SN: What areas of expertise have you brought to Insider Technologies?
DH: I have worked with NonStop since 1985, mostly with end-users, from being a C programmer right through to system architecture.
For many years I worked in the City of London, architecting and delivering large projects on NonStop. I learned that collaboration, a committed team, and rigorously followed standards were the critical elements for delivering quality software.
I am delighted and excited to bring my experience to Insider Technologies.
SN: So, how is your new role different from working with end-user organizations?
DH: Moving from an end-user to a vendor has its challenges and opportunities. The business is the software, and above all else, our customers must have the confidence that we will continue to deliver. An end-user will generally have one internal customer department; we have many customer organizations and continue to look for new ones. It’s a fine balancing act between innovation and stability. We continue to develop but architect the software to minimize any change risk.
Insider Technologies is a small agile company. This means it is a very exciting place to work where one day I will be writing fault-tolerant TAL and the next working on marketing strategy. This variety keeps me wanting to get out of bed in the morning!
SN: What have you learned about the business of Insider Technologies and their relationship with HPE NonStop?
DH: Insider has been in the NonStop space for over 30 years. We ensure that we remain competitive, always looking to enhance and develop our core system monitoring, workload automation, and payments monitoring solutions. We understand our customers extremely well.
NonStop remains a key part of our business strategy. It’s fundamentally unique, and our NonStop products form the backbone of our existence.
SN: You have taken on the responsibility as Product Owner. What does this entail?
DH: Simply, my job is to maintain our Workflow Automation tools for existing customers and evolve them so that they remain relevant and attractive to new customers.
We now have a road map, updated on a three-monthly basis, which shows the enhancements we plan to make over the next two years. It is all too easy to get lost in the detail of delivery and not take account of the bigger picture. By reviewing regularly, we can refine our direction and ensure efforts are best utilized. We may have limited resources, but being focused allows us to deliver on our priorities.
Also, critically, we have introduced metrics and estimation
This is in itself an evolving process where we become ever more accurate, using constant feedback to refine the metrics.
Of course, our customers are the most important stakeholders. They should know for their own planning purposes when changes are to be delivered. We need to get to a point where our customers are active contributors and challenge what we do.
SN: You talked about the innovation and stability; how does this play out for your products?
DH: This is something that is constantly on my mind. We have some very long-standing customers that we must consider are the most important asset. It is imperative that our products continue to deliver for them and that we are responsive to their needs.
At the same time, we must look at what HPE is doing with NonStop and ensure that our products keep pace.
My strategy is to maintain and improve the loosely coupled nature of our software. We add new optional elements without disrupting what is there already. Hey, who says you can’t have the best of all worlds?
SN: What do you see as the significant challenges for NonStop?
DH: NonStop must maintain relevance as a solution for transaction-intensive mission-critical applications. HPE is 100% behind NonStop and believes the reliability and scalability still provide a unique proposition.
NonStop will continue to service high-end enterprise applications for the storage and manipulation of large amounts of complex data and support the automation of business processes associated with that data. These applications need to be delivered more quickly, more regularly, and fit with today’s end-user expectations.
Essentially the NonStop must do what it has always done, be ultra-reliable and almost unnoticed but additionally must now seamlessly work with other platforms in an open environment.
Of course, there is a huge 40+ years of application investment running on NonStop. This is not going away any time soon, but for these applications to stay relevant, I see re-use modernization as a critical challenge.
NonStop X has meant companies are looking at their existing investment in a different way. Also, with HPE’s continuing investment, including in OSS, there is now no reason why the advantages of NonStop can’t form part or all of a user’s IT infrastructure investment.
Now using industry-standard hardware, albeit, with the necessary reference architecture, NonStop in a Private/Hybrid Cloud is a massive move forward. HPE is ensuring NonStop remains entirely relevant.
I must also mention the community; those working on NonStop have always had a unique commitment and loyalty. Once you’ve worked on NonStop and embraced the integrated nature of the software, you somehow become attached. As the community gets older, it is our responsibility to evangelize NonStop to the next generation.
SN: You talk about re-use modernization. What do you mean?
DH: If you accept the case for modernization, you have three choices: rewrite, buy a pre-existing package or re-use. Of course, the first two mean you could move away from NonStop, but for those who want to maintain the NonStop benefits, minimize cost and risk, the re-use option is a credible proposition.
If a modern application environment where APIs, micro services, and container technologies are prevalent, we must look for ways to leverage our existing investment into this modern environment.
We have a project to update our Workload Automation tools that includes a new HTML5 interface and the use of APIs. I spent a considerable amount of time researching solutions and executing a proof of concept; these new features now appear as deliverables on our roadmap.
SN: You also mentioned OSS. What is its significance for you?
DH: HPE is offering more and more OSS versions of standard open-source software. For example, NonStop HTTP Server 2.4, a port of Apache HTTP Server Version 2.4.41, is now available. An investment is NonStop no longer locks you into proprietary software.
I see an opportunity in the OSS space for our Workload Automation tools. My view is that applications will begin to span the Guardian and OSS spaces more and more; our tools can be the glue that allows them to run together seamlessly.
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