Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Oh Canada! NonStop RUG, CTUG, enjoys a packed house.

Every successful system and platform attracts an ecosystem; whether it’s groups of users, vendors, service providers and even media channels all of them provide a vital “service” and NonStop is seeing it’s ecosystem continue to grow …

As readers of the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, know all too well, when opportunity to drive somewhere to meet with the NonStop community presents itself and there’s time on the calendar to make the tip possible, you can count on Margo and me to put in the hours behind the wheel to get there. And the drive to Mississauga, Ontario is always one of the longer trips on our calendar we do our very best to make sure we make it. Last year was a little bit of a let-down as for one reason or another we attended MATUG outside Washington D.C. but found we had no time to drive to Canada. Oh dear …

But logistics aside, we missed listening to Mr. T – Jimmy Treybig – and I suspect further opportunities to hear from Jimmy will lessen in time so yes, from that perspective, electing to drive can be sometimes problematic. As for this year, choosing CTUG meant we couldn’t make it to NENUG that this year represented a combination of community members from New England and New York. On the other hand, being a participant at this year’s CTUG event was reward enough to make the time behind the wheel enjoyable.

The HPE NonStop development team is moving fast. This has been the message coming from its leader, Andy Bergholz, whenever he has the opportunity to address a large gathering of NonStop users. It’s not something that Andy simply throws out there on a whim but rather, truly reflects all that is taking place in support of NonStop. To paraphrase a popular commercial, “You don’t know NonStop” if you have missed any recent NonStop events as it’s front and center in the march to hybrid infrastructure with converged systems. And it isn’t stopping with this as at CTUG we were briefed on much more that is in store for NonStop that continued to surprise even the hardiest of NonStop supporters.

The good news is that from my perspective, I am seeing the team from NonStop development working more closely with the NonStop vendor community. When one question was raised late in the day about the potential for NonStop development to develop a capability, the response was unequivocal. With three competitive products from the NonStop community already in the market, this wasn’t a priority for NonStop development – there would be no competing with NonStop vendors on this occasion.

Whenever business looks at technology particularly with new product initiatives be they a major solution from a well-established vendor or simply the latest project coming out of the open source initiatives, these businesses want to see a thriving ecosystem actively involved with the technology or product. Today, NonStop may not attract the types of major vendors that are better known within the media but that isn’t to say, the NonStop vendors active in the NonStop market are any less important.

Again, personally, I would like to see many more vendors in the NonStop marketplace but the core group of NonStop vendors that are committed to NonStop ensure that there is little that NonStop systems cannot do today – and when the discussion turns to issues of modernization, staffing and integration with what surrounds NonStop today, all the pieces that business would need are present. When another question was raised about NonStop doing more to bring down the costs of NonStop the response from NonStop development was immediate.

“Have you really looked at the costs to run NonStop compared to a Linux solution?” When you look at the tab to run a reasonably sized cluster of Linux and throw in the utilities, databases, replication, etc. licenses and then look at the associated support costs, the true value of HPE providing an integrated stack in addition to the NonStop operating system, most businesses would be shocked to see the bottom line – NonStop is more than competitive with the best of the open source offerings.

Several years ago I did a study on the true cost of ownership (TCO) of NonStop and compared it to both Windows and Linux offerings. The report I produced can still be found on the HPE web site and has been referenced in a number of NonStop presentations and it didn’t mince words. If you aren’t aware of this research note, then check out
NonStop offers the lowest TCO  in its class for complex  mission-critical applications And this was before the work that led to the release of the latest family of NonStop systems, the NonStop X. Point is, HPE has done a tremendous amount of work that has seen the TCO for NonStop drop to its lowest level all time. However, it’s not just the costs for a NonStop system itself that needs to be taken into consideration but the ecosystem of NonStop vendors.

What is often overlooked is that within this ecosystem, questions about configurations, APIs, integration at the file and message level, etc. can all be quickly and easily addressed with a single call or email. And more often than not, for free. Going one step further, raising a question on any one of multiple LinkedIn groups focused on NonStop and there will be multiple responses produced in barely a heartbeat – that’s what the NonStop community does best today. NonStop has a thriving ecosystem and it’s not just a group of product companies but increasingly today, it includes managed service providers as well.

Not sure how to manage a new NonStop X deployment – then call in any one of these managed service providers and they will be quick to set your mind at ease. Scattered globally there is bound to be a couple of them that serve your geography and increasingly, your industry. And don’t forget too, several of these managed service providers can actually do all the work necessary to order and then commission a brand new NonStop system. When I was at BITUG earlier this year and sat down with TCM CEO, Tony Craig, I was really impressed even as I was taken aback by just how comprehensive managed service offerings have become.

My earlier reference to a research note I wrote on NonStop also touches on the subject of publications and commentaries. This month, a new monthly publication has been launched and it is one that has Margo and I actively involved. Indeed, Margo is the Managing Editor of the publication, the NonStop Insider. By now, you probably have been emailed with the links but in case this is news to you, then read the
October issue and let us know what you think.

This is just the latest addition to a growing list of publications now supporting NonStop and whether your preference is for a Connect publication such as The Connection, or Tandemworld or even the Availability Digest, the good news here is that there are multiple sources you can turn to for up-to-date information on all things NonStop related. A thriving, indeed growing, media ecosystem is every bit as important as the ecosystem we have in support of products and services and I think that this is one of the big surprises that has come out of the recent RUG events we have participated in – so many members of the NonStop community are now deriving their income solely from supporting NonStop!

The upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp is now only a few weeks ago and a lot more will be written promoting this major NonStop event in those weeks. At the recent RUG events there has been much that has been hinted-at by the NonStop folks giving presentations so expectations among the NonStop community are running high. CTUG proved popular and was a packed house for the entire time I was there but hints about what was to come were being provided on a regular basis.

However, whatever is eventually disclosed at Boot Camp I suspect will still be only a small part of what NonStop development is pursuing as for sure, they are moving fast. A lot of the attention will be on the data base and the big changes happening with NS SQL/MX but like everyone else, I am going to have to wait to see what is announced on the day.

Ecosystems surrounding popular technologies, products and services are always a good sign for any business evaluating solutions. When it comes to NonStop then there is an abundance of vendors making up a very strong ecosystem. And whether it’s a product, a service, a simple question or two, the NonStop community has never been better served than it is today and this is something we all need to share with our associates and colleagues as for sure, I have to believe, for many of them, “They don’t know NonStop!”

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fall is a time to take in change; RUG events likewise are time to reflect on change with NonStop

NonStop is evolving yet again as it heads down different roads. Just how disruptive a technology NonStop will become? Why don’t you participate in the next Regional User Group (RUG) meeting to find out!

In my previous post I wrote of my brief encounter with a simulated race track experience at HPE Discover 2016 and of how I didn’t much care for the simulator. This past week Margo and I drove through Colorful Colorado on our way to Scottsdale for the DUST Regional User Group (RUG) meeting and my earlier observation about not caring for simulation was justified. There’s nothing like the real thing and the display of color this year was as good as it has ever been. The photo above was taken while Margo was behind the wheel approaching the town of Durango, CO!

For this trip, we elected to skip the freeways and stick to paths less traveled. In so doing, we couldn’t help comment about the path HPE was now treading as it pushed ahead with dramatic changes for NonStop. And these changes are taking place rather rapidly – from a single NonStop system to a Hybrid NonStop with Linux (and Windows) to no system at all. NonStop running virtually on commercial off-the-shelf hardware, and while these transformations have been well broadcast before their availability there’s still considerable surprise over what we are now seeing coming from the NonStop development.

