Friday, September 30, 2011

Call to modernize – many steps!

My recent trip to India and participation in the InNUG event for NonStop users, only added to my appreciation for how important modernization initiatives truly have become. This post lays the foundation for additional posts to follow …

It’s been a tough couple of days. As anyone living in Australia can tell you just getting anywhere takes a lot of travel time, but as an Australian living in the U.S. it’s a message I sometimes don’t take to heart. And so when the invitation arrived to speak at InNUG, the gathering of the Indian NonStop user community, I accepted without a second thought but now, after a week of travelling with barely two days on the ground, I am now bouncing back to not quite yet anywhere near what I would consider normal!

And what a vibrant community and what a refreshing change to be with such an enthusiastic group! In my post of September 15, 2011, “Valuable Face Time!”, I wrote of how the NonStop community in India enjoys the face time that comes with participating in real events, as much as they enjoy reading blogs, e/newsletters and forum postings that have become such a routine part of our business lives of late, and of how I was looking forward to the gathering. It didn’t disappoint, and I will post more about the event later in the week in my next post to Real Time View.

The presentation that I made at the event built on material from these recent blog postings. Readers may recall how in my post of September 11, 2011, “Modernize the NonStop? Absolutely!”, modernization has become the mantra of the IT industry and if, as IT professionals charged with the oversight of the NonStop Server platform, we haven’t already begun the journey, the path will only get harder with the horizon slipping further out of sight. This urgency surrounding the modernization journey is particularly true of enterprise IT where the future of the NonStop has as much to do with the ease with which it integrates with other platforms and solutions than perhaps anything else.

“Modernization can be driven by different reasons; one recurring theme we see is enterprise integration of the NonStop,” responded comForte CTO, Thomas Burg in a recent email exchange on this topic. “For instance, client-side development is often tied to standards such as J2EE or .NET and it is important that the NonStop can play that game. Another example is the desire for large user bases not to have separate passwords kept on the NonStop but rather to single-sign on based on their Windows credentials.”

In the slides I took with me to India, I took this a couple of steps further down the path to modernization. Other parties may profess knowledge of more, and perhaps even less required steps, but on reflection this seems as good a place as any to start. And this doesn’t include the actual step of upgrading the NonStop Server itself – the assumption here is that there’s already been a migration to the NonStop Integrity line and perhaps to Blades as well.

There’s no hard and fast rule as to which comes first although some of the steps do lend themselves as being prerequisites and this is what I came up with:

Modernize the infrastructure …
Whether it’s the frameworks and middleware we depend upon, as well as how we externalize business logic, or even the terminal emulator we rely on, this is perhaps a good first step! Communications and networking options are also a consideration as is the way applications interact in a secure manner!

Modernize the data base and the access to information …
The value that this provides, particularly when it comes to the NonStop Server, is better integration with the overall stack; SQL/MX today simply requires less DBA resources than is typically associated with SQL implementations from other vendors! Sometimes overlooked, it opens up the system to easy access from modern client devices through any number of connection types, whether SOA and Web services or ODBC / JDBC calls; letting the NonStop Server itself front-end not only the data it oversees but data residing on other servers as well!

Modernize the application and the channels they support …
There are many new solutions coming onto the scene particularly in support of payments and these applications represent completely new approaches to solving business problems. Often written in Java, or even as .Net applications in C#, they prove easier to support in the long run and contribute significantly to the productivity of those supporting the NonStop Server platform! Smart phones, tablets, kiosks, etc. are all proving popular when it comes to client devices of choice and the NonStop Server is as modern as any server when it comes to supporting them!

Modernize the agreement …
Again, sometimes overlooked when modernization efforts are pursued. Solutions may be from vendors who retain legacy “tiered pricing” schemes and any modernization effort may prove to be a good opportunity to swap out technology in favor of ones better priced and better supported!

In the coming weeks, each of these steps will be subject to separate posts as each represents opportunities to leverage products, capabilities and services from comForte, and as a community NonStop users need to be fully aware of the options that exist and that through careful and judicial evaluation can contribute significantly to helping complete the journey.

I continue to work in the virtual world in support of a virtual community and yet, each time I am given the opportunity to attend a real event, I just can’t wait to go. It may be tiring and it may even be painful but there still is little that can substitute for face-to-face user engagement. I look forward to seeing more of the NonStop community shortly!

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