customers were able to validate their own mix of solutions and middleware such that today, as of just a few hours ago, the veil was finally lifted. Yes, the first member of the NonStop X family – the NonStop X NS7 X1 – is now generally available.

“It’s been a long journey to where we see NonStop running entirely on industry-standard hardware,” said Martin Fink, executive vice president and chief technology officer, HP. “Thanks to the significant investment HP has made in support of NonStop, customers will realize immediate value from the much improved price / performance that NonStop X now provides.”

According to HP, the “HP Integrity NonStop X NS7 X1 with InfiniBand (IB) delivers more than a 25 times increase in system interconnect capacity for responding to business growth, and up to 50 percent performance capacity increase to handle intensive transaction volumes. In addition, the NS7 X1 can add capacity online, with near-linear scalability and no application outage.” Furthermore, these new  “HP Integrity NonStop systems scale up to 16 NonStop CPUs within a single system (node), each running its own copy of the NonStop OS, and scale out to 4,080 NonStop CPUs on 255 networked NonStop nodes”. 

NonStop systems, based on industry-standard processors and interconnects has been long anticipated – in the post of November 4, 2013, The real deal - NonStop supports x86! I wrote of how, with the announcement, HP was demonstrating once again for the NonStop community that NonStop “is a timeless architecture,” according to HP VP and GM of Mission Critical Servers, Randy Meyer. I also referenced long-time supporter of NonStop and now Intel Corporation’s General Manager, Enterprise Software Strategy, Pauline Nist, who reminded me that whatever transpires with future chip products, the Intel Architecture will prevail! So yes, every cause for celebration across the NonStop community.

To read the announcement and to download the data sheet, follow these links back to the HP web site.

“In bringing NonStop to the x86 architecture, HP now offers customers a choice between it and the Itanium architecture. Both architectures can be relied upon to deliver resilient business foundation without compromise” said HP’s WW Product Manager responsible for HP NonStop systems, Mark Pollans. “What we are announcing today is just the first member of the NonStop X family, the HP Integrity NonStop X NS7 X1 and it is first available with a 4 core software license.”  According to HP, the HP Integrity NonStop X NS7 X1, built on proven HP ProLiant BL460c server blades, is powered by Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors and supports up to 192 GB of memory per NonStop CPU, with single system (node) memory capacity greater than 3 TB.

“The partner Beta program that we ran during 2014 proved popular and successful. We had all the major middleware and solutions vendors involved so that when our customers began testing, the process went smoothly for all involved,” added Karen Copeland, Manager of HP NonStop WW Product Management. “By adhering to strict design methodologies, very few problems were found and the ones that were discovered were quickly fixed and dispatched to the Beta participants. What became clear to all involved was the performance was really great on the new system, so we are expecting the price / performance offered with the NS7 will be attractive for many of our customers.  By the way, for any vendors who still need to test their products on NonStop X, we’ll continue to provide compilers for free and access to the systems in the ATC until the end of this year.”

When it comes to performance there’s no doubting that the NS7 represents a marked improvement over previous NonStop family members. The latest information from HP notes that the NS7 X1 is licensed as a 4-core system with up to 50 percent more performance capacity when compared to the HP Integrity NonStop BladeSystem NB56000c also licensed at 4 cores. The NS7 X1 combines the economies of newly enhanced, standards-based, modular computing with the trusted 24x7 fault-tolerant availability and data integrity of the HP Integrity NonStop architecture. Some of these gains can be attributed to the chip itself but the inclusion of IB also helps considerably.

HP called this out in references it has included in its HP Integrity NonStop X – NS7 X1 data sheet made available with today’s announcement. “InfiniBand double-wide switches to create the foundation for the NS7 X1 system interconnect. These switches, based on a switched fabric, provide up to 56 Gbps full bi-directional bandwidth for extreme scalability, fabric flexibility, high throughput, low latency, and quality of service. The use of half-height server blades connected by InfiniBand enables the NS7 X1 to double the NonStop CPU density within a single c7000 enclosure.”

“The decision to move to InfiniBand (IB) reflects the industry trend to embrace standards even for technologies that, for the most part, are buried deep within the system,” observed Pollans. “Having said this, we are also pleased that our IB system interconnect simplifies hybrid environments featuring NonStop X and we anticipate partners will find this capability attractive. Some coming IB features will allow NonStop to have direct and immediate data transfers between NonStop and systems running Linux and even Windows.” If IBM’s mainframes today include a mix of zOS and zLinux we shouldn’t be surprised to see NonStop OS and Linux hybrids coming from HP.

