Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Vegas!

24 hours! In Vegas, does 24 hours have any meaning? Does anyone really recall all that they did over a 24 hour period? I only ask because we have been living in a world where clocks are not visible, and the artificial light doesn’t help with keeping track of time either.

The night before last was a blast!. It started when a number of us were given the full “paparazzi” treatment as we ran the gauntlet of bulb-flashing, high-fiving, anxious-to-spot-a-celebrity crowd surrounding the VIP entrance to the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay. HP with Connect jointly put on a special reception for a select number of IT executives and I managed to wrangle a pass. In all my years of attending user events, I have never quite witnessed anything like this before – but then, a number of the IT executives really are “rockstars”! They really have excelled at their profession! Martin Fink and the BCS team excelled as hosts and quickly became engaged in lively exchanges with the users present.

But the night was early and an hour or so later the full user-group party kicked off at the House of Blues, and the early-arrival VIPs quickly joined in. And for the first time, I really began to sense a new level of enthusiasm for the NonStop platform. Whether it was the blades announcement or not, something definitely electrified the community in a way that has been absent for quite a few years.

It was only a couple of hours later that we gathered at The Hotel for a breakfast reception hosted by the Asia Pacific / Japan (AP/J) team. This is developing into a tradition among the NonStop crowd, and Herbert Zwenger and his team do a terrific job in making us welcome. Herbert reminded us that it was his very first attendance at an ITUG Summit that convinced him that the NonStop platform had the potential to develop into a significant business opportunity for the team in AP/J. And he’s been an staunch supporter ever since!

Herbert now has responsibilities beyond NonStop, and has been aggressively pursuing a “mainframe replacement” strategy and over an 18 month period, has seen some 50 + mainframes converted to HP Superdomes. One user even added a NonStop into the mix to handle financial transactions. Replacing this many mainframes is an incredible achievement, and came as a big surprise to us. But the region has also become the center of several significant new wins for NonStop and Herbert assured us that there was a lot more to follow.

It was then a very brisk walk from The Hotel back to the top floor of the South Convention Center for the SQL/MX SIG meeting before backtracking to Starbucks for coffee and a little more networking. Then it was back to the exhibition hall. Did anyone notice that the NonStop ISVs were positioned between two full-length corridors? There’s something about redundant paths after all … While on the trade show floor I stopped by a couple of the bigger ISVs for an update.

Sheila Johnson, the CEO of Xypro and an exhibitor at every ITUG Summit that I can recall, had recognized the same elevated levels of excitement among the community that I had observed only a few hours earlier at the House of Blues. And I have included a picture of the two of us on the Xypro stand on the left of this blog. “Our customers had become a little worried about the long term viability of the NonStop platform even with the Integrity announcements. But with the blades announcements there is a very clear renewal of confidence about the future of NonStop,”

“The economics and flexibility that blades offered will really help expand the marketplace for NonStop,” Sheila added. Looking around the trade show flow, she went on to tell me that “this is our biggest marketing event of the year – it’s where customers get an opportunity to meet with our developers and where we have an opportunity for open discussions with HP’s product management and development teams as well. We also strongly support Regional User Group events and hope that they will continue. This is all very important to our business.”

Just down from Xypro is the stand of comForte, who earlier in the week had announced a sizeable expansion to their operation. I had covered this briefly in the posting on Monday, June 16 2008 “The path well-trodden – to Mandalay Bay!” and I wanted to catch up with Dr. Michael Rossbach, the CEO of comForte. The announcement that comForte had acquired Unlimited Software Associates, Inc as well as the Intellectual Property Rights for the security solutions from Baker Street Software, Inc. and Cross-El Software Solutions, Inc. had indeed “generated a lot attention – even from other vendors!” explained Dr. Rossbach.

“HP product management’s strategic thinking is that they would like to see some consolidation among the smaller vendors, as this brings some stability to the ISV community,” he went on to add. For the immediate future, Dr. Rossbach will be focused on integrating the acquisitions into comForte, but already he is looking for other potential acquisitions. A few years back, and with almost 90 percent of their revenue coming from the NonStop platform, they began to consider development on other platforms but the NonStop marketplace turns out be a surprisingly “good market to be in and with the arrival of blades, will only get bigger,” he concluded.

I was headed into the Business Continuity SIG meeting when my phone rang and reminded me that I was being expected at a reception for volunteers working on the upcoming European event in Mannheim, Germany later this year. So I had to bail from the SIG meeting and get back to The Hotel. This is a very important step in the life of the next user community as this will really be the first event held by the community and I have always believed in a strong global presence.

From The Hotel it was back to the Exhibition Hall for the final trade-show reception and after several passageway conversations I made it in time for the opening. My company, GoldenGate, was sponsoring the food and beverage and many of the company’s executives were present. I still found time to talk with many of the booth staff on the HP stand, and just couldn’t help but be impressed with the size of the commitment made by HP this year.

The next event for the day was completely different – and could only happen in Las Vegas. A colleague visiting HPTF&E from Australia had invited me to witness him and his wife renewing their vows at the Elvis Chapel in the city center. With a number of HP Australia friends in attendance, out come a singing Elvis impersonator and “Elvis” sang his way through a “re-exchange of rings!” Only in Vegas! And I just had to include a picture of it here! After the event it was back into the taxi and on to the EyeCandy bar for one last nightcap and more intense discussions with HP!

There is a lot of serious business conducted at user events, and during the 24 hours, there was an almost continuous stream of impromptu meetings. But there is also a lot of fun from the lighter side of networking and from catching a quick exchange with old friends. Many friends I only ever get to see at user events, and it is a testament to the NonStop platform that it continues to draw us back year after year no matter the name of the event or its location.

I am not sure exactly when I slept or when I had a meal – but from the first cocktail at the House of Blues to the last glass of wine at the EyeCandy bar, it’s an intense nonstop 24 hours of interaction with friends, customers, committee members, my own colleagues with whom I work, and with HP. And that’s exactly why we return year after year and why the event has so much meaning for many of us. The “electricity” is back; there’s a distinct “buzz” to be heard, and I saw Elvis! What more can you need!


Anonymous said...

what is this HP Superdomes?? is it so versatile than mainframes???

Richard Buckle said...

In some situations, it certainy does appear that way - and in Asia Pacific / Japan the HP team is aggressively going after the mianframe replacement opportunities.

If HP maitains this rate, they will begin to give IBM some cause to worry - the loss of 50 + mainframe cstomers is not trivial.

One replacement, as I have been lead to believe and in the finiancial services marketplace, even went wth a combination of Superdome and NonStop.

So, in short - yes, these are viable options for any data center manager left with legacy mainframe systems.