Friday, January 14, 2011

It’s going to be hot!

Keeping warm through the coldest days of winter may not normally lead to thoughts and musings on tablet PC connectivity, and yet, in pursuing warmer temperatures in the house, it followed rather naturally!

It’s been so cold in Boulder these past couple of days and the home heating hasn’t always managed to keep up with the demands. I have even resorted to turning on the gas fireplaces, although this hasn’t always gone without a hitch.

When the house was built there were a number of hand-held controllers provided with which to turn on the televisions sets, start the stereo, and ignite the fireplaces. Looking a lot like the original Palm Pilot, they were state-of-the-art at the time and offered many advantages over having shoe-boxes full of remotes.

However, their batteries have been failing and it’s proved difficult to get fireplaces working, and the thought crossed my mind – why should I be maintaining this ten year old equipment? Surely there is an app for this in the iTunes app store! I haven’t seriously looked as yet, but given today’s enthusiasm for tablet PCs, I have to believe that such an app will arrive shortly.

In an email exchange with Thomas Burg, comForte’s CTO, we talked of where the current popularity of tablet PCs could be headed and what software may be required. “We did have requests for ‘6530 emulation for Palm devices’ over the years, but never a lot,” Thomas wrote me, before adding how comForte did “have one customer who is using HP Tablet devices to access a NonStop system.” It turned out, according to Thomas that it was pretty straight forward as comForte had “handled this using a JPath servlet.”

With the latest tablet PCs coming to the market I see a lot more evidence to suggest that these devices will represent a real force to be reckoned with – perhaps led my business leaders, looking for something a lot more elegant to take to meetings yet just as capable as any PC when it comes to displaying the latest spreadsheets, graphs and charts and presentations!

Will we see adoption of a three tier model, or just two tiers reflective of more traditional client-server computing approaches of the past? Certainly, Thomas reassured me, there would be early favoring of the three-tier model and with the product Client Server Link (CSL) comForte has many of the pieces already in place. “CSL would connect the middle tier to NonStop with the middle tier supporting an interface for iPhone/iPad application, or perhaps just a web browser,” according to Thomas.

“Authentication, certainly very important for NonStop users, would likely be handled with tablet PCs, including the iPhone/iPad, authenticated to the middle tier that, in turn, authenticate itself to the backend tier, avoiding direct end user access to the NonStop tier,” Thomas concluded.

I’m often asked why I persist with positioning NonStop as the backend server in this mix, and I’ve puzzled technologists with my preference for NonStop over L/U/W solutions. And my response has always been consistent – the more business leaders, let alone the rest of the enterprise, become dependent on this latest generation of tablet PCs, the greater the need for security and uptime.

Always on, always available, whenever I need it has become the catch-cry of these executives and I see few alternatives to NonStop when it really counts. As much as I would like to see a more robust two tier solution appear, for the moment, I will stay plugged into Thomas and watch what develops.

After all, it’s not just lighting a fireplace or changing the channel on a television that will determine the future of this latest iteration of mobile computing – there’s real work that can benefit from extending the reach of NonStop to include these powerful tablet PCs, including the mighty iPad!


  1. NonStop will be a part of the backend mix as the iPad and iPad clones take over the world. When you get past the noise (things like "I like a physical keyboard" or "I can't work fast enough on it") there are only a few missing features on the iPad - printing for example. This is what people used to say about laptops 10 years ago. Now nobody uses a desktop anymore. More and more will move to the backend (fashionably renamed "the Cloud") and NonStop will take its place there.

    In the meantime, I have two words for you "Angry Birds" - one of my friends called it the "gateway drug" for iPad users. What level are you at?

  2. Oh yeah, Sami! DOn't mess with those angry birds; and no, I'm not into it and don't have a level but then, I am a tad compulsive so let's see ...

    As for your comment, then yes, the more I talk to users the more I see the very early signs that hey, we have these NonStop's - why can't we use them in these scenrios. And use them they will!