However, it just had to happen. For NonStop to continue to be a contributor to then bigger HPE, NonStop the system, the platform and the software had to change its ways. At no time did I ever consider that NonStop was a “club” where only those invited few would meet around drinks and talk of the good old days. One of the difficulties many vendor user groups have suffered from over the past decade is exactly this – as numbers of systems and number of installations declined, they closed ranks and simply enjoyed fellowship with each other. This is far from a healthy sign for such organizations and it’s so easy for the more established user groups to go down this path. For the vendors, it’s perplexing and not something that excites them any longer – why fund an organization that simply feeds itself?

I have been told more than once that user groups and the communities they serve are just one more example of legacy. We have always done this, so the commentary goes, and after four or even more decades, this is who we are. This is our culture and our comfort zone but unfortunately, it does very little to encourage newcomers to join the ranks. And this is precisely why I keep returning to the RUG events no matter where they may be held. NonStop RUGs generate such  positive energy for me that participation in them remains a priority and no, they aren’t becoming “exclusive” clubs. These days, I am pretty much restricted to those being organized in the Americas but the word I received following the recent VNUG event outside Stockholm seems to confirm that what I am witnessing here is very similar to what is happening elsewhere.

I have to thank
OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia, for giving me an opportunity to present on his behalf at DUST. In so doing, I was given considerable leeway by Yash to frame OmniPayments latest services option – OmniCloudX – within the context of the changing NonStop landscape. Not too long ago I posted to the ATMmarketplace blog, Dressing up for the occasion ... where I referenced the work being done by OmniPayments to deliver a hybrid system, all LAN connected, in the one box. “Yash anchored HP standard chassis for rack-mounted processors with enough processors to support the key components of his payments solution running on HP NonStop. He then threw in a couple of Atalla security modules before topping off with ProLiant servers running Linux and Windows.”

However, that was just the start for Yash as he worked to better leverage what he saw coming in the NonStop roadmaps that were being presented at RUG events. OmniPayments may be offering its OmniPayments suit out of a cloud that’s based on NonStop X systems, but looking further afield, there is little to suggest Yash will not be adding support for NSADI / Yuma for faster access, exploiting more of the “white space” he has observed when running on NonStop. Translation? More applications coming back to run on NonStop! There are two other aspects of what Yash is pursuing that truly intrigue me – centralization and build-your-own!

Centralization; what the arrival of hybrid infrastructures with mixed NonStop and Linux (and Windows) does is foster greater centralization. Aren’t public clouds nothing more than Service Bureaus and Time Sharing Options (TSO) revisited? If you trace the roots of clouds back far enough in time, you will be surprised to see that their initial popularity was derived from the reality that business didn’t have access to qualified IT staff. With few businesses prepared to invest in training any more, isn’t it reasonable to expect centralization is a return to pooling of expertise in a very highly structured environment?

How many times have NonStop vendors reported that a customer has asked them to send on site their best developers to resolve a problem when in fact, the best course of action is to send someone who can best communicate what they observe, leaving the best developers to work with their development and test environments difficult to reproduce in the field? There is real value in having a small number of centers around the globe, each with enough skilled personnel to support the population of end users 
depending upon them?

By build-your-own then this too is nothing new but rather a return to the days of VARs. As we see more information about vNonStop being reveled and HPE puts in place the processes necessary for anyone to order vNonStop there’s the small issue of ensuring the “NonStop-ness” of vNonStop and as much as NonStop development sets forth a reference model, it opens the doors like never before for smart companies to begin on-selling their favorite white-label x86 server with OpenStack and vNonStop. Differentiation based on superior levels of availability all while supporting your favorite development environment – tell me what’s bad about that!

 this goes a little beyond what has been historically associated with VARs. We have already read about OmniPayments becoming a VAR for both NonStop and Atalla in select South American markets where it fills a need in those areas no longer supported by the HPE NonStop team. The new crop of VARs that I am anticipating emerge will also provide remote management as well as a range of services from simple upgrades to the operating system and middleware to capacity planning on through to what had always been performed by on-premise systems managers.

There really isn’t any hiding from the fact that today, it’s not only that businesses aren’t investing in training but that the pool of knowledgeable talent is shrinking as the years pass by – the only place where such investments will continue is at these new age VAR “centers of excellence.” One example of this is
TCM Solutions who I have been working with this year and have come to really like its model as TCM tackles these exact same issues. TCM CEO, Tony Craig, is almost evangelical in his belief that, just as clouds are a return to centralization, so too is the emergence of managed services providers. Better to have all the expertise needed to support NonStop under one roof with the tools needed to support anyone at any time anywhere in the world?

There remain a lot of unknowns surrounding hybrid infrastructures and clouds and, when it comes to the deployment of NonStop, as either part of a hybrid system or within virtual machine, leadership will more than likely come from solutions providers. They have the most to gain from mastering either environment as remaining price competitive while offering a better solution is a major goal for them.

It would be simple for me to make the observation that this will all sort itself out over time but the simple truth is there’s no quick and easy fix. Just a lot of perseverance, as different models are tested. NonStop is evolving from what we once knew NonStop to be and is heading down different roads, meeting different needs and, in the process, there will be disruptions. Yes, this new NonStop will prove to be highly disruptive technology and it’s been a long time since words like this have been associated with NonStop.  

The DUST RUG event turned out to be well worth the time spent driving to it  - and the opportunity to spend time taking in the changing colors that the Colorado landscape never fails to provide at this time of year making up for the weekend spent in transit. Shortly, we will be returning to the road for the slightly longer transit to Ontario, Canada, for the upcoming CTUG event. We may be a little late to see the fall colors along the foreshore of Lake Ontario but CTUG will more than make up for any disappointments on that score.

NonStop, on the other hand, is definitely changing its ways and for that, and the impact it will have on the broader NonStop community, we have to thank the HPE NonStop team and I for one, am pleased to see the path it has elected to take. NonStop a part of every businesses cloud? In time it’s bound to happen – there is still no better way to offer up services from within a cloud than knowing that they will always be there, 24 X 7.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

More milestones – this time, it’s the 400th post! And did I mention that it’s all about NonStop!

For all the time I have been blogging, it never occurred to me that there would be 400 posts written over such a short period of time. And yet, the basic premise for NonStop in the marketplace hasn’t changed – we just don’t want outages of any kind. But wait ... there's a lot more to this story!

Celebrations always include moments of reflection. When a milestone is reached and where there is energy to keep going, these milestones can sometime be nothing more than bumps in the road. It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote a post about this blog entering its tenth year but with this post, we will be celebrating 400 posts. I was thinking early on that perhaps interest in posts to Real Time View will wane considerably with time but, in all reality, thoughts like this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a growing audience for all things NonStop!

On the one hand, barely a month goes by without HPE being in the news. Likewise, the pace of development for NonStop has ratcheted up significantly over the past two years, so much so, should HPE deliver everything depicted in the current NonStop product roadmaps, NonStop will be available in different guises targeting many different marketplaces. Whether purchased as a complete system delivered directly to the data center or downloaded as software, NonStop continues to provide value and in a world deep in transition, bridging traditional IT with clouds private and yes, public – availability remains an issue that needs to be addressed. And NonStop continues to deliver.

As I look back and reflect on much that I have written to this point, I have never wavered in my confidence that HPE, in the NonStop product line, has a prized server capable of doing practically anything when it comes to transaction processing. NonStop inherently scales out even as its fault tolerance is once again becoming a talking point – how do large applications interacting with the general public, stay up and running 24 X 7? I have looked over countless publications and news releases by HPE for the past decade and it’s interesting to observe just how prominent the attribute “fault tolerant” has become – after a very long time of using almost every other term, it seems back in vogue within HPE.

Fault tolerant? It’s a story that once focused solely on the hardware. More recently, the key differentiator was the “integrated stack” that included the operating system, the database, the transaction monitor and all the logging that goes with it to ensure not only 24 X 7 operation for a single system but almost instant recovery and take-over by an “active” secondary (or even tertiary) off-site system. Yet the hardware, together with the integrated stack, isn’t the full story. NonStop is both a product, a technology and an architecture and it’s now heading down a path to give HPE customers and prospects a wide pallet of options from which to choose – all influenced of course by IT facing the difficult transition to clouds where availability and scalability and indeed security are of the essence.

