Thursday, June 21, 2012

I have options!

It’s great to be able to choose, but if there are few options available, it may not prove wise. Fortunately, when it comes to NonStop, the community has come to appreciate the greater product diversity now on offer …

I have always liked to keep my options open. In today’s economy, I suspect, I will have few detractors as after all nothing seems guaranteed and there’s every chance that plans we initiate, full of confidence as is so often the case, will change and having options is important. Even though it’s now mid-June, what transpired at HP Discover remains fresh in my mind and one of the lasting impressions I have held onto is of the importance of really understanding all that is on offer today.

In the last post I wrote of how I participated at this year’s event as a guest of HP, as a member of the blogging community. However, in the lead-up to the event and following an exchange with the Connect leadership, I volunteered to lead the new Cloud SIG. Clouds? The NonStop community is aware of the potential sea-change ahead, but in the interim continues to benefit from variety of solutions and barely a quarter goes by without hearing about new investments being made in support of the NonStop platform. In practically every forum where I participate, the cry continues to be “where are the solutions for NonStop?” The short answer is that while the focus may only be on a select number of mission-critical markets, there are now many more options available than I have seen for many years.

Options certainly weren’t restricted to products when it came to HP Discover, and perhaps what transpired Tuesday afternoon through to the wee hours of Wednesday morning is a case in point.  As Thursday afternoon wound down, I dropped in on the presentation by Pulse on their recent implementation of their real-time fraud architecture. In so doing I had the pleasure of sitting alongside of Chris Lawless and Simon Whitworth of Oracle GoldenGate. Now that Oracle has elected to allow the GoldenGate team to continue working on new releases for Itanium, it was good to see that back with the community – and yes, Pulse deployed more GoldenGate software with their latest system expansion.

However, during that period where the future of GoldenGate’s support of Itanium was unclear, additional products surfaced among them new products from Attunity. While not contemplating a full frontal attack on GoldenGate, nevertheless, time away from the NonStop community had left GoldenGate exposed to new competitors.

“GoldenGate became the natural choice in the NonStop market but that changed with the Oracle acquisition,” said Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Strategy, Itamar Ankorion, observing that “it became clear that there was a marketplace for an alternate product offering.” Attunity may be the latest company to step into the replication market and perhaps more vendors will follow suit, but attracting new products helps adds weight to the reality that developing new products for the NonStop community holds merit. With GoldenGate’s renewed interest in Itanium, and in NonStop, this may in fact turn out to be a catalyst encouraging even greater diversity in solution offerings.

Following the presentation by Pulse, the early evening at HP Discover kicked-off in earnest. There was the expected cocktail hour where Margo and I were joined by Neil Pringle, head of NonStop sales in EMEA, and as is always the case when spending time with Neil, small talk quickly gave way to how we could help Neil sell more NonStop! And uLinga was making impressive headway against more established products like SNAX and ICE and Neil was fully aware of this turn of events.

There was little time to let the conversation develop any further as it was time for dinner with the team from comForte where CEO, Dr. Michael Rossbach, was hosting a good size gathering of the NonStop community. Unfortunately Margo and I had to make our excuses before comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, gave a brief overview – as Thomas was to spend the following week at our home in Boulder the comForte team was gracious enough to allow us a timely exit from the dinner.

The NonStop community is well aware of the sea-changes underway. It’s not just Clouds but it’s also the pursuit of Converged Infrastructure and now HP’s Project Odyssey – NonStop is a firm player within the scope of HP’s Business Critical System (BCS) and it was hard to miss the many references made to NonStop throughout the presentations provided. As noted in previous posts, when it came time for BCS’s Martin Fink to provide an update he brought with him a panel and the only user participating was US Foods, a large, committed NonStop user.

At the heart of these programs is firstly, to ensure crucial hardware across the platforms central to running mission-critical applications use as many standard components as they can and indeed, in time, become one and the same for a select number of OSs, and then, leverage these mission-critical properties across Windows and Linux that as of now don’t quite make the grade (supporting mission-critical applications) for most enterprises.

The penultimate event Tuesday evening was perhaps the most enjoyable; OmniPayments CEO, Yash Kapadia, extended invitations to a select group to join him at a performance by Cirque du Soleil “Viva Elvis”. This gave me an opportunity to catch Yash for a short exchange on what he had been doing and about what he thought of HP Discover. I have provided commentary in other posts on the success OmniPayments has recently enjoyed when it displaced BASE24 at one of the top five American banks, enabling that financial institution to pull the plug on further usage of ACI’s flagship product.

“I have been to so many HP user and customer events over the years as I always find them a real opportunity to connect with customers and prospects alike, but with so much negativity surrounding HP these days I was curious to see how HP would respond,” Yash quickly iterated before adding “but having talked to HP executives and managers, customers and prospects, I must admit I am now a little more upbeat about HP’s prospects in the markets we pursue.”

As for any further comment on the success at the bank where OmniPayments displaced BASE24, Yash was quite forthcoming, suggesting “we expect the work we have done at one of America’s largest banks to be duplicated very soon and already we have a number of discussions under way. It’s always nice to get a major win, such as this behind you, and what we have learnt about migrating banks’ ATM networks off of BASE24 and onto our own product gives us confidence to handle any other potential migrations no matter how large.”

Returning to his earlier observation, as we turned to enter the theater, Yash then added of how “we have worked closely with HP for many years and appreciate all the help that they have provided. Yes, HP has been associated with a lot of negativity in the press of late but when it comes to actually working with real customers, they provide a lot of hands-on support that is hard to find anywhere else.”

The Tuesday evening of this year’s HP Discover finally came to a close, quietly, with a final round of drinks. Whether it is products like GoldenGate, SNAX and ICE, or even major platforms such as BASE24, the NonStop community now has viable options. I closed my last post with the observation that, in pursuing the strategy as it is doing today, HP’s belief that providing more to choose from and with less lock-in was in the best interests of all of HPs customers and it would seem as though HP, in this respect, is heading down the right path.

With the vendors stepping up and providing many more options, that the course that HP is following is being validated emphatically. No matter the sea-changes under way I too, like OmniPayments’ Yash Kapadia, have to admit that I am every bit as upbeat about HP’s prospects, and the future of NonStop.

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