Tuesday, December 6, 2011

uLinga! Turning the corner?

Heading to year end, it’s good to see that uLinga is developing momentum and even as another NonStop user has gone into production with uLinga, it is looking as if comForte and their partner Infrasoft are seeing the investments being made in the NonStop Server begin to yield positive dividends!

There continues to be considerable concern among some within the NonStop community when it comes to the investments being made in the NonStop platform by software vendors. Is there still the interest in companies committed to running NonStop to look at the mix of software they run and are there software vendors willing to find better ways to leverage the inherent properties of NonStop? Can business cases be made for further fine-tuning of the NonStop Server platform and are there choices that can be made when it comes to improving the overall price–performance attributes and simply doing things better? How much longer will NonStop have a presence in our data centers?

I will refrain from providing an anecdote from my time on the road, of the places I have visited and the people I have seen, but it has been quite an experience meeting with as many folks as I have and to simply observe how passionate they remain when it comes to the NonStop platform. Yes, it is possible to “roll your own” NonStop from a mix of commodity boxes, network connections and smart software, but in the end it remains a volatile mix of technology supported by just a handful of technicians involved with assembling “the system”, and very rarely do these systems deliver the overall robustness initially anticipated.

So yes, retaining the NonStop Server platform in key customer-facing, as well as business-partner participating environments remains a good option for many companies. For more on this topic, check out my most recent post to Real Time View “Today, we have but one luxury!” as well as the discussion just started in the LinkedIn group of the same name, Real Time View.

In the October 23rd, 2011, post “Steps that count!” I wrote of how comForte continues to invest in solutions to help modernizing the infrastructure and in so doing views the NonStop Server platform as a viable platform upon which to develop a healthy software business. In this post I wrote too of how decisions have been made by customers to purchase the most recent addition to the comForte product portfolio, uLinga (from InfraSoft). Whether running HP’s SNAX product or ACI / Insession’s ICE product, there is now a new product finding acceptance within the NonStop community. And now, the first customer case study has been posted to the comForte web site.

For more about a recent uLinga deployment, check out the customer success story “North American Supermarket Chain deploys uLinga for DLSw from comForte” that can be downloaded via the link: http://comforte.com/news/north-american-supermarket-ulinga/ At the time that I wrote the above post “Steps that count!” I also observed how other (NonStop users) have concluded successful Proof of Concepts (PoCs) and are transitioning to pilots and full deployment. Here the news gets better, as I have just heard about another NonStop user that is up and running with uLinga in a production environment.

Whereas the first production deployment featured uLinga for DLSw supporting a network of SNA devices this latest user is using uLinga for DLSw to connect to several IBM mainframe applications. Again, the user is another customer of ACI Worldwide’s BASE24 product, but the deployment represents an even more compelling case for the use of uLinga as there’s little room for error when systems are communicating application to application!

In the earlier post I quoted InfraSoft Managing Director, Peter Shell, when he acknowledged that as a company, “we hope to be able to talk more about these enhancements and product ideas shortly but we are truly excited by the response to date and with how quickly users are going into production with uLinga." Yes, for a company that has been strictly in development mode for nearly two years, finally seeing its’ flagship product in production represents a significant milestone.

The latest user committing to uLinga for DLSw is a North American service provider supporting two banks, and today the NonStop Servers are S-Series systems. As was the case with the first user, the supermarket chain, the lower price for the uLinga for DLSw product coupled with the support provided jointly by comForte and Infrasoft, helped the service provider significantly reduce the price / performance premium that they had been paying in order for their NonStop System to network with established mainframe systems running at the banks they supported.

As Peter Shell responded this week, following the news of the win, “there’s still a lot more value users can derive from the uLinga product family but seeing momentum develop behind the product as is now happening is an encouraging sign.” On a similar note, comForte marketing head, Thomas Gloerfeld went on to add “even as we monitor the sales pipeline for the uLinga product family there’s no hiding that there is a strong outlook for 2012 and having these early wins under our belt as we close the year is not only encouraging but very positive for all the work we have put into supporting Infrasoft.”

There will be more users within the NonStop community who do elect to fine-tune the price-performance attributes of NonStop even as they continue to rely on the platform in support of mission-critical applications. And in so doing, the software vendors active in this marketplace will continue to invest. Perhaps just as importantly, the products arriving in the marketplace aimed at helping with modernization aren’t being overlooked or escaping the attention of responsible CIOs and for this the NonStop community remains grateful.

As new products and features continue to arrive and find favor with the NonStop community and giving their adherents even greater choice, it’s just further confirmation of how relevant the platform remains and for this, all within the NonStop community benefit. Retaining the NonStop Server platform doesn’t look all that controversial after all, and its presence will likely be with us for many years to come!

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