NonStop Under 40 – Operation Support – Part 1

Part 1 – Grooming the Next Generation

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There are good news and bad news in the world of NonStop Operation support.

First, the good news: NonStop operation support teams have always been known to be one of the most technical and versatile groups in any enterprise environment. The teams embodies a wealth of technical knowledge that is just as critical in ensuring the fault tolerance of the applications as the underlying NonStop hardware and Guardian operating system. They can diagnose and fix issues ranging from hardware, system software, application scheduling, database, network and others.

Now, the bad news: Many members of that superb NonStop technical team are either retiring or looking to retire soon. What are you going to do to replace that talent pool? Is there a way to bring in new and younger resources to support your NonStop systems and applications to ensure it will continue to run smoothly?

I believe the answer is: “Yes.” But it requires a new set of considerations.

“Set the right expectations”

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Let’s face it: Any new, young person you are hiring to learn the NonStop will never acquire the same level of knowledge as the retiring members. Why? Because most of the existing team members have accumulated their expertise through years (actually decades) of work experience. In fact, they have acquired knowledge for them to do work that usually require multiple people on other platforms like Windows or Unix to perform, e.g. Safeguard security (Security Department), Database and TMF (DBA), Web applications (eCommerce and Network team), Operating Systems (Architects), etc.

So, don’t expect any incoming new hire to be able to step into those big shoes any time soon, if ever. This is an important point because that clarifies the scope of what you are trying to accomplish with this new generation of team members. But that doesn’t mean that the new team member couldn’t be just as productive in many areas. It just requires some proper planning and commitments. First step is…

“Define the tasks that need to be done”

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While some NonStop organizations have “Run Books” for operation, quite often, they are not maintained up to date. Even if they are, they represent only a subset of activities that NonStop Support team performs on a regular basis. Most NonStop shops will tell you that many NonStop operation activities revolve around dealing with things that come up unexpectedly. Ad hoc events like:

“This application seems to be not responding…”

“We got errors coming out on EMS that we don’t understand…”

“That disk is very busy…”
These tasks require a lot of technical experience to address, and usually we take it for granted that the team knows from experience what steps to follow to analyze the problem. If we are to bring in new members to support Operations, it is important that the tasks be defined and procedures be “codified” properly.  

 I am not suggesting that we go back and create volumes and volumes of run time documentation. But, I believe we should at least categorize the level of operation support work that needs to be performed, so that a new comer can learn to grow into that certain technical level incrementally.

As an example of the “Technical Ladder”:

Level 1 – Basic operations to be functional on the system. Start and Stop jobs. Execute job streams.

Level 2 – What to monitor on the system. Look for error messages. Follow standard recovery procedure.

Level 3 – Handling problems. How to trouble shoot. Analyze performance issues, etc.

There is no one size fits all, and every organization needs to define what fits their environment.

“Have a training plan”

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Finally, you need to commit to training the new comer to do those defined tasks.

Hint: Sending the new hire to standard NonStop Education class does not automatically fulfill your commitment to address this need.

In fact, I advocate that training the next generation of support team members on using the NonStop requires a whole new approach to training beyond standard HPE classes. I propose a new training paradigm that includes: Just-in-time training, Learning through analogies and Modern GUI tools. I will discuss these in my next blog (Part 2) installment.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.

Disparate Data Sources and Targets?

Bring it all Together with TIC!IMG_002

As a firm grows, they often find themselves with several computing technologies that have been implemented over time – especially if firms merge with another company through acquisition or partnership. This can lead to technological challenges with data archiving, access, delivery, processing and reporting across frequently disparate hardware and software platforms. That’s where highly specialized IT experts like those found here at TIC come in; with our software modernization solutions to address these requirements – we can easily mingle the apples with the oranges.

Aside from comprehensive consulting services to create unique and innovative solutions for our clients, we offer a comprehensive line of products specifically designed to extend NonStop applications and integrate these with new technology. Our product offerings fall into five distinct categories:

  • Data Flow – designed to integrate NonStop data with other platforms to automate and enhance the delivery of reports and information across the enterprise. Products in this line integrate with a wide variety of communication protocols including web, email, fax and FTP.
  • Gateway Development – enables the integration of legacy applications to operate with other hardware and software platforms including Windows, .NET, SOAP, XML and Web services.
  • Business Intelligence – transforms NonStop report data into multi-dimensional views to facilitate interactive reporting that enables dynamic report building and analysis for better business decision making.
  • Application Modernization – innovative model-driven architectural solution for extending Nonstop applications and integrating with new technology – this streamlined method requires no manual coding and provides comprehensive application generation that is tested automatically as it is created, and conforms to accepted code standardization testing norms.

Since 1983, we’ve been providing our clients’ a comprehensive range of consulting services and software products all designed to keep their NonStop systems current with the latest technology – to best address their business and IT requirements. As hardware systems and software applications continue to evolve, so too do we, to strive to keep looking ahead and moving forward to anticipate our clients’ ever-changing needs. One of the things we’re most proud of is that many of our clients’ have been with us since day one – and we continue to work with them to help address, and meet, the challenges of today.

