Sunday, October 28, 2012

Modernization comes in many guises; comForte is delivering critical components …

It’s very true that there’s still a lot of work to be done to modernize the applications but it helps when you have the right tools and leverage the skills of a knowledgeable partner!

Over the course of the past week I visited Las Vegas; twice! The first time it was Las Vegas, Nevada, whereas the second time it was Las Vegas, New Mexico. And there couldn’t be any greater differences between cities bearing the same name in all of America. However, it highlighted for me the differences in expectations – the first was all glitz and glamor whereas the second was a sleepy backwater college town. The letdown coming from anyone visiting the later and expecting the former would be palpable in the extreme. So much for being knowledgeable, yet being dead wrong, when it comes to understanding your true position.

These past few weeks I have been working on a feature article for the November – December, 2012, issue of The Connection, where the theme is “The Best of NonStop”.  I opened my article with the observation of how, having spent so many years associated with the platform, it’s hard, even for me, to recognize in today’s very modern NonStop system the computers from Tandem of yore. You can’t possible confuse Tandem with NonStop, nor should anyone assume they are one and the same, and yet across the industry there are many professionals who continue to live in ignorant bliss. NonStop systems are modern, and while in my last post to comForte Lounge I introduced the topic of modern systems versus modern applications, there’s still no denying just how modern a computer today’s NonStop system has become.

This opening observation in the feature referenced above was then followed by the comment of how, even today, it remains a matter of pride for all within the NonStop community that no system on the market today, whether clustered or not, attains the levels of availability, scalability and data integrity from the moment it’s uncrated and powered on – as does the NonStop system of today. Creating even greater separation between Tandem Computers of the 80s and what we have today with NonStop systems are the types of middleware and technologies now being supported. Among then models such as Java as well as SOA and Web services, with even some NonStop customers considering integration and participating of NonStop systems in their plans for Big Data and Cloud computing.

Such consideration by customers led me to include, in this same feature, a quote by
comForte Marketing VP, Thomas Gloerfeld, who acknowledged that “when it comes to Big Data and Clouds, adoptions of these emerging technologies will be entirely customer-driven. We have begun to get engaged with some customers and there’s work already underway with our partner, Infrasoft.” However, Gloerfeld did qualify his acknowledgement by adding how “the challenge is to come up with a useful mix of early-stage products that trigger interest within the NonStop community. But with the right prototypes and pilots being pursued with supported products and features, I don’t see any reason at all why anyone should discount the HP NonStop server from participating in any of these emerging technologies.”

As exciting as this appears and how positive an endorsement of NonStop systems this represents, there are still many users who view Las Vegas, Nevada, as something almost unattainable while they continue to dwell in Las Vegas, New Mexico. And consideration of adopting such progressive products and technologies as Java, Big Data and Clouds is weighed down by the types of applications they are running and by the commitments of their application vendors.

This was recently highlighted for me by comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, when he said “
if you look at what kind of applications are typically running in production and then compare this to what kind of technologies are available on NonStop these days there is a clear disconnect. On LinkedIn, every week one comes across job postings searching for ‘COBOL developer for NonStop’ or ‘BASE24 developer’ – where are the postings looking for C++ or Java developers for the NonStop platform? I don’t think it is even remotely realistic to retire the ‘legacy’ applications as they still are rock solid and have a lot of proven business logic in them.” Burg has even more to say on this matter in a video clip that can be viewed at:

The distance between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Las Vegas, New Mexico, is a long day’s drive. But it’s not all that hard to move from one place to another should you take the short plane ride. If you are stuck in New Mexico – even by mistake – correcting your situation isn’t impossible and all it takes is a quick phone call to your favorite airline to get you to that other place. And a similar message was conveyed by Burg in our email exchange. “I think this is the time to do new development (for the old applications) using modern languages and tools,” Burg stated emphatically. “We have several customers who have done exactly that – putting their NonStop platforms into a much better place from an Enterprise visibility perspective.”

Tandem Computers led us to the place where we are today, providing us with the premier platform for transaction processing, where outages of any kind and the inability to scale up and out were all unacceptable. NonStop systems today are a completely different solution – capable of providing so much more. As comForte folks are only too anxious to highlight, it makes little sense running new systems in old ways even if the restrictions come from the applications and the vendors providing them.

It doesn’t take a plane ride, but something simpler - a phone call or email to comForte to quickly get you to the place you want to be. NonStop may no longer be confused with Tandem and solutions are appearing built on new technologies, but if you are among those NonStop users dependent on products from an earlier time, with vendors not willing to change, modernizing applications brings with it value that will be quickly realized and that will not be confusing to anyone where NonStop is present. 

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