It would be very easy to me to continue to look back at this time and recount the many highlights NonStop has enjoyed over more than forty years. However, it is the future that interests me most and while I was not privy to every “whiteboard discussion” held within NonStop development and product management over the years I have been pretty good at reading the tea leaves and making educated guesses. Had you been in the audience of SATUG back in 2008 you would have heard my presentation on just how important developing virtual NonStop was to the future of NonStop. And yes, if you had been in the audience of DUST this week, you would have heard even more!

NonStop as a product, a technology and an architecture – it is pretty obvious where NonStop is now headed. From a product perspective, HPE has made it clear that NonStop will continue to be available as a complete system, whether it’s one of the NonStop i family members (HPE is committed to taking Itanium chips from Intel through to 2025), one of the NonStop X family members or the hybrid product based on NonStop X with an InfiniBand fabric integrating Linux and even Windows. A product line in it’s own right and one I expect to see provided as a complete system at some point, like other products in the Converged Systems (CS) product family should market demand develop where such an investment makes sense – think Financial Institutions where payments solutions have argued for some time for a “programmable CLIM” supporting something apart from a Debian distribution of Linux.

Race to your digital enterprise! The photo at the top of the page was taken during HPE Discover 2016 and featured groups of “drivers” with VR goggles competing with each other in digital race cars. Of course something like this would attract my attention but being averse to using simulators (they don’t give you any indication of how much grip you have), I preferred to watch other. It is a race to a digital enterprise but not one that can be accomplished on one fell swoop - a ruthless and fierce undertaking not for the faint of heart! CIOs understand the risks of the pressures to succeed even as they are acutely aware of the downside risk. When it comes to global enterprises it only makes sense to enter such a race with incremental change – the heart of transitioning to hybrid infrastructures.

NonStop is proving to be more than just a product but a technology and the externalization of its interconnect fabric with an API that supports a direct to memory transfer between disparate stacks (i.e. NonStop with Linux) opens the door for applications running on one stack to be integrated with applications on another. For the NonStop community I suspect it will not be very long before the technology behind NonStop is used to provide an overarching mantle on everything connected to NonStop – the inherent property of NonStop take-over will be extended to application processes running on Linux or even Windows. Transaction Monitors on NonStop, in other words, will essentially wrap these application processes within monitoring capabilities – persistence, and hence even greater levels of availability, will extend beyond NonStop.

Technology is often described as being a “collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.” In this sense, NonStop is a key ingredient in not just processes used in the production of goods or services but rather, is that additional “special sauce” that makes these goods and services available 24 X 7 whether the supporting methods are on NonStop or simply adjacent to NonStop. In essence with the hybrid, converged systems, I envision appearing in enterprise data centers, the shadow of NonStop will be indeed long and cover as much of the servers present in the data center that the CIO deems part of their enterprises mission critical operations.

NonStop, too, is proving to be much more than just a product and a technology as increasingly it is an architecture that is attracting more attention of late. As NonStop evolves to become a software platform, running in a virtual world, HPE development will be providing models, templates and yes, a “reference architecture.” One of the key messages coming from NonStop development is that with the release of vNonStop –a software only offering – this reference architecture will ensure configurations of vNonStop are truly fault tolerant.

With a reference architecture there will be a separation between HPE the architect, and HPE the general contractor. Maybe you will rely on HPE for everything – the hardware, the virtual machine including the hypervisor and vNonStop, but perhaps not. As software houses and managed services providers gaining confidence, a new ecosystem of general contractors will likely appear some of which utilize all the HPE offerings, whereas others will mix and match hardware, virtual machines and vNonStop. Maybe you will rely on general contractors apart from the HPE NonStop team?

In the time it has taken me to write 400 posts, NonStop has come a very long way. As a community, all associated with NonStop have held our collective breaths on occasion as we watched the changes unfolding at HPE but as we gave a collective sigh of relief when we heard of the sizeable investment HPE has been making in NonStop, we have witnessed firsthand the emergence of a very powerful and comprehensive response to the growing market need for fault tolerance along with scalability and of course security. This is a segment that NonStop alone can address and is doing so in a compelling manner. So yes, I look forward to all that is ahead and here’s to the next 400 posts!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Changes in procedures, changes in models – at HPE, NonStop set for further growth.

There have been numerous posts following recent press releases from HPE concerning Enterprise Services and Software. But for the NonStop community it’s all smooth sailing and the news says it all; NonStop is an integral part of HPE’s vision to become a major provider of infrastructure and platforms!

After decades of flying every week to every corner of the planet I seldom board a plane these days. In former times, however, even when not on business the first inkling concerning potential downtime would see me scanning airline sites for deals and checking my mileage balance to see what options I had. Neither my wife, Margo, nor me were born in the U.S. and arriving in the U.S. after we had become adults, American holidays didn’t mean all that much to us so we seldom hung around to participate. For a number of years we flew to Singapore, just for Thanksgiving, to enjoy chili crabs on Singapore’s south east coast.

In those days of constant flying I knew by heart all the different procedures in place at airports. Updates to terminals and gates were a constant test of one’s perseverance but I always managed to adapt pretty quickly. And yes, time zones never seemed to affect me back then and no matter the time of day, you would likely find me working away in a hotel lobby somewhere in the world. However, when I do get to fly these days I am so out of touch with current procedures that travel is no longer enjoyable and even the simplest requests by the airline staff can lead to stress – something I simply never experienced all those years ago.

We are all creatures of routines. For us, following protocols and understanding procedures simply reflect the order we desire as we go about living our lives. However, when it comes to large corporations it is though we live in times where we have to prepare for change to happen almost as regularly as some of us take to the skies. For the NonStop community, this has been the case almost from the time of the HP / Compaq merger. It seems that almost with every quarter that passes there’s news of one kind or another starting with the big announcement that HP was going to release NonStop on blades to where we now have NonStop on x86 from HPE. Exciting news, of course, and the stuff that keeps us focused on just how well NonStop meets our business needs. And when it comes to organization, change is happening almost as often.

In the last couple of posts I have written about the most recent changes hitting the newswire. HP has split to become HP Inc. and HP Enterprise (HPE). HPE in turn has announced the retirement of Martin Fink, HPE CTO, and then proceeded to pursue “spin-merges” of both its Services and Software organizations. If you were a shareholder in the former HP and had elected to hold onto your shares then life has become very interesting indeed and opened the doors to more astute gauging of the value proposition of your holdings. And this is an important backdrop to any new discussions the NonStop community is now having when it comes to the future of NonStop.

In all the years since the HP / Compaq merger, financial analysts were at a loss as to how best to categorize HP. Was it a consumer company selling through big box stores? Was it a server and software company? Was it a growth company or was it a value company? Was it even just a finance company? Of course this inability to categorize the HP of that time led to stock valuations well below what otherwise may have been considered fair value. After all, if there was no other company in the same category, was it even a legitimate category? Clearly, HP had to do something to (a) unlock the true value of HP for its shareholders, and (b) manage the different financial models under which each business unit operated.

All too often discussions within the NonStop community centered on HPE’s investments in NonStop. These discussions arose following questions on whether NonStop was profitable or not and whether the revenue was sufficient to justify continued investments in NonStop. When a company makes $130billion in revenue, does a product line bringing perhaps one or two billion really warrant as much management attention as was needed? Did marketing and then again sales, really need to invest resources to support? Again, it came down to categories – just how big is the market for fault tolerant systems? Surely, near 99% availability was good enough!

