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Virtualization; a world without limits now embraced by NonStop!

By Richard Buckle, Cofounder and CEO, Pyalla Technologies, LLC.


RB Jun 21

There has been so much coverage of late about what is real and what may be a bit of a stretch. When it comes to the NonStop community the one sure thing we can all agree on is that NonStop is real. Likewise, the focus of NonStop on mission critical applications is a constant reminded that technology serves communities best when it provides insights in real time. There are so many terms floating around that it’s oftentimes confusing as to what exactly is being communicated and when it comes to software, for instance, we can all agree that there is a distinction between software that’s real versus vaporware, slideware and even imagine-ware.

For a very brief time, Insession Technologies went so far as to float the idea of branding all their products under the umbrella of smoothware, embraced wholeheartedly by the ACI. That’s right; about the same time as the bubble burst and ACI had completed the acquisition of Insession Inc., collateral was developed in support of this great idea. Fortunately, smoothware lasted about as long as it took to read the data sheets and it quickly fell out of favor. Middleware and firmware accurately described the contribution being made to the technology but smoothware? Once again, “get real” quickly dominated the conversation.

When the editors of The Connection magazine emailed some of us a short time ago asking for articles to be written on the topic of virtual it was very quickly realized that a fundamental shift was underway for NonStop. Planned for the May – June 2021 issue of The Connection, the scope of such a topic was large – who didn’t have an opinion on virtualized NonStop (vNS)? But you can now read it: Virtualization; a world without limits now embraced by NonStop! What might come as a surprise is to know that in 2021, vNS is more than just real, it’s becoming increasingly productive. After all, it was a very long time ago, during the 2015 NonStop Technical Boot Camp that then HPE CTO (and former head of NonStop), Martin Fink suggested that:

“ … when Fink touched on virtualization he touched a nerve with everyone in the audience. “Running on a virtual (environment) on a Linux,” Fink asked before adding, for those interested in the topic, “As an important proof point, we can absolutely get there.” Furthermore, looking at it a little differently, “Wouldn’t it be cool to bring the NonStop value proposition to Linux and bring to market (more) powerful hybrids – a powerful combination.” If there were to be a future for NonStop in clouds, for instance, then there has to be a future for NonStop atop a virtualized world.”

To read more of what Martin Fink had to say about the future of NonStop, check out my December 15, 2015, post Picking the Line to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View. Fast forward today and no conversation about NonStop ends without some reference to virtualization and to virtual machines and with vNS, there are already sites up and running on x86 hardware with supporting RoCE fabrics and where VMware provides the hypervisor. These conversations were the catalyst for my article that made the cut for this latest issue of NonStop Insider. This is where you will read more of the following:

In the post of January 29, 2020, to the HPE Community blog, Virtual: For NonStop it’s a reality! HPE MCS Marketing Manager, Vikas Kapoor, said, “Virtualization is real. In a world where we have grown accustomed to virtual meetings and virtual tours and virtual wallets along with virtual cards, we have seen the progression from physical systems to virtual machines take hold in ways that mirror what we accept in the real world.”

More importantly, according to Kapoor, “When running Virtualized NonStop, anything associating with the backplane and the fabric is replaced by the hypervisor. In the case of VMware, IT is able to configure multiple virtual machines that include not just NonStop processors but also the all-important I/O servers supporting storage and communications, otherwise known as CLIMs. Should there ever be a failure of a hypervisor when running Virtualized NonStop, the system treats this as no different to a failure of a physical server with converged NonStop.”

Yes, virtual is real. It is not something limited to just slideware but rather truly lives and supports enterprises that benefit from separation of the NonStop software stack from the underlying hardware. Without a vNS then any discussions about support for the cloud experience or indeed about the potential to support as-a-Service offerings including GreenLake, wouldn’t be possible. For many NonStop users, taking baby steps on their journey to virtualization is a real possibility and makes a lot of sense. Perhaps deploying vNS in support of development and testing and for running early phase pilots represents the best way to gain experience with vNS.

When it comes to NonStop vendors there are already conversations under way as to who might be best situated to roll out a global virtualized network of vNS systems to support other NonStop vendors and maybe even NonStop users. However, progress on this front needs two things to happen – a vendor and customer demand and the access to facilities to oversee the operations of such a network of vNS offerings. Maybe, just maybe, this might open the door to further sales of NonStop in markets yet to be explored. Transitioning from conversations to working solutions is still a ways off and to some extent does exist primarily in slideware but it would take very little activity to make such approaches to supporting global access to vNS very real indeed.

This too was made clear in my article:

Where the arrival of virtual NonStop steers today’s conversation is towards cloud deployments. Whenever HPE writes about the cloud experience for the most part HPE is highlighting the benefits of turning a combination of traditional systems and private clouds into a hybrid IT environment that takes on the appearance of a single unified cloud. Whether NonStop is running on the traditional systems or virtually, as a VMware supported virtual machine, or both, is not apparent to the end user. With virtual NonStop, NonStop is just one more resource being supported out of the IT organization.

There is nothing far-fetched or smacking of vaporware about vNS. There will always be a market for traditional NonStop, but having the option to run virtual NonStop represents a complementary path down which some NonStop users may want to venture. And to read more of what I wrote in this latest issue of The Connection, follow the hyperlink above. And should you experience any difficulties with the link then simply cut and past the url below into your favorite browser –