Thursday, April 28, 2011

One size fits all?

As Clouds continue to build all around us isn’t it time we really took a look at what’s being provided by some of the big players – and would we want to go with them? Checking forecasts, it’s looking stormy!

You may have heard the news already but in case you didn’t, the Cloud Computing services provided by Amazon.com came down last week. Often referenced alongside Salesforce.com as one of the premier examples of how Cloud Computing can benefit a wide cast of users, this outage couldn’t have come at a worse time as increasingly, the focus is on migrating to a Cloud Computing service as a viable alternative to maintaining a data center.

In an Associated Press story of April 22nd, “Amazon failure takes down sites across Internet” the story started out with “On Friday morning, Amazon's status page said the recovery effort was making progress, but it couldn't say when all affected computers would be restored … most of the sites that were brought down by the outage on Thursday were back up on Friday!”

And then to kind of sympathize with Amazon.com, added “It's not uncommon for Internet services to become inaccessible due to technical problems, sometimes for hours or even days.” Whoa! Hold the fort! Down on Thursday but most sites back up on Friday and yes, it’s OK to bet your business on an infrastructure that may routinely (it’s not uncommon!) be down for hours, or even days!

When HP’s CEO, Apotheker, unveiled his strategy for HP that focused on Cloud Computing and Mobility, he proposed that “HP is well positioned to be the trusted leader in addressing this opportunity.” Apotheker dismissed the concerns that HP was late to the game advising the audience that it was still very early in the game and that there would be sizable opportunities for HP. Perhaps this latest news about Amazon.com will serve his purposes well in the quarters to come as he sets about executing.

What about the role of big servers like NonStop? What about the steps NonStop users need to take for Cloud Computing to be of value for them? HP will focus initially on their roll-out of a publically accessible Cloud, perhaps only supporting a couple of the X-as-a-Service capabilities. For customers of HP NonStop servers, attention may turn more quickly to private clouds and the provisioning of applications on NonStop.

What about the role of major vendors like comForte? What products do they have that will help NonStop users step in the right direction? In a recent email exchange with Thomas Burg, comForte CTO, we took another look at the Client Server Link (CSL) product and its potential to help ensure the applications already

“We are finding more and more shops who are smartly rejuvenating existing NonStop applications by bringing in new client developers who front-end existing applications,” Burg said. “They end up with a three-tier environment: end users access a mid-tier web and application server, that accesses NonStop ‘services’ via CSL,” observed Burg and the services running on NonStop could be developed using any programming language and model. Even COBOL!

“CSL is not just SOAP server or client – it is a lot more; something along ‘anything-to-Pathway,’” Burg went on to add, “we think there is no ‘one-size fits all’ paradigm; each customer starts with a different application (on NonStop), different internal skill sets, and different internal business and technical requirements.”

Yes, services are an important element of Cloud Computing and having all within the Cloud accessible as a service is mandatory (for ease of integration and provisioning, including manageability and security). And NonStop is important for Cloud Computing if we don’t want to see more repetitions of the Amazon.com outage. No, we do not have to accept outages that last for hours, even days.

CSL will play an important role for many NonStop customers and having CSL capable of embracing several different paradigms only adds to its importance. As Burg said when he wrapped up his email exchange with me, “the worst option for NonStop users these days certainly is to ‘do nothing’ – it will contribute to the NonStop platform not being alive for much longer! It’s not about the technology you use, but to start!”

On that point, I can make no arguments …

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