“The development of NonStop X has been the biggest undertaking during my tenure as VP of NonStop Systems Development, and I’m extremely proud of what the team has accomplished. It was an important program that brings our mission-critical capabilities to the Intel x86 architecture. The result is a family of systems that provide customers with the only flexible approach to a fault- tolerant infrastructure with the choice of Itanium® or x86 architectures,” said Sean Mansubi, VP of R&D for HP's NonStop Integrity and x86 family of servers, database, and middleware software and solutions. “I am particularly excited about our opportunities to offer hybrid solutions, which are NonStop servers directly tied to other x86 servers running Linux/Unix/Windows via InfiniBand (IB) to create low latency, high performance heterogeneous solutions. We are planning on delivering a Limited Beta Program for partners and customers later this year.”

With respect to hybrids, in the post of January 25, 2015, Floating in space, I need a lifeline … I wrote about this topic and that it was part of the conversation I had with Ric Lewis, HP’s VP and General Manager, Enterprise Server Business, where Lewis did acknowledge that early usage of hybrid computers based on the x86 architecture that included NonStop were under way. Clearly I am hoping to hear a lot more about that in the coming months and it will be something I will be pursuing in conversations and meetings at the 2015 HP Discover event in Las Vegas. Whatever is made public will likely showcase the potential for NonStop as part of the evolving hub strategies being promoted by many – Intel with its Data Hub and Gartner with its Payments Services Hub being current examples – and the capabilities of the HP Integrity NonStop X – NS7 X1 will more than likely see many HP customers prompt renewed interest in NonStop.

It was only a few days ago, March 23, 2015, that I posted Can you believe it? “Pragmatism trumps spectacle”! In that post I referenced HP Master Technologist, Justin Simonds, who has been championing the Internet of Things loudly, but his observations on the history of NonStop shine a very positive light on the future of NonStop now that the availability of the HP Integrity NonStop X  NS7 X1 has been officially  announced. When it comes to NonStop systems, Simonds explained, everyone involved knows of the “very clear mission – to build a computer that won’t fail.  All our development is in sync with the mission and every developer hardware and software has to answer the question ‘what happens when this fails?’ Not if, but when.”

Yes, all those years ago, Simonds notes, “Tandem was the first to have no single point of failure.  That has been copied.  Tandem was the first to have online repair.  That has been copied.  But NonStop after 40 years is still rated by IDC as an Availability Level 4 (AL4), a full level higher than any clustered system.  NonStop still has the lead but many systems are catching up.” And then Simonds added with some delight, “That’s why I am very happy that we are relooking at Indestructible, Scalable Computing.”  The history of NonStop has just opened a new chapter but in doing so, completing the move to commoditization as has been forecast for many years by HP leaders such as Randy Meyer, it’s by no means the final chapter.

Forty years is a very long time in technology and, by my reckoning, NonStop has been continuously developed longer than perhaps any other platform apart from IBM’s mainframe. Certainly, no analyst predicted Unix to decline as rapidly as it has done and Windows, as we know it today, hasn’t enjoyed the longevity of NonStop. Having said this, I truly welcome the new customers and indeed, new partners to NonStop systems that this announcement will clearly create – NonStop X throws open the doors to new opportunities to grow the NonStop community. The doors? Well, for me these doors that are swinging wide are the inclusion of x86 not to mention the imminent arrival of hybrids that are inclusive of NonStop.

The whirlwind times the NonStop community has experienced over the last year and a bit is giving way to a new reality – NonStop X. However, it’s good to remember that this latest product from HP, the HP Integrity NonStop X NS7 X1, is but the first member of a new family and as such, will likely be joined by many other system offerings shortly. Exhaling, as we may be doing – perhaps even sighing with relief – will be short-lived as this is the start of a journey for NonStop systems that will ensure we will be celebrating another decade, or four.

Monday, March 23, 2015

To what extent would you go to help with research?

For the longest time I have not thought of Ikea – I hate furniture assembly, the tool I know how to use is my phone, so in the end it is not even worth it to buy “assembly required” stuff. Reminds me of the time at Tandem when a new printer arrived with the instructions composed somewhere outside of the English speaking zone and one step listed was to fringer the part in place. Ever since all of us involved in the exercise of assembling this printer say “go fringer!” whenever a situation calls for “go figure!”

