Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Explosions possible even as hope springs eternal!

Time spent in Hope, B.C. held surprises for me and Sylvester Stallone however, time spent in Las Vegas, every bit as explosive (I’m almost sure) will create a renewed sense of hope …

In the 1970s, after spending a short time in London, England, I immigrated to Canada. When the opportunity came to put London behind me and to work in Canada, I jumped at the chance. As my final destination was to be Edmonton, Alberta, the Canadian authorities fast tracked my application for landed immigrant status and I was on the plane, out of London, in only a couple of weeks. That should have been a clue. Seriously!

All the same, I felt exhilarated to be going to a new country and I was hoping for the best. After landing at the airport, early March 1976, and with snow everywhere (yes, my first encounter with the fluffy stuff), I wasn’t sure how it would all turn out, but a few weeks later I was hard at work for the local Caterpillar distributor and had a great condo down town with a new BMW 530 sedan in the garage.

And this brings me to the matter of the small town of Hope, British Columbia, pictured above  – a small village on the western slopes of the Canadian Rockies. Early one morning, all those years ago, I executed a perfect U Turn on Hope’s main street only to be pulled over by the sheriff. Fortunately, it was only a brief lecture that time and I didn’t get a ticket.

Years later I was to reflect on this incident when I saw the township featured in a movie. It happened that this very same Hope, B.C., was the setting for the fictional American township of Hope in the film, Rambo, First Blood. Unfortunately for Rambo, the Hope sheriff depicted in the movie wasn’t as conciliatory as the one that pulled me over, and the rest, as they say, is history. In a case of serendipity, I share with Stallone considerable discomfort – even if only fleeting in my case – because of Hope.

Looking at the prospects of American NFL teams in 2014 sports reporter, Mike Tanier, blogged to the web site
Sports on Earth about The Hope Index. “How do you calculate hope?” he asked. “That is a question that has not baffled philosophers throughout the ages at all, because it is an incredibly stupid question that they would not waste their time with.” Stupid it may be, but then again, there are those among us who believe that hope can indeed be calculated.

As I prepare to go to Las Vegas this weekend, many of my conversations have included numerous references to hope. HP’s biggest event of the year (attracting crowds we could only dream of, back in ITUG days) will kick-off shortly and for the NonStop community there’s hope that NonStop will be referenced even if only in passing. As for me, I’m hoping to hear a lot more from HP about the big picture. The vision and strategy that
will shape the course of HP’s business for the next couple of years!

If you read any of the commentaries following HP’s just-released quarterly financial results, you would have been disappointed by much of the coverage that followed.
“Hewlett-Packard does not seem to have a working strategy in place,” wrote one analyst in a post to
Seeking Alpha. “Hewlett-Packard is still knee-deep in its restructuring,”  followed with the observation that if, “Hewlett-Packard was in the retail business, the stock would have likely declined 5-10% after results released as retail investors are much more sensitive to revenue declines than investors in the tech business (hopes are usually higher in the tech industry).”

Yes, IT has always has been driven by high hopes and it’s a sentiment I share (and one I am not ashamed to admit), even as it sums up my own impressions of HP. There’s just too much talent within HP for anyone to discount the company’s strategy and if we were to calculate hope, then I for one believe the final number would be large.

Beneath the surface, as turbulent as it may seem, I sense there’s major transitions under way and with transitions, opportunities. Something new is coming and I sure do hope HP gets it right. I have been around IT for a very long time and yet, whenever I hear of something new, I still get excited. At the top of my list is the coming need to accommodate today’s business (the enterprise) morphing into something very different to what we see today.

In a recent private email to my clients I made the simple observation - The application? Legacy! The data center? Legacy! How about the enterprise? Legacy, too! It was shorthand for suggesting that when we think of legacy, it shouldn’t surprise any is that anything that’s currently working is, almost by today’s definition, legacy and requires constant maintenance. It’s not surprising then that we can apply the legacy label to business itself.

Suffice to say, one reason I am hoping for change is that I cannot see us making much progress – when it comes to innovation and growth – if we stick to doing what we do today. IT will bear the brunt of these changes – in fact, I have a sense that IT as we know it has outlived its usefulness. So sorry! As for the CIO, well, we already know he’s increasingly focused on the business and is becoming an integral part of the marketing team.

Looking at the agenda for 2014 HP Discover I couldn’t miss the headlines promoting the general session presentations. On Tuesday HP CEO, Meg Whitman, along with HP executives, John Hinshaw, George Kadifa, Mike Nefkens, and Bill Veghte will talk about Defining the New Style of IT and about HP providing solutions for this new foundation. The following day, Wednesday, Whitman will be joined by a familiar face, HP’s CTO and EVP, Marin Fink, where they will talk about their Vision for the Future of the New Style of IT.

This all sounds like strategy and vision to me and likely, a recognition that there are indeed, observable transitions under way. But as part of these changes, what are we hoping will happen to NonStop? As of right now, within HP, all enterprise systems are conveniently packaged together in a single entity and while I am not suggesting they will be dropped overboard anytime soon, it does worry me a tad that this neat little bundle is so perfectly gift-wrapped. When it comes to defining the new style of IT, is there room for enterprise servers?

Together with NonStop there are a couple of other server offerings worthy of further investment so I believe dropping this bundle overboard isn’t in the cards at this point. Furthermore, just placing all the enterprise servers in one bundle under one leader and including a couple of cutting edge technologies isn’t all that bad – should the enterprise as we know it, be legacy and should the data center (and it’s CIO) be legacy too, whatever emerges will need a lot of compute power, for next to nothing.

Future enterprises will be even flatter (organizationally) than we have ever seen before, with every employee having access to all the compute power they need, and so vendors will be increasingly focused on shipping technology to the powerhouses on the grid delivering the compute power required. For many, the hope is that HP evolves to become something akin to the GE of computing and I see that very much in the cards. The question “does HP have a working strategy in place?” may be answered a lot differently than we may expect.

It was the eighteenth century poet, Alexander Pope, who penned the lines
Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

In other words, as one commentator paraphrased the above, people will continue to hope even though they have evidence that things cannot possibly turn out the way they want. The contrarian in me despite all that’s been written of late is hoping HP doesn’t disappoint!

Hope can blind us if we let it but it can also help us focus. In the case of Rambo, he became focused in a hurry when he found himself in an abandoned mine shaft after the sheriff’s deputies from Hope blew up the entrance. As for HP Discover I do anticipate there being explosions but of a different kind and amid all the entertainment and hijinks that accompanies big tent marketing events such as this, I am looking to discern more about the future of HP and of NonStop.

Well, at the very least, this is what I am hoping for …  

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