Monday, November 30, 2009

I want to see some passion!

It’s been a couple of busy weeks and this has been my first chance to write in some time. I was in Germany for the Connect Germany / GTUG IT Symposium that attracted NonStop users from all over Europe. The picture above was captured during an evening event at GTUG and is clear evidence of the tradition of Tandem continuing even after 35 years, and I was able to enjoy a few down nights with some great German hospitality.

I had the opportunity to participate in the event moderating a short, but well attended session towards the end of the first day on the upcoming 35th anniversary of Tandem. The interest, the enthusiasm, and the passion for Tandem and now, NonStop, platforms has not lessened with the years. Everyone associated with the early days were quick to recall stories and to share amusing anecdotes and the history of the company generates interest no matter the occasion.

Returning to California from GTUG, within hours I was repacking for the weekend drive to Boulder for the Thanksgiving holiday. I continue to be amused by the folks who ask me how Thanksgiving is celebrated in Australia, completely unaware of how uniquely American this celebration of the harvest has become. No, we didn’t grow corn and no we didn’t hunt turkeys and no, the local indigenous native population didn’t help us out – American Indians, after all, never did quite make it to Australia’s shores. But like every “New American” I have adapted and grown to enjoy the festivities at this time of year.

Our eldest daughter brought pumpkin pie but, as anyone from Australia will tell you, you don’t make pies from pumpkins! Where we come from, the majestic Queensland Blue was best served baked, with roast lamb. And no matter how much I was “encouraged to try” I just couldn’t bring myself to having a wedge. Mind you, I eventually did take a small bite, but just to be polite. And to keep the freshly whipped cream off of my fingers! When Australians celebrate important occasions, it’s best to leave vegetables with the main course as the king of desserts is the mighty Pavlova.

A combination of meringue and marshmallow, topped with fresh “real” whipped-cream, and best finished with slices of banana drizzled with the pulp and juice from a passion fruit, this is a treat everyone who visits Australia needs to sample. And no, I can’t accept that this wonderful creation came from New Zealand! Up there with Vegemite, Weet bix, Tim Tams, the mighty Pavlova has become a true Aussie icon and no celebration would be complete without a serving of Pavlova.

That evening we adjourned to watch the local football team, the Denver Bronco’s take on visitors from New York. It was only a couple of years ago that the New York Giants had won the Superbowl, and the Denver team, after a strong opening to the season - winning the first six games - were in a slump having lost their last four games. But the young coach, in only his first season with the Denver team, wasn’t going to let the situation deteriorate further. As the game developed, his enthusiastic support for the team and his passion for his players, became highly contagious. With each change of possession the new combatants literally raced onto the field anxious for another opportunity to attack the opposition.

And the lowly Denver team just beat up on the visitors and never gave them a chance to find a rhythm. Event the hardened television commentators found the impact the coach had on the players was the difference that separated the two teams! As we left Boulder and headed through the western suburbs of Denver and on up through the front ranges, we drove past a billboard promoting the Denver football team - “Welcome to Bronco Country: Passion!”

Clearly, the events of the previous night had involved passion in all its guises. From our vocation, to our foods to our sports teams, what really engages us is when we are in the company of folks who are genuinely passionate about what they do. As the sports commentators broadcasting from the Thursday night game observed so openly, passion is contagious and the actions of a few passionate leaders can alter the course of any event.

Last week, Nigel Baker emailed me a short report from a participant at an IBM data base show, their Information on Demand (IoD) event. Blogger Robert Catterall had posted a short piece on November 22, ’09 “Mainframe DB2 Data Serving: Vision Becomes Reality” where he described a presentation on a “reference implementation” of IBM’s System z mainframe deployed as a data base server.

Interested, I read further “you're not going to beat the uptime delivered by that configuration: formerly planned outages for maintenance purposes are virtually eliminated (… software components can be updated, and server hardware can be upgraded, with no - I mean zero - interruption of application access to the database), and the impact of an unplanned failure of a DB2 member or a z/OS LPAR or a server is greatly diminished … And scalability? Up to 32 DB2 subsystems (which could be running on 32 different mainframe servers) can be configured in one data sharing group.”

