The numerous Regional User Group events held over the course of the first half of 2016 have been consistent on one point – the sales of NonStop X systems are ramping up nicely. With little fanfare across the greater HPE community, NonStop X systems are being used as upgrades to existing NonStop systems, as complementary systems in support of adjacent applications to existing NonStop systems, and even in support of brand new applications. The first member of the NonStop X family, the NonStop X NS7 X1, is proving to be a monster, delivering a minimum of 50% more raw performance power than the biggest members on the Itanium based NonStop i family of systems.
After selling well into the NonStop vendor community – particularly with the latest member of the NonStop X family, the NonStop X NS3 X1 (NS3) – deliveries to the broader user community are beginning to tally up. In fact, comForte has already taken delivery of NS3 for internal purposes! One very large big box retailer, having rolled out support for credit card processing as the main application and running it full blast last shopping peak season, is now moving towards all tendering applications being run on NonStop X.
“These NonStop X boxes are screaming,” was the report the retailer gave to NonStop sales management.
At the DUST event in Phoenix, AZ, we heard NonStop sales tell of taking an order for four NonStop X systems, and then at N2TUG in Plano, TX, we heard NonStop sales tell of taking another big order, this time for five NonStop X systems. Only a short time later, OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia, reported that before the year is out, he will increase his order for customer-delivered NonStop X systems from four to six, and this comes after having taken delivery of three NonStop X systems to populate a multi-location cloud computing environment based solely on NonStop.
Migrating applications, middleware, and tools to the NonStop X systems that are all based on the Intel x86 architecture have gone smoothly for most vendors. The effort NonStop R&D put into the compilers to mask the change in endianness has worked well. As difficult as it may have appeared to some in the NonStop community, the port of uLinga to NonStop X proved to be relatively easy to do and the NonStop team was quick to respond to every question that was raised by the InfraSoft developers.
Today, uLinga has been deployed with almost all of the uLinga features finding a customer who needs it. There are many esoteric features of SNA that appeared late in the life of SNA and these are the features very much still being used within the NonStop community.
But perhaps most striking of all is just how few SNA users today are still running over traditional SNA communications wire protocols. More often than not, the network is IP – both TCP/IP and UDP/IP. Long gone are lines carrying the SDLC protocol, just as few sites remain that utilize Token Ring LANs. The ease with which SNA users were able to retain SNA at an application level, even as the underlying networks changed, speaks volumes of just how effective the “layering of SNA” has proved to be.
uLinga Is More Than Just a SNAX Replacement
There is no SNAX support for NonStop X and the guidance coming from NonStop product management is to embrace uLinga. While there is uLinga for DLSw and uLinga for EE that supports SNA over IP and should your requirements extend to needing support for XOT (X.25 over TCP/IP) then let the InfraSoft team know and this too will be accommodated within uLinga.
However, uLinga is a lot more than just a SNAX replacement. While there is uLinga for DLSw and uLinga for EE that supports SNA over IP and where the termination of the protocol is within the NonStop system and requires no additional hardware, uLinga for CICS is beginning to catch on. NonStop users with uLinga for CICS are now in production and there’s every indication that more NonStop users will follow suit.
What makes uLinga for CICS valuable to NonStop users is that it enables NonStop applications that need to communicate with IBM CICS applications to migrate seamlessly from SNA to TCP/IP – without jeopardizing the integrity of these mission-critical applications. InfraSoft ported to NonStop a new protocol, CICS IP interconnectivity (IPIC), developed by IBM whereby any implementation relying on the protocol appears as a peer to every other implementation. It doesn’t matter which end of the link is client or server as both are supported by uLinga for CICS.
As for uLinga for IMS, there are Proof of Concepts (PoC) being conducted and the InfraSoft team view this as an opportunity to modernize existing approaches while further consolidating the role of uLinga. It should be apparent to NonStop users that uLinga is a lot more than just a SNAX replacement as it plays a role in helping those users migrate to all IP networks.
When asked about what makes uLinga worth serious consideration, InfraSoft Managing Director Peter Shell responded, “The power of the uLinga story is that we can support the more traditional SNA environment but with more modern architecture and tools. When you consider our Webcon feature, for instance, who else has a browser based administration and operational interface?”
But that’s just the beginning. Looking at what will be needed for the future, Shell then added, “Supporting traditional SNA is just the starting point for most of our users, as transitioning to the modern IP arena with uLinga for CICS and uLinga for IMS provides even more value for our customers. Not forgetting too that NonStop is now only one platform that uLinga supports.” There’s no SNAX option to run on adjacent Linux systems participating in NonStop/Linux hybrids.
This isn’t news, as SNAX was never designed to run on open systems. However, there is the option to run uLinga on Linux and already there are a number of PoCs under way. The significance of this multiplatform support was in evidence when the move to NonStop X was pursued – InfraSoft developers were already experienced with changes to endianness and knew what to look for – but this has taken a further big leap forward with the appearance of hybrid systems.
With as much promotion as is being given by NonStop product management to hybrids made up of NonStop X and Linux systems, NonStop users will shortly have choice as to where they run their communications stack – while there have been no requests to date to move uLinga outboard of NonStop, in many ways doing so wouldn’t be too different to deploying uLinga on a specialized “programmable” CLIM deployed solely for the purpose of supporting communications.
The partnership between comForte and InfraSoft has proven its value through the years, and this is the latest example. Witnessing NonStop product management electing to guide NonStop users to uLinga over their own product, SNAX, has opened the door for comForte to penetrate the entire NonStop marketplace. Where connectivity with IBM applications such as CICS are required (and there are many instances of this, particularly among financial institutions), comForte with uLinga owns the space. The original meaning of uLinga among Australian aborigines is “to fly” and with NonStop X, it’s become evident that uLinga is taking flight in ways many NonStop users are pleased to see!