“‘Specialization,’ Robert Heinlein once wrote, ‘is for insects.’ If that is truly the case, then the garages of many wealthy automotive enthusiasts are veritable master classes in entomology, bursting with cars that are expected to do just one thing.” So began a recent article in a popular car magazine with the writer then adding, “Combine this with the relaxed attitude that the owner of a vehicle fleet can enjoy, regarding the reliability of any particular automobile in that collection, and what results is the proverbial soft bigotry of low expectations.” When I first read this I couldn’t help but reflect on what has brought us to where we are today as far as IT is concerned. The general purpose computer is no longer a major force in the enterprise and as we cater for enhanced user experiences, then expectations too among IT professionals about reliability have become far more casual in nature. However, finely chiseled niche offerings remain important for the enterprise and their presence within the data center is more often than not a result of partnerships between systems and solutions vendors.
Niches offerings demand partnerships in order to remain successful and indeed relevant – even with automobiles there are formable partnerships visible today. Mercedes Benz is partnering with Aston Martin on very high-performance engines, FIAT and Mazda jointly worked on the chassis and drive train for a common two seater sports car and yes, fierce rivals BMW and Toyota are similarly partnering to jointly develop a new sports car as well. To see the likes of Ford and GM cooperating on a new 10-speed transmission further reinforces the need for alliances to be created in markets often delineated by just the badge on the hood of the car and much the same is happening in IT. For the NonStop community, what we saw in previous years really accelerated in 2017 and it was the best year for NonStop users when it comes to partners working well with each other.
However, the relationship with HPE and NonStop doesn’t stop with OmniPayments being a VAR for HPE in South America as OmniPayments is on the HPE price book and can be purchased directly from HPE anywhere in the world. The potential to buy OmniPayments from HPE materialized this year, right here in the US, when a very large big-box retailer (and a staple of shopping malls across the country anchoring nearly all of them), elected to upgrade to OmniPayments, but do so through the relationship OmniPayments has with HPE. When you think of the best of NonStop there is nothing more encouraging than to hear that HPE is getting behind one of its solutions vendors in this manner and the reality is – when big deals like this are in the offering, having a vendor the size of HPE stand behind you is indeed very encouraging. And this was no ordinary deal for OmniPayments but rather one that pushes it deeper into the world of clouds and managed services as this retailer has bought OmniCloudX with the goal of running all its stores across the US out of OmniPayments cloud computing facilities that have been built using NonStop X systems.
When it comes to this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp there will likely be many NonStop users very interested to hear from Yash too about plans for OmniPayments and its possible support for the work the NonStop team has been doing in support of blockchain on NonStop X. Given that expectations will be high and given too Yash’s propensity to embrace new technologies and architectures coming directly from HPE – OmniPayments was the first vendor to build out a cloud offering based on the latest NonStop X technology and is among the pioneers when it comes to testing virtualized NonStop (vNS) - adding something like blockchain to the work OmniPayments has done in support of biometrics, wouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed OmniPayments for the last couple of decades. “We have watched the importance of our products to the retail industry grow significantly in 2017 as we added support for loyalty cards and mobile wallets,” acknowledged Yash. “Our plans to ensure our security offerings remain payments solution agnostic have also begun to see results as well and this has a lot to do with the support being given to us by our partner, HPE.” And this truly is the value of partnerships and alliances that are bilateral and prove beneficial to both parties; 2017 saw not only the best of NonStop being realized but the best of HPE as well.
A name perhaps not as well-known within the NonStop community as OmniPayments is Striim. While its heritage can be traced back to GoldenGate, with its unique and early entry into the world of data replication that supported multiple NonStop sites in active – active configurations, it is the experience Striim gained addressing Change Data Capture (CDC) that is being more fully exploited by the company today. Forrester Research recently flagged Striim as a “Strong Performer” in Big Data Streaming Analytics and notes that the Striim™ platform is able to “…ingest streaming data from many sources, including streaming CDC from transactions in databases.” Among the many sources supported is NonStop SQL/MX and it already has found support among NonStop users today where it is being deployed in support of both manufacturing and financial services solutions.