But I digressed. The thing is in the past few days I have been forced into thinking about Ikea. First, CNN Money reported how the new Ikea night tables will charge our phones wirelessly. See http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/02/technology/ikea-furniture-charge-phones/?iid=EL Getting rid of the wires has been my personal dream for the longest time,  for a very evident reason, too.

Well, today I read an article in the Fortune magazine about Ikea growth and expansion to the less developed countries, http://fortune.com/2015/03/10/ikea/

Author, Beth Kowith, wrote a particularly disturbing paragraph about Ikea:
“One way Ikea researchers get around this is by taking a firsthand look themselves. The company frequently does home visits and—in a practice that blends research with reality TV—will even send an anthropologist to live in a volunteer’s abode. Ikea recently put up cameras in people’s homes in Stockholm, Milan, New York, and Shenzhen, China, to better understand how people use their sofas. What did they learn? “They do all kinds of things except sitting and watching TV,” Ydholm says. The Ikea sleuths found that in Shenzhen, most of the subjects sat on the floor using the sofas as a backrest. “I can tell you seriously we for sure have not designed our sofas according to people sitting on the floor and using a sofa like that,” says Ydholm.”

And this brings me to my question: To what extent would you go to help with research? The presence of the cameras, the ability of things I use to “spy” on me and report – just see the offer from AT&T: https://my-digitallife.att.com/learn/ShopHomeAutomation.html .

I am not sure I really like it, and today I read another story about Ikea: http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/17/news/companies/ikea-hide-and-seek/index.html Virginia Harrison writes: “The Swedish furniture retailer wants shoppers to stop playing hide-and-seek in its stores as the game attracts a growing following on social media. We are very happy that people are playful but safety must prevail," said spokesperson for the Ikea Group Martina Smedberg. "Please don't play hide-and-seek in Ikea stores." It all started in Belgium last year when a woman put playing hide-and-seek in a Ikea store on her pre-30th birthday bucket list. Smedberg said she turned up with some of her friends and everyone had a great time. The game has also been played in Sweden.

But now things are getting out of control. The practice looks set to ramp up from a few friends to something much bigger. Word is spreading on Facebook and similar events are planned in Europe and Canada. 19,000 people have signed up to an event at an Amsterdam store next month. That's prompted the furniture retailer, which has 315 stores in 27 countries, to call time on the games.”

I am thinking it is only fair that people play hide and seek in the stores of the company that does its research by installing cameras and watching what you do on your sofa in the privacy of your home!  Yes, Ikea found out that folks “do all kinds of things except sitting and watching TV” – and I for sure would not consent to cameras in my family room! Perhaps, setting aside sections of their stores where real customers can be filmed using select furniture pieces as a follow-on to hide and seek may be a solution!

Getting rid of the wires certainly needs little additional research. No one needs to mount cameras in my office to fully understand the problem. Something needs to be done – and perhaps it’s already being addressed and I just have to find something that works a lot better in my environment. When it comes to NonStop systems as long as I recall the vulnerability was in the connections; there were wires plugged into chassis by NonStop engineers installing systems on customers’ premises.

I travelled to Australia in the early 1990s to look at government-funded research into very high-speed wireless connections with the intent to verify if the then to be announced S-Systems could be packaged with wireless interconnect. Such a connection model would mean NonStop would come with a life-time warranty. Something Product Management was keen to explore. Perhaps the failure to proceed with the technology was more a case of not being able to present a viable business case, but then again, as I look back on that trip, maybe I should have taken a lot more photos or, at the very least, set up a video feed for potential clients to check out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Can you believe it? “Pragmatism trumps spectacle”!

Influenced by the recent post of Margo Holen, the Internet of Things certainly is attracting more than its fair share of the media spotlight. However, it’s also fair to say that with more and more things communicating, your primary systems just can’t fail!

For true car racing enthusiasts, including those who still harbor hopes of becoming a world champion, Racer is the must-read magazine each month. It provides not just in-depth analysis but pages of data about team and driver performances. And oh yes, the pictures look really cool, too. Margo and I are about to start our eighth year of High-Performance Driver Education (HPDE) track outings across the western states of America and, while using the word race remains taboo, we are on track at least four times a day for 20 – 25 minute “sessions”. Having said this, we are amateur enthusiasts at best and only on a good day.

