In addition to his role as Associate Director of Development for Power Development at Fortra, Brian Nordland serves as the technical product manager for PowerHA and Robot HA. Brian has spoken at events, webinars, and user groups—including COMMON—since 2014. He is a co-inventor on multiple patent applications and co-author on technical publications in high availability and distributed computing. He was named an IBM Champion in 2022 and 2023.
Prior to joining Fortra Brian spent six years with IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. Roles at IBM included being the development architect for PowerHA and working on IBM i virtual I/O and communication I/O device drivers. He earned his master's degree in software engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2017.
Q & A with Brian
What’s the most interesting or impactful project that you’ve had the chance to work on?
I'll go with the area that I've spent the most amount of time on. And that would be the high availability technologies on IBM i between Power HA and Robot HA. I think the reason that it's so interesting and impactful is because these are solutions that are designed to work when nothing else in your environment does. We are developing solutions that really protect and prepare organizations for when disaster strikes. I think that purpose of “saving the day” is something that's unique with those types of solutions.
What changes do you foresee in the world of high availability?
I think the biggest thing that's going to continue to happen in high availability is the need to protect yourself against a broader range of events. Also, I think the amount of downtime that companies can tolerate is going to become smaller and smaller. As I talk with more companies, their window for performing activities like operating system upgrades just keeps getting smaller. Sometimes they only have one day out of a whole year on a particular holiday to do some of those critical events. And that’s something that’s becoming increasingly common across all different industries and sectors.
How do you integrate the end user experience and feedback into the development process?
The biggest thing that we focus on is talking with customers and understanding what the biggest challenges are that they're having in their environment and what the problems are that they want to solve.
And by having those discussions, we're able to take requests from our customers and find the commonalities between those requests and deliver a solution that is going to solve those common problems. I think by having those conversations and having them regularly, we're able to make sure we're delivering what's going to be helpful and important for them.
How has high availability evolved since you first got your start?
I think the biggest change since I got my start has been that when I first started with high availability, it mostly involved talking with the largest of companies and the largest of organizations. Now, even the smallest of companies have high availability on their mind as something they need to do. So I think there’s been a major shift in mentality which has since led to a shift in the solutions offered and the amount of emphasis placed on how easy they are to use and implement.
How would you say Fortra’s development of HA impacts the broader IBM i platform and marketplace?
There’s a couple things that come to mind here. First, we have our partnership with IBM for Power HA so we are working with IBM on the Power HA solution and its integration with IBM technologies. We play a large role in bringing the platform forward with that solution. Outside of that, we have our Robot HA solution that covers use cases that maybe aren’t a perfect match for Power HA so that we can cover any sort of high availability challenge that customers may have.