Friday, May 20, 2011

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

In the third and final installment in the series, I take a look at how dangerous it may be to stand aside and not pursue modernization of NonStop! In doing so, it simply let’s other platforms encroach further into NonStop markets!

In the previous two posts about modernization I queried whether companies needed to start from scratch and, perhaps, ignore the cliché that before building something new you need to tear down what’s old. I also suggested that when it comes to NonStop, perhaps all that’s needed is a little nick and tuck, and that modernizing NonStop can be likened to a little cosmetic surgery – the fundamentals are still as valuable as when NonStop was introduced more than three decades ago. Surely!

These posts were influenced by the recent comForte webinar, “Survival of the Fittest – Modernize your NonStop Applications today!” In the first post I described modernization as the act of “making contemporary cosmetic improvements”, a reference to one definition that appeared when I googled the word modernization. But there is a cliché that is proffered more or less as a counter point, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

The origins of this phrase are unclear, although it gained popularity in the southern states prior to the Carter presidency. In fact, some sources attribute its first usage to Bert Lance, incoming President Carter’s first appointment as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, suggesting that Lance viewed the economy of the time as one that required little executive attention.

However, it’s also an-oft repeated cliché when I am at the race track talking about potential upgrades to the Corvette in which we have laid down many laps. I’m always interested in how to wring more performance from the car and there’s not a component or fixture I haven’t considered replacing at one time or another. Conventional wisdom, as I am so often reminded, is to limit changes to just those pieces that require change either as a result of failure or simply wear-and-tear.

The prevailing sentiment across IT seems to be that the faithful NonStop server running mission critical applications, as it does so effectively, should not be messed with. After all, the business depends so heavily on what the NonStop server does that surely, tinkering with it would be too risky! However, it’s this very line of argument that continues to backfire on all those who support NonStop, as its ongoing isolation only stifles any consideration for more innovative usage.

Important business problems need addressing, and they need addressing now! There’s no time to evaluate a possible role for NonStop (within the next solution under consideration) and besides, there’s little spare resource to learn the idiosyncrasies of the platform! The corporation needs to be flexible, consider all options, and focus on improving productivity! Maybe, just maybe, we can get by with a few extra Windows servers …

How many times have we heard such arguments? In some cases, hasn’t it been expedient to just sit back and support the proposals for a quick-fix? The time to step up and make the changes to better integrate NonStop with the rest of the corporation couldn’t be better. After all, with current public cloud deployments, there’s barely a week that’s gone by without a partial failure or a complete melt-down being headlined in popular news publications and broadcasts! Do we really want to forego the value NonStop provides?

The webinar certainly highlighted the benefits that come from judicious and timely changes to NonStop that can dramatically lift it’s visibility within the corporation. By endorsing the belief the platforms that aren’t broken shouldn’t be touched, as is the case with NonStop, we may be doing the corporations we work for a sizeable disservice!

“Corporations continue to use NonStop in support of their mission critical applications; running what essentially is their business, in many cases”, Thomas Gloerfeld, comForte’s marketing head, acknowledged in a recent email exchange. “They need to keep modernizing (and better integrating) the NonStop to keep NonStop at the heart of their business! It’s not difficult or expensive to do and there are viable product offerings that can help them. And they should do it now to stay abreast of changing business requirements!”

Clichés can be seductive, and we can become blasé about what they are communicating. However, when it comes to the NonStop platform, there’s a sense of urgency that prevails, and many knowledgeable corporations will be modernizing and reaping the productivity gains that this will drive.

Survival of the fittest may conjure up images of being lost in a jungle, but when it comes to NonStop, the platform has been “working out” for decades and is perhaps the fittest of all platforms ideally suited for what lies ahead.

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