Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shorten these lines!

With the announcement of cloud computing and mobility as cornerstones of HP’s strategy, it’s time to revisit what will be generated from mobile devices and with that, what role the NonStop will play!

It’s not an uncommon site anymore to see people paying for their Starbucks using their iPhone and Blackberry smartphones. Just the latest example of supporting a “touch to pay” application that is rapidly finding favor with smartphone-savvy users.

It’s all pretty hassle free as it allows anxious coffee drinkers to simply hold up the smartphone’s application’s barcode to the in-store scanner at the register to pay using the electronic tender. United airlines came out even sooner with a similar set-up that gets rid of the paper boarding passes, something TSA apparently is quite happy to see!

"The paperless boarding pass will ... prevent fraudulent paper boarding passes that could be created and printed from home," the agency wrote on its blog according to one news source I saw recently. These “touch to pay” applications will shortly be joined by NFC applications with even more possibilities than just jumping on a plane or grabbing a coffee to go!

NFC, or “near field communication”, relies on short-range wireless technologies, “typically requiring a distance of 4 cm or less,” according to one web source. In a report published by Bloomberg in January, 2010, it claimed its sources were telling of how “Apple is poised to introduce services enabling customers to use their iPhone and iPad as an e-wallet for making purchases via their mobile device.”

“By embedding NFC technology in the 5th generation iPhone and 2nd generation iPad,” so Bloomburg wrote, “mobile payments systems will likely take hold as never before in US, thanks to the technology’s adoption by a major leader in consumer mobile electronics.”

For me, this is just background information framing another subject I want to cover this week. As part of the “Gartner Predicts” the most recent issue in the series “Top End User Predictions for 2011” proposed that “by 2013, 80% of business will support a workforce using tablets” followed with “by 2014, 90% of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices.”

The statistics I am not going to dwell on, but the timeframes I found staggering until I remembered my encounters at Starbucks and United. Modern workforces we have today are indeed mobile and they have a need to access corporate information. And perhaps the iPad 2 hasn’t arrived with embedded NFC chips, but I’m pretty certain that the iPhone 5 will have this technology.

For the NonStop community, unaware of what their client devices really are these days, this may mean very little. Indeed, in an exchange with Thomas Burg, comForte’s CTO on this topic, he reminded me of how “most workforce members never touched NonStop prior to the concept of tablet PCs. How many people access NonStop from their laptop in any large organization? Very few, probably less than 0.0001%”

Our daughter Anna used an application to deposit a check by taking a picture of it on her phone and forwarding it to her bank’s deposit processing application! I am not sure we know any more what devices our clients could be using, so no, we cannot rule-out NonStop playing the part in the transaction path just yet.

One other announcement from “Gartner Predicts” series I just quoted suggests that “By 2015, companies will generate 50% of their Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications.” Rather sheepishly, Burg responded to this particular item with “NonStop has no play whatsoever in marketing / social media – yet!?@#!

This is what will make NonStop a cool technology; supporting the OLTP databases these mobile technologies will mandate. Coming at a time when there’s still so much attention being paid to the clever OLAP database machines, it’s rather striking to think that the premier OLTP database machine has been with us all these years.

Don’t you just love knowing there’s a server out there with a great SQL data base that will scale forever and that vendors like comForte have already begun prototyping potential connectivity and emulation products?

After all, from where I sit, our patience isn’t getting any better and if we can shorten the distance between ourselves and our next cup of coffee, then that’s a good thing (each of us can agree with this), right!

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