2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
Ease of use; means something entirely different for an end-user or a developer – they need to get their software in an easier way
by Frans Jongma, HPE Advanced Technology Center
One of the original Tandem Fundamentals, besides being fault-tolerant and providing linear scalability to applications was “Ease of Use”. When I joined the company back in 1989, I did not necessarily think that using TACL, FUP and other utilities were easier to use than what I was accustomed to on the systems I was used to working with. However, when you think of it, “Not being complex” is quite close to “easy to use”.
Know it when you see it.
I had that experience the other day when I created a download page for SQL/MX DBS that contains rmxci.jar and t4sqlmx.jar plus a simple Windows command file that did nothing more than setting the CLASSPATH to these jars and run java. That allowed a user to run remote mxci and connect to a SQL/MX database right from the Windows Downloads directory.
With SQL/MX DBS, the aim is to bring the NonStop SQL database to users without the requirement for them to first learn the details of a NonStop system. The use of standards such as ANSI SQL and common industry standards such as ODBC and JDBC, but also database compatibility features such as PL/MX and Oracle data types and functions have already made working with NonStop so much easier to use. These features are available in the standard SQL/MX offering. However, when you want to provide the database to users that are off-platform there are other things to consider.
Fortunately, multiple paths to make NonStop more industry-standard over the years now converge into creating NonStop as a service or NonStop SQL as a service.
- The system architecture that is now built on the X86 processor architecture with VMware virtualization allows the creation of NonStop, Linux and Windows virtual compute nodes on the same physical hardware. These compute nodes are needed to run the NonStop software, such as the Operating System and NonStop SQL Database, but also the Linux software to run the Storage and Communication CLIMs and the Windows Server node that provides the NonStop system console.
- The OSS environment that allows the use of common tooling
- The implementation of the Python language for NonStop which allows the use of Ansible to provision software in a standard way that is platform independent.
- And an API that allows provisioning a SQL/MX database, including storage and security controls with a single command.
I saw the power of this recently when I discussed the possibility to incorporate NonStop SQL in a database platform where multiple databases would be selectable from the menu of a database services portal. Databases are configured and built starting with the deployment of a virtual machine, followed by the installation of the database software followed by applying the latest patches. With Nonstop SQL as the backend database, we would simply add the requested database to the pool of databases that are hosted in SQL/MX DBS. At first, the NonStop system would be present as a pre-installed so-called bare-metal server, for example, a regular converged NonStop system. Alternatively, it could be a vNS system that was pre-installed by the customer or by HPE. Ultimately, there might be Ansible playbooks that build a NonStop system from the collection of compute and storage resources that are present in the data center.
Imagine this: a user can request a database from a portal by selecting it from a menu that may include products like MySQL, Oracle, or PostgreSQL. Each database may have some platform-specific configuration options apart from the database name and database storage size. Then the necessary Ansible scripts execute in the background and voila, your fault-tolerant database is ready to go.
All you then need are the required JDBC and ODBC drivers for your database. Having OSS on the NonStop side makes it easy to provide download links for driver software and additional libraries that provide specific dialects for Hibernate and Liquibase. These links can easily be included in a few web pages that are hosted in an iTP Webserver or Apache webserver environment.
Ease of use means something entirely different for an end-user or a developer than it means for a system administrator. NonStop systems are typically built to order and shipped to a customer, to be managed by NonStop trained system administrators. And the software was also delivered to these system administrators also. Today, the user may be a developer or an ad-hoc user of a query tool. They need to get their software in an easier way than a system administrator. A web page with just the libraries or java archives they need will usually do the trick.
SQL/MX DBS may be created with new customers in mind, existing customers can use the same to simplify using NonStop SQL for their existing staff, as well as for other staff in the IT organization who have not been exposed to the NonStop system. “Ease of use” has gotten a new life.