The picture above comes from the very first post of June 6, 2008, to our social blog, Buckle-Up-Travel, Off to the races ... and it continues to surprise many that it is Margo behind the wheel of our C6 Corvette; a vehicle that has been in production for more than sixty years and has come to define what today we call America’s sports car. Muscular, flashy and always ready to put on a show! But as I read the latest issue of Racer magazine I came across a brief editorial page with the heading, “Pragmatism trumps Spectacle” and my thoughts turned to the more than forty years that Tandem computers, now NonStop systems, have been supporting the most mission-critical of all business applications.

NonStop systems have stuck steadfastly to the task of providing 24 X 7 NonStop availability, with near linear scalability, but without the flash or even the fanfare that today heralds the arrival of something new.  Announcing the Apple Watch, as Apple has just done with its high-energy, spectacular, Spring Forward event immediately after the switch to daylight savings (quite the marketing coupe that grabbed everyone’s attention) was a flashy affair but shortly HP will be officially taking the wraps of the next family of NonStop systems – NonStop X. I doubt there will be much to show by way of fanfare and bright lights, but the message will ring true. If you have mission critical applications to support, where failure is not an option, then NonStop delivers.

The NonStop X family of systems is arriving at an opportune time – much faster performance than many of us had thought back in 2013 when the wraps were taken off the program for NonStop to embrace the Intel x86 architecture . But then again, occupying center stage of many companies transaction processing, it’s going to get really busy really soon and faster systems will prove a blessing. No more so than when it comes to the changing landscape of mobile device usage. In his article “Survival of the fittest – NonStop in mobile networks” published in the May/June 2014 issue of The Connection, HP Telecom Business Development Manager, Rene Champagne, observed how “Modern usage of mobile services has shifted from voice and text as the primary services, towards mobile broadband services. Real-time services based on smartphone apps are the defining characteristics of this decade.”

It’s hard to argue against this observation and the importance of this shift, Champagne went on to note was that, “The real-time nature of these apps makes service interruptions immediately apparent as social media updates cease to operate, and as services such as cloud storage become unavailable.” When it came to quoting the results from studies undertaken by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), specifically their second Annual Incidents Reports, Champagne highlighted that availability was still very much an issue. “The determination that the root cause for most incidents was ‘System failures’, and that ‘hardware failures’ were the most common root causes,” Champagne quoted from the report even as the report  noted how this determination, “diverges from general IT norms which generally find that operations and administration, and software failures are the most common outage sources.”

Remaining steadfastly focused on the task of providing NonStop availability with near linear scalability for forty plus years may not have been a bad thing to do, after all. Even as system failures and hardware failures happen less frequently, the impact of failures observed by many customers can quickly become a different kind of spectacle, and one quite likely to make the evening news. The increased dependency on mobile devices and their ability to initiate mission critical transactions is only the beginning as it will not just be humans on the other end of the line but machines.

The impact of the Internet of Things (IoT), and in particular, as HP Master Technologist, Justin Simonds,  has been highlighting in his recent presentations, the Internet of Mission-Critical Things (IoMCT), where outages not only will disrupt production lines and transportation but healthcare and even security will be hard to ignore. One thing we can be very sure about is that with the arrival of such streams of information, changes will be constant and necessary. As we transition to the world of small, highly focused, apps keeping up with it all will be a challenge for all but the most mature of infrastructures.

In the real-time IT world systems, platforms, operating systems, middleware and applications are all providing updates about their operational status, I suggested in the post to the WebAction blog, In a Realtime World, NonStop Customer Experience Can Change in an Instant! A constant barrage of data makes tracking the performance of an application difficult; who can tell whether basic SLA metrics are being met? Add into this the added complexity that comes with hybrid computers, not to mention the use of clouds and the task befalling those responsible for ensuring customers are being served in a timely manner appears more like black magic than pure science. Yes, availability still matters and HP being pragmatic about this key attribute of NonStop is something we can all be very proud of – outages today are simply unacceptable.

The support of things, the majority of which are likely to be machine sensors and instruments including the many such devices present in our cars, may not all be supercritical or warrant the supporting technology infrastructure that we associate with NonStop, but with increasing legislation and a healthy appetite from some market segments such as insurance, one man’s nice-to-have may very likely be another man’s must-have and command the presence of the most available systems possible. In an earlier post to the WebAction blog, How Will the Internet of Things Impact Streaming Data? WebAction Director of Marketing, Jonathan Geraci, made similar observations. Referencing research by Forbes journalist, Mike Kavis, Geraci states that, “This sentiment is aligned with our thoughts that we are moving away from a software world of ‘query/response’ (ask a question, get an answer) and moving toward the sensing enterprise.”

