Friday, 11 December 2015

Hybrid architecture for ATM networks: It’s music to a CIO's ears!

Asked who he listens to, Eric Clapton once replied, 'JJ Cale', and in later years these maestro musicians teamed to transform numerous well-known songs in a way few would have thought possible (check out their medley of 'After Midnight' and 'They Call me the Breeze'). Even now, I can tell it's JJ Cale playing a tune on the radio after just a couple of picks — he was that good.

I wish this were true with ATMs. If every financial transaction had an audio track, I could tell within just a few 'notes' whether it’s routing my personal information via a NonStop system. The folks at HPE tell me that in America the chances of my ATM transaction not passing through at least one NonStop is really slim. But being able to identify the systems involved would satisfy any uneasy feelings I might have about who else might be 'listening in' on my transaction.

HPE has said that they will be helping enterprises migrate to what they see as the next development in technology. They also have said that the world of public clouds is not for them, preferring instead to work with enterprises to implement data centre-located private clouds, and in the process, helping clients transform for what calls the new 'Idea Economy' an environment in which 'ubiquitous access to technology and digital connections provides the opportunity to turn ideas into business value faster than at any time in history'.

HP has said that such a transformation involves a 'hybrid architecture to power the apps that run your business', a further nod to mixing legacy with private clouds, and the first step on the journey to the idea economy. The days of rip-and-replace, or even throwing the big switch, are long gone – risk averse CIOs prefer more soothing transformations given all that has gone wrong with such attempts in the past. I can even hear that music as I type – something from a Wagnerian opera, of course, with lots of thunderous crashing cymbals in the background.

To some extent, financial Institutions have been engaged in transformation of their environment ever since they added local processing intelligence at branches — a move to distributed processing that was followed by client-server solutions when PCs took hold and LANs prevailed. Indeed, as HPE has observed, 'every company is on a transformation journey or they might not last (in business) much longer'.

Without reservation, the smart money is on FIs decoupling or disaggregating applications from systems in such a manner that the component on which an application is running will likely shift day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, to better match transaction traffic to the most cost-effective resource.

As FI CIOs continue to support an implementation model based on a payments solution hub, termination of transaction traffic from any channel might not occur on a particular system, or (in a world with hybrid architecture in place) even a particular component. Like a giant pipe organ with different stops open, monitoring software might route traffic flow to almost anywhere in the hybrid.

This raises the possibility of even greater flexibility in the future. CIOs have always welcomed choice, and hybrid architectures give them options that they previously might not have thought possible. Available system hardware will no longer be a restriction on the services provided.

HPE NonStop systems have been deployed as part of early-stage, hybrid-configuration PoCs operating combinations of NonStop, Linux and Windows; the results of these deployments are just beginning to be made public. While everything can run on NonStop and inherit the industry's best level of availability, this is not always necessary.  

I often check my account balance at an ATM. Does this function need to be running on a NonStop? Well, not necessarily. But then I withdraw cash; does this transaction benefit from running on NonStop? You'd better believe it — and knowing that it did would definitely be music to my ears.

The music we all like to hear coming from an ATM is the methodical dispensing of our cash — in the right amount, and with the correct accounting taking place in real time. This might not be as melodic or entertaining as a couple of maestro musicians, but cash in our hands can be every bit as soothing.

Ten solutions might no longer require 10 systems; eight might very well be adequate. Knowing that they can find balance among options and not overpay for underutilized technology, CIOS in the process of dismantled information siloes can now consider how to turn more ideas into greater business value faster.

No one in the financial industry will ever accuse a CIO of being laid back — not to mention being so that laid back that he flips over. The nature of the job across an increasingly competitive landscape suggests the exact opposite. And yet, with options, choice, and better use of valuable resources, services at even the lowliest ATM can expand in a manner that is music to a CIO's ears!

About the author: Richard Buckle is the founder and CEO of Pyalla Technologies LLC. He has enjoyed a long association with the IT industry as a user, vendor, and more recently, as an industry commentator.

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