Migrations from one system to another are just like relocating from one city to another. No matter our circumstances, we all have aversions to moving house and yet, for IT professionals, it happens a lot but when we are faced with a system upgrade that can only be described as a migration, while we may not suffer the same aversion (there’s always some excitement about getting a new, faster, bigger, computer) we are often left wondering, “now what?” Point is, no sooner have we completed one migration and settled back into the routine of processing transactions than the work begins on the next migration.  

System vendors have been releasing more powerful versions of systems since the first system was uncrated on a loading dock. NonStop computers once were sizable pieces of hardware – both VLX and Cyclone systems, when delivered, couldn’t be confused with photocopiers any more than they could be confused with refrigerators. But no longer, as standardization now prevails and systems are more or less packaged similarly and are housed in chassis that originated in the telco markets – 19” racks into which the original “pizza box” could be inserted, but more often these days upright blades that could be processors or storage or even communications controllers. Just looking down the aisles within a modern data center where there are racks upon racks of blades it isn’t always that easy to spot the computer anymore!

For the NonStop community the move to blades was a huge step forward along the road to commoditization and standardization. However, the move to the Intel x86 architecture has proved to be an even bigger step as it now confirms NonStop’s potential over the long haul. The same modern data centers with aisles of racks are dominated by either Power chips or Intel x86 chips and for most enterprises, it is the x86 chip that has become the dominant processor, especially as these enterprises embrace Hybrid IT and look to run private clouds. The NonStop community may have moved to Itanium blades and have been happy with the performance gains versus the older MIPS chips, but now, there’s a huge incentive to move yet again. So, that nagging question of “now what” seems to have been answered – we can ride the x86 roadmap for as long as Intel continues with the investment.

“We have customers who have been DataExpress users for a very long time and with each migration,” observed DataExpress CEO Billy Whittington, “we have proven ourselves on the new technology being introduced. From our perspective, we have seen it all and really aren’t surprised any longer with what vendors provide but these migrations to x86 that we are seeing have us pretty excited. Who knew that HPE would be making such a commitment to the NonStop community even if it was at the expense of other products in the HPE product portfolio.”  Of course, the special sauce being delivered by NonStop development is the OS – the new L-Series OS and middleware stack are a big insurance policy for NonStop users. Once migration to the L-Series has been completed then the option to run either traditional or virtual opens up and this is an important consideration that mitigates further complexity should the NonStop user step into private clouds – no more changes needed!

“We have been working with one of our longest running NonStop users, who also happen to be one of the largest financial enterprises in the country, during their migrations from one NonStop product line to the next. While the NonStop team may have made the transition easy, it’s still a challenging task each time,” added Whittington. “For them, like everyone, cost was an important consideration and clearly, the numbers provided by HPE favor NonStop X both in terms of footprint as well as bottom line pricing. They have been through every possible migration since they first embraced the NonStop K Series and they anticipate that the NonStop team would be right in saying that the migration to L-Series would be transparent for their customers.”

Costs are critical not just for the NonStop X system itself but all of the accompanying middleware, tools, utilities and solutions. “When it comes to system migrations involving NonStop, we have seen price creep happening across the board,” said Whittington. “But there are occasions where the value of the product being provided is hard to dispute. Our customer considered at one point writing their own utilities but ultimately, they realized that they weren’t in the software business. There was a real reason why they were running DataExpress NonStop (DXNS) in support of over forty copies of the file transfer product, ConnectDirect. In their case, simply contemplating building their own equivalent to DXNS and providing continued support/enhancement etc. to reduce costs just didn’t make economic sense. After hearing about new financial models proposed by the NonStop team, we have elected to follow suit and this is helping our customers control costs in a way that is beneficial to both parties.”

Migrations of systems are similar to moving house and just as we all want to enjoy a smooth transition while relocating, perhaps more importantly, we want to enjoy the same seamless migrations between systems. HPE has most definitely done their homework when it comes to NonStop X and the L series software and they have helped vendors like us make the migration fairly painless as a result. Will there be further migrations to consider at some point? Safe to say, assuredly! But then again, that is the history of computing in a nutshell – it’s the next system that is really going to help us accommodate the requirements of our end users. If only we knew for sure what the next system was going to be, but until that time comes, we begin preparing for the next migration as soon as the current one wraps up. It was left to one industry analyst to state that the real definition of legacy is any application that has been put into production and much the same can be said about systems. For sure, the day we switch it on, its successor is just about to be announced? Migrations?  They will just keep on coming …

Should a migration be in the works for your enterprise and you would like to know what we have achieved with DataXpress for our customers migrating to NonStop X, then just give us a call as we would be only too happy to talk with you about the plans you may be putting in place for your very own migration.