The spin-merge of HPE Enterprise Services with CSC and then, just recently, the proposed spin-merge of HPE Software with Micro Focus is welcomed news to financial analysts and shareholder alike. When the dust finally settles sometime in 2017 and with no further roadblocks appearing that could delay the process, shareholders will be holding stock in HP Inc. HPE, CSC and Micro Focus – shares in companies operating in four well-defined markets; Consumer, Enterprise Infrastructure and Platforms, Services, and Software.

But again, for the NonStop community, this spin-merge of services and indeed software, didn’t involve NonStop. After a year or so promoting NonStop as the best software platform on the planet, HPE has acknowledged that NonStop isn’t a part of the “non-core software” that participated in the spin-merge with Micro Focus. As for Enterprise Services, these weren’t the services HPE needed when it came to supporting customer deployments of HPE infrastructure and platforms. Rather, that is the role of the Enterprise group’s Technology Services (TS) which remains an integral part of the new HPE.

If you missed it, the HPE News Release of September 7, 2016, HPE Accelerates Strategy With SpinOff and Merger of Non-Core Software Assets With Micro Focus - HPE to retain key software assets to deliver on the promise of hybrid IT is a must read for everyone in the NonStop community. It describes, in no uncertain terms, what HPE considers as its non-core software assets even as it asserts that those software assets contributing to the delivering “on the promise of hybrid IT” will be retained. NonStop is one of those key software assets according to Randy Meyer, Vice President and General Manager, Mission Critical Systems.

I referenced this News Release in my post of September 15, 2016, Changes for the better? HPE to focus on what it does best; infrastructure and platforms! However, what I want to make perfectly clear is just how important the organizational changes that came with the news that Software was following Enterprise Services in its own spin-merge. Reflecting the changing revenue model of the slimmed down HPE – now expected to be just a little less than $30billion and a far cry from a year ago when the much bigger HP generated revenues of $130billion – the priority has been to bring greater focus onto the infrastructure and platforms HPE believes will be key to differentiating its portfolio from those of its competitors.

“When you consider the non-core assets that are part of this latest spin-merge, it’s important to understand that they operated within different business models, with different business processes and indeed, a whole different approach to financials,” said Randy Meyer. “These non-core software products represented software that competed in the software business arena whereas the software assets retained all contribute to HPE being able to deliver on its vision of being a major provider of infrastructure and platforms.”

Furthermore, when it comes to organization, the Enterprise Group has announced the formation of three major groups: one focusing on software-defined and cloud technologies, one focused on data center infrastructure, and one focused on edge technologies and the internet of things. Additionally, there is also Technology Services as noted earlier that was already established to help all three of these groups deliver on opportunities that arise from sales of infrastructure and platforms coming out of the Enterprise Group.

“Mission Critical Systems is part of the newly formed data center infrastructure group (DCIG) and for a reason,” said Randy Meyer. “NonStop remains a value play within the data center where fault tolerance is still required for select markets. It is making a financial contribution to DCIG at a time when there is disruptive transition under way as we watch private clouds take off and the melding of traditional IT with private clouds provides great potential for NonStop development.”

There are changes in procedures even as there are changes in business models. In the coming quarters we will see the appearance of virtual NonStop (vNonStop) that will be provided independent of the hardware and the NonStop group is busily sorting out the processes that need to be in place for the NonStop community to be able to order NonStop as software only. In all likelihood, Technology Services will be looking to provide best practices to ensure NonStop as software lives up to user expectations when it comes to fault tolerance – reference architectures will be developed even as the HPE sales and marketing teams work to identify new markets for NonStop. Yes, NonStop is going to be a big part of HPE, something that NonStop community is only getting its first glimpse as HPE IT commits to running its DataBase-as-a-Service based on NonStop SQL on virtual NonStop.

So let me be as unambiguous as I can. In case you still need to be reminded of the pertinent points following these recent news releases from HPE. NonStop is not considered “non-core software” but rather, an integral component as HPE pushes deeper into the marketplace for infrastructure and platforms. Furthermore, the NonStop organization remains firmly within the Mission Critical Systems (MCS) group and as such, is now a part of the core group, Data Center Infrastructure Group (DCIG). Randy Meyer remains the head of MCS and as such, has the responsibility for NonStop – no change there. And finally, NonStop today is in good shape demonstrating quarter over quarter growth with margin sufficient to support further investments in the NonStop product line.

It’s probably not inappropriate to say that we are all as pleased as we are today to see that NonStop has survived – the hard work to turn the NonStop ship around and return it to profitability has been done. Attendees at last year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp can all recall the challenge the NonStop team faced when asked to “fix it, or exit.” And fix it they did – NonStop X together with SuperDome X are running on the Intel x86 architecture and has proved to be a major positive turning point for NonStop. But it’s only the beginning.

The new HPE needs NonStop and the steps it has just taken to better address the needs of the financial industry and shareholders will be trickling down to individual groups within HPE and with that, for the first time in a long while, the NonStop community can rest assured in the knowledge that today, NonStop has become one of the all-important key software assets contributing to the delivering on the promise of hybrid IT!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Changes for the better? HPE to focus on what it does best; infrastructure and platforms!

Hard to miss reading one article or another on what is taking place within HPE and for the NonStop community, questions were being asked. NonStop had become the best software platform on the planet – was it being sold, too? The answer is no, it isn’t!

Fortune smiled on me rather gently this week. I returned to the local motorcycle shop to pick up my cruiser. A considerable amount of work had been done on it after it’s been sitting in our garage for more than two years, unused and somewhat unloved. However, it’s amazing what care and attention can do for an old-world cruiser but as I pulled into the shop, it began to rain. I haven’t been on a motorcycle for all of those two plus years, so looking as the clouds gathered and the raindrops grew heavier, I was a little concerned. Fortunately, getting back on the motorcycle revived past memories and no, you never forget how to ride a bike. You just have to get back into the saddle.

I have to believe that at HPE much the same concerns passed through the minds of its executives. It wasn’t so much the rain that was a concern as it was the clouds gathering on the horizon. And I am not posting about the clouds that cross our skies but rather, the growing presence of clouds in enterprise data centers. When it comes to clouds, just like those we see in the sky (many times taking on the shape of familiar objects), oftentimes all we appreciate is how fluffy they look and how soft they seem to be – software-defined everything is becoming the response from enterprises as they too contemplate the new IT order made up of constantly morphing pools of resources.  To HPE, all the recent investments in products and human resources that aren’t directly reusable in the cloud computing marketplace looked increasingly like they were addressing legacy requirements. They might be good cash cows in the short term but HPE wasn’t about to take a back seat and simply milk the past. HPE recognizes the need to tap the momentum developing around clouds and to ride that momentum well into the future. And so they have acted, and acted rather dramatically!

I suspect that by now you have all read the announcements from HPE this week. Yes, apparently the die has been cast and HPE is now out of the services business and out of the software business. Looking back over the past couple of months, even with all the rumors that circulated widely, it’s all happened pretty quickly. But what does it really mean for the NonStop community? After taking a lot of pride in cementing the role of NonStop as the best software platform on the planet, has that only led to an increased vulnerability for NonStop?

Before addressing these questions, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at what HPE is telling the industry. With the news breaking of the spin-merge of HPE Software with Micro Focus, HPE published the news release late September 7, 2016, CEO Meg Whitman on HPE’s Plans to Spin-Off & Merge Non-Core Software Assets With Micro Focus -Company doubles down on delivering software-defined hybrid IT solutions. In that news release was the explanation from Meg Whitman, HPE CEO, that, “When we launched the new HPE, we laid out a vision of being the industry's leading provider of hybrid IT, built on the secure, next-generation, software-defined infrastructure that will run customers' data centers today, bridge them to multi-cloud environments tomorrow, and enable the emerging intelligent edge that will power campus, branch and IoT applications for decades to come.” 

