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Let’s talk AI; for NonStop transaction processing, access to analytics in real time will become a must-have capability.

NonStop Insider


Opinion May 21

For some time now, there has been the tantalizingly close opportunity to bring together the best of transaction processing in MCS NonStop to the best of power computing in the HPC Apollo. The objective would be to present a unified image of a hybrid system that delivered the best of both worlds. Access to high throughput transaction processing alongside access to Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence (ML/AI) in a manner that would simply bring with it the ability to understand transactions as much as to simply process transactions. With “ownership” of both NonStop and Apollo residing in a single HPE organization, the likelihood of something emerging soon seems highly likely.

For some time now it has been realized that the data created on NonStop has value but then again for just as long a time it has been realized that the value is closely related to time. The fresher the data the more meaningful it will prove to be. Being able to analyze data in real time has been a sort of holy grail to those developing solutions in support of business intelligence. Imagine if I could change the transaction being presented to an end user based on an emerging trend that I just discovered. Move the six-pack of beer closer to the diaper packs and move both of them closer to the cashier. But only after ten o’clock at night, right!

All rather simple, wouldn’t you agree?  However, something has entered the landscape that has the potential to upend it all. When talk begins of hybrid IT and of enjoying a cloud experience, it might escape even the most diligent of IT professional that the cloud experience isn’t a one-shot opportunity. Which cloud? Which experience? And what of mini-clouds? Point is, across this constantly changing IT landscape there are many clouds and even clouds within clouds. The prospect of the edge becoming a mini-cloud is probably going to happen within the next year or so and bring with it a new way to think integration and indeed cooperation.

It is against this potential developing landscape that the opportunity to tightly bind transaction processing with analytics takes a turn that may see solutions being realized sooner. Could we carve out both transaction processing and analytics within a single focused mini-cloud? Could we be looking at the appearance of a mini-cloud within our hybrid IT infrastructure optimized to bring analytics to transaction processing? Transactions in flight having access to models that are being constantly updated? Again, following talks with a number of NonStop vendors, the possibility of this happening may be a lot closer than you think.

Here’s the thing, however. Some will argue that it would be much easier for IT to build out the infrastructure in support of the cloud experience as a single entity. There will be enterprises that do exactly this. The downside however is that whereas both NonStop and it’s adjust Apollo system can run virtual, there is value to being able to put a fence around the subsequent mini-cloud that is built. Upgrades wouldn’t have to wait for the whole cloud to be upgraded. Security could be more closely monitored with access to the mini-cloud tightly controlled. And yes, experience confined to a specific set-up brings with it a level of confidence that is almost immediate. To quote F1 driver, Kimi Raikkonen, “Just leave me alone; I know what I am doing.”

For starters, look at those vendors who built robust data solutions based on Change Data Capture (CDC). There may be other vendors now rethinking their commitment to alternate approaches to ingesting data but CDC remains the premier option both in terms of performance and flexibility. Striim comes to mind almost immediately as its ability to ingest data created on NonStop means that it can be ingested almost anywhere – other databases or analytics processes. Likewise, with NTI’s DRNet to expanding its capabilities two years ago to where today NTI provides a unified solution to all NonStop data requirements, it is becoming a powerful option when considering mini-cloud deployments.

Both Striim and NTI rely on CDC methodologies with the difference being Striim deployments external to NonStop whereas DRNet deployments are internal to NonStop. Occupying either end of the link in a hybrid mini-cloud environment. Both have their attractors even as both meet slightly different needs. However, they are not the sole infrastructure winners with mini-clouds. What is positive is that there are vendors experienced with NonStop that have already demonstrated competence and indeed have already delivered solutions such that consideration of the mini-cloud has the potential to appeal to even more enterprises.

In time, there will be APIs and not just a continuation of ODBC / JDBC or even JSON. I am anticipating further API development specific to mini-clouds as their will be other mini-clouds operating within Its global cloud that would benefit from access to the data created within the hybrid NonStop / Apollo mini-cloud. Yes, enjoying the cloud experience when mapped to mini-clouds means that there will be an expansion in what the cloud experience will look like and out of necessity will likely exhibit subtle differences whether mini-cloud or just the global cloud.

One other vendor that is likely to benefit from such a development is IR. With Prognosis, they have already demonstrated support for multiple platforms and when it comes to a mini-cloud populated by NonStop and Apollo with even the most minimalistic of APIs available, Prognosis could step up to provide the operational analytics that leads to the insights IT operations and indeed business line managers seek today. Whether it is part of the more established Transact or simply an add-on to Infrastructure, I can readily see IR providing value in mini-clouds of the nature described here.

Whatever your take is on mini-clouds or even just conventional connected-systems, ML and AI are here to stay. As we explore the benefits from adding AI via HPC Apollo to the transaction-focused MCS NonStop, there will be pioneers who will pursue such an avenue. And before too much consternation arises over concerns of there being too many mini-clouds in the future, they would each coexist within the enterprise cloud and provide the same cloud experience as all other participating entities. The significance in all of this is hard to escape – in just talking about it we continue to include NonStop in the picture; isn’t that the most important aspect of any NonStop community discussion of mini-clouds?

There was a time when some industry pundits went so far as to suggest the true meaning of AI was arrogance mixed with indifference, but no longer. The need to provide actionable insights in real time will certainly separate market winners from laggards. Perhaps that is the most important message of all concerning NonStop: The ability to be always available together with the ability to scale is more welcome than ever when it comes to enjoying a true cloud experience – mini or otherwise.