Friday, December 3, 2010

Call this art?

As a small child I struggled with painting. Yes, I knew what I wanted to paint, but became easily frustrated when I couldn’t quite get my brush to communicate my ideas. I worked at it for many years but as I reached the 6th grade there was little visible progress.

One day, in a fit of sheer exasperation, I threw paint at the paper, scribbled all sorts of nonsense and then dragged my brushes through the mess. There was some structure as I had started out painting the interior of my classroom. Yet the school principal claimed it was a fine interpretation of school and declared it a break-out piece of modern art.

I have passionately disliked modern art ever since. Exactly when did Picasso give up real painting to throw ambiguous shapes on his canvas? When the November / December, 2010, issue of The Connection arrived, the picture of an elephant atop the article by Marty Edelman caught my attention. More Picasso?

Fortunately, I read the article and it’s a well put together story on modernization. Of the many points that Marty makes, two stand out as they resonate with me and confirm other data points I have come across this year.

In explaining that there’s a difference between modernization and service oriented architecture (SOA), Marty describes how modernization is “about modern development, security, and operations practices” and how “SOA is an approach that allows … complex system to be transformed into a network of integrated, simplified and highly flexible resources.” He then adds “achieving modernization is a journey of many steps.”

Marty then makes another observation when he writes of how “no one coming out of college has ever heard of (Tandem’s tools) … (but) after embracing modern development practices … enabled me, as a manager, to hire kids out of college and have immediate productivity from them.”

For me this confirms that the transition from a legacy Tandem to a modern NonStop involves change. But what constitutes change that will have the longevity sufficient to support the investments needed to undertake the changes?

In the same issue of The Connection, Sundaresh Krishnan (Sundar), a program manager with HP, wrote about the Converged Infrastructure - Ready (CI-Ready) partner program. “HP is reaching out to ISVs and encouraging them with special incentives to modernize their NonStop applications,” Sundar starts out describing the CI-Ready program before adding how with credentials “this means your NonStop applications are Modular and Open.”

The value from gaining CI-Ready credentials, Sundar then states, “sets a partner apart from other vendors in the market place.”
Checking through the list of certified vendors on HP’s web site at http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/us/en/partners/converged-infrastructure-ready-solutions.html there’s a couple of names very familiar to the NonStop community, not the least being comForte with its CSL product offering.

The CSL product anchors comForte’s modernization offerings and is an extremely credible way to externalize applications as Web services and to embrace SOA. As Marty noted earlier, this is a vital component as users begin their journey that will transform Tandem into NonStop.

There’s much that remains for HP to communicate the upside potential that comes from gaining CI-Ready credentials and these early wins suggest that ISVs are prepared to help HP pursue its goal. There is a lot of effort ISVs are making to ensure that, as users embrace change, their partners will be there for them throughout the journey. This is art that is surely better appreciated by all NonStop users!

6 comments:

  1. Richard – you are absolutely correct! The migration from a Tandem to a NonStop does require change BUT that change can be done in small, manageable steps. Some of these steps are hard – migrating COBOL/TAL to Java/C since this requires a training effort of the development staff but it can be done slowly. I counsel Tandem customers to maintain their existing code with their current staff, while they learn the new languages, and use recent university new hires to write the new stuff. Other recommendations I make are to take the components that a business already has (Pathway servers) and externalize them for other uses. There are hundreds of small steps a business can take, they just need to start down that road.

    Once an enterprise has a NonStop the payback is immediate. They now have a platform that can support their mission critical applications. That platform can play as part of their cloud and be the host for things that really matter. They can use MS or UNIX/Linux for the things that can be retried (think news feeds, queries, …) and the NonStop for things that matter (billing records, financial transactions, …). The amount of money not lost due to a down system not to mention the hit to a company’s reputation make the ROI very attractive.

    Slightly off topic but still germane to this conversation is the analogy that I have been using for the last 6 or so months: Having a Tandem is like owning a 19" black and white television in this day and age. Yes, I am sure that it works but why would you not want a HDTV? Additionally, a B&W TV consumes much more space and power while providing a much poorer product... It will require more maintenance and the people who can provide that maintenance are not readily available which means that you will pay much more to support a vastly inferior product.

    Marty

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  2. Thanks Marty - I like your TV comparison. And I do like your encouragement for taking the troops with you through the period of change ... good stuff!

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  3. Why is it preferable to train the old staff on Java rather than train the new staff on COBOL?

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  4. Proabably not intended to ignore those who remain with any IT organization Keith, true; I was more focused however on who to attract versus keep. All should be "educated" on newer langauges for sure!

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  5. Keith,

    The reason I tell people to stop using COBOL is that it is not the future of IT. "kids' don't want to work in old languages therefore organizations will have problems attracting the best and the brightest. COBOL also lacks such important things as procedures, local variables, and other modern programming constructs.

    With all of the new modern programming languages why would anyone want to work in COBOL these days? I use an analogy a lot these days. It is: Having a Tandem is like owning a 19" black and white television in this day and age. Yes, I am sure that it works but why would you not want a HDTV? Additionally, a B&W TV consumes much more space and power while providing a much poorer product... It will require more maintenance and the people who can provide that maintenance are not readily available which means that you will pay much more to support a vastly inferior product. If you substitute the world Tandem for COBOL it works just as well...

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  6. COBOL versus Java - well according to Capers Jones, Chairman, Software Productivity Research, Inc. COBOL is a level 3 language - which means that you need about 105 statements (non commentary) to code what he calls function point. Java is a level 6 language and would only require 53 statements to code the same function point. Java is a more efficient langauge, is being taught, is well known in the Industry and would be considered 1 of the two major programming frameworks (Java & .NET). While I agree the world was a kinder and simplier place in the COBOL era I don't see how we can put the genii back in the bottle...It would be like asking college new hires not to use twitter, facebook, Wikipedia and Google - they wouldn't know what to do if you gave them a webcrawler & Telenet prompt.

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