Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CTUG: Choice, options and hybrid computing featured in response to emergence of HP Megatrends.

I have always enjoyed attending user events no matter where they take place and the Canadian event is one I find particularly enjoyable – if the NonStop community ever wants to explore how to put on a well-run, well-attended user event then CTUG should be at the top of their list!

The trip to Canada had been planned for some time. However, what was not expected were the tragic floods that swept through the Colorado front ranges that included most of Boulder County, with the state Governor declaring it a disaster area and calling for federal government assistance. While we were only slightly impacted by the rains, others were not so fortunate and businesses with which we routinely deal have been adversely affected. To avoid further misadventures we left for CTUG a day earlier – and the decision proved to be a wise one.

Planning these days remains a high priority for IT managers everywhere and it’s not simply a matter of being prepared for potential disasters. From the discussions I had at CTUG, the focus was on change – and the changes that are forcing many to reconsider options that they thought set in concrete. However, in industries that are key for NonStop, financial services and Telco, the changes keep on coming without respite. This is adding considerable pressure to those in IT responsible for ensuring the business remains competitive.

Choice was clearly at the top of the agenda for HP executives – the number of options available today to the NonStop user community has never been larger, even as the impact of key Megatrends within HP are becoming better known. For the NonStop community, these were summarized at CTUG as being Big Data, Hybrid Computing and Clouds. Owing their roots to the key focus areas of Mobility, Security, Big Data and Clouds that have been so prominently emphasized at the last two HP Discover events, it wasn’t too big a leap of faith to anticipate that there would be this type of response from HP NonStop development.

It wasn’t a case of fear mongering so much as it was a simple case of highlighting the truth. When it came time to look at the success rate from those who did chose to change platforms and move away from NonStop, the results we have seen have produced way too many headlines detailing their failures. This isn’t going to dissuade those businesses determined to “roll-their-own” NonStop from a Windows or Linux platform, but they are becoming aware of just how hard it is to do. The choices these users have made are what are behind Hybrid Computing that is a lead-in to Cloud computing.

Planning and choice feature highly as priority activities for those responsible for NonStop systems simply as a result of the critical nature of the applications they support. If there’s a more cost effective way to solve a business problem with minimal side-effects, then it’s a wise IT executive who explores the opportunity more closely. However, when it comes to running the mission critical applications a business may rely upon; changing from one platform to another is a high-risk proposition at best. Moving select less-critical components though to an adjacent, less costly, platform offers a higher probability for success and it is this option that is receiving greater consideration by IT executives.

My presentation at CTUG gave me an opportunity to talk more fully about some of the capabilities of uLinga that position it for the future. Not simply as part of a modernization exercise but as a longer term solution to better integrating NonStop and IBM Mainframe applications. Rather than moving solutions to a mainframe, as is often proposed, the NonStop system can now be positioned as an extension of mainframe resources. While HP rightly works to migrate as much as possible to NonStop systems, with uLinga, comForte 21 offers a different option – to better integrate the two.

Key to this positioning of uLinga is the addition of complete network protocol support for both CICS and IMS, such that to CICS the NonStop running uLinga for CICS becomes just another CICS region just as to IMS, NonStop running uLinga for IMS is just another IMS instance. This may raise the eyebrows of many NonStop system managers but for those responsible for IBM mainframes, this greatly simplifies the connections and message flows between the systems.

uLinga maintains compatibility at the API level so there’s little changes involved other than configuration and yet, so much changes. Should we consider NonStop and the IBM Mainframe as a Hybrid Computing configuration? In the past, such cooperation was never on the radar screen of IT executives but in the literal sense of what Hybrid Computing represents, this particular use case scenario of uLinga does represent Hybrid Computing. uLinga supports the applications themselves interacting, as peers, in a way consistent with the functioning of any IBM mainframe equivalent – CICS and IMS are completely unaware that they are in a dialogue with anything other than another CICS region or IMS instance.

This is a new message about uLinga that has only surfaced following exchanges with HP and with the recent success of uLinga for CICS at an Australasian bank. The option to use uLinga in this manner may not have been obvious to all initially, but with experience, NonStop users where IBM Mainframes remain a force to be reckoned can make a choice and develop a Hybrid Computing model likely to be overlooked by many IT executives – and without the risks of moving or integrating other server solutions.

Modernization, particularly of networks, brings with it simplification and a lesser need for complex, often legacy, hardware. Hybrid computing on the other hand is a direction most IT executives are pursuing, but usually with commodity hardware in mind. Being able to pursue the same model but on familiar hardware systems and servers has to be a blessing for many and with what is now being provided as a part of uLinga, the choices these IT executives face have been greatly reduced.

Planning for the future will always be a priority for IT executives but overlooking simple solutions to some very complex problems isn’t something to be put to one side. The Boulder flooding produced headlines around the world but then so too has the failure of some really big systems. Moving away from NonStop will always be a consideration for any well-informed IT executive but perhaps there’s much easier ways to optimize the deployment of NonStop while lowering the costs – keeping what should really be on the NonStop, on the NonStop, will always prove valuable and having the ability to configure NonStop as part of an IBM Mainframe Hybrid Computing solution cannot be ignored!

1 comment:

  1. Richard this is a very interesting use of Ulinga. I hope you will be at the bootcamp and that you will be able to discuss the hybrid NonStop/Mainframe architecture there.