Building on this sentiment, Geraci then goes on to suggest that, “In the sensing enterprise software monitors your streams of data and acts autonomously to specific correlated events in your streams. The IoT drastic increase in the number of connected devices will dramatically increase streaming data volume, velocity, and variety. The next logical question is how will you handle all of the streaming data from the Internet of Things? The WebAction platform provides stream analytics applications that are extremely efficient and easy to use.” And yes, as we are now seeing, WebAction supports the many logs and event files that are maintained on a typical NonStop system.  

In my most recent exchange with HP’s Simonds, he reiterated the value that comes from being as pragmatic as the HP NonStop R&D team has demonstrated to be through the years. When it comes to NonStop systems, everyone involved knows of the “very clear mission – to build a computer that won’t fail.  All our development is in sync with the mission and every developer hardware and software has to answer the question ‘what happens when this fails?’ Not if, but when.” Yes, all those years ago, Simonds notes, “Tandem was the first to have no single point of failure.  That has been copied.  Tandem was the first to have online repair.  That has been copied.  But NonStop after 40 years is still rated by IDC as an Availability Level 4 (AL4), a full level higher than any clustered system.  NonStop still has the lead but many systems are catching up.  That’s why I am very happy that Wendy is relooking at Indestructible, Scalable Computing.”

When Margo and I first turned a wheel on a race track it was in a fully automatic Corvette – the C6 Corvette in the picture above - it was for very pragmatic reasons; it allowed us to concentrate on learning the track. Trust me; when it’s your first time on a track, you are looking everywhere to make sure you don’t hit another driver. With the volume, velocity, and variety of data streaming into our data centers, having a system rated an AL4 lets you worry about the processing and all that such processing entails without having to look down at the console to see which process is actually running and whether failures have occurred at a critical time. Can you believe it? NonStop thriving after all these years?

To be truthful, perhaps we should be going back to our CIOs and asking how alternate offerings survived at all – being pragmatic, of course, perhaps CIOs already know of this and have a lot more to do with the longevity of NonStop than we care to acknowledge. Maybe NonStop isn’t as big a secret as some of us suspect and maybe, just maybe, a spectacle isn’t really what a CIO is looking for today! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My financial advisor talks IoT?

It is not my thing, really, to join strangers for dinner – I tried a couple of times and did not want any part of it.  Yet, when my financial advisor sent me an invitation to the annual client conference to be held at Four Seasons Hotel in Denver, where the topic would be Rise of the Machines, after reading the description it was clear we should not miss it. “A new wave of disruptive innovation is upon us. Intelligent machines – from driverless cars and commercial drones to medical robots – have advanced enormously in sophistication, and falling prices make them increasingly accessible, the promotion said. “Join us to hear what we think they will mean for the markets, the economy, and your portfolio.” I sent a RSVP promptly to let them know Richard and I were in!

The IoT buzz started some 18 – 24 months ago, riding on the cattails of the Big Data. Of course IoT in reality is way older, as we all became aware when the plane that wasn’t found yet was sending engine information to its manufacturer.  Closer to home? A conversation with our friend who had a pacemaker installed and who was called by the hospital while she was going home – they asked her to get right back as her pacemaker was sending disturbing messages. WTH! She had no idea she had a talkative device planted inside her!

Just this week Apple came out with its watch – and if you read AARP magazine (yours or your parents’) you will see at least 4 ads in each issue for the life saving medical alert devices. Apple will eat creators’ of these devices lunch, so I think it is only fair that I’ll eat my financial advisor’s dinner while listening to the talk! As I wrote this, my phone rang – somebody offering a free life saving device – just sign in for the monitoring program!  It’s been only a few days since Apple announcement but already near-panic is setting in!

All I can think about is who is going to process, store and act upon the information all the things are providing. Most of the applications that my financial advisor mentioned, and most that I’ve encountered so far, are critical in nature, and it is unthinkable that the data could get lost, action delayed, or even worse, be compromised by the criminal or terror-minded person or group; the scenario of someone tapping into a pacemaker has been played countless times, by various folks, petrified of the power that is being unleashed. Yes, it’s all on the Internet! Almost every hospital went ahead and added a power generator so as not to be caught out by power outages in the middle of the medical procedure; have they all got a live backup system for the medical data they are collecting?

