2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
The HPE Corner
HPE has shone a bright light on virtualized NonStop and any lurking shadows have been pushed far away!
The topic of the month is little changed from earlier months, as it’s still very much about virtualization. The picture is taking on more substance even as the shadows are retreating and with them, speculation that was rife in the marketplace. There is nothing like a good story when the picture is incomplete and those with fertile imaginations didn’t hold back. If there was just a single takeaway from any of the Regional User Group (RUG) events of the past two months it was that virtualization had everyone talking. And that is a significant change from past years as yes, IT is talking about NonStop!
Previously, the talk amongst those in the community attending RUG events had been about the journey NonStop has been on as it cuts the cord with hardware to become a software solution. As painful as this seemed only a year or so ago, it’s now a reality – will we see IT turning to Amazon to ship them their x86 servers and Ethernet switches? Perhaps not quite yet, but the message coming from HPE and the NonStop team today is that factor in a couple of mandatory items and you can build your own NonStop! Of course, HPE can make a very strong case for you going with their Proliant x86 servers, but more often than not it’s been my experience that enterprises have already chosen their preferred supplier for x86 servers so a truly NonStop as software offering is going to play well in marketplaces formally closed to HPE and NonStop.
So what are those mandatory items? By now any attendee of any recent RUG events will know that this list consists of just a few items, as follows (and in this instance, it’s all about running as a guest of VMware):
For your compute (nodes and processors): Intel Xeon x86 – 64 with hyper-threading support
For the fabric NICs: it’s all about Mellanox and their ConnectX-4 dual-ported NICs
For the Ethernet switch (the fabric and supported by RoCE): it’s a little more specific given that the required Ethernet switches must support Data Center Bridging (DCB) protocols, specifically IEEE 802.3x Global Pause
For comms, in particular, adding a Network adapter (for IP and Telco CLIM): Intel 82599 NIC or QLogic57810S NIC
And finally, when it comes to storage, then it’s simply a case of installing any storage adapter supported by VMware that provides para-virtual driver interface (and yes, NonStop has been explicitly ported with support for the “para-API”) But note, when talking storage and support for Fiber Channel over Ethernet adapters then better have adapters with 10Gb support as a minimum. As for storage itself there are many options and among them, naturally enough, this includes the HPE StoreVirtual, Virtual Storage Appliance!
However, as with any list, before doing anything at all based on the above, you should check with NonStop Product Managementas yes, it is all subject to change as technology and markets may bring about course corrections at any time!
When news of virtual NonStop first broke at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp there was talk of NonStop development providing a working “reference architecture.” Turns out NonStop development have gone one step better and provided the marketplace with a reference system, the NS2. Now it certainly has limitations with respect to expansion options (there are none; when you purchase NS2 you have just a couple of choices but then, that’s it, according to the NonStop team), but in simplifying this virtualized converged NS2 NonStop development showcases all that is required to run virtualized NonStop.
Even when armed with the check-list above, it will be prudent for enterprises to consider purchasing the NS2 to ensure their own moves to virtualized NonStop follow a model that can then be supported not only by their own staff but the managed services providers that are already taking steps to provide support and consulting services. This opens the door to much bigger opportunities for some familiar names in the NonStop services arena and it is becoming clear that products and services together will be a much requested option. I anticipate that future Proof of Concepts are going to involve more than just a handful of tools and utilities vendors as simply knowing where to look for the NonStop software offering and making sure you have everything you need will involve new skillsets that are in the embryonic stage.
Simply stated, “NS2 is a complete NonStop solution in reduced footprint that includes compute, storage, and networking in a pre-configured rack-based solution; a turnkey, fault-tolerant NonStop X system in a simple package!” The shadows are retreating and we now know so much more about virtualized NonStop than we did just a matter of a year ago. The important thing to remember here is that for many members of the NonStop user community, there’s excitement enough with the introduction of the NonStop X family of systems and yet, there is a sense of inevitability that ultimately, all of IT will be virtual and now, NonStop will continue to play an important role as mission critical application, no matter the underlying control program or hypervisor will always benefit from fault tolerance!