Explaining this further, Ric Lewis, senior vice president for the software-defined and cloud group at HPE, told Infoworld in the article that followed the September 8, 2016, announcement of the pending sale of HPE Software to Micro Focus, What's left at HPE is focused squarely on the hybrid and private cloud “To achieve this vision, we've been busy realigning our portfolio and product roadmap with our go-forward strategy. In just the last few months, we announced enhancements and new products across storage, infrastructure, converged systems, cloud and a truly differentiated set of edge compute products for the Internet of Things." Furthermore, added Lewis, “The whole world is talking about the public cloud growing, but not that many people are noticing that the private cloud is growing at double-digit rates as well. That's a huge opportunity for us.”

As Whitman explained the moves behind the realignment, she reiterated that, “Today's announced spin-merge of our non-core software assets with Micro Focus is another important step in our strategy to unlock a faster growing, higher margin, stronger cash flow company. As we said in the Enterprise Services announcement last quarter, both software and services remain key enablers of our go-forward strategy, and we are focused on building the right portfolio to win in our target markets. We believe the portfolio changes we've made over the past year are setting up HPE for long-term success while unlocking tremendous value for our shareholders." 

HPE has also unveiled a new look organization now that the company has become just a combination of the Enterprise Group and the Finance Group. As the article in InfoWorld noted, “‘HPE's strategy for the future is to focus on hybrid IT,’ said Ric Lewis, senior vice president for the software-defined and cloud group at HPE. Accordingly, it recently formed three core business groups within HPE's Enterprise Group division: one focusing on software-defined and cloud technologies, one focused on data centre infrastructure, and one focused on edge technologies and the internet of things. It is retaining the software efforts that are central to its hybrid IT focus, Lewis said in his interview with InfoWorld, including the CloudSystem brand, HPE OneView, Helion OpenStack, and its software-defined storage and networking products.”

Retaining software central to its hybrid IT focus is an important consideration. NonStop is now playing an active role when it comes to the ongoing transformation to hybrid infrastructures integrating traditional IT with private clouds and products have already begun to ship that make it easier for enterprise customers to capitalize on the benefits that come with private clouds. But again, what of NonStop and its current organization, Mission Critical Systems? According to Randy Meyer, Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Systems (MCS) at HPE, MCS is now “part of the Data Center Infrastructure Group (DCIG).”

With this return to infrastructure and platforms HPE may not be the size of company it was just a short time ago when the world knew of only HP. But the changes are definitely for the better. HPE may have sold off its legacy software offerings – yes, anything that isn’t contributing to a software-defined everything HPE has lumped into the legacy category – and the rapidity with which NonStop development has pursued virtual NonStop brings it now into the realm of software-defined infrastructure. And with MCS, including the NonStop organization, becoming part of the strategically important group, DCIG, for the NonStop community this is perhaps the most significant change of all!

Riding my own motorcycle up the driveway into my home, with the falling rain easing considerably,  can not be considered an accomplishment on the same scale as to what HPE has achieved these past couple of weeks. And yet as I turned skyward, there is never any rain without clouds! The more I look into the changes taking place within HPE the more I see a resurgence of enthusiasm in support of the many things NonStop does particularly well. NonStop SQL/MX, for instance, is the best-suited to OLTP of any databases available today – when it comes to mixed workloads, in parallel, it is simply without peer. With NonStop, customers can leverage the best software on the planet even as they are assured it is a platform crucial to HPE’s future.

The InfoWorld article closed with a particularly telling observation coming from Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “I’m actually relieved HPE is getting back to what everyone knows they do well, and that's infrastructure and platforms,” said Moorhead. “‘Big’ and application software didn't work well for HPE, and I think they have the potential to move much more quickly in the future in areas where they can make a real impact.” Perhaps then, all things considered, we should be singing right along with Eric Clapton – Let it rain! Let it rain! Let it rain!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The song remains the same – major events of importance to the NonStop community

Embracing virtualization, integrating analystics and turning to clouds may be all part of the plan but it may be the messages coming from industry and user events that influence us most. And the more technology appears to change, in reality, we stay the same!

In the coming weeks I will be attending numerous events but perhaps for me, the most beneficial of them all will be the two held on opposite sides of the continent. In late September, I will be travelling to Chicago, IL for the September 19-21, 2016, 2016 Bank Customer Experience Summit and then in November, I will turn around and head in the other direction, towards San Jose, CA, for the November 13-16, 2016, 2016 NonStop Technical Boot Camp. These two events will feature networking with customers from financial industries as well as interacting with HPE executives that will provide me with the ideal backdrop for the numerous stories and posts that will follow.

The 2016 Bank Customer Experience Summit, originally branded as the The ATM & Mobile Innovation Summit, is dedicated to exploring next-gen self-service, the reinvented branch, digital banking, mobile payments — and the people who use them. An August 11, 2016, post to the ATMmarketplace web site, by Suzanne Cluckey, 7 reasons why the Bank Customer Experience Summit should be on your fall travel calendar is well worth reading if you are looking for more information about this event and shortly my own post will be published on this site – look for it as well. For those NonStop users running payments solutions that would like to attend, simply follow this link, Register now and to save 30% off the price of registration, enter the promotional code, PYALLA30. If you would like to check out what will be taking place at the event you can follow this link, Agenda.

It is a reality today that in our always-on world we rarely think twice about how our communications works – for me it’s still close to magic as so much can go wrong between a client end-point and a services delivery end-point. People should be pleased when anything at all simply works, but yes, it’s very much magic by my books. The same can be said about mobile devices today as very few users of smartphones and tablets are aware of all that transpires whenever they text or download a picture. Streaming songs and movies? Unbelievable!

And yet it all happens with little consideration being given to just how it all happens. People have now reached a point where mobility is the new norm and so when it comes to an event on ATMs and Mobility, changing the name of the event to Bank Customer Experience just seems natural – why wouldn’t we assume mobility is a key factor in banking today and just part of any experience we may have when it comes to oversight of our financial affairs?

The HPE event on the other hand, plumbs the depths of technology. The essential plumbing that so many of us are simply ignorant about and where we always assume, it just works. From the introduction of the first ATMs to the general populace, Tandem Computers gave the world the potential to operate ATMs 24 X 7 and some of the earliest payments solutions targeted the Tandem Computer platform. Today, Tandem Computers is no more. Instead, renamed NonStop systems and a key part of HPE’s Mission Critical Systems product portfolio, they still account for the processing of much of the world’s ATM traffic. According to the latest figures from HPE, $3.6+ trillion in debit card (including bank cards and ATM cards) and credit card charge volume passes through NonStop systems each year and the largest retail payments processors in the world run on NonStop. 

Among the more popular solutions is OmniPayments and I have known Yash Kapadia, the OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, for many years. He has been a very good source for updates on how people worldwide interact with financial institutions. His products run exclusively on NonStop systems and he has become one of the largest users of the latest NonStop X systems having already populated three of OmniPayments data centers with NonStop X systems underpinning the new OmniCloudX services – yes, payments on NonStop from out of a cloud. At this next Boot Camp event Yash is throwing a reception mid-evening Monday night, specifically for the purposes of giving event attendees an opportunity to network among themselves following the sessions that day and if the past is any indication of what to expect, this reception is among the liveliest all week! I hope to see you in the Gold room Monday evening, the reception will start at 8:30 pm.

HPE and the Connect organization are now working through submitted proposals for presentations and this should be resolved shortly. If you want to keep abreast of who will be the keynote speakers and whose papers made the cut, then check the Agenda page on a regular basis and make sure you complete the Registration as early as you can. It will be tough to top last year’s program but I know that over the past year so much progress has been made with NonStop X, with perhaps the biggest news of all is just how committed HPE itself is to anchoring its own IT on NonStop with virtual NonStop (vNonStop) in support of NS SQL/MX running as a DBaaS at the very heart of HPE’s operations. Like many who will be attending I am more than interested in hearing all the details of how this has been helping HPE transform to a hybrid infrastructure.