The presentation at the dinner last night did not deal with the processing of all the information machines are generating. Nobody wanted clients to get upset, so there was no discussion of risks. Most of the audience wasn’t technically inclined anyway, and I thought the level of the presentation was quite appropriate – we got an assurance that the researchers at the firm are aware of the trends and analyze to their heart’s content over the impact these trends have on clients’ portfolios. As dumbed-down as the presentation proved to be,  it  spoke of the specter of even greater volumes of data yet to come.

The topic of Rise of the Machines brought a little smile, though, as I recalled recent videos by Martin Fink – you will need The Machine to process all the data the machines produce, won’t you now?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Read the news? NonStop information presentation powered by InkaBinka!

Mobility is bringing with it advantages that benefit us all but in our quest to be constantly informed about what’s going on – in the business world at large, as well as  within our company – it’s mandating changes to how we deliver content.

It seems more than sensible to spend time in America’s southwest at this time of year. Polar Vortexes, snow storms swinging down from the Pacific Northwest, and any number of frigid ice-bound days is enough to have any sane person pulling out roadmaps and checking upcoming conference schedules to see if any might be in a warmer location. Fortunately, I received press passes to two important industry events – one in Las Vegas, Nevada,  organized by ATMIA (the ATM Industry Association) with the other in Phoenix, Arizona, organized by BAI (which stands for Bank Administration Institute, but is better known as the organizers of the annual Retail Delivery show). No matter how you describe the benefits that come through participation the first thought that comes to mind at this time of year is that these are very warm places to visit.

While I have already covered some aspects of the ATMIA event in posts to this blog, the BAI event proved every bit as interesting and indeed intriguing, as the earlier event in Las Vegas overlapped on the more obvious topics. Interesting? Of course both events brought out a sizable vendor presence, with many vendors familiar to all in the NonStop community. Intriguing? With the emphasis heavily skewed towards mobility, the challenges for Financial Institutions (FIs) became clear from the very first presentation. Obvious? No skirting the issue when it comes to FIs, security remains front and center but I will leave to a later post further discussion on security.

“In general, it’s not easy to simply add features,” said one consultant during a panel session. When it comes to today’s smartphones, “It becomes far too dense and difficult to find” a reference to the limitations that can come with providing feature rich apps. “Perhaps it’s a case of going back to supporting an app that does just one thing,” the consultant concluded, even if “this flies in the face of the promoting ‘if we add more features, we will generate more interest and hence, more usage.” All of us at some point have had to squint particularly hard just to see what icon to tap, let alone expand to a readable size some important message or email.

However, there’s no getting away from the impact smart phones and tablets are having on our lives. In a promotional email from IDG Connect on March 6, 2015, the opening lines were hard to ignore.  “It's no secret that the use of smart phones is exploding. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 34% Americans go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.” And therein lies confirmation of the dilemma we all face – even as we modernize our applications, are they a good fit for the form factor supported by a mobile phone, and indeed, are we pursuing presenting more even as we require less real estate? Clearly, the truck driver observed at last year’s NonStop Advanced Technical Boot Camp understood that big objects in his pickup weren’t a good fit for the underground garage!

For more on this I turned to my good friend, Kevin McGushion, CEO of InkaBinka. From the first time I stepped into his garage and posted of his accomplishments from such a humble workshop, Kevin has continued to amaze with what he conceives and then brings to market – his InkaBinka has been featured at HP Discover 2014 in Las Vegas and Barcelona. “Information today is in ‘long format’ which is best consumed using a desktop (large) device. Mobile devices are now much more convenient; however, the information available hasn’t changed to fit this much smaller form factor,” said Kevin.

Going deeper into the approach he is taking with InkaBinka, we have “created the bridge by processing the currently available information into a format that is tailored for today’s mobile world. Vast amounts of information are created in long form every day, which makes it less accessible for our “Twitter-ized” world; not to mention our shorter attention spans.  From news articles to internal corporate documents to Google search, information is too long and much of it is superfluous. By distilling Big Info and making it available for quick mobile consumption and presentation, people now have new access to important information, in their hands and in seconds.”

