Monday, October 15, 2012

Modernization comes in many guises; comForte is focused on ensuring this includes the applications …

There’s been several posts made of late on the subject of modernization – but it’s not just about the hardware or the operating system / data base stack that is part of modern NonStop systems. There’s a lot of work to be done now to modernize the applications!

Although I updated the way statistics are reported on the NonStop community blog, Real Time View (under the tab “Popular Posts”) to reflect just what is popular for the previous 30 days (and not the lifetime of the blog site), it’s a pleasant surprise to see the post of July 9, 2012, “Surprised? NonStop made it big at HP Discover!” continuing to stay on the list. If you aren’t familiar with the specifics, while I look back at what transpired during this year’s HP Discover event in Las Vegas, I also talk about the NonStop systems we have today. And of just how modern they have become. 

 The good news here? The really big surprise? In embracing open, standards and commoditization, HP opened the door to a new, more modern NonStop system that more easily embraced applications designed to operate on today’s modern platforms. Modern NonStop? Following several post-event discussions with NonStop management and executives I was reminded of how the reference to modern in messages supporting NonStop has all but disappeared, and for a good reason. For all that has been achieved, promoting a Modern NonStop is simply a poor example of tautology.

The paragraph above has been pulled from that post and it is a reminder for me of just how far the NonStop system has come. It is a credit to all who have worked on the development of NonStop that the NonStop system of today is far removed from the Tandem computer of old – and in some respect owes its very existence to some very clever people figuring out just how to keep NonStop relevant, leveraging commodity components in a way that has helped bring the price down even as its performance capabilities have climbed by orders of magnitude. But what do I mean by this?

Fast forward three months to the post of October 11, 2012, on Real Time View, “The energy that surrounds NonStop ...” and you will read of the exchange I had with Steve Saltwick, recently retired from HP marketing where he had been the Director, Vertical Solutions. Much of the post is taken up with the commentary provided during an interview with Steve including the following. “Tandem Computers unrelenting passion for building absolutely the best server possible, in terms of availability, eventually became unaffordable. Changes had to be made and the experience with Compaq, with its 180 degree difference in perspective (when it came to building everything yourself) better prepared developers for the new realities of the market.”

Yes the path to what we have today as a very modern NonStop system came about simply because the company couldn’t continue pursuing a proprietary solution. I t simply couldn’t afford to continue building everything by itself and once integrated into HP, it just made sense to rationalize the components needed to leverage what HP was using for other servers. Indeed, when the announcement came that NonStop was running on Blades, it was among the first of the really big systems from HP to do so a feat not often recounted when you talk to HP executives.
Modernization has made its mark on NonStop and few today will fail to recognize that it is a modern, commodity based, open and industry–standard solution that’s above all else proving to be an economical option when it comes to the transaction processing we associate with support of mission-critical applications. However, while this new stack of HP’s is indeed modern and by this, I mean the combination of hardware, operating system, data base and supporting tools, utilities and services there are many customer applications that aren’t quite as modern. Furthermore, the way they are integrated within the enterprise they are supporting can give them the appearance of being proprietary even as everything under the sheet-metal covers has long since been modernized.

“While we at comForte fully understand HP NED intentions and the message they want to convey,” remarked comForte Marketing VP, Thomas Gloerfeld, in a recent email exchange, “
what comForte is calling modernization is ‘modernization of legacy applications’ and ‘integration of the applications on NonStop into the wider IT environment (through API’s, Web Services etc.)’ - it’s by no means suggesting that the NonStop system of today is not modern but rather, reflects the reality out there among NonStop users that there’s a lot of ‘old stuff’ – hardware and software – continuing to be supported by IT departments a lot less proficient about how best to manage them.”

This drew an additional remark from comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, who responded, “there is no ‘one-size-fits- all’ technology when it comes to modernization of the old stuff – much of it dating back decades. You absolutely need to work with a partner that brings with them a rich tool box. comForte has considerable experience modernizing legacy applications, and brings a unique perspective when addressing what needs to be changed – viewing these old implementations from many angles. Adding authentication, just modernizing the presentation layer only, integrating into corporate application ecosystems whether as a peer or following the client / server model, comForte has a history of success when it comes to modernization of the application.”

Promoting a Modern NonStop may indeed be viewed as an example of tautology. Promoting Modern Applications on the other hand, is something altogether different and reflects a concerted effort on the part of NonStop users to capitalize on the efforts of the primary vendor. As the face the challenge of truly modernizing their extremely important mission-critical applications, nearly always those applications directly interfacing with their customers and business partners, access to experienced middleware vendors remains just as important. With its history on helping users modernize their applications together with a very rich tool box, it shouldn’t surprise any within the NonStop community that a Modern comForte remains at the forefront as middleware vendors-of-choice in supporting user endeavours as the pursuit of modernization continues to escalate.  

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