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Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.

Modernization – Our Ever-changing Perspective

From the Age of Enlightenment to Scientific Revolution & Legacy Application

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It seems that every generation thinks that the methods they employ are so modern, and that generations past were so old school and out of touch. As technology evolves – and more and more computing power is integrated into our everyday lives – the generation gap seems to widen. Today, we read about cars that one day may drive themselves (a frightening thought), refrigerators that will order food to restock themselves (potentially a fattening thought), and smart houses that will adjust environmental and entertainment settings to our every whim (remember when you actually had to get up to change the television channel).

According to Wikipedia, the basic principles of modernization theory began in the late 1800’s in the Age of Enlightenment with the idea that people themselves could develop and change their society. The origins of this theory are based upon the pretexts of technological advancements, economic changes and social development and the effect they have upon moral and social values and how these lead to continuous progress and improvement in human affairs.

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3 Quick Ways that TIC LogWatch Can Enhance Your NonStop Appilcation Logs

logwatch-monitor-183 TIC LogWatch

Are you looking for ways to make better use of your NonStop Application logs?

TIC LogWatch is a Guardian program that watches different log files, looks for error patterns, and generates alerts when an anomaly is detected.

Here are some quick out-of-the-box ways that TIC LogWatch can be used to enhance your NonStop logs. Continue reading

Happy 2015! Modernize Forward to NonStop X!

When we started working with Tandem/NonStop technology in the 1980’s, we along with the rest of the user community put our faith in this rock-solid computing foundation, with fault tolerance, high performance and scalability at its center stage. Today, those fundamentals remain the key tenets of the platform, while we have witnessed a continuous evolution and modernization of the hardware and software architectures. We anticipate 2015 to be an exciting year as HP highlight their continuous commitment to the NonStop platform with the NonStop X announcement.

Intel XEON

The availability of NonStop X means that the future is brighter than ever for the NonStop community as this platform continues to evolve – to meet and exceed customer expectations. The arrival of this new architecture means faster processing power, higher scalability, new software offerings and room for more mission critical applications. That also translates into new opportunities to modernize your enterprise applications to take full advantage of all that the NonStop infrastructure has to offer. Continue reading

Log Management- Planning Ahead Saves Time and Resources

Busy person“I am too busy to plan!”

It seems like most IT professionals today are so busy keeping up with day-to-day tasks, not to mention myriad unexpected issues that arise; that project planning and time management often take a back seat., Besides, “planning” sounds like such an “open-ended” thing that is frequently deemed a waste of time and lost in the shuffle.

 

In fact, a little proactive planning could save a lot of time and stress in the future. And it does not have to take up a lot of time, e.g. like planning how to better deal with production issues. Continue reading

Make Application Modernization a 2015 Priority

Happy2015

Help Your Business (& yourself) with Application Modernization

It’s that time of year again – when our thoughts turn to the holidays and year-end business gets wrapped up. As we turn the page on the calendar and begin planning for the forthcoming year – many of us will make New Year’s resolutions – and the majority of us will fail to keep them. So, this year, let’s make one we can keep that will benefit both our business and ourselves by making our jobs a bit (and potentially a lot) easier – Application Modernization.

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3 Good Reasons for Application Modernization

Your company’s NonStop application was developed years, if not decades, ago; and you’re wondering whether to move on to new technology which may be a big headache, or update your current system, which you suspect may be an even bigger one. Well, fret no more as legacy application modernization may just be the answer you’ve been searching for… Continue reading

Do you know your Modernization Project requirements?

You guys start coding, I’ll go find out what they want
You undoubtedly have seen the broadly circulated cartoon with this punch line. It’s funny because for many of us it comes too close to reality of many projects that are done with very poorly defined requirements. You have also probably seen the famous “Tree Swing” cartoon of requirements drift that has floated around for years.  In this cartoon, a collection of improbable variations on a simple tree swing diverge further and further from the client’s desire for an old car tire tied by a rope to a sturdy tree branch.  Here are two of my favorite panels from “Tree Swing”.

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Does it have to be this way?  Let’s find out. The usual way that requirements are documented begins in a requirements meeting, often the first of so many. Continue reading

Legacy Application Modernization – You Can Have it All

Obsolescence – it’s a fact of life. Wikipedia defines the term as “the state of being when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order.” We always want the next big thing; the latest Smartphone, the next tablet, the newest car. But with legacy systems – you can keep the past AND have the latest technology. Have your cake and eat it too…

Modernizing legacy applications with the latest enhancements for web services and communications has enabled many firms in a variety of industries to update their current platforms with today’s technology. Every day, organizations in banking and financial services, government, education, healthcare and manufacturing and distribution and other data-centric sectors, choose to keep their systems current and operating smoothly; and the firm they choose to assist with these efforts is TIC Software. Continue reading