Friday, June 17, 2011

Detour’s Ahead? Stay Cool!

Driving through the desert I’ve been forced to take detours and it’s been hot. Following Las Vegas and HP Discover, focus has shifted to Palo Alto where the heat has been turned up! Will relief appear with the gathering of clouds?
 
This week I yet again took a road I just simply had to take a few weeks ago, as snow blocked the highway I had originally intended to use. High in the Rocky Mountains, even at that time of year, an unexpected downfall of snow had proved too great to risk tackling in a rear-wheel drive car.

Now my destination required me to go down the same road I had chosen as a backup before, but this time I was forced off it, taking yet another detour onto a secondary highway because scorching heat had brought with it raging fires that closed the road. Driving an all-wheel-drive SUV in case the snow returned, I found fire instead; welcome to living in a mountain state!

The temperature is already 108 degrees, there’s little humidity, and in the higher elevations it continues to be windy. Settled into my hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, I can understand why the authorities in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado are so concerned about the coming summer months and the risks they face. The picture above was taken on the way to Scottsdale and is a tangible reminder of the risks travellers face in this desert area and why it’s not advisable to detour too far from the road.

Only a few miles away, in the city of Las Vegas, a major HP event – HP Discover – had been held. While all involved last week are now back at their desks, the feedback and observations continue to roll-in and with each new email a clearer picture of the value this event provided is forming. Yes, it was worth attending as the networking opportunities appeared worthwhile. The key notes and the subsequent drill-down sessions all seemed to have scored high points with those present – yes, Converged Infrastructure is important and is beginning to flex more muscle than some of the previous initiatives.

Whether you are a big supporter of open, industry-standard solutions such as Windows or Unix, or are drawn to the world of Linux, or appreciative of the highest availability platform in HP’s server arsenal, the NonStop server, Converged Infrastructure lays the foundation for a kind of future, plug-and-play, choice of platform where consideration of trade-offs depending upon costs, value, and even reputation (with your users) comes into play in a more manageable fashion. Yes, retaining key infrastructure components supported across a variety of platforms allows well-architected solutions to enjoy choices in platform hosting.

Even as I reflect on all that took place in Las Vegas, Monday’s announcement of organizational changes within HP are cause for us to refocus on Palo Alto. For the NonStop community the move of Ann Livermore away from the day-to-day operations of the Enterprise Business and onto the board at HP, and greater responsibilities given to Dave Donatelli, didn’t come as a complete surprise.

For the news release of June 13th, 2011, check out HP’s web site: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2011/110613b.html?mtxs=rss-corp-news

In case you missed reading my article, “NonStop – A Running Commentary” in the February 2011 issue of Tandemworld.net, these changes were expected. At the time I wrote “last month I made a brief reference to the HP strategy update to be given by the company’s new CEO, Leo Apotheker. There’s a lot of anticipation over what it will address and while I suggested in my last article that it was too early to speculate, some early indications have already surface.”

Following this opening remark I then suggested, as a community, we “don’t rule out Servers (including the more complex hybrid variety), Storage, and Networking continuing to play an important role, or fail to see how quickly Dave Donatelli consolidates his position at the top of the HP technology tree in the post-Ann Livermore era! This is worth watching of course as it is being rumored that Ann Livermore will join the board (is it already a done deal?) and take up the post of Vice Chairman. It’s also worth watching as this is the group where Business Critical Servers (BCS), of which NonStop is a part, resides and where the future of NonStop will be determined.”

For the full article in Tandemworld.net, check out the web page: http://www.tandemworld.net/newsletter%20feb11.htm

However, some early feedback that I have received requires me to clarify why I like these changes and while I don’t necessarily want to detour too far from the HP storyline, I do see potential for renewed focus on the enterprise – their servers, their software, and the services. For many weeks I have been fielding questions about why isn’t there more focus on NonStop within HP and if the company’s strategy, as described by HP CEO Apotheker in March, is centered on Cloud Computing and Mobility what precisely will the NonStop contribute to Cloud Computing?

There have also been some concerns over Livermore’s election to the board and view her departure from day-to-day role at HP as potentially bad news for NonStop. While Livermore has been a supporter of NonStop through the years attending many user events, all the way back to ITUG, including the support of programs that were built for C-level executives where she participated, I cannot see the support for NonStop lessening in any way with her departure.

Dave Donatelli has expressed, many times, his support for NonStop and his position couldn’t have been made any clearer than when he included a slide on NonStop in his presentation on Converged Infrastructure at HP Discover. According to one HP participant, as Donatelli introduced the slide:“(he) asked for a show of hands from people who had used their cell phone, or credit card, that morning (before adding) that (the transaction) probably went through a NonStop.” Yes, we have seen this approach pursued by others but hearing it afresh from the new guy, tells us plenty!

What may surprise some in the NonStop community even more is that with Donatelli’s arrival at HP there is now a group of R&D executives that meet with Donatelli on a regular basis and NonStop is part of that group! Indeed, as conversations among the respective heads of development continue, more and more interest about NonStop capabilities has arisen. In a classic case of diving down a couple of levels to interact with the folks responsible for building products, Donatelli has quickly familiarized himself with the reality that is today’s modern, open, NonStop server. Yes, it’s an old approach adopted by the wise but it demonstrates to me that Donatelli gets it!

Whether we are a fan of Apotheker or not, for the leading IT company in the world, change was needed. While I do understand the attraction from becoming the world’s number one printer, and then personal computer vendor, for enterprise users HP’s continued pursuit of these markets did appear to be a detour. Just as IBM was exiting this marketplace, for instance, to refocus around much higher-margin software and services businesses, HP appeared to relish the opportunity IBM’s exit represented. Now, HP pushing much deeper into software and services is being seen as a prudent step for HP to take.

It’s still very hot here in Arizona and as I prepare to leave for Southern California, I can’t imagine that there’s any less heat in Palo Alto. And yet, I feel very optimistic which may surprise some of you! With Donatelli in a new role and with what I have heard about him to date, I can only see positive outcomes for NonStop. As I scan the heavens for signs of clouds, and the relief they bring, so too many in the NonStop community are looking for evidence of clouds and while I’m not seeing any here in the desert, NonStop may soon be engulfed by them … Cool!

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