The new abnormal – if the shoe fits, right?


Call it the new normal, the not normal or even the new abnormal, our world as we knew it when we celebrated the new year is long gone; on the other hand, for IT and NonStop things are becoming clearer, with a meaning …






One of the more enjoyable aspects of spending my days writing is that it is a legitimate excuse to leave the family and go hole up in my office. In so doing, I can switch off and put the rigors of daily life behind me. I can escape into a world of my own making, right? Well, not exactly! More like only after I have helped clean up after breakfast, assisted in making our bed and even taking out the trash.

Yet, it goes without saying, the escape is real even as the opportunity to lose myself in my work overrides all else. For the record – my wife’s view on all this is totally different to mine – Margo claims I use my writing as an excuse to retreat to my office leaving the breakfast mess for her to clean up. Statistically she is probably right, but those 4 times this year when I cleaned up after breakfast just stuck with me!

 It was while I was looking at stories for ideas about possible themes for new stories that I came across an article that stated unequivocally that we were in transition to the new abnormal. This was the title of a vinyl LP released by the American group, The Strokes. Unfamiliar as I am with the group this led me to look at the lyrics of the songs hoping that indeed there was a title track of the same name. But no, while their lyrics wondered all over the place, this short but sweet title was the only reference to the new abnormal.

It was only a short time ago that I posted to Margo and my social blog, Buckle-Up, a post with the heading, The new normal; are you ready? But the thought that perhaps it isn’t the new normal that we are anticipating but rather, the new abnormal! Of course while carrying out my chores before heading to the office I also had to dress for the office – something I am sure you are pleased to read – and while pulling on my Clarke loafers, I realized that no matter how disciplined we happen to be and despite the routines we follow by rote, there is nothing normal whatsoever about where our journey is taking us. The global pandemic, apparently in retreat according to pundits and politicians, will not see a return to anything remotely associated with normalcy but rather to the beginning of a new era.

This isn’t something to be said in jest or taken lightly. No, if you haven’t read about this as yet then take it from me that you are reading about it here first; the past is in the past and to some extent, it was best left to Nelson Mandela when he said, “Forget the past.” On the other hand, it was a more forceful statement by former Chicago Bears football coach, Mike Ditka (and probably spoken following an embarrassing loss on the field) to say it in a style only his fans could appreciate, “I don’t believe in living in the past. Living in the past is for cowards. If you live in the past, you die in the past.”

Then there are these lyrics by the Moody Blues many of us will recall:

Do you understand
That all over this land
There's a feeling
In minds far and near
Things are becoming clear
With a meaning

  
For the NonStop community after so many decades of relevance and for so long the premier fault tolerant offering at the very heart of some of the biggest names on the Fortune 500, things are becoming clear; with a meaning. Have you found time to read the post of May 14, 2020 How easy it is to NonStop! ? In the closing comments of this post you will read of how business continuity in these times is of paramount importance. Having proven business continuity plans in reach at all times is a necessity. Deploying NonStop simplifies it further.

The connection? The significance? It’s all about continuity in times where it’s not just about business or indeed product but about all that we view as being important to us. Clearly, in talking to many within the NonStop community we had few plans in place to better support live continuity but then again, we didn’t have a feeling that we would be facing a global pandemic. Then again, Margo and I happily stepped about the Emerald Princess for a cruise deep into the south Pacific in February with only a passing concern about this new flu strain that seemed to be affecting some folks.

NonStop has carved its niche in the marketplace by accommodating what’s thrown at us. Availability isn’t just an attribute it’s an attitude. NonStop doesn’t stop is not a catch phrase; it’s what NonStop does. And yes, there is a marketplace for permanent availability – something the NonStop community was reluctant to embrace for so long and yet, there are other vendors now stepping up to say exactly this when all along, permanent availability has been the hallmark of NonStop for decades.

Anchoring a business continuity plan on NonStop systems separated and isolated to better ensure permanent availability goes beyond simply accommodating planned and unplanned downtime to include disasters natural or otherwise, is a necessity of business today. For the price tag, nothing comes as close to the savings that can be achieved in running mission critical applications on NonStop. 

Perhaps this hasn’t yet occurred to IT management. In minds far and near it is recognized that the complexity of IT today has only led to fragile infrastructure and greater risk being born by IT Managers. If you are into Big Data, Analytics and access to clever routines and code stubs then by all means, lean-in on cloud opportunities. However, as has happened many times in the past, when there is strong advocacy for one solution or technology to become the be-all and end-all then be very wary about the level of your commitment to such a solution or technology. 

Let’s be very clear, cloud computing has its place but when it comes to supporting mission critical applications, no level of permanency can be assured. Every cloud computing service provider ensures they have language in their SLAs that protect them on every occasion (there’s a glitch). Like many in the industry, when I am being told that everything will go to the cloud my antenna goes up – I have heard this too often in the past to simply assume that such a proclamation is absolute. The silver lining that comes with clouds is that it has triggered conversations about whether we have the optimal solution deployed in support of our business.

NonStop has a true sleeper in its arsenal and it’s not virtualization or the NonStop X NS2, but rather the NonStop X NS3. Viewed by some as suitable for development and test or perhaps participation in a distributed environment and a system best suited to emerging markets the NS3 has the same Zeon x86 based ProLiant servers underpinning the system as are found in the more powerful NonStop X NS7 systems. Lacking the expansiveness of the NS7 and limited to just four CPUs with only an option for one or two cores, nevertheless licensed with the NonStop OS stack and NonStop SQL/MX, it represents a potent offering that shades many similar Linux systems particularly when equipped with legacy database offerings like Oracle.

It may be overlooked when developing migration plans, but other than those NonStop users with multiple sixteen CPU systems where the NS7 is the logical next step, many businesses will find that their IT expenses are significantly reduced in going to the NS3. Even more importantly, when you run the numbers the NS3 truly does destroy the myth that any Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) system is more expensive when compared to SMP-based systems. It’s simply not true. The new abnormal may in fact be referencing the true cost of availability with NS3 – arguments that cannot and should not be ignored.

The new normal or the not normal or even the new abnormal will take some getting used to, but change is happening and there’s little evidence that there will be any returning to a working and social lifestyle previously enjoyed. Is that necessarily a bad thing? I don’t happen to think so. Any change that has us rethinking processes is a good thing. The manner in which we have been brought to this point is tragic and cannot be understated with the loss of life staggering. However, in the coming weeks as restrictions begin to lift, let’s not forget that what was once normal is in the past. After all, Things are becoming clear; with a meaning … and the new abnormal will soon by our own normal.

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