2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
MultiBatch: Tradition meets Modernisation
Dave Hall Product Owner - MultiBatch
We know that for almost four decades, the HPE NonStop architecture has been the ideal choice when high level availability and reliability are paramount.
MultiBatch, conceived in 1985, has gone hand in hand with HPE NonStop providing workload automation on NonStop for over 30 years. It is in many ways a mature product that is used by a loyal customer base. Our customers have relied on the code stability and a measured and controlled approach to change.
But how can we bring MultiBatch to prominence in the new NonStop X world where the unique design that still provides the very highest availability levels is being introduced to a new generation of users?
I started work for Insider Technologies in October 2019 and was soon posing this question to myself. Many discussions and brainstorming sessions later the future direction became clear.
Firstly, I needed to make sure I added value quickly. As the dedicated Product Owner for MultiBatch these were my initial goals:
- Become an expert in the product, understand the architecture so I was confident in making change.
- Ensure we have quality processes for turning around fixes quickly and effectively.
- Introduce modern development practices, especially automated regression testing
- Make sure MultiBatch evolves to meet new customer needs.
The first three are just a matter of time, after all Insider Technologies are a quality oriented company and I have over 25 years’ experience as an HPE NonStop Architect and Designer. We are already able to react more quickly to customer need and make the enhancements they require more efficiently.
For the fourth I needed a little more thought. I understood Insider Technologies are a small agile company that is only able to be a significant player in relatively small markets where it may not be cost effective for larger companies to operate. Knowing this made me sure the investment of time and effort to evolve MultiBatch would be worthwhile, it will always be a niche product and it is my job to make it the most significant player in its market.
What underpins this evolution is creating an exciting vision to which our customers can contribute and buy into. This is our roadmap, we now look a year ahead and a have wish list that can be prioritised and planned. We have gone from ‘release when ready’ to ‘plan, estimate and release to agreed schedule’.
Critically, we have introduced metrics and estimation, this is itself an evolving process where we become ever more accurate, using constant feedback to refine the metrics.
The road map is updated on a three monthly basis, it is all too easy to get lost in the detail of delivery and not take account of the bigger picture. By reviewing regularly, we are able to refine our direction and ensure efforts are best utilised. We may have limited resources but being focused allows us to deliver on our priorities.
Of course our customers are the most important stakeholders. They should know for their own planning purposes when changes are to be delivered. We need to get to a point where are customers are active contributors and challenge what we do.
We know what is ahead even when there is a turn in the road!
Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash
So what’s currently in our road map?
We have two threads, improving the base functionality and modernisation.
For the base functionality there a number of customer specific requests that have been estimated and scheduled for delivery. Additionally, I realised that our OSS offering required some improvement. We have completely reviewed MultiBatch OSS functionality and have detailed plans for many improvements.
The NonStop OSS software stack now provides a modern open environment with security, system management, middleware, Java/Java-frameworks, an open development environment and, of course, a scalable fault-tolerant database.
MultiBatch will become the obvious and maybe the only choice when a customer is looking for workload automation seamlessly across both Guardian and OSS.
As a younger generation comes to NonStop they will expect to find the familiar, HPE themselves recognise this and are updating OSS to make sure it remains at the forefront of open standards. As older applications running on Guardian are updated they can make use of OSS as their gateway to open modern architectures.
MultiBatch where the latest works in unison with the tried and trusted!
Photo by Todd MacDonald on Unsplash
MultiBatch has a decoupled architecture where discrete functionality has been separately added to complement what is already there, the new is added without comprising the integrity of earlier development. This approach can be contrasted with the monolithic systems some have developed, where a change can have unforeseen effects in some distant part of the system. MultiBatch has the advantage of being easy to understand from a development viewpoint, the learning curve is reduced because each part is not too large and can be learnt independently.
My approach to modernisation will be consistent with what has gone before. We will look at discrete functionality that complements what we already have. There are many ideas on our wish list, but first we are looking to provide a new browser based HTML5 interface to be offered in addition to the current SCOBOL interface.
Already we have undergone a Proof of Concept. There were many products to evaluate and we have now chosen one, a technical design has been written and we have an estimate for delivery based on the PoC output. The product and how we use it will be the subject of another article, you may be surprised by what you read.
Using HTML5 in a browser will allow us to provide a more dynamic interface. We will start by providing the existing SCOBOL functionality and will then add automatic API driven screens to show for, for example, your running processes and their statuses.
Of course the interface will be improved using the richness of HTML5, for example we will make use of grids, tree lists and best practice navigation.
For the future we will be looking at open products to unlock the historical data we are starting to record, this will take the form of graphs, reports, alerts, dashboards and visualisations.
The photographs in this article were taken from https://unsplash.com/. The internet’s source of freely-usable images.
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