Where I suspect the intersection between these two events will more than likely occur will be on the topic of Big Data and Data Analytics. Everything that takes place today is being influenced by companies understanding the ever-changing behaviors of people and this includes financial institutions as much as it does those vendors providing the underlying plumbing. We need to know what’s on the minds of people from the time they sit down for a coffee to the time they swipe or insert their card to purchase a product just added to their shopping cart.

I am finding that analytics is permeating almost every discussion I have had in the past couple of months – from security to application monitoring and SLA validation to the monitoring of the physical data center itself (Power, HVAC, Fire-Suppression, Communications and Networks, etc.). As my good friends at Striim Inc. so often remind me, providing “an end-to-end, real-time data integration and intelligence platform; ingesting data in real-time from a wide variety of sources; making it more valuable while it's streaming before loading it to common data targets” is all critical today for better interaction with people whether end users, business partners, or simply their IT staff.

We write and talk so much about our customers and about consumers but in the end, it’s all about people. What I particularly liked about the post by Suzanne Cluckey on the 7 Reasons to attend 2016 Bank Customer Experience Summit were her opening sentences. “The new Ikea catalog arrived at our house yesterday. I haven't thumbed through it yet, but I doubt anything in it will grab my attention the way the cover did,” Cluckey began. “It wasn't the photo that got my attention, with its predictable assortment of ultra-hipster types looking uber-cool around a Norråker dining table. It was the tagline above: ‘Designed for people, not consumers.’” The upcoming events may differ in agendas even as they differ in the networking opportunities that arise but the people attending the events, well, we remain people and not just clients, customers, prospects or users. And as people, we are the lifeblood that keeps all such events lively and yes, keeps us all coming back for more!

It was while I was travelling country to country in the 1970s that I first heard Led Zeppelin perform The Song Remains the Same:
Oh, yeah
Crazy dream, uh-huh
Anything I wanted to know
Any place I needed to go …

This was Led Zeppelin's lead singer Robert Plant's tribute to world music, reflecting his belief that music is universal. And the aspirations of people are universal as well. Even as we are witnessing a revolution in the way people interact with all that is around them – other people, commerce, news and in general, the environment each person moves through – staying connected to friends and family and being informed about what’s happening in the world at large, has changed very little. Furthermore, as what is around us is subject to the seasons - if you compare the photo above with that included in the previous post published just a week or so ago, you can see the changes taking place - so the ebb and flow between centralization and distributed continues unabated even as we continue to behave much the same way we always have.

We may carry less cash but we still shop. We may wear our computers and we may be constantly on the move but we still find time to stop by a coffee shop and take time to check out all that’s happening. And the oversight of our financial affairs is now something we do 24 X 7 even as we are less likely to pull out our bill fold or purse preferring instead whatever gadget of the day has captured our attention. While the instruments of commerce have changed dramatically of late we have remained essentially the same through all this change – something few of us will likely ever forget. Looking forward to seeing many of you at these events and should you see me passing by, don’t hesitate stopping me. I’m always open for any discussion you may want to have! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Inside the numbers … when being #1 matters!

There are many instances where being number one is important; combinations of platforms, technologies and databases is continuing to propel NonStop X to the top of the list when it comes to systems anchoring modern data centers.

The faint hint of smoke rising from the outside kitchen is a clue that there’s something on the grill, as for the past couple of weeks the weather has simply been too good to stay indoors. The greater Denver area, including Boulder, boasts of being #1 when it comes to sunny days with 300 days of sun per year. Numbers have been very much on my mind this past week and it wasn’t simply because I had been counting sunny days or even because I had passed another blogging milestone with my last post to this blog.

I’m not sure what the count is up to, but with the most recent event that took place this month in Sydney, Australia, in support of the OzTUG community and with another next month to be put on by the folks at VNUG at Rånäs Slott, just outside Stockholm, Sweden, there have been a lot of NonStop user events this year even as the planet appears to be well-covered by NonStop enthusiasts. There really shouldn’t be any reason to miss any gathering of the NonStop community that takes place near to you but unfortunately for me, even though I am well-supported by my clients, the numbers are just too great to be able to say that I will make them all!

It was numbers of a different kind that caught my attention this week. It was ETI-Net’s CEO, Andy Hall, who first drew my attention to a news item I had missed concerning SGIs acceptance of HPE’s purchase offer for the company. According to the August 11, 2016, news release from SGI,
Hewlett Packard Enterprise to Acquire SGI to Extend Leadership in High Growth Big Data Analytics and High Performance Computing, the deal looks to be done but a look at the numbers has led to questions being asked. This isn’t the SGI we once all knew, the one that for a time dominated the landscape of Silicon Valley. That SGI went bust quite a while ago, but somehow assets (including the name) were acquired by Rackable Systems who promptly rebranded themselves as SGI.

Back to the numbers! According to SGI’s news release, it has “approximately 1,100 employees worldwide, and had revenues of $533 million in fiscal 2016.” And yet, HPE’s successful offer was only “for $7.75 per share in cash, a transaction valued at approximately $275 million, net of cash and debt.” It should come as no surprise that questions were being asked and lots of comments were being made as soon as the news of the acquisition was made public.  Opinions ranged from talk that HPE didn’t really have a big data strategy to perhaps HPE not having the best solution in SuperDome X to match the servers SGI was now selling – particularly when it comes to the all-important SAP HANA customers – to perhaps it being a preemptive strike to take SGI out of possible acquisition contention from other vendors, most notably Dell and Cisco. Both Dell and Cisco have been reselling SGI servers with considerable success. 

Again, from the news release, “‘At HPE, we are focused on empowering data-driven organizations,’ said Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager, Enterprise Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. ‘SGI's innovative technologies and services, including its best-in-class big data analytics and high performance computing solutions, complement HPE's proven data center solutions designed to create business insight and accelerate time to value for customers.’” On one hand, you have to say, did HPE then get the deal of the century or what?

Approximately $275 million, net of cash and debt will buy you a leading edge contender for best hardware offering in support of big data and its resultant actionable insight! And with it, the potential to grab a big chunk of the SAP HANA market!  When you think of the numbers that have been thrown around previously for acquisitions by HPE, for a major vendor generating tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue this just has to be the steal of the decade!

On the other hand, has the media forgotten that HPE has enjoyed a partnership with SGI for some time so in a sense, taking the next step and purchasing SGI may have been more of a no-brainer than at first thought. According to a February 9, 2016, column in the publication, The Next Platform,
HPE fill a NUMA server gap with SGV UV iron, “HPE admits that it has a gap in its product line.” Working together, HPE and SGI have been chasing those customers “who want big memory machines,” but for HPE to go alone – and yes, they could have – and invest the money required, made little sense.

And what’s the key driver for scale-up machines with big memory? Databases; in particular, in-memory databases! When it comes to big memory machines “SGI already has such a machine in its UltraViolet 300 series that is based on its own NUMALink 7 interconnect and – perhaps most importantly – it is already certified to run Linux as well as some of the databases that some HPE customers want to run.”

In an interview given to The Next Platform, Jeff Kyle, Director, Product Management for Enterprise Servers, HPE, told the reporter that, “
doing a (partnership) deal with SGI to offer a more scalable eight-socket machine aimed at database workloads was in keeping with HPE’s mission to offer the right technology at the right time at the right price, and it didn’t hurt that the SGI UV machines come in a rack form factor that is more compact than the Superdome X.” Furthermore, “With this (partnership) deal, HPE is going after business that Lenovo, using the former System x line from IBM, has been aggressively pursuing, according to Kyle, in the eight socket space.” 

