The news we are hearing of late about the major vendors reworking strategies to simply keep up with the rate of cloud usage is not being ignored by Data Express management. Indeed, dependency on clouds is becoming a focus area for DataExpress, presenting the company with new opportunities to grow the business. Simply put, and with the years of experience we have in securely managing file transfers, we see clouds as just another resource to be leveraged in the same manner as we would consider leveraging any “intelligent” controller that might come from a vendor. The current model for NonStop X systems still features external controllers, CLIMs. There are CLIMs for storage and CLIMs for networking and now we have really big CLIMs that are totally programmable. And more importantly, HPE NonStop development is providing an API to simplify inter-process communications. For almost a year all in the NonStop vendor community have been made aware of the power and indeed flexibility of NSADI – the new NonStop Application Direct Interface.
As the name suggests, this opens up the ability to populate buffers in adjacent systems without any need to interact with its OS. Latency is way down as a result and further, designing new infrastructure and middleware can now be undertaken without worrying too much about getting everything ported to a single platform – processes can run on platforms best suited to the needs of the process, whether it’s language support or even level of availability.
According to HPE, “NSADI opens up new possibilities for architecting modern, mission-critical solutions using closely knit applications running on Linux and NonStop systems. These could be targeted for deployments in financial services, retail, data-analytics, patient care, IoT and others where the industry needs highly innovative yet mission critical solutions.” And yes, this opens up consideration of new features for DataExpress.
From our perspective, the provision of NSADI enables viewing NonStop as part of a Converged Infrastructure (CI) offering. In other words, the day when HPE delivers a Converged System (CS) comprising servers, storage, networking and related OS stacks isn’t that far away. Indeed, HPE drew our attention to the fact that there are already NonStop-centric solutions vendors already testing CS offerings that include NonStop and Linux where NSADI is part of the glue binding the CS. DataExpress already supports a NonStop product offering – DataExpress for NonStop (DXNS) as well as an open platform product offering – Data Express for Open Platforms (DXOP). Combining them for better exploitation of a CI represents the next logical step in the life of DataExpress.
For some time now we have held back from the NonStop world a product offering that runs in the open platform space, called DataExpress Secure Gateway (DXSG). Designed to sit outside the firewall for DXOP, we have taken renewed interest in making it work in the same manner for DXNS. In other words, we could run a portion of DX outside of NonStop on a Unix, Windows or Linux box – but then again, among traditional NonStop users, who would do that? Well, along came the CLIMs and then of course, clouds appeared on the horizon. It’s almost a given that everything running on NonStop today doesn’t need to be running on NonStop and we are seeing more and more customers re-evaluating what runs where. The cloud is certainly going to gain it’s supporters who see value in running some process (and store some data) from within the cloud.
CI can just as easily be a mix of NonStop and Linux as it can be a mix of NonStop and a private cloud. To support this reality, we have nearly all the building blocks in place to provide something fresh to address this changing landscape – DataExpress Cloud Access (DXCA). With DXCA, NonStop users will still run DXNS on NonStop but have DXCA available running inside the cloud. What this would provide is the ability to deploy files into the cloud, safely, securely and fully automated under the oversight of DataExpress and from there, files could be moved anywhere applications or users need to access them..
To better illustrate this capability, imagine a scenario where a task running on NonStop takes a selection of data at a specific time (or some other configured trigger) and then shunts it securely to the DXSG process via NSADI. Fast, secure, monitored and logged. The DXSG process would receive the data as a file and then automatically deal with it per its pre-configured rules – to revisit the model of DataExpress operating much like a files’ FedEx, the cloud could be then viewed similarly to a FedEx hub. DXNS would then notify all parties, as appropriate, of delivery or failure, depending on how it was configured.
CI is only the starting point as increasingly talk has turned to Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) which is CI but where everything is software defined. Getting a version of DataExpress into the market for CI will see further opportunities for DataExpress in HCI as everything today about DataExpress is software-defined already and no matter the paradigm of choice for future data center configurations, there will always be requirements to move files and DataExpress is all about moving those files.