Friday, July 19, 2013

Are our wishes still important?


When was the last time you really wished NonStop systems would do something different? Support something extra? Or simply wished you knew more about its future? The third anniversary of “my three wishes for NonStop” is only seven months away …

This past weekend saw me yet again at a car track. This time, it was a return visit to High Plains Raceway (HPR), just outside Denver, and arguable our home track. Readers of my social blog may recall in the most recent post, Getting much needed seat time – but will it be enough? I backed our Corvette into the wall at Sonoma and messed it up. Fortunately, it’s all sorted out now and we were able to enjoy our time at the track.

That evening came the word that Saturday would see me taking an instructor on track who would then approve me for a higher group – something I have wished forever since taking up the sport. Then again, I was reminded of the need to be careful about what we wish for in case our wishes come true – there are always some new responsibilities that come along for the ride. Yes, as a Group 3 member I can now take passengers for a ride and, as you see in the picture above, it is one heck of a responsibility!

“You have only three wishes!” Or, as Disney’s Genie said to Aladdin, “Three wishes to be exact, and ixnay on the wishing for more wishes! That's it. Three. Uno, dos, tres! No substitutions, exchanges or refunds!” For many within the HP community, hearing that HP would be focused on Mobility, Clouds and Big Data came awfully close to fulfilling the most-requested wishes of CIOs worldwide. Had Aladdin had insight into technology, I wonder what would have crossed his mind.

Much that accompanies the annual HP Discover event has a touch of Disney about it. Perhaps one day, a developer will drop a dome over all of Las Vegas, air-condition it all, rename it as THE Adult Theme Park, and then sell the lot to Disney. I have always wondered whether we were witnessing a natural cycle in play – the “3 Ms”; from Mob control to Millionaire control to Mickey (Mouse) control. I haven’t really checked, but I wonder if there isn’t some sort of bell curve that tracks the lifecycle of such places. If there were such cycles, I can only wish that the air conditioning aspect gets fast-tracked.

What provided the reality check, of course, were the ubiquitous lanyards and badges displayed throughout the venue. However, when it comes to having three wishes, most attendees would have used up most of them to find a quiet place to catch their breath and escape the noise. Perhaps that’s just me, and it’s all an age issue – the Bloggers Lounge that HP provides each year, I have to admit, does a really good job at meeting this need. As for networking, once again, this mandated many trips to the Grand Lux Cafes at each end of the establishment.

It was over a second breakfast one morning, with Gary Allen of HP Marketing, formerly, the Business Critical Systems (BCS) group, although with organization shuffles continuing, I am no longer sure what it’s called. Gary replaced well-known marketing head, Steve Saltwick, and so it was my first chance to get to know him - in the end I wish we both could have found a little more time. I believe Gary comes from Digital but even so, his appreciation for NonStop was inescapable. All looks positive for the NonStop community with Gary now involved. After a follow-up phone call, I began thinking once more about what I would wish for when it comes to NonStop.

In February, 2008, I wrote my first post on this topic, 'My Wish' for NS Blades. Three years later, in February, 2011, I wrote my second post, Three years on, and three more wishes! It is only another seven months before I write my third post, but this time, I thought I would get a bit of a head start and begin to look at what I would like to see developed. However, before doing so, it’s probably a good idea to see how my earlier wishes have panned out.

In the post of February, 2011, I revisited my initial three wishes. The first wish being for HP BCS to deliver “Shared Infrastructure Blades” – a single, common, sharable blade (with perhaps InfiniBand for the fabric). The second wish was for the NonStop operating system, NSK, to be customer-configurable, perhaps even supported atop a hypervisor - customers could easily reconfigure the BladeSystem to support as many or as few NonStop processors as their applications required.

As for the third wish, I pushed the envelope really hard as I wished that HP could provide an API, such that a workload management tool could automatically reconfigure processors on the fly as transaction mixes dictated.

When I looked back at these wishes, I rated myself only a little better than 50%, giving myself a B+ as Blades did appear and HP did demo a hybrid enclosure (with SuperDome 2) but as I observed later, perhaps (when you look at) all three (wishes), it’s going to depend on how solutions providers weigh the value of a hybrid platform and whether there’s a competitive edge for them as a result.

In the post of February, 2011, I made three new wishes. The first wish was pretty much a carry-over from three years earlier as I persisted with the idea of a commoditized blade package; without a doubt, a standard interconnect technology for all blades packages seemed a certainty. The second wish was a little different this time around as I speculated that one or more NonStop systems could be shipping within every platform – hiding what lies behind it under a veil of superior availability, scalability and data integrity / security.

However, it was my third wish that still has me thinking - this time around, I wrote, I wish for greater cooperation (between NonStop, and) solutions and middleware vendors. Before saying more and with only seven months to go, how am I rating myself this time? At the very least, a B+ again. If you throw Moonshot into the mix (of products from HP) and can see far enough ahead, then this should boost my ratings considerably. And NonStop is cooperating much better with the ISV community than it has for many years, a truly encouraging development.

What I am wishing for now is for something a little different and yet, I have written about it several times in the past. Firstly, I would like to see a lot more pride in NonStop visible across many more organizations within HP – it’s a really good product. Seriously! Furthermore, it’s left its legacy label a long time ago. Secondly, I want to revisit hybrid computing and repackage it as NonStop with coprocessor “satellites” – too often, the word hybrid conjures up additional complexity along with a manageability nightmare. Finally, and yes, I still have seven months to go, mind you, what about a super-aggressive Clouds program with NonStop and TS/MP (Pathway) at its heart.

Nevertheless, as already noted, we do need to be careful about what we wish for in case it comes true and when it comes to NonStop, are we ready to deal with a NonStop system that becomes the centerpiece of HP’s Enterprise Group? Are we ready for prime time and all that comes with such visibility and what else comes along for the ride? Let’s just give it another seven months before I have anything further to add! And if there’ something you’re wishing for, let me know!

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