Nigel finished his email to me with “at least IBM users still have a passion about the mainframe and DB2. What have HP done lately to promote passion amongst … NonStop users and ISVs?” While the remarks made in the blog posting above may not be news to many in the NonStop community, and I am not underestimating the work needed to make the IBM mainframe almost as good as a HP NonStop server, it still serves as a reminder that passionate users (and vendors) within the NonStop community are a crucial ingredient in ensuring the NonStop platform remains relevant.

But are we seeing enough passion being communicated? There’s so much to be excited about – the support of NonStop on Blades, for instance, is changing much of the traditional “price baggage” that for so long has dogged the NonStop message – and the rate of customer take-up of Blades should be fuelling even more excitement. But passion truly does filter down from the top. And this is where I am on the same page as many others across the NonStop community – surely, we should be seeing a lot more passion today? How could you miss any opportunity to showcase NonStop on Blades!

At the final Q & A session at GTUG, Werner Alexis asked the executive panel about innovation – and in what innovative solutions NonStop was engaging. It brought a very passionate response from Winston Prather, VP and General Manager, HP NED, as he talked about the innovation associated with the move of NonStop to support industry-standard commodity hardware.

But there was more to Werner’s question and one we all need to recognize. Werner was looking for more excitement, more passion, over the application of NonStop to solving business problems in new and innovative ways. It’s certainly good news to hear about what HP is doing for the platform, but what is the platform doing for business? For the data center? And in support of new cool applications we tend to associate with the web and the Internet?

As Nigel reminded me – other platforms certainly attract their evangelists whose passion certainly comes through. No one should be left uncertain or unsure of how important the NonStop platform continues to be for HP. And no one should be left wondering about the support for the platform particularly by those who are its “coaches” – it should be visible to everyone in the community that the coaches are 100% committed to the success of the team!

Looking further afield, it was Shaun Clowes, Product Manager NonStop and Payments at Integrated Research who reminded me recently of how “the NonStop forms the centerpiece of important business operations … (for us to) provide insight about the value of the existing systems helps justify the investment in those systems. Having a system for insight that allows you to also see into the processes that surround NonStop (and the eventual merging of the NonStop into an enterprise cloud) is critical to managing the complexity and delivering the service levels and ROI that is demanded.”

Clouds, SaaS, ever-greater use of client-side mashups, all steer technology discussions to systems that are available and scalable. Are we just going to let IBM take the leadership mantle away from HP and NonStop? Or do we see the value that comes from being passionate about NonStop and are prepared to speak up?

I think we would all like to see a lot more passion coming from HP and the NonStop team – but should we be relying solely on their fervent zeal? Could it be that the group of writers, bloggers, community agitators, user group leaders, online forum participants will prove to be a much larger source of the passion for the platform?

Perhaps, the passion will even see new uses for NonStop materialize – every change inside a data center today has to only add to the opportunities open to leverage and to further engage the NonStop platform! After all, there was no shortage of passion at GTUG and I have no reason to consider others within the NonStop community any less passionate. And I for one will feed off it at every opportunity as I am sure everyone else will as well!

3 comments:

Jimbo said...

I wouldn't expect passion from HP. I would welcome it, not expect it.
Seen the new Standish report (Megaplex)? It outlines the NonStop as the center of the data center technology and the (future) cloud.
Wonder who will have the $ and the guts to try it first. I would sure be excited and passionate about being on that team!!

Richard Buckle said...

Remember too the prototype on display at HPTF back in '08 - these Megaplexes are not too far off and yes, I believe one user took delivery and was testing.

Remember, this is most likley just institutionalizing, in product, something very similar to what Sabre did a few years back!

It will be a "market space" worth watching for sure and to see who steps up to deploying.

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