Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's still "all about choice"!

This year’s HP Discover event was well attended and HP left no stone unturned when it came to spelling out its vision, strategy and in providing supporting roadmaps; little room for ambiguity remains when it comes to NonStop!  
My attendance at this year’s HP Discover event in Las Vegas had been “in the works” for many months, but the timing and logistics weren’t finalized till the very last moment. This year there were no weddings to get in the way, but before HP Discover, Pyalla Technologies and Margo had to participate in two back-to-back events in Nashville and we wanted to squeeze in a track event at Willow Springs over the holiday weekend and to catch up friends we hadn’t seen for quite some time.

The upshot was that we were left with a very quick turn-around period in Boulder – flying back to Denver on a Wednesday afternoon before loading up the RV that night, including hooking up the trailer with the track car aboard, and then heading out on a 1,000 mile road trip to Rosamond, California. As for HP Discover, the week after, the original plan had been to base ourselves south of the Las Vegas “strip” in an RV park and use the track car to commute to the venue, but when the offer arrived from HP to join them as a part of the blogging community that included a nice, air-conditioned room in the Venetian, we jumped at the opportunity!

The picture above is of me checking messages while in the Bloggers Lounge, an area set aside for the blogging community attending the event as guests of HP (and yes, I am wearing the Fools for NonStop T Shirt). And there’s not enough I can write about the terrific support HP extended to all bloggers – our own facilities, meals and most importantly, through specially arranged “coffee talks” access to many HP executives, where lively Q and A sessions developed. And yes, Ric Lewis and Randy Meyer were on hand to help “educate” my fellow bloggers – of the twenty plus bloggers invited, I was the only one representing the Business Critical Systems (BCS) community, so seeing Ric and Randy warm to a community more than well represented by those interested in PCs, Printers and Storage products was “highly educational” to watch! As for my situation representing BCS I want to particularly thank Quinn Fisher, ESSN Marketing “evangelist”, for all things Web and Social Media based.

Readers by now will be well aware of the seven posts I made to the LinkedIn group, Real Time View, but if you haven’t checked them out already, I would encourage you to take a look – they were written at the time keynote addresses were either about to kick-off or just after they finished and represent my thoughts at the time. Other posts reflecting my observations about the event were also just posted to the comForte Lounge blog site – check out “Familiar territory …”, and shortly there will be additional commentary posted to the web publication, realtime.ir.com

However, with all of this fresh in my mind, it’s probably good to take one more look at the opening paragraph in my previous post to this blog. At that time, and as I looked forward to the event, I included a reference to what HP NonStop Enterprise Division (NED) Product Management head, Randy Meyer, had said to me two years ago when the theme of modernization (of NonStop) was the hot item and where there were many references made to just how much work had been done to ensure NonStop was more closely aligned with other programs HP’s BCS were pursuing – greater exploitation of commodity components and improved support of open software. And now, two years later, what was promised has been achieved and NonStop is enjoying greater visibility within all that BCS projects.

It started out this year with comments made by Dave Donatelli, Executive VP and General Manager, Enterprise Group (formerly ESS&N), when he outlined the support by ESSN for Cloud computing – Clouds? Donatelli asked, “Think of consistency, choice and confidence." Consistency? Donatelli then explained, “Think of common architecture, portability, and consumption – that is, you can consume any way you want!” As for Choice? Donatelli then drove home the message of HP’s pursuit of “Open, Heterogeneity, and Extensibility.” Finally, as for Confidence? Here Donatelli talked of “Security, Manageability, and Automation”

When it comes to popular cloud offerings, Donatelli went on to add, then consider the “dictatorial ‘lock-in architectures’ being presented whereas (what you will hear from HP) everything being built is to open standards where you can move at will – (and) we will be good enough to earn your business!” if I am seeing just one key attribute when it comes to considering the deployment of clouds, it is choice, as the technology is so new and there’s so much change afoot, anything that “smells” of lock-in has to be avoided at all costs. We have come so quickly from client/server models to the internet to Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 that with the coming of clouds, we need to walk oh, so cautiously, as this is just the very beginning. Decisions we make today could so quickly isolate us from so much goodness the potential of clouds is already beginning to offer – embrace choice!

For me, one of the highlights was when, joined by other members of the blogging community, we were able to join Ric and Randy, as mentioned earlier in this post, for a coffee talk. Of course, the talk opened with a brief background anecdote on the early history of Tandem and Compaq as those participating were not up to speed on the early days of Tandem. But the more Ric, and then Randy, filled in the pieces, the more those present were impressed.

Apart from asking what more the NonStop team at HP could be doing to increase market awareness, including perhaps featuring a disco ball rotating above each NonStop system, as was suggested at one point, this group of predominately Windows and Linux scribes were taken back by just how widespread deployment of NonStop has become. Again, “if you have made a phone call or used a credit card or visited a hospital, you have likely used NonStop,” Randy began. “We look at the applications running on NonStop and our real customer today is our customer’s customer,” Randy then added before explaining “with so much choice, any application not available simply means our customer’s customers will go elsewhere.”

“Technology? And just how modern?” Randy asked at one point. “You may have known us as Tandem – then we have changed. We have moved to standards – same blades, storage and manageability as you will find present in other BCS product lines but here on NonStop, inheriting ‘Tandem fundamentals’; so yes, if you knew us as Tandem, then it’s now all modern.” Then came a question, “When you moved to commodity, did you lose anything?”

Ric and Randy were in tune with the response “Yes, historically, Tandem defined the architecture and there have been many changes to the underlying technology over the years, but the architecture has been retained. Even as we continue to redefine servers, (as Donatelli had already stated) and yes, there’s a long roadmap for Itanium in place (a key part of NED Product Manager’s, Mark Pollans, NonStop hardware roadmap presentation), these fundamentals are still as strongly supported as they ever have been.”

When the invitation arrived to join the blogging community as HP’s guest, and to enjoy the comforts of an air conditioned hotel, it was a choice I didn’t take without due consideration. As I had the RV in Las Vegas, I was tempted to pass up on the offer. Fortunately, I didn’t, and checked in to the Venetian – after spending the weekend in the RV when desert temperatures climbed past 100 degrees and where the dual 15,000 btu’s A/C units struggled to bring the RV’s inside temperature down to the high 80 degrees, the choice we made seemed to have been the right one.

And increasingly, in pursuing the strategy as it is today, HP’s belief that providing more to choose from and less lock-in, it would seem as though HP is on the right path. In having done as much modernization as it has done these past two years, NonStop continues to be an integral part of the vision that this strategy is supporting – yes it is still all about choice and from what I observed at HP Discover first-hand, the choice of NonStop remains without peer when it comes to supporting mission-critical applications, and for those within the NonStop community depending upon NonStop, it seems that here too, we have all made the right choice.

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