HP has a new CTO. Well-known HP executive, Martin Fink, has stepped into the role of HP CTO and equally as importantly has become Director, HP Labs. It’s no secret that Fink is an avid supporter of the inner workings of NonStop and a vocal advocate for even greater leverage of the intellectual property (IP) wrapped up within the NonStop kernel. “People are talking about how they run big databases and what they are doing is talking-up this idea of Massively Parallel Processing (MPP),” Fink told me in a recent interview. “But we have been running MPP engines that are some of the biggest the world has ever seen. There’s no better engine than NonStop!”
As much as Fink is steeped in NonStop lore, he is an even bigger supporter of Linux. Few NonStop users will have missed the presence of I/O controllers operating as an integrated component of NonStop in support of both, storage and communications that run Linux. Readers of this blog may recall that in the May 28, 2012 post to this blog, “It’s not just in our hands, it’s in the ether!” I wrote “the growing adoption of HP NonStop Blade Systems is seeing the deployment of Linux-based CLIMs as part of the NonStop ecosystem. CLIMs provide a performance boost by offloading processing from the NonStop server …”
It was shortly after the impact of Y2K was well and truly behind IT, that I managed to have lunch with IR’s founder, Steve Killelea. While we cautiously explored the wine list, Killelea began explaining how he was observing a real business need to ensure Prognosis could monitor more than NonStop. Indeed, he advised me how shortly there would be a Prognosis product for Windows and Unix. I was given a little more insight into the program later that year when we were both attending the European ITUG event in Lisbon, Portugal. The success IR is enjoying today with its Unified Communications products is a byproduct of this departure from providing simply monitoring products for NonStop.
In the May 28, 2012 post to this blog, I quoted John Dunne, IR’s global product strategy head, after he told me of how “investments we made in cross-platform solutions that led to our Unified Communications and Payments product offerings will put us in good standing with those NonStop users that see a future where transactions running today on NonStop may end up being processed in the cloud. And as in the past where systems from multiple sources are involved, middleware solutions including everything from security, to replication, to monitoring will come from ISVs rather than individual system suppliers.” An investment that today is reflected in the statement IR makes when it says that with Prognosis, through a single pane of glass, you can manage cross-platform technologies including HP NonStop, Windows, Unix and Linux.
NonStop is not likely to remain an island for much longer as HP goes about refreshing its key product roadmaps. The IP within NonStop is simply too valuable. Data centers already exploring their options with private clouds are facing an uptick in complexity when it comes to monitoring – what’s important in terms of events and alerts is also undergoing transformation. The ability to switch between clouds is proving to be a required necessity as complexity brings with it added fragility. The reality that today NonStop depends on Linux for controllers suggests that NonStop front-ending Linux-based clouds, where the IP associated with “take-over” could be viewed as potentially life-saving, may already be on the drawing boards. But as with anything new or different, enterprise customers may still take a long while to commit to anything this radical and any further work by HP on hybrid or heterogeneous systems “in a box” may take a while to develop. Even with as strong an evangelist as HP now has in Martin Fink.
“Having taken the initial steps to ensure Prognosis would support platforms apart from NonStop and having seen the business apart from NonStop flourish these past couple of years”, explained Jonathan DeVeaux, Head of Payments and HP NonStop at IR. “However we aren’t expecting a rush to these hybrid configurations but rather a careful weighing of the value proposition from moving transactions off NonStop. We continue to see the price drop of NonStop systems, as we have seen with the just released NS2100 system, there would be many NonStop users who would simply continue to stay with NonStop. The most important message we want to convey is that no matter how big the pane of glass becomes as the diversity of systems being monitored grows, Prognosis will be capable of monitoring it all!”
The question of leveraging the IP of NonStop still raises many commentators’ eyebrows. Could there be a future NonStop system that is underpinned by a Linux distribution rather than the traditional NonStop Kernel? Could there be Linux systems supporting the NonStop message and file systems? Could Fink and HP place sizeable chunks of NonStop IP into the public domain as part of the Open Source movement? Probably none of the above in the short term, but having said this, I am not prepared to rule out anything or suggest that there are limits to how prolific NonStop technology may prove to be.
However what I am prepared to admit is that there are vendors within the NonStop community, including IR, who have done much of the prerequisite heavy lifting needed to ensure systems apart from NonStop can be monitored from the same pane of glass, and for that, the NonStop community has much to be thankful about – mission-critical transactional processing will remain a valued business asset but with what we see in development, having vendors just a little out-front of the current needs serves the community well.