But wait, there’s one more thing and I believe it has relevance for the NonStop community. After rereading the various articles that followed the press release on SGI, I have to ask - will this add further weight to the primary message of transformation to a hybrid infrastructure? Will this dovetail nicely with the already strong message of converged infrastructure that ties together traditional IT with private clouds? Purely musings on my part of course and more than likely leading to further clarification by those much closer to the HPE - SGI deal.

So let me transition to the most important number of all yet again – being #1! For some time I have been posting about the possibility of NonStop SQL/MX becoming the OLTP database for applications like SAP when the system configurations are hybrids. HPE IT is testing NS SQL/MX as a Service, provisioned from within an IT private cloud. But SAP HANA is all about in-memory databases and while HANA can support both row and column organization, for most users, it is the columnar organization that comes to the fore.  As one blogger observed recently, “Use rows for transactions, where you’re trying to enter data. Use columns for analytics, where you’re trying to look at data.”

HANA protagonists go to great pains to say HANA can do both – “In HANA, a table can be row-oriented or column-oriented; the programmer (or data designer) simply decides which it is to be.” However, from where I sit, the expectation is that HANA will be most beneficial in support of analytics and this is where NS SQL/MX comes in. Leave HANA to support the columnar processing, in-memory if you prefer, that we associate with data analytics, and let NS SQL/MX do the row processing we associate with transaction processing. And for sure, this will provide a compelling #1 solution for many enterprises where SAP has become deeply entrenched; wrapped up under the cloaking of HPE’s primary message – transformation to a hybrid infrastructure.

I am still to confirm whether there is dependence on SAP HANA within HPE but my suspicions are that there is. Just as Oracle is on its way out at HPE, the quest for answers has led to a renewed faith in NonStop and in particular, NonStop SQL/MX. Has the quest for faster SAP HANA led to the purchase of SGI? Have the news agencies only got the story half right – sure, throwing up roadblocks for the likes of Dell and Cisco may look the more obvious ploy but pulling together the pieces for a powerful NonStop / SAP HANA hybrid looks awfully appealing. And to think, for numbers Silicon Valley just don’t seem to get these days – a pittance involving just a few hundred million dollars!  When it comes to major vendors, could big savings become the true measure of being #1?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

You want to read more? Posts on NonStop enter their tenth year!

With this post to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, I celebrate the beginning of my tenth year of blogging. Keeping to the theme of HPE , Mission Critical Systems and in particular, NonStop, has proved fertile ground for a storyteller and I expect no letup in new topics to cover in the years to come …

If there was ever a time when I thought I could simply kick-back, relax and write a few posts as I quietly ease away from technology I can no longer recall when that was exactly. This summer I have spent more time in front of the keyboard than I can recall ever having done before. However, the good news is that well, there’s more good news than ever before. And I cannot recall the last time I said that or said it without harboring lingering thoughts myself over whether or not I was pushing a little beyond the realm of reality. However, putting those thoughts to one side, Margo and I headed to our favorite Boulder steakhouse where we did kick-back and relax while we celebrated the passing of this milestone.

But no, for the NonStop community things are definitely looking up and I have to admit I really am energized by all that I am hearing about NonStop. Perhaps sitting down with Andy Bergholz, Senior Director of Development of HPE NonStop, during HPE Discover 2016 did it as his enthusiasm has proved contagious and it rubbed on me – and for that I have only Andy to thank. Did you see his column in the July – August, 2016, issue of The Connection? If you haven’t then you should as you will get a sense of what I am alluding to. It’s positively entertaining, to quote one popular television series I regularly watch.
There is a reason why we have the expression about enthusiasm being contagious. It’s hard not to become engaged when all around you there are people actively engaged in conversations about NonStop. Now, having said that there are a couple of words I have eliminated from my vocabulary of late – no more references to legacy, proprietary or even to special, unique or just plain different. What NonStop brings to the table is excellence.

In the key markets it serves, mission critical transaction processing, where every transaction executes in real time, NonStop excels. It’s at the top of the charts when it comes to availability and given the ongoing discussions after the fallout from some massive outages of late for airlines around the world, we should be shouting as loudly as we can about the merits of NonStop! If IDC continues to reward NonStop with the prestigious AL4 badge – something no other vendors can lay claim to, although IBM pushes close with its Parallel Sysplex configurations, but you try looking over the wall-charts describing all the paths between the mainframes in the Sysplex and you will understand that even for Parallel Sysplex it’s annotated with an asterisk!

My plans for kicking back and relaxing have been interrupted this week for one additional very good reason. With this post to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, I start my tenth year of blogging on HPE and NonStop. If you missed it, page all the way back to the post of August 20, 2007, where I introduced myself to the community as perhaps the very first blogger supporting NonStop. In that post I finished with the observation and question - what did we all think about the recent HPTF&E - how many events do you go to each year?

HPTF&E has been long gone, replaced by HPE Discover that in turn has been complemented by the end of year NonStop Technical Boot Camp event, but the question – how many events do you go to each year? is a very relevant question and for me, very important. Local events have begun to flourish around the world – I had been hoping to make it to OzTUG for their event in a few days’ time even as others are preparing to travel to VNUG (I was present at a luncheon when the decision was taken to re-launch VNUG and to rename it VNUG from VTUG back in the early 2000s) but no, I couldn’t pull off the trip this year to the VNUG event or to find time for a trip down under.

For every member of the NonStop community they should be able to make it to a user event somewhere on the planet at least twice a year – their local user group meeting as well as more widely attended GEO event, either in EMEA or the Americas. If you aren’t able to pull off making the journey then you aren’t alone as I have to make some hard decisions and skip a couple each year but I will blog about each and every one I attend. And that’s the real value that comes with blogging – sharing information. Alerting the community whenever something exciting transpires! Keeping NonStop in the headlines no matter what.

As the day approached for the start of my tenth year, I emailed Randy Meyer, Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Systems, HPE. Through the years, Randy and I have exchanged many emails on the topic of spreading more ink on NonStop across the industry. On numerous occasions, as busy as Randy has been of late, he has found time to sit down with Margo and me over coffee and for that, we are both highly appreciative – it was Randy’s initial encouragement all those years ago that helped motivate me to blog.

Randy’s response to the news of this particular anniversary was to the point and yet again, reflective of Randy’s own enthusiasm for all things NonStop. “I’m not in the least surprised that you still have interesting and exciting things to write about, and that it’s more popular than ever,” said Randy. “The NonStop team continues to drive innovative solutions help the most demanding customers in the world run their businesses – all day, every day. Who WOULDN’T want to read about that?”

It was as I entered my third year of blogging that I talked about why social media was becoming as important as it is today – it’s where many of us first learn of something new. In that post of September 13, 2009, And the rockets' red glare! I quoted web-sales teaching guru, Brian Clark. “So, blogging can be vitally important, but most likely it will open doors for you that lead to revenue or help you promote things you are selling, as opposed to generating a ton of money from advertising,” he suggested. “There’s a huge shift going on thanks to globalization and the growth of the Internet, and those who can create and express ideas online will be at the top end of the economic spectrum.”

As with everything you run across on the Internet, I then added, you have to be a little careful when applying all that is conveyed by gurus and other thought-leaders. However, I continued in that post, the basic observations Clark makes remain valid; “product placements” in blogs are becoming just as important as in any other medium, and the trend today is that more and more people are relying on the Internet for all of their product information. Ignoring this medium and letting your competitors gain the upper-hand, will be tough to reverse when you wake up and finally “get it!”

And that has been one of the most encouraging aspects of my blogging – from the earliest days, even as I was working at GoldenGate, it was Sami Akbay, then VP of Product Management and Marketing, who told others at GoldenGate that indeed, I get it! And I have to admit, Sami did understand the potential to effectively and rather inexpensively communicate a message and when it comes to NonStop well, I blogged non stop. I also have to thank at this time Yash of OmniPayments. Without Yash’s longtime support and indeed encouragement, I am not sure I would have had enough stories to tell and as anyone who knows Yash well, there are plenty of stories yet to tell.