InkaBinka has developed powerful and unique Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, according to Kevin, “that allows it to summarize large content into concise bullets in near real time.  This is based on a self-learning algorithm created by InkaBinka that reads articles, extracts keyword, context, and sentiment analysis and applies our abstraction technology.  With abstraction as opposed to extraction, new concepts and sentences are created from a corpus of documents or a single story.” It is self-learning, and by this Kevin means InkaBinka, “understands subtle things like when Syria is a country or when it is a girl’s name.”

For the NonStop community, think of this as a new, modern way to display content. We all live in a constantly evolving business climate where it’s becoming much harder to stay abreast of important information exchanges – key messages may be buried deep within an email chain or be a partial quote in a press release. How are we expected to find a needle in essentially a stack of needles, as I heard it described recently in a popular television show. The challenge for everyone in the NonStop community, whether part of the financial community or not, is how to best utilize the smaller form factor supported by today’s mobile phones. Whether we are discussing the latest monitoring solution, the results of a database inquiry, or simply presenting an invoice, statement or balance – being able to refine the information to where it only takes a couple of lines to present is becoming the focal point for many companies.

Just recently, InkaBinka developers pointed their technology at a recent blog posting of mine (on Real Time View) and boiled it down to the essential three to four points. Cool – and yes, it was accurate. So, here’s the scoop. I believe enterprises are drowning in information and the higher up the organization you climb, the less time there is to read everything. Take emails, for instance. How do you know which emails to read, and then which ones you are being copied on simply out of courtesy or for protocol reasons? Ouch; so, a language that can analyze information on the fly and reduce content to readable summaries, I believe, will prove beneficial to all engaged in database access, including Big Data, not to mention any social media for corporate use .

However, is InkaBinka truly unique? What about Flipboard? Reddit? Not to mention my own go-to site, LinkedIn? Taking Reddit as just one example, Kevin notes that “InkaBinka is the only technology that uses NLP to create four concise, abstracted bullet points that summarize a story.  All other aggregators simply use the headline, in some cases the byline and a link to the article. After a reader clicks in they are left to the drudgery of reading 2000 words, which almost no one does.” As a for instance, Kevin noted, “After you click the Reddit link to the Harrison Ford story you are taken out to the long read; Reddit has no value add other than to post virtually everything in title form at their site which requires more time than anyone has to read through.  It’s more a site to post cat photos and memes, really. This comparison is true for Flipboard, Facebook, Linkedin, Circa, Feedly, News 360, and all traditional news sites (CNN, ABC, FOX, NBC, LA Times, NY Times, etc.). Yahoo News Digest attempts to summarize but still is paragraphs long and bit-of-news does a manual summary of about 4 stories a day and it is very non-visual.”

For the NonStop community, it’s not only interesting because of the changes it fosters with content presentation but also because of the relationship InkaBinka enjoys with HP. Running today on Moonshot and implemented using Node.js, it provides insight as to one possible direction NonStop may be likely heading. While the HP Moonshot team is focused intently on building a presence in the marketplace, already I see great potential in having NonStop reside on Moonshot cartridges at some point – supported by HP NonStop R&D directly or via proxy that includes a NonStop partner.

With NonStop X about to launch and Node.js support coming from a NonStop partner even as so much is being discussed about possible hybrid solutions it’s as if the moons are aligning for even greater NonStop engagement with some of the most creative applications on the planet. Today InkaBinka is focused on making sure we can read the news on our smartphones easily and quickly, it doesn’t take too much imagination to consider all sorts of possibilities when it comes to pointing InkaBinka at NonStop. Will this happen at some point? As Kevin quickly points out, if the market for such a product becomes apparent, “we could turn on a dime to address it!”

Getting out of the office to listen to users and vendors alike – even if the temperature is more conducive to sunbathing by the pool – trumps reading articles and trolling through web sites any time. Getting enough background for any story is always an issue, particularly as the number of sources continues to grow almost exponentially. InkaBinka is certainly looking to fix this and the mere fact that the company executives are talking with as one-eyed a NonStop commentator as exists today, is a very good sign. My imagination may run wild from time to time but is that a necessarily a bad thing?

NonStop is a thriving business and the greater the openness, the greater the commoditization, the wider the net can be cast and who knows, it’s not inconceivable that one day, I will be accessing EMS events on my smartphone via InkaBinka-powered monitoring solutions! 

Looks can be deceiving! HPE NonStop; when being the best still matters!

For the NonStop community, we know what looks good may not only be deceptive but borderline dangerous; mission critical applications are bes...