Tuesday, November 10, 2020

NonStop users - do you a seat at the table?

When it comes to promoting NonStop fundamentals, are we still making our voices heard at the table where it counts?


Here we go again. It is Monday morning and there is a very strong opening on Wall Street with stock prices going up by ten percent and more. Anxious investors are looking to check their positions, possibly with the intent to sell or at least place stops under some of the positions they hold. But wait; there’s nothing; nadda! Nobody can login, phone calls are not being answered. One of the major trading platforms goes silent. Can you imagine the conference room table of one of such a large firm where everyone seated exchanged furtive glances: Was it you? 

In this instance it was Schwab that took this Monday morning outage with the only indication that something is wrong being a message that your login was incorrect. To be more accurate, it was an indication that your login credentials never made it to the Schwab server. Problem? It took a while but ninety-four percent of Schwab users were left in the dark for quite some time. Schwab’s response? The cloud services provider we use isn’t that reliable; so sorry. Or so it was reported in social media.


Ouch! First reaction in the Holen – Buckle household is that well, we have been hacked with someone having taken our identity and emptied our accounts. I don’t ever want to wish that brief feeling on anyone as Margo and I looked at each other momentarily frozen with fear. But then the picture slowly emerged. Schwab was down; a victim of technology that I suspect those seated around a conference table didn’t fully understand. 

I suspect no one truly anticipated such a spectacular opening this Monday morning and yet, when it comes to Wall Street, anything can happen. More so in today’s anxious marketplace looking for direction. All it took was for Pfizer’s news of a COVID-19 vaccine that is proving to be more than ninety percent effective. Euphoria broke out – hotels, airlines, restaurant and even some retailers broke for the upside early in pre-market open trading that continued once Wall Street rang the opening bell.

The response from retail traders to the Schwab outage – or more precisely, a brownout - has been devastating. Ordinary folks were not able to sell for profit nor were they able to simply see how their stocks were doing. As a community, members of the NonStop ecosystem know all too well that availability and indeed, just as importantly, the ability to scale are of paramount importance for any enterprise that has consumer-facing application. It’s a timely reminder that NonStop has key attributes that mitigate against bad things happening. Just how bad have been the tweets coming from these retail traders? Hard to hide the tweets these days and even as I captured a screen shot, there were 18 more new comments posted:


This unfortunate glitch is, after a fashion, a timely reminder for NonStop users that this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp is about to start. Given the state of the global pandemic, this year’s event has gone virtual with the NonStop team encouraging us to participate in this All-Digital Experience. Have you registered yet – there’s still time? Have you downloaded the Whova App and begun claiming seats for individual presentations? Yes, it’s a classic two step but once you have registered that is just the beginning so continue and complete all other actions needed to ensure you are fully participating. Did you know that there are now more than 1,700 registered attendees?

When it comes to businesses interfacing with consumers in the real world, degrading a much sought after service can be detrimental to the business even as it leads to disgruntled users prepared to go elsewhere on a whim. In this case, the prospect of losing money on the trading of stocks is proving incentive enough. Will these users be compensated? Will these users be given a true picture of their trading status or will they be left to rue missed opportunities. It’s easy to say that this will be fodder for busloads of lawyers but this can happen. As the early morning hours ticked by it turns out that it wasn’t just Schwab that was affected but other electronic trading platforms as well, including TD Ameritrade, Vanguard and Fidelity.

By midday, Schwab said that the technical issues affecting access to accounts had been resolved. Earlier it tried to dissuade their users from repetitively entering trades as it wasn’t so much a problem with trading but rather with the displays. In other words, keep your hands away from the enter key for the time being but even so, the flow of information between these electronic trading platforms was spotty to say the least. When you think that it is this type of transactional deluge that NonStop was specifically designed to address. 

When it comes to scalability then one session at next week’s All-Digital Experience in particular might be one to pay particular attention to; HPE NonStop Solutions Master Technologist Justin Simonds will be providing the presentation Scalability when you need it:

 

“One of NonStop’s primary features is scalability which can be multi-dimensional. Through the Dynamic System Capacity cores can be turned on online and in real-time (Scale up) and as everyone should know additional processors and I/O can be added online while the system contuse to run (scale out). This also highlights a real-life customer emergency scale up due to Covid-19.” 

As a community we shouldn’t need to be reminded of this important attribute that is part of the DNA of NonStop. Scalability is a core fundamental; its raison d'ĂȘtre, if you like! For this reason, many financial intuitions continue to rely on NonStop and their expectation is that solutions running on NonStop will keep them out of the headlines. As CNBC news saw it today, it was a case of “Stocks surged on Monday but some customers of online brokers Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Vanguard and others could be missing out on the record market highs.” As for the tweet that asked “why isn’t this on CNBC?” well, turns out it sure was. It just took them a short time to become aware of this situation.

When business executives sit down around that conference table to talk about their systems and platforms, for most of the participants it’s easy to simply go with the flow; if everyone is using the cloud then why not our business? Truth be known, not every business is turning to the cloud and like any technology decision there are pros and cons to be assessed. What is important for the NonStop community is to understand that they need a seat at that table as such important decisions are being made. Perhaps the most significant and somewhat understated remark I came across this week was, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you may end up on the menu!” 

This is the message that you will hear at the upcoming NonStop All-Digital Experience. It’s a message that we need to take to heart. To all those wondering where NonStop is headed there is a need to understand that it isn’t so much where HPE is headed with NonStop as it is about us and our telling the NonStop story in a way that is both convincing as it is completely rational. No business should face the wrath of the media of glitches and other technicalities. Not today. Not ever. And this is the most important message of all that should be resonating with the NonStop community as a whole – HPE is investing strongly in NonStop; what aren’t we likewise as emotionally invested in NonStop?

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