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Our legacy is our integrity …

Richard Buckle

Pyalla Technologies, LLC


OP ED JUL 2020

NonStop systems have been associated with payments solutions and ATM networks
almost from the day the first system was delivered. This is the first in a two part series
on value of infrastructure and future usage of ATMs.

ATMs, for the most part, depend upon the networks that connect them to payments processing solutions. These networks continue to be upgraded and can be any mix of landlines and cellular connections, with generous amounts of VPNs running over anything readily at hand. There are systems and servers located in data centers that play an instrumental role in ensuring the transactions originating at an ATM and passed over a network are legitimate, uncompromised in any fashion, and then funds are provided, accounts updated and statements created.

Steve Kubick, an Enterprise Account Executive at HPE, recently posted of how, given our experiences today, “doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it, well that’s the definition of integrity for many of us. Unfortunately, we don’t know something lacks integrity till it fails. You don’t know a person lacks integrity until they willfully don’t do something they say they will do.” Catchy and an over simplification? Perhaps.

However it hits at the very heart of what we all come to expect whenever we insert our card into an ATM fully expecting to successfully complete whatever it is we set out to do. Even so, there continue to be stories written about networks that fail and it’s often a case of, as Steve notes, “We don’t know our IT systems lack integrity until they are put into situations where they are trying to handle too big a load or do things that they were never designed to do.”

Integrity and branding are inseparable. We are proud of our brand in part because it projects integrity. Fail to live up to expectations and our brand can take on an adverse image – one that projects not integrity but failure. Any discussion on integrity within IT leads to another topic, equally as emotionally-charged as integrity and that is legacy. For the past month we have been reading stories of agencies and communities relying on legacy IT. But what does legacy mean for those operating networks of ATMs? Exactly which part of the infrastructure is considered legacy?

Our networks continue to evolve and with each upgrade, more capabilities are provided. One thing that has surfaced with the current global pandemic that is still reaching deep into our communities is that we are hunkered down working from our home offices. The networks may have initially faltered for some, but for the most part, they have performed well and for many even exceeded expectations. If networks today are as modern as they can possibly be with the technology at hand, wherein lays legacy? Where does the finger-pointing really take us? ATMs can be generational and that’s OK, but what about the systems back in the data center we continue to rely on for processing our cash transactions?

There is clearly a very major distinction between legacy applications and legacy computer platforms. Consider the IBM mainframe – a venerable stalwart in computer terms. Its architecture has varied little over the decades even as what is underneath the covers continues to evolve. A modern mainframe is as virtuous as it gets being fully virtualized and essentially offering support for “clouds-in-a box.” IBM has always steered a different course to other computer platforms and this is as evident today as at any time in the past, being dependent upon IBM’s proprietary Power chipsets. And yet, you can run any mix of IBM proprietary operating systems right alongside zLinux. There is very little of today’s mainframe that can be viewed as legacy and for many ATMs, the database sits squarely on a mainframe.

Consider too the HPE NonStop – the original “Janus” computer as it “communicated both ways.” These systems connect to both ATMs and the mainframes with which they interact. From custom chipsets to MIPS, to Intel Itanium, to Intel x86, the architecture inherent with HPE NonStop has changed little even as the platform has been modernized. The move to x86 differed from IBM’s choice of Power chipsets but the separation came with a blessing. HPE not only invested in support of x86 but in VMware as well. Applications looking to run fault tolerant can run in clouds that support VMware. Just as there is little of today’s mainframe that is legacy so too is NonStop carrying anything remotely associated with legacy systems of the past.

What is legacy unfortunately are the applications running on systems, whether located in traditional data centers or taking up residence in a cloud. Scanning the landscape there is far more activity surrounding migrations and modernization of applications than there is of the computer platforms themselves. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) opportunities abound that address the requirements of even the smallest financial institution looking to support ATM networks.  DevOps and Agile are coming into their own even at the biggest of IBM and HPE installations. What surprised me was how far HPE with NonStop has moved to simplify development testing and deployment.

“What may surprise the CIOs is that Git and Jenkins can run on NonStop systems even as the NonStop resources can directly interface with Ansible,” the HPE NonStop team posted on their community blog. “What may surprise management even more is that with HPE’s own IT supporting development infrastructure across Mission Critical Systems, NonStop developers have turned to DevOps to meet today’s goals for developers and you will find GitHUB, Jenkins and Ansible and much more open source in wide use among NonStop development teams.”

Our integrity lies with not just the commitments we make to our ATM users but just as importantly, within the stories and posts we promote about what truly constitutes legacy. If we are being honest to ourselves, our company and our customers, every business supporting ATMs needs to seriously take a look at the applications they run. There really isn’t any excuse for compromising our integrity so why not believe our true legacy to our community is the integrity we maintain in all we do.