This past month has proved to be particularly newsworthy, and for many reasons: HP made another acquisition that many consider significant for its cloud computing endeavors, even as Apple shook up the payments processing industry. China's computing industry made itself heard with the largest ever Wall Street IPO – a boon too for others, including Yahoo – and yes, shareholder activists are pushing for change with suggestions being made for Yahoo and AOL to combine in an effort to stay relevant vis-a-vis Google and Amazon, and the time, the availability of NonStop on x86 draws closer and the number of vendors who have successfully tested on the new OS continues to grow.
For the NonStop community, this is a time for regional gatherings of users and vendors in the lead-up to the NonStop Bootcamp in November where we will hear a lot more about the progress being made toward the x86 general availability. It's also a time where you may have seen me presenting at both, the mid-Atlantic MATUG and Canadian CTUG events, and where I caught up with a number of you. For me, it's not just a litmus test on the enthusiasm of the NonStop community (as it is an opportunity to renew acquaintances and hear more of what users are doing with NonStop), but now it's also an opportunity to check out just how many products have passed their x86 tests. Any investment in new chips costs money and if companies are stepping up and validating, then they share with HP the same degree of optimism about the future of NonStop .
Very few within the NonStop community have a good handle on just who is using NonStop systems these days, so I am rarely surprised to come across a new instance of NonStop usage. While this may not be as newsworthy as the previously referenced events, there is a reason why NonStop continues to attract a crowd – NonStop systems process transactions for some of the most important financial institutions in the world, not to mention some of the most concerned users of all. People like us! The news that many vendors have committed to validating their products on x86 and that indeed, HP is looking for even more Beta sites for NonStop on x86, proved to be the main topic of interest of these events.
This past month too has seen us do a lot of cross-country driving as we elected to make the 4,000 plus mile journey in the SUV. Weather can be rather tricky this time of the year, but rather than throwing snowstorms at us it's been unseasonably hot. There have been more than one raised eyebrow over tackling such a distance by car, but when we all heard of the sabotage at the FAA control station covering the Midwest, forcing thousands of flights to be cancelled, we simply smiled and drove on – disasters natural and otherwise tend to leave mass transit systems in disarray.
However, what the drive highlighted was how much politicking was going on as the U.S. heads into mid-term elections. The stakes are very high for the contestants, with the rhetoric correspondingly aggressive – if I hear or read of the phrase "too extreme of us" one more time, I think I will choke. Similarities between elections and technology are present everywhere and the billboards only served to remind me of the parallels that exist; are the messages we are hearing too extreme for NonStop users? In other words, can monitoring solutions help add to our defense against hacking or should we simply pull the plug and disconnect from the always-on world that supports our customers and business partners? Just as importantly, should NonStop users be welcoming monitoring solutions that provide extreme protection?
Pollsters, saboteurs, extremists; set against a backdrop of changing fortunes for technology companies, the phrases may be jarring, but they do hold some true in many cases. Consider, for instance, how much attention was given first to Target and then to Home Depot over hackers pilfering personal information for their own gains and of how Apple plans to implement Apple Pay. Unfortunately, it's an escalating war between business and organized groups focused on theft of personal information – with an arms race under way. No sooner has the bar been lifted by the defenders then the protagonists find new ways to penetrate. It makes you appreciate that, almost overnight, the most important part of IT has become monitoring – people don't want to see their personal information compromised.
Today it takes sophisticated subsystems tasked with monitoring alarms and events across the entire hardware / software stack, including the applications, to have any opportunity of mounting a meaningful defense. However, this is exactly where Prognosis comes to the fore – increasingly, Prognosis is being used as the first line of defense within the data center, alerting staff whenever unusual network traffic is detected. In the article Switch hitters – the big leagues! published in the May – June, 2014, issue of The Connection, Jay Horton, IR Director of Sales, Americas, explained how "Prognosis helps Financial Institutions (FIs) make good business decisions about where to allocate resources even as it provides alerts in areas that may need attention, before a crisis occurs."
Furthermore, according to Horton, "Whether it's a failed communications line or even unusual activity on ATMs, Prognosis provides visibility and it is equally applicable to all payments solutions available on NonStop." Horton then said that, "The new web interface together with the work done to integrate Prognosis with the mobile app that are part of Prognosis 10.1 provides a much richer operator interface; alerts pushed to wherever you may be at any point in time allows you to respond instantaneously to any identified threat in ways that were simply not possible with monitoring solutions of the past. It has always been my observation that a deep, multilayered, defense is an important component in warding off unwanted attention – better interfaces clearly being a part of such a defense - and this is where I see Prognosis making an even bigger contribution to a business's multi-level depth of defense.
With Apple introducing Apple Pay, Apple goes to great pains to present a strong case of tokenization and for not ever seeing card holder information. In working with the likes of Visa, MasterCard and American Express, Apple is ensuring broad card issuer acceptance. Add to this how, according to Infrasoft Pty Limited CTO, Neil Coleman, in a statement posted to ATMmarketplace.com, "The interesting thing announced by Apple Pay, is that existing payments providers - First Data, TSYS, Citibank, etc. - are signed up as well. So the merchant doesn't bypass their existing acquirer." Many of these companies are current Prognosis users who depend on Prognosis in their fight against potential intruders, and adding the defensive layers inside the data center is definitely not too extreme for NonStop users.
In my travels of the past month I have observed much about the NonStop communities reaction to the fraud events even as I have discussed, numerous times, the need for a deep, layered approach in defense of mission critical applications. Sensitive to data being generated from anywhere in the integrated hardware / software stack that is a part of NonStop only adds to the benefits that Prognosis provides. Being secure is only ever a short term accomplishment as companies must continue to build out their defenses but all up, having a monitoring capability capable of alerting business before a crisis develops is of paramount importance for all businesses that rely on monitoring for protecting our funds!