Sunday, September 11, 2011

Modernize the NonStop? Absolutely!

NonStop Server users have plans to upgrade to Blades and indeed, many have already completed the move and that’s an encouraging sign. But upgrading the middleware? The rest of the infrastructure? Embracing SOA and Web services? The time to modernize is now!

Modernization has become the mantra of industry and for many this is no longer something that can be put off. The message, irrespective of which vendor we rely upon, is focused on the same issue – deploying the modern equipment, we can so easily purchase, in support of solutions that map to modern paradigms is a priority!

It’s coming at a time where many of the industry analysts, whose opinions we most valued for so long, are being caught out or left behind essentially as the pace of change has escalated in just a matter of months. Who could have guessed Google would be able to cheaply snap up Motorola Mobile or that RIM would fall that far behind, that fast. Who would have thought HP would be prepared to walk away from a multi-billion PC business, dumping it’s just announced line of tablet/PCs along the way?

And on a slightly different level, who could have thought Steve Jobs would be leaving Apple, even as the industry seems poised on yet another pivotal shift in its axis. After all, what will the iPhone 5 look like, when will we see the iPad 3, and exactly what will Apple do in terms of changing the way TV is viewed?

When you take a good, hard look at what today is the NonStop Server platform the changes in hardware packaging that have occurred over the last couple of years has transformed the platform no less than if it had have been occupied by an Autobot straight from the movie Transformers, and capable of taking on any high-value, must have executed, transaction.

But more importantly, the paradigm we now see is being influenced more radically than at any previous time within IT by client devices. In particular, smart phones, PDAs and tablets …

One analyst has even suggested that the cycle that has existed, from the time the first commercial computer was installed, where we would see the pendulum swinging freely between distributed and centralized computing models, is over. The explosive growth in personal mobile smart devices has ended any future for the distributed model. And the advent of Cloud Computing, whether public or private, is usurping what many in IT saw as one of the true strengths of distributed computing – low cost!

For the NonStop Server platform, it’s a mixed message. There will be some enterprise IT departments who will see multiple NonStop Server nodes running under the oversight of Pathway, as a truly robust private cloud. But they unfortunately represent the minority. For the remaining enterprise IT departments, the NonStop Server will be another “edge” product – yes, a return to an old term and one I am sure has a new name in the new world.

But be that as it may, and whether securing a private cloud, retaining the rights to process high-value transactions, or simply front-ending multiple clouds and providing support for “cloud bursting” whenever the situation demands, the role of the NonStop Server is about to change. And to change for good, and for better…. permanently!

Access to information will be via Services. Networks will be all-TCP/IP. Databases will be relational, with SQL queries dominating ... Java and .Net programming models will continue to compete, and everyone will become a payments processor. Yes, pour mobile device of choice will accept payments from anyone and we in turn will pay others in kind – and there will be a billion “operations” in a very short time.

None of this has escaped Thomas Burg, comForte CTO, who in a recent exchange with me has become increasingly sensitive to the urgency involved. Unless enterprise IT embraces modernization and quickly retires practices of the past, it will simply not be able to keep up across today’s competitive landscape. “Just as the industry is transforming, so too is comForte; we are the NonStop modernization company! That’s it,” Burg said in his latest email.

And this is not a bad thing. All too often what a company stands for, and the business it pursues, can be lost in layers of market-speak. We can all remember when InSession Technologies burst onto the market first with WebGate – but with more than a dozen packages, it proved difficult to decide what business problems did the product WebGate address? With its collection of access and connection products, comForte is electing to re-banner everything under the label of modernization – and rightfully so.

“Business simply has to modernize. From the time a user initiates a transaction from the latest smart device they have acquired, comForte will be helping facilitate its integration with all that’s deployed on NonStop,” was the perspective Burg projected “and that’s why we are pursuing modernization as aggressively as we now are doing! We are one of the largest privately-owned ISVs in the NonStop marketplace and it’s important we communicate that comForte is now aligned behind this message.”

In the coming weeks I am going to return to this exchange just as I continue to look at the external forces driving all of this. Who could have guessed only a few months ago when all of the HP community was gathered in Las Vegas, that changes as radical as what has been unveiled, were imminent?

And if we haven’t already begun the journey, with each passing day the sun’s rays are diminishing, the path hard to see and the horizon is slipping further out of sight. For our business to thrive we simply cannot afford to let that happen, and vendors are beginning to posture differently to better help their customers to stay illuminated and fully aware of where they are treading!

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