Predicting the future has never been easy but when it comes to NonStop there are trends that shouldn’t be ignored!
How much attention should we pay to the declarations made by leading industry analysts? Like many software vendors with solutions for the NonStop community we receive our fair share of research notes and analyst predictions. While we cannot ignore them there are still many that simply forecast changes ahead solely to consolidate their position in the marketplace – how many companies, for instance, gave up on Apple back in the 1990s? Who purchased Google glasses?
“When the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it and no more will it be heard of it,” so said Oxford Professor, Erasmus Wilson, in 1878. “Rock ‘N’ Roll? It will be gone by June,” wrote Variety Magazine in 1955. And perhaps everyone’s all-time favorite, “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad” so advised the President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company. These failed predictions appeared in a list of “the future that never happened” and when it comes to betting the business on any one IT analyst’s prediction, a great deal of caution still needs to be exercised.
It was legendary baseball commentator Yogi Berra, who once proclaimed, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” and yet as an industry, we are adept at doing this very thing. Perhaps the most interesting prediction of late, however, may not be as far from the mark as some speculate. The general elevation of hubs shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone within IT. Functionally very similar to the airport hubs that dominate the airline industry, their advantages indeed necessity has become obvious to many, particularly in the finance industry. Gartner wrote of the elevation of hubs or, to be more precise, the payments hub in papers first published in 2008.
However, in a subsequent paper published in 2009, What’s in a Payment Services Hub: Building the Next Generation of Banks’ Payment Architecture, Gartner refined the term yet again, as it introduced the payments service hub. One publication providing commentary about the Gartner report remarked how “Payment service hubs (PSHs), however, could help banks overcome the traditional silos separating payments solutions and promote efficiency, the Stamford, Conn.-based research and advisory firm says. Without an enterprise-wide view of payments operations, it is difficult for a bank to assess the flows of funds moving in and out of the bank and, thus, to measure its risk exposure. Further, banks are hard-pressed to find the most efficient means to fulfill payments and provide the best customer service possible.”
The NonStop community has been aware of hubs for decades, dating back to the early slides on Zero Latency Enterprise (ZLE), a term too coined by Gartner well before 2008. That NonStop pursued development of such a hub is to their credit even if early iterations fell short of customer expectations and lost favor with NonStop management – a possible case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater – but it’s now looking more than likely that given the fervor of Gartner’s predictions, it will be revisited in the near term. The Payments Services Hub idea has already resonated with HP and even with NonStop solutions vendors and according to HP NonStop solutions architects, they pretty much have the ‘future’ system Gartner is discussing available today.
There is now a growing sense that they may have to add some new payment options but with Gartner stressing not implementing the Payment Service Hub as a big bang, but bringing it up in pieces, may play nicely with what HP is now proposing for NonStop X and Hybrids. According to one HP NonStop source, the Hub is different from a switch based on the extensive use of rules to determine where the payment transaction will need to go on the backend. The payment transaction may end up in a number of backend banking systems based on channel and content so the understanding is that a Hub requires more intelligence.
The team at DataExpress sees considerable value in the concept of a payments services hub as it has the potential for simplifying the task of securely transferring files. DataExpress product is a payments service in every sense, “managing the secure transfer of files between sites whether inter or intra company is our core strength and we are sure there will be more than one payments solutions vendor embracing this technology,” said DataExpress CEO, Billy Whittington. “Nothing is ever guaranteed and supporting a hub model as described by Gartner has its risks, but bringing relevant data together in the hub and then moving it to wherever it needs to go does come with added security benefits”.
One obvious advantage of a hub architecture is the added value that comes with easily plugging in additional modules and processes to better address new market opportunities and this too is a situation DataExpress foresees as well. “With hubs, you will likely get well-defined APIs for access so inserting a server for instance dedicated to securely moving files,” added Whittington, “becomes a lot easier to do and again, fits with the need by most companies to have such servers in the DMZ”.
It may indeed be tough to make predictions but even when they have been well articulated by experts, it’s often just as tough to know how deeply to commit – something that has befallen many in the software industry. “All we can do here at DataExpress is to make sure any request we receive to support such payments services hub is addressed to the benefit of our customers and trendy or otherwise, this will always be something we pursue – customer’s requests are what has led to our continued success here at DataExpress.”