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Are your mission-critical applications on NonStop?


What’s in a name?


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet."


Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)


The ill-fated Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's play of tragic love. They are destined for tragedy as members of two feuding families. Here Juliet famously tells Romeo that a name is just a meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague".  To find out how it turns out you’ll just have to read the play, watch a performance or rent the DVD…


While we can agree and sympathize with Juliet that indeed a rose by any other name does truly smell as sweet, we must recognize the corollary is not.  Calling something a rose that is not a rose does not make it smell like a rose.


Many companies have expanded and extended the definition of “mission-critical”. It is used to describe many applications that would be suspect as ‘mission-critical’ (i.e. A company would fail without it).  The term has become much diluted but be that as it may, there are indeed mission-critical applications and services running in every business.  As the wave of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), mobility and globalization has become reality there is a heightened need for 24x7x365 availability.  As many are aware the latest IDC report “The Worldwide and US High-Availability Server 2011-2015 Forecast and Analysis” reported that NonStop was in the very elite class of AL-4 rated systems.  IDC has 4 availability levels 1-4 each based on the impact to the user during a failure.  A rating of AL-4 means the user is completely unaware of the failure.  It is important to note that there is not a single clustered system or clustered database with an AL-4 rating.  They are all rated at AL-3 or less, which means that during a failure there is a noticeable perception to the end user that something happened.  Just how noticeable varies depending on the solution.  So a question arises, if an AL-4 system is available for a mission-critical application at the same or lower price as an AL-3 system, why isn’t the mission-critical application/service running on it?  I know many application providers have not embraced NonStop.  In part this was due to the MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) architecture used on NonStop instead of SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) architecture.  This is understandable since few providers want to support multiple code bases for their offerings.  However there are many custom written mission-critical applications that should be revisited for migration to NonStop.  First because it is the most available system and outages are becoming increasingly costly.  Second it provides the older COBOL compilers but offers a chance to modernize these corporate custom applications to modern languages and frameworks.  NonStop supports Java, SASH
framework (and others), JBoss, Tomcat, SOAP, (see: ) and most modern utilities and development (see:  ).  So this is a chance to modernize AND increase availability.  There is a third reason that is becoming even more significant and that is security.  In NonStop we don’t tout our security but searches on almost any vulnerability, virus or worm site will yield very few, if any NonStop events (for example: ).  It is a system not well known to hackers.  Hackers are mostly targeting Windows and Linux.  If you have your mission-critical applications or services on those platforms, security is a serious and costly concern.  The Stuxnet worm demonstrated a government against government cyber-attack.  It was developed to infiltrate shop floor control systems by winding its way through Window servers.  Can industrial attacks be far behind (or might they have preceded Stuxnet?)


As NonStop begins to discuss Indestructible Scalable Computing (ISC) again with the release of TS/MP 2.5 and several active/active database partners NonStop can truly be configured, off-the-shelf for 100% availability.  Since the early days NonStop has always been focused on both planned and unplanned outages.  Generally outages were discussed by percentages of hardware, software, application, operation/maintenance and environmental outages however security is a new threat to availability.  It has become prevalent and needs to be added to the list.  The issues around virus, malware and cyber-attacks causes both planned (patch Tuesday) and unplanned ($$$) outages for other platforms.  A quick review of some recent material suggests security breaches aren’t discovered for over 200 days.  Cleaning a virus within a company will cost several million dollars. That 9 out of 10 new BYOD devices are vulnerable to attack. Shouldn’t it be a best practice to place your corporate mission-critical applications/services and data on the most available and safest platform? 


I was viewing an HP internal digital field kick-off video showing Meg in a panel discussion with some HP executives.  Meg started reminiscing about her days at eBay and the famous 22 hour outage that dropped eBay’s market capitalization $10B in 48 hours when she was CEO.  She shared that she had post-traumatic stress from that outage and that when she hears about HP customer outages it makes her physically ill.  Having a CEO in charge that understands outages to that degree is good for NonStop.  Hopefully everyone has seen Meg’s video announcing the NonStop x86 direction (! ). Meg understands availability and all the costs associated with outages. She appreciates NonStop and the confidence it provides to our customers.  It should be a goal to prevent your CEO from having post-traumatic stress over a mission-critical outage.


So are your ‘mission-critical’ applications on a NonStop?



About the Author



Every link seems to be working except the Romeo & Juliet link but I'm sure anyone getting to this blog won't have trouble finding a copy of the play.  Cheers.

Author's note:  It has been pointed out that the IBM Z-series Sysplex configuration has also been rated at AL-4.  In the article I said there is not a single clustered system or database with the AL-4 rating.  When I wrote that I was thinking of standard clustering software and databases on Unix, Linux and Windows based platforms.  To give IBM it's due, yes Sysplex is rated AL-4 however in my defense the Sysplex environment is a very complex high-availability architecture that requires a lot of customization.  It is not off-the-shelf availability like NonStop.  Owing to it's customization and complexity I did not consider it when I mentioned the clustered systems and databases.