Do I envision kicking back any time soon and to seriously consider taking it easy? The short answer is heck, no! As a community we are sitting atop the best potential for NonStop making a difference, ever. Yes, ever. The market has truly turned and is coming to NonStop. And I have to admit, to reuse Randy’s words, with many more years to come and even more posts to be written, then “Who WOULDN’T want to read about that?”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Where do we turn for news? For the NonStop community, it’s all in blog posts!

Blog posts may very well have replaced any need for post-it notes but the goals are similar – simplified newsworthy communications targeting interested parties; for the NonStop community today’s many blogs are where much of what’s interesting about NonStop is disseminated!

Where do we get our information today? Where do we turn for the news that matters most? It wasn’t all that long ago that we took real photos and dragged them out only occasionally to remind ourselves of past experiences and as to our friends, well, they were grateful when we kept the evidence of past adventures well and truly hid away. But today? With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – we can see it all and blog posts keep the storyline moving along, no matter the audience. The question today is what did we do before social media exploded onto the scene as vibrantly as it has of late?

In an episode of the now defunct sitcom, Sex and the City, the central character, Carrie Bradshaw, complained bitterly to her friends about her boyfriend announcing the break-up of their relationship via a simple message on a post-it note stuck to her refrigerator. In a surprising update to this mode of communication it would appear that a blog post is having a similar effect for many in business – is reading about a change in responsibilities or worse, being let go, in a company blog on par with how Bradshaw reacted to that infamous post-it note?

Companies, technologies and indeed products, are all subject today of blog posts. Should you need to know what’s happening to your favorite tool, utility, product or solution – there is bound to be a post published somewhere! The press as well as business and financial analysts all have blogs and they have taken over as the principle source for news on current developments. No working hour goes by for me without checking a couple of blog sites to see if anything surprising has taken place, and of course it would be hard for me to ignore all that is transpiring at HPE! If you haven’t been keeping up with the steady flow of posts then for the past two years at least, they have provided me with many of the story lines you will have seen in posts to this and other blogs where I contribute.

All of this came back to me as I pulled up announcements concerning not only Martin Fink’s retirement from the post of CTO but also the recent elevation of Ric Lewis to oversee the new group, Software-Defined & Cloud Group, where previously Lewis had been the senior vice president and general manager of converged data center infrastructure.  Both Fink and Lewis had strong connections with the NonStop community and yet, according to the press coverage I turned to, the news apparently was announced in a company blog.

HPE is putting its Helion OpenStack and Helion CloudSystem businesses into a new “Software-Defined & Cloud Group (SDCG),” to be headed by Ric Lewis, formerly senior vice president and general manager of converged data center infrastructure. It was in a web update from Fortune Magazine where I read, and I quote, from the blog: “By bringing these assets together, we create a single organization tasked with a common mission—to provide best-in-class solutions that enable developers and operators to deploy their applications across traditional and cloud infrastructures, simply and effortlessly. Mark Interrante will lead this team.” And yes, “Interrante will report to Lewis.”

For everyone in the NonStop community sympathy with the folks at Fortune Magazine is highly likely, as even among this venerable institutions’ journalists, it was hard to ignore how “Change is the norm at HPE, especially in cloud.” Now, I am not one to criticize the decisions coming from HPE of late nor will I be the one who raises an eyebrow over how much is happening within the companies executive suites, but I am just so glad that the NonStop products within the Mission Critical Systems group are doing as well as they are these days.

From every indication that I have, following HPE Discover 2016, I am now reasonably certain that sales revenues from NonStop have pushed past other product offerings in the Mission Critical Systems product portfolio, but then again, this is just an opinion I have formed so don’t hold me to this too stringently. And yet, this is probably the real situation within HPE’s Enterprise Group and if it is, rarely do vendors the size of HPE go around pulling the plug on such success. More importantly for the NonStop community is the sheer size of the recent investments in NonStop as it first moved to support the x86 architecture, then OpenStack as NonStop became free of not just the hardware but the infrastructure as well.

But post-it notes and blog postings may not tell the whole story or indeed, through omission, simply divert attention to matters less important. Follow the link on the HPE web site to the Mission Critical Computing Blog and it will take you to a page with the heading, Servers and Operating Systems – a little confusing I have to admit. But scroll down and there are numerous blog posts but find one on NonStop? After almost an hour of trolling through pages and checking the archives, I found only two posts for 2016 (and just six for all of 2015) with one of the two 2016 posts being  a summary of all sessions involving Mission Critical Systems at HPE Discover 2016.

Contrarians among us would argue that the only posts being featured on the HPE web site are from those systems and servers struggling to maintain market share – for NonStop, no “break-up of a relationship” messages is perhaps a good thing and more a reflection on the continued strong demand for NonStop systems in the marketplaces they serve.

It is my expectation that we are living in times where shipments of the Itanium-based NonStop i family will show significant growth, enough to surprise even the pundits proclaiming the demise of this family of NonStop systems. I just had the opportunity to spend time with a customer who has just ratcheted up their investment in NonStop i and for good reason – it’s stable and it’s a known quantity and for the community NonStop serves these remain important considerations. However, knowing there are new NonStop systems coming to market is a reassuring and seriously, highly newsworthy, development – you can’t see NonStop losing its sheen within HPE with even more options becoming available to run NonStop.

It is also my expectation that we are moving to a time when complementing Itanium-based NonStop with x86-based NonStop will accelerate many enterprises consideration of hybrid solutions made up of traditional systems working in combination with private clouds deployed right alongside x86-based NonStop on the very same servers – the label of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware is now inclusive of NonStop with the work being done on providing a virtual NonStop (vNonStop), and that too is a message that resonates well with me. A vendor the size of HPE simply wouldn’t go down this path if there were plans to move in a different direction and having executives familiar with NonStop now spread throughout HPE upper management is refreshing news to all who belong to the NonStop community.

Remember Sean Mansubi? Mansubi preceded Andy Bergholz as head of NonStop R&D and is VP, R&D - Converged Platform Software & Infrastructure at HPE. Like Lewis, he has considerable knowledge of all things NonStop and even as his current product line responsibilities will fit nicely with Lewis’s SDCG plans, I can’t help wondering whether at some point (particularly with vNonStop on the horizon), we will hear more about NonStop making a contribution in a world that is converging.

Of course, while on the topic of NonStop knowledge permeating the ranks of NonStop, it would be remiss of me to leave out references to Randy Meyer who is now Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Systems, HPE. For those in the NonStop community unfamiliar with conventions and protocols at HPE, whenever you run across an executive who has in his title General Manager then you have met an individual who has direct Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibilities. Meyer now looks after the complete product portfolio for all mission critical systems and with his background deeply anchored in NonStop, the success NonStop is enjoying just has to be an ongoing source of pride for Meyer, I would have to think!

I am sure there are other former NonStop managers now in executive positions within HPE and I would not be surprised to hear from them following this post. But that in itself is part of the story – just like me many of them wouldn’t let an hour go by without checking select blogs and according to the stats I review, it’s clear that many of my readers just happen to be located in Palo Alto. We no longer resort to post-it notes, although I still have plenty of them in my desk drawers. Transformation to a hybrid infrastructure, software-defined everything, including clouds, converged platform software and so forth all reflect the changes happening deep inside IT (and yes, not just for HPE has change become the norm)!

While there’s no publicity as yet about the presence of NonStop I am of the opinion that should the current efforts to integrate a virtual NonStop into HPE’s own IT organization prove successful, then it will be hard to keep that information from seeing the light of day in the marketplace. And should that likely event happen any time soon then yes, look to the blogs for the first news to break as for sure, as a blogger, I wouldn’t miss such an opportunity to post about it the instant I see announcements being made – post-it notes be damned!