Friday, September 28, 2018

Frameworks – nothing to write about and yet, in NonStop they are the rock …

They aren’t the standout element of a product and they may not attract any attention at all and yes, they are the rock that is the foundation for many of the products found on NonStop!

Finishing up the walk-out lower level of our home was expedited considerably as it was being framed when we made the decision to buy the home and move to Windsor, Colorado. Having lived for almost twenty years in the village of Niwot, Boulder County, we elected to sell our former home and downsize to something more manageable. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to watch the framing of our new Windsor home to the point where during the framing process, we were able to customize certain aspects of each room and our requests were accommodated in a timely manner.

On the other hand, our former Niwot home took almost a year to completely frame. Weather is a factor in Colorado, particularly when working on a house that at the time didn’t have a roof. In the intervening years, so much has changed when it comes to framing. Today, once the planning is complete and the related approvals granted, the design passes to the lumber yard and a big rig arrives with everything pre-assembled, ready to go. Twenty years ago and the saw mill came to us and everything had to be built from scratch holding back the process considerably and costing so much more to do. Sound familiar?

Many years ago, on December 18, 2010, I posted to the
comforte Lounge blog, “It's OK - we are being framed!” In that post I quoted Infrasoft Managing Director, Peter Shell, who described the framework that underpins the uLinga product and allows it to accommodate many different networking protocols and services. New features can be introduced quickly and with greatly reduced risk, as much of what is required of the new feature has been debugged and tested extensively, even as it can benefit from a standardized dashboard familiar to all existing NonStop users of the Infrasoft uLinga product. What Shell added in that post was how, from his observations over the years, “my concept of a framework, or whatever we call them in the future, is that of a continuum.”

“Their development doesn’t stop at the simple utility functions; in fact, it doesn’t stop at all! In time, everything is turned into libraries where the product is just a bunch of libraries bolted together,” Shell explained. “Because this adds a degree of pressure to really think hard about how to externalize the functionality, you end up with nice clean interfaces, clean design further encouraging code re-use.” It’s also pretty easy to mix and match functionality while enjoying the benefits from not re-writing code, I suspect. Whenever we are presented with additional requirements or the NonStop customer expresses a desire to move between products that don’t exactly align, we can make the changes necessary to be compatible very quickly.

On the other hand, as a community, NonStop users rarely pay attention to the underpinning frameworks and simply assume something behind the curtain is making everything work. “Frameworks are like our navels, everybody has one,” suggested Infrasoft CTO, Neil Coleman in the post of August 4, 2011,
Engineering for longevity [Part 1]! , before adding “and a lot of people may actually think ‘so what’ while others may simply ask ‘why bother, just use something already out there.’” Surely abstraction layers of all types are readily at hand that can be easily leveraged to bring new products onto NonStop?  And this was a consideration in the early days of uLinga even as Infrasoft recognized that frameworks were the rock on which stabilized everything that was subsequently built using the framework.

In the follow up post of August, 2011,
Engineering for longevity [Part 2]! David Finnie, VP of Infrasoft R&D acknowledged that yes, “Another abstraction layer that was considered at the time was Apache Portable Runtime (APR).” However, Finnie added, “while we looked at APR, it proved inappropriate as it assumed that target Operating Systems (OS’s) were all POSIX-like under the covers. Perhaps just as important for the middleware we were developing, and the expectations our users would have when it came to performance, APR didn’t fit well with the underlying Guardian non-blocking / no-wait I/O model and this is important as it’s the Guardian personality we leverage with such a critical subsystem as uLinga.”

These older posts to the former comforte lounge blog are a reminder of how important it is to start out heading down the right path. This blog site may be hard to find as comforte recommends the NonStop community checks out its new site, comforte Insights. On the other hand, my thoughts turned to comforte and Infrasoft when frameworks were again part of the conversation. At this year’s GTUG supported European NonStop HotSpot 2018/IT-Symposium 2018, we heard about another company with plans to support NonStop – a Hungarian company, Quattrosoft.

The one constant to be heard coming from the NonStop community is the desire to see more solutions ported to NonStop. Whether it is in support of the telco marketplace or helping financial institutions improve their customer service, being aware that there are other vendors out there taking a fresh look at NonStop is encouraging to hear and it was only after visiting with another vendor that I became aware of Quattrosoft and of its Technical Director, Peter Boros. It was Boros who attended the GTUG supported event and who talked about the plans in play at Quattrosoft.

“My company is working with mission critical systems in Hungary and even though it’s a small market the expectations are as high as anywhere else in the world,” Boros told me in a recent email exchange. “We have a great portfolio of software features based on our technology,” and that technology is a new framework that has proved itself to be extremely flexible, accommodating deployment in support of a lot of different use case scenarios. It is a framework that is accessed via adapters and according to Boros, “we successfully created the adapters for NonStop (and) after meeting with HPE NonStop’s Franz Koenig to check it all out, “all looks well; no showstoppers were found and we are now preparing a demonstrable business use case for the command and control scenario as required by police and firefighters here in Hungary.”

Of themselves, frameworks aren’t viewed as marketable products by the NonStop community a circumstance Infrasoft became aware of a decade ago. On the other hand, well-executed frameworks lend themselves to addressing a variety of business problems and this is exactly what Quattrosoft are finding. “What we are providing is a combination of technology with our framework, a methodology that expedites the creation of new products and yes, access to the expertise we have developed having worked now on problems for a variety of markets. “Quattrosoft has strong references in financial, telco, police, government, utility as well as some with pharmacies and healthcare,” added Boros.

“But for now, it is our goal to find good partners in the NonStop community that will help sell our technology and products on NonStop – at Quattrosoft, after becoming familiar with the NonStop platform, we truly believe that with such cooperation with the NonStop vendor community, we could help further strengthen the NonStop presence in the marketplace and attract even more customers to NonStop. Frameworks may be a tough sell but Quattrosoft has moved beyond that with products supporting the office, mobile devices with a DMZ resident product, and an operational CRM application.

However, the important aspect from the exchanges that have been taking place with Quattrosoft is that here is a mature vendor with a strong knowledge of customer requirements with an underlying framework that has been ported and tested on NonStop and yes, has the ability to bring to NonStop additional applications. For this, the NonStop community should be pleased – there’s no guarantees of course and there isn’t still much work to
be done in cooperation with HPE and the European NonStop team, but to say it’s an encouraging development is an understatement. For members of the NonStop vendor community who might like to take discussions with Quattrosoft much deeper than can be written about here, Peter Boros can be reached by email at or by phone at +36 (1) 382 78 00 Either way, I am sure he would be only too happy to hear from you.

My time as an independent HPE blogger is almost always focused on what’s coming next. Whether it’s the new hardware that might follow after x86 (and yes, I suspect that there is) or virtualization options apart from what we have seen or even new developments whereby NonStop runs with assistance from software-defined pursuits, it’s still very much a case of hardware, software and services all playing a supporting role to real world applications. For the NonStop community, reading about one more vendor choosing to invest in NonStop is not only encouraging but perhaps the start of even more vendors finding a path to NonStop. In the meantime we should all be wishing Quattrosoft the very best of good fortune as we welcome yet one more vendor to the NonStop community!  

No comments:

Dashboards; one way to view future of NonStop

The HPE NonStop team launches Showcase; GreenLake participation under way! Could you see it all displayed on a dashboard near you? There is ...