Monday, November 18, 2019

On the road, again – NonStop delivers yet again!


Hybrid IT, Clouds and transition from CapEx to OpEx – what’s it all mean for the new NonStop?



There is always a degree of uncertainty whenever we head out onto America’s highways at this time of year. Will we be troubled by bad weather and road closures? Will road maintenance disrupt our plans in any way? Could there be mechanical failures of one kind or another? Driving to California means we had to traverse both the Rockies and the Sierras and with the uncertainty of fall conditions, this means we had to take the all-wheel-drive SUV.

In the past, even in such a vehicle we have been tested by heavy snowfalls west of Truckee. There was a time when even our Jeep SRT8 struggled to stay the course when the snow on the highway turned to ice. But not this time! Apart from dealing with blowing snow in Wyoming – when doesn’t it blow in Wyoming? – our crossing of Interstate 80 was uneventful and “pumpkin” (our nickname for our Range Rover) never put a foot wrong.

Oftentimes, following trips away from the office, there can be heard a collective groan from Margo and me as we look at what needs to be done. Yes, it is common knowledge that we prefer to drive to NonStop events whenever they take place in North America and yes, it’s common knowledge too that a two day meeting can mean a full week away from our desks.

On the other hand, listening to complaints about cancelled flights, runway disruptions (and repair) and inclement weather causing delays and missed flights well, do you blame us? And when is standing in line for security checks anything but a waste of time these days – do they really make us feel any more secure? Where’s the romance of travel and the excitement of what lies ahead? Where’s the sense of adventure?

On the other hand, having returned from California, it has been a fun week. For many writing 20+ stories over a five days span might be daunting, but for Margo and me it wasn’t simply challenging and also an opportunity to take a serious look at just what is happening with NonStop. Yes, we made it! This is just our way to say that even though we were working to a shortened timetable we were able to pull together a new issue of NonStop Insider even as we continued to meet standing commitments to our clients.

And here’s the thing – turned out that there is so much going on today with NonStop that looking at NonStop from 20+ different perspectives wasn’t that difficult to do. Yes, NonStop excites on multiple fronts and on multiple levels – when was the last time you heard that coming from anyone of late regarding any other system or platform?

What is igniting the interest of HPE and the NonStop team? What is driving the conversation with NonStop users? What is fueling the enthusiasm of the NonStop vendor community? Simply stated, the world is coming to NonStop and by this I mean that in an always connected world where everything computes the penalty for downtime is increasing. Not just monetarily, but reputation-wise as well.

This week, after many months of travel, Margo and I were visiting a clinic run by UC Health here, in Colorado. Part way through the routine questioning, the “system” went down.  Blank screen! No access to patient history. The questioning continued by hand during which time we asked, “How often does this happen?” Turns out, with routine monotony – systems introduced a few years backs as the new modern face of healthcare aren’t as reliable as originally hyped.

So what is really happening with NonStop and what is its standing with IT leaders? What does your average CIO think of NonStop? The big disappointment here is that asking questions about any NonStop usage doesn’t make it onto any industry questionnaire that I have seen of late. Agencies like Gartner don’t even have a single analyst assigned to following NonStop. In my time, at the former Tandem Computers, there was more than one occasion when I was involved in briefing a team from Gartner and I have forgotten the number of times I travelled to Stamford, Connecticut, to give an update on NonStop.

In part it is not just that NonStop and HPE have changed but the likes of vendors including Gartner have changed as well – they are so spread out across the globe it would be hard to know whom to visit. At their giant big-tent events, like the recently held 2019 Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™ in Orlando, Florida, the humongous crowds made networking opportunities almost impossible.

When it comes to what CIOs think of NonStop it’s also a case of them having other priorities right now – hybrid IT, clouds and yes, reducing capital expenditures all top the list of most CIOs. It’s not that I am ignoring security, mind you, but that’s a subject that infiltrates all other discussions, including those already listed. Clouds on the other hand seem to be dominating conversations with many CIOs already claiming the high-ground with promises to their enterprises that moving to clouds, embracing hybrid IT models and yes, embracing operational expenses (OpEx)  as an alternative to capital expenditures (CapEx), will save the day. Given this, where does NonStop enter the conversation? How does NonStop fit into such a model?

When the media continues to foster an image of NonStop as part of traditional IT and that OLTP is all very well and good but in today’s way of thinking, it’s all about APIs, Apps and Services – click on an App, exploit the API behind it and interact with the Service being supported. Really? I have to admit that I do like the Starbucks App and being able to pay for my purchase from my mobile phone, but my usage of such a capability is sparingly to say the very least.

For heads-down, 24 X 7 usage, I cannot imagine anything worse than starting from scratch for every interaction I am involved in to complete any task assigned to me during the course of a day. Think manufacturing production lines. Think transportation loading and unloading. Think buying and selling of stocks. Point is, OLTP as we know it is far from dead and buried and yes, moving from traditional system to virtualized one (even with all the brouhaha supporting containers) remains a vital cog within the spinning wheels of IT. 

One of the key messages presented at NonStop Technical Boot Camp was not to mix development with deployment. It is a popular misconception that programming NonStop is a specialized field populated with white-coated lab technicians with years of expertise. Not so – pick your favorite development platform and environment and what you develop can be easily deployed on NonStop. Inherit all the attributes of NonStop, in particular availability but increasingly even more importantly scale-out capabilities, with no additional effort.

Had to try adding compute power to a cluster lately? Found the additional costs let alone additional programming steps rather tedious? Not so with NonStop – just let the NonStop integrated stack take care of that! And wait on there – you say there is an API coming that will completely mask important “layers” in the NonStop stack? I won’t even be aware of TS/MP (Pathway) doing the heavy lifting?

What am I getting at? It’s true that our foundations for information processing are being rocked and we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. However, this story would be very different if NonStop hadn’t changed and if those who are addressing the future of NonStop were insular to what was happening all around them. NonStop has changed. NonStop and NonStop SQL are a completely different beast and fully capable of supporting DBaaS.

NonStop and the emergence of an API is huge and shouldn’t be ignored but should be fully leveraged for future products. And yes, NonStop now virtualized to benefit everyone tasked with supporting OLTP – there’s nothing, absolutely nothing better! Programming it all in your favorite language on your platform?

Priceless!

Even as we integrate robots and the like where AI and ML are playing an important role, NonStop delivers again. This was brought into focus recently as conversations took place about 3-D printers and their likely presence as edge products. Personalized 3-D printers deployed in homes around the world will lead to us having anything we need at any time. Wouldn’t you want to see such edge devices connected to NonStop?

Turns out there are many out there thinking along the same lines – it is one thing for the screen to go blank when doing patient interviews but what might happen if you were 3-D printing a patient’s limb or even vital organ? Yes, CIO’s may be hyping new models for IT, but then again, there continues to be traditional business cases needing to be addressed. Don’t take the system off-line for any reason at all!

Industry analysts may not be giving NonStop its full dye even as CIOs are entranced by anything that is modern that helps them sort out issues of OpEx versus CapEx. NonStop is emerging as a platform worthy of serious consideration when you want to address it all - hybrid IT, clouds and the transitions from CapEx to OpEx.

Be challenged; show posts and commentaries like this to you peers and management. Take a stand and begin lobbying knowing that with NonStop the NonStop community has your back. After all, NonStop doesn’t Stop, won’t Stop and that is to everyone’s benefit. Next time you visit your doctor, take a look at whether their screen goes blank and yes, be forward, tell them; there is a better way and safe to say, we know NonStop!

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