The Streaming Analytics Platform is a complete solution provided by Striim for any situation that calls for preprocessing or filtering of data coming from many sources that in turn, contain important information for the business. By itself, data isn’t information but rather just a collection of oftentimes very similar events that have occurred. Knowing that a thermostat is holding temperature at 70 degrees isn’t very interesting should it provide an event saying as much every second but should it for some reason climb to 80 degrees then that may be very important. Much of what we are reading about IoT is nothing more that “digital exhaust”, as Dr. Tom Chou told attendees at last year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp and, when it comes to Striim, we can now think of Striim being a “custom muffler” designed solely for the purpose of letting through only that digital information we are interested in seeing.
In its review of Striim, Forrester notes how, “all data is born fast,” and that “most Application Design & Development (AD&D) pros aren’t fully exploiting real-time streaming data that flows from IoT devices and mobile, web, and enterprise apps.” The report goes on to point out that, “Striim’s philosophy, to provide insights the moment they are born, positions it well for IoT applications.” This year marked a big event for Striim as it took up residence within HPE IT – Striim is now being fully exploited by HPE’s own IT department where it is exploiting its CDC properties as it moves data between numerous different types of database implementations. HPE has become a partner of Striim even as Striim has become a solution for HPE and the NonStop community is once again benefiting from yet another very strong bilateral relationship where knowledge of NonStop runs deep.
When looking at the best of NonStop for 2017 it is hard to ignore how a number of NonStop partners are themselves becoming attractive conduits into HPE for much smaller NonStop vendors. Anyone who, for instance, has approached NonStop product management knows that it is the same level of effort to develop a working relationship with a small company as it is a very big company and of late, NonStop product management has been recommending to those smaller vendors to work with these big vendors where partnerships are already in place. Among the NonStop vendor community there really isn’t a much bigger vendor than comForte and its prominence in the security marketplace is well-known to everyone at HPE. However, what may not be as well-known is how comForte is creating an ecosystem of partners that comForte can leverage to better meet the needs of NonStop users. The latest vendor to become a comForte partner has been DataExpress, a provider of secure, managed, file transfer solutions for both NonStop and Open Platforms.
DataExpress has been recognized by comForte as the premier provider of secure, managed, file transfer solutions to the financial services marketplace but already sees additional opportunities in markets as yet unaddressed by DataExpress and yes, when it comes to security, there is a strong development relationship already in place as DataExpress relies on SSL / SSH from comForte. DataExpress joined Nexbridge in becoming a partner with comForte this year and this is where several years ago, InfraSoft found a sales conduit that led to a very successful launch of uLinga and that successful relationship is what both DataExpress and Nexbridge hope to emulate. This above all else is the real measure of just how well NonStop has performed in 2017. Creating partnerships around, with and for HPE has been one of the most visible examples of just how far the HPE NonStop team has come with respect to helping sustain NonStop in the niche it so dominates. When researches like IDC still position NonStop as being the only “out-of-the-box,” Availability Level 4 (AL4) – the highest level possible when looking at high available systems – it wouldn’t mean all that much if in turn, the HPE NonStop team had no vendors to point to that provide all-important middleware, tools and utilities as well as solutions.
In the US it isn’t uncommon to see three and four car garages. Like many other items available to the US general public, automobiles are far less expensive than anywhere else on the planet. It’s not uncommon to see pick-up trucks rolling down the interstate towing a “fifth-wheel” caravan that in turn is towing an all-terrain vehicle on top of which is a boat and a couple of bicycles. I have even seen RVs towing toy boxes inside of which are SUVs and sports cars, the most recent example of which was a Hummer and a Porsche inside a covered trailer behind a coach. Niches, like insects, project specialization and the NonStop community has long recognized just how well NonStop has operated within the high availability, fault tolerant, mission critical niche. However, that success hasn’t come about without considerable assistance and as we look back at the best of NonStop for 2017, the most visible and inescapable observation we all can make is that NonStop today is being better served by its partners than at any time in the past.
To read of “new logos” being added to the community of NonStop users is only coming about as a result of these partnerships and as I look ahead to 2018, it is my expectation that such partnerships will go from strength to strength and, with that, I am only beginning to imagine what that might produce. Reference to vendors like OmniPayments, Striim, comForte, DataExpress, Nexbridge and Infrasoft are just the tip of the iceberg and there are many more vendors only too willing to form alliances with HPE and for that, every stakeholder in the NonStop is extremely thankful. The best of NonStop for 2017? Perhaps nothing sums this up better other than to reflect on the fact that unlike so many other systems and platforms we are still here so here’s to an even more successful year in 2018 and here’s to an exciting NonStop Technical Boot Camp!