Baseball legend Yogi Berra was always capable of reeling off quotes that stunned his audiences. Perhaps no more so than when he made references to the future proclaiming as he did on one occasion of how, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." He also was quick to point out that, "the future ain't what it used to be." As someone who likes to imagine where technology will take us I can well do to listen to Yogi Berra as the cyclical nature of technology seems to see us revisiting old territories and each time giving them new labels.
If Berra seemed to harbor a tinge of dissatisfaction with the way events were unfolding then it was the nature of baseball to disappoint more times than it rewarded those who followed any team. The same too can be said about cricket although in cricket, games tended to drag on the inevitable disappointment for far longer. If we went to a game of baseball knowing full well what the outcome would be then I suspect our passion for the game would dim considerably and our enthusiasm for cheering from the sidelines would lessen even more.
For the NonStop community, there has been a sense of "still more to come" even as we all understood just how far ahead of the game NonStop truly was. Not by accident had NonStop cornered the market for highest level of availability – something IDC refers today as Availability Level 4 (AL4) and this has been the subject of many posts, commentaries and articles. But being able to keep on processing no matter the circumstances still holds value and for the NonStop community, this sense of there still being more to come, is derived from an unfailing belief that in today's always-connected world, there really isn't any excuse not to be available 24 X 7.
In an article to be published in the July issue of Tandemworld, Andre Cuenin, President IR, Inc., writes of how, "Transaction processing in the financial world has reached this same level of expectation – we just assume it will all work and we can get on with whatever else is occupying our time." Increased complexity wasn't what I had been looking for when I thought of where technology would take us, but then again, each time I have listened to vendors' pitches on simplification, there was always a catch.
Change everything and buy my solution or worse yet, add even more technology and the result will be something better. And is it me, but the current level of noise around embracing a DevOps model whereby those responsible for writing the application are now being asked to manage the running of the application, leaves me cold. Really? How this going to work long term and is it truly scalable? Early evangelists for Time Sharing technology solutions made similar arguments but as they left to oversee their work, less work was produced. So, again I think it's going to prove tough going to make predictions about DevOps, particularly when it comes to its future.
More recently, the NonStop community has been given a glimpse into the future of NonStop and it's virtual and that too has raised some concerns over potentially more complexity heading the way of NonStop. After all, virtualization has been supposed to make IT easier to manage, but my own reading on the topic makes it clear that "IT environments (have become) more complex than ever." Furthermore, embracing virtualization "creates a paradox in that while the price of IT infrastructure is falling, the cost of managing it is increasing." Clearly, for the NonStop community to welcome the future it must do so fully aware that they need to pay attention to their choice in management software.
Laying software atop software and then pointing even more software at the resultant stack has rarely led to solving pressing business problems. During the heyday of "best of breed" pursuits, we almost lost any ability to scale as not all breeds accommodated growth equally. The return to integrated stacks and yes, the NonStop solution remains one of the premier integrated stacks available today, indeed more so than any offering coming from IBM or Oracle, has regenerated user interest in NonStop.
What was once considered a potential issue for NonStop is today arguable it's biggest strength. And the logs, tables and events files all contribute to making NonStop easier to manage. But what about the future when we have a virtual machine to contend with? Even more complexity? Even bigger investments? And even more vendors participating?
The future of servers and all that they support will continue to change but a choice of vendor to assist with the management of applications seems to follow a more traditional path. Experience and diversity will continue hold sway for the NonStop community. It is complex and yes, it's going to get even more complex. Again, it was in Cuenin's upcoming article where he makes it perfectly clear. "This assumption that it all just works has entered mainstream thinking and yet, I continue to find it remarkable that it works at all! With as many moving parts as there are today in the path of any transaction, the likelihood of failure has to increase – complexity isn't the friend of a transaction."
Prognosis has both the experience from working with NonStop for many decades and the diversity being able to manage applications not just on NonStop but on Linux, Unix and Windows. Furthermore, it can manage the applications whether these are running on real machines or virtual machines. And this should be of great comfort to the NonStop community; IT infrastructure costs are falling and yet the cost of managing it don't necessarily have to increase. As a community everyone relying on NonStop just needs to become smarter about the choices they make. After all, it was only a short time ago that complex systems and networking monitoring software like NetView and NET/MASTER ruled the coup, but they are long gone.
As Yogi Berra also said, "It's like déjà vu all over again." This may be true, but of course, as members of the NonStop community we do believe there is still more to come for NonStop and its approach to supporting levels of availability better than any other system isn't to be discounted. Neither is the NonStop integrated stack and with both real and virtual machines to be supported very soon, the clearest view of all will be courtesy of Prognosis and for that, it may indeed truly be déjà vu all over again!