Friday, April 15, 2011

My finger on NonStop!

I experienced my first interaction with a NonStop application from my iPad, and the ease with which it happened, came as a pleasant surprise. But will this be enough to encourage others to anchor mission critical untethered applications on NonStop?

This morning I had the opportunity to access an application running on a HP NonStop server from my iPad. It was a rather simple demo, but it addressed the basics - I was able to do my usual tricks with the iPad in expanding the size of the text, moving the screen around on my tablet, and so on - the usual things I would do with any App on my iPad. The good folks at comForte were using one of their modernization products, JPath host agent, running on NonStop, and they walked me through the process of gaining access. Yes, it was through Safari, Apple’s browser and not via iTunes, and the App Store, but it caught my attention all the same.

It was a powerful demonstration of a very modern HP NonStop server … and the very first time that I have accessed NonStop applications from my favorite tablet/PC. As I played with the iPad, my thoughts quickly took off on a tangent – not entirely unusual for me when it comes to the stories I write. Maybe the topic of mobility, as articulated recently by HP’ CEO, Apotheker (mobility being a major component of his strategy for HP), isn’t too far off the mark. Looking around me at Starbucks the other day, of the iPad users that I could see, many were running videos, listening to music, and reading books.

Jim Tomaney, General Manager, Europe, for FSS Technologies and I had an email exchange while he was resting and enjoying time with his 19 year old son – a definite Gen X-er hanging out with a Gen Y-er! “Why don’t we go buy a bunch of DVD’s,” Jim suggested. But no, the response from his son was “why not join ‘LoveFilm’ (UK's equivalent of NetFlix) - on demand films, based on how I feel right now!” An unmistakable Gen Y response!

Jim elected to join LoveFilm, and while many of the film downloads went well, there were instances where the experience left a lot to be desired. As Jim said to me, after having problems with one particular film, “the system would try again, and then restart from the beginning of the film. Big deal? Well we were 2 1/2 hours into the ‘Seven Samurai’ so you can answer that one yourself!”, and it occurred to me as I read Jim’s email - what if I am trying to load a film to my iPad as I am about to board a plane! More importantly, what if I am trying to complete a complex financial transaction only to have partial information returned as the application tries to restart!

“So while the industry gets seduced by payments started on my iPhone App and completed at the ATM, or similar, we'd better stay focused on RAS - Reliability, Availability and Scalability - because the consumers demand it,” Jim responded. “That means, in the example of LoveFilm (NetFLix) - context management is a NonStop application.” In other words, the point Jim was making was that “in 2011 your online film service (indeed any of the services of this type) needs to be as robust as a 1980s ATM system - is there still a place for the NonStop Server? I think you are going to find that there are more places than ever!”

comForte is the first vendor to demonstrate support of the iPad from a HP NonStop server. I am always out and about and being able to access applications from my tablet/PC is becoming critical, but ensuring the experience is as robust as with any other tethered device is going to become super critical and where comForte appears to be headed with the extensions to its terminal emulation and respective agent support, is definitely a step in the right direction!

I am sure we are going to hear a lot more about this in the months ahead! Untethered applications supported out of NonStop? Any corporate business plan that ignores the immediacy that mobility provides and overlooks the HP NonStop server, will likely fall short of the expectations it sets and of that, I have no doubts!

1 comment:

  1. I could not agree more with Jim & Richard here: as the usage of the cloud becomes more pervasive, at least some services will be rated against the competition (at least partially) by their uptime. With the latest NonStop systems providing Reliability, Availability and Scalability at a lower price point than ever one indeed hopes some smart cloud providers will not overlook the platform.

    From a cost perspective, one should not forget about the cost and hassle involved with patch management for the other, distributed, SMP platforms: unless you constantly patch, you put your platform at risk from a security perspective. This is a non-issue for the NonStop platform (assuming proper application design, "secure coding").

    As a vendor, it feels rather nice to be in a position to rather easily provide access to NonStop systems across multiple tablet type platforms without even having to develop new products. It will be interesting to see when the first Pathway system "goes iPad".