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Can you see the clouds gathering? Just over the horizon, perhaps?

NonStop Insider


NSI Apr 21

While looking at cloud computing and cloud service providers I took the time to check the pulse, so as to speak, concerning cloud usage within the NonStop vendor community. Not an objective or scientific approach, but rather, more or less a conversation. What was of interest was just how big a shadow clouds were casting over the NonStop landscape? Just as importantly, how dark was this cloud in terms of impact on the deployment of NonStop systems?

The responses were varied and what follows here in no particular order or with no further editing, all proved enlightening. I am leaving out all references to who provided these responses but suffice to say, they came from the very top, with many NonStop vendor CEOs taking the time to provide insights on how they see the future of NonStop with cloud computing.

It is cloud, even if it is not the cloud. So it has come down to the cost of taking the step, or taking the flight. Cloud does not mean you relinquish the use and the ownership of data. (Then again,) what is on the other side, beyond cost savings?

Virtually every new prospect engagement includes a discussion on cloud. As you would expect, some organizations are just getting started and some are well down the path in terms of their cloud strategies. We have several clients who have moved all or part of their testing environment to the cloud – AWS, Azure and GCP. Of course, we still have clients who prefer to deploy in a traditional, on-prem environment. From our perspective, cloud makes sense for a lot of reasons, especially enabling 24 x 7 global access, connectivity and collaboration.

Cloud is not used yet by customers. 

We do see a lot of customers replicating data into the cloud though.  Lots.  So there is clearly a movement afoot for this, with likely cost savings, ubiquitous access, and ‘standard’ platforms and databases dancing around in their heads (like that sugar-plum fairy stuff).  They are not thinking about (proven) availability, losing control and security/protection, and of course the cloud vendor taking a dislike to them or their parent and kicking them off at will …

We have toyed with putting some of the cloud backend on a NonStop /MX database.  The barrier to entry for NonStop is pretty high even for NonStop experts.  I’d rather host our stuff on a local cloud rather than a public cloud.

We definitely have been looking at cloud and newer technologies and how they interact with the NonStop ecosystem … we will definitely have more to discuss, hopefully soon!

While you might think of these as simply soundbites there is substance to what they have said. What stands out is threefold – development and testing heading to a cloud environment; cloud storage used for both backup and in support of potential DR options; the inevitability for many that cloud computing will play an increasingly significant role within the enterprise.

A couple of more detailed responses are worth including here as they fill in more of the picture:

“The cloud to host testing modules has become a much more popular option over the year of COVID-19. Once, companies we’re reticent to access third party hosted solutions they are now clamoring to find ways that employees can work virtually, safely, and productively.

Test Labs filled with POS devices, stacks of cards, and ATM’s lay empty while the ability now exist for all that testing be done in a virtual environment.

One of the more popular cloud implementations for testing is pre-certification testing for merchants or partners to a switch or exchange. Most recently, ISO 20022 testing is growing as many companies move to that standard.”

Together with these well-thought out observations:

What is the situation for Nonstop applications in the cloud? One view is:

  1. Considering the aforementioned, NonStop’s play is expected predominantly in the private cloud space.
  2. HPE Greenlake is not facilitating a “move to the cloud” strategy and can only be seen as a “cloud-like billing model” with a strategy to stay on-prem.
  3. Blocking factors for the move to the public cloud appear to be:

a. Cloud and Hosting service providers don’t have Nonstop in their portfolio

b. The only exception to the above with a serious offering seems Equinix, which has built up real capabilities to run and manage Nonstop-based applications in their public cloud offering. They even talk about running a couple of Base24 instances for financial services accounts in their data centers.

c. Nonstop is usually driving business-critical and sensitive high-performance OLTP applications. Lack of trust in security and to meet the performance/response time requirements using public cloud appear to generate primary resistance to move. 

The conclusion from (the above):

  1. The move to the cloud is happening in all organizations, and by now, it’s also become most relevant for mission-critical applications as well. (with or without Nonstop in the picture)
  2. With modern application development technologies, NonStop’s role in providing high availability and scalability is becoming less relevant or can increasingly be achieved through modern software architectures not requiring Nonstop hardware any longer.

That being said NonStop has an opportunity of taking its place in the (private) cloud space as high availability is a crucial factor in providing cloud services. Still, there are alternatives, and the customer (‘IT consumer’) will care more about SLAs than knowing which hardware is behind the GreenLake offering.

In subsequent exchanges with all those who responded it is clear that NonStop systems remain as “sticky” as they always have been – there is no rush to move off NonStop and onto clouds any time soon. There are discussions on the topic and there are those vendors giving serious consideration to offering middleware and tools on the basis of “as-a-service”, but even here, progress has been slow in part driven by no apparent NonStop user driven requirement for such offerings.

On the other hand, HPE is very much focused on the enterprise and on enterprise IT. Its GreenLake offering is a new pricing model but it’s also a valid attempt to bring the cloud experience to enterprise IT. Where NonStop ultimately ends up, deployed traditionally, in total on a private cloud or in part with the database in the cloud, will come down to costs and yes, to deliverable SLA improvements.  Perhaps that is the catch-all that we need to watch but nevertheless, for many NonStop users, cloud service providers current actions aren’t proving too encouraging where mission critical applications are involved.

And if you missed my post of mid-March on one aspect that is giving NonStop users a moment to pause, then check out this post to the NonStop community blog –

Hey, you, get off of my cloud!