Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let’s check under the hood!

comForte CTO Thomas Burg has provided excellent coverage on what transpired at HP Discover and this post looks at what constitutes a modern computer and how to recognize whether the server you have is modern or not …

In recent webinars and blog posts comparisons have been made between the auto and IT industries. While the relationship may not be apparent at first, both industries are incredibly competitive and both have foundations based on just a couple of key systems.

When it comes to cars, there are fuel delivery systems, exhaust systems, and ignition (electrical) systems. Lift the hood of any car and should you see carburetors, an absence of catalytic convertors, and drum-brakes, you realize pretty quickly that this car is “a collectable.” Sit down at the console of any large-scale server and our characterization isn’t much different – we can tell just as quickly whether the server we are accessing is “legacy.”

As the HP Discover event of last week progressed comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, was very active in keeping us all advised about the topics covered and of how prominent a role NonStop played – all important “news” for those among the NonStop community unable to participate. Postings to this blog site as well as to several discussion groups on LinkedIn continued to materialize late in the evenings. As the commentary developed, the number of times Burg talked about modernization, and the importance of modernizing the NonStop server, couldn’t be ignored.

In the lead-up to the HP Discover event of last week, comForte held a webinar, now viewable on You Tube at It's in two parts and if you have as yet not viewed the webinar, it’s well worth checking out. Like me, Thomas Burg too shares more than a passing interest in cars and produces an effective message about modernization featuring many well-known vehicles.

We easily recognize a modern server, even when there’s no hood to lift, when we see business information residing in a relational database management system accessed via SQL, where business access is via client devices with intuitive user interfaces connected via TCP/IP networks, where the program languages include Java, C#, etc., and where frameworks supporting runtime environments are compatible with what we rely upon when developing business logic, all contribute to the image of a modern computer server.

“I came away from HP Discover impressed by just how much coverage HP gave to the NonStop server relative to other product offerings of HP,” Burg later told me. “Just as importantly was how many times NonStop was mentioned within the context of the bigger HP – a legitimate, modern, server on equal footing with all other HP Business Critical System (BCS) server offerings; clear evidence that within the executive ranks of HP NonStop server is every bit as modern as any of HP’s other servers!”

However, there are still many NonStop servers in use today where thoughts about modernization continue to be put to one side. The application that’s been running for many years, uninterrupted, has masked the presence of NonStop to some extent, and projects other than modernizing the NonStop took priority. When it comes to two highly visible systems (the network and the user interface) we associate with modern computers, fortunately, there’s no reason why immediate action cannot be pursued.

From SOA and Web services to user interfaces and terminal emulators, and to supporting SNA applications over TCP/IP, comForte is continuing to invest and promote solutions solely aimed at modernizing the way NonStop can be connected with peer servers, as well as how users interact with them. “HP Discover proved that NonStop servers are alive and well; NonStop servers are becoming ‘mainstream’ in a good way,” Burg suggested to me, before adding “with Converged Infrastructure, NonStop servers are increasingly viewed as part of the larger IT environment; don’t leave your NonStop box in the corner!”

In future posts I am going to revisit the network and the user interface, as well as touch on the languages, frameworks, and tools that then can be leveraged along the way. However, wrapping up this post, the observation Burg posted to this blog a short time ago continues to resonate with me. He wrote of how “in terms of news, there were no sensational announcements regarding NonStop but maybe this is the biggest news; from an HP-global perspective, NonStop is ‘just’ the high-end part of the HP mission critical server offering!”

NonStop servers will be with us for many years to come; they are at the very pinnacle of HP’s mission-critical server offerings – as Martin Fink stated and Burg referenced, there’s nothing on offer from HP, apart from NonStop, that provides “zero downtime!” No, we don’t have to lift the hood to see what we have with NonStop, as a few taps on any connected keyboard will give us images as modern as you will find coming from any other server.

With all that we are reading of late about the systems and applications that are failing, there’s really no excuse for leaving the NonStop server in the corner of the data center, a kind of de facto “data PABX” when, with the addition of a couple of products, the NonStop server will exhibit as modern capability as any other server in the data center!


  1. HP NonStop is losing customers in the Healthcare industry left & right - one of the last bastions of NonStop. NonStop jobs in the U.S. are few and far between (particularly in the sysadmin area thanks to HP and their "service" offerings. If anyone thinks this platform has a future....get real.

  2. Last bastion of NonStop? Really? I understand and indeed sympathize with you – but c’mon, don’t give up this quickly …. I’m seeing some pockets of solid support for NonStop …. And with the market thrashing around by Larry and Oracle, look for material support within HP for NonStop competing at the high end …. Remember, at HP Discover, it was Donatelli that asked for a NonStop slide, not NED pushing a slide up to him … it’s changing.

    But let me be blunt – why would anyone hire folks of our heritage? Jobs with NonStop are going to a younger mob!