Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Take a chance; align your messages – HP NonStop and HP’s big messages!

With another week to chew on all I saw at HP Discover, the more things change the more they stay the same. And that’s encouraging news for all Pathway fans I suspect … but there’s even more that’s positive for NonStop! Even HP!

If my immediate consideration following 2014 HP Discover was to let my mind shuffle around all that I had seen and heard, today I can honestly admit that I have developed strong opinions about what looks to have staying power. If your interests include mobility, security, clouds and big data, then there was plenty of material on hand and the Discover Zone (a.k.a. the exhibition hall) had it all; from kiosks, to demonstration booths, to specialty mini-theaters! Beneath overhead banners supporting the big messages from HP you could find out all you ever wanted to know about a particular theme or focus area with someone knowledgeable always at hand.

On more than one occasion I was rewarded with insight and perspective in an unambiguous manner, so much so that it was easy to see where to spend time wisely. Fortunately, I have a number of clients who are making investments in building products in support of these themes so at least I had a yardstick with which to measure what HP was talking about, but unfortunately, more often than not, it appears HP has a long way to go before any investments should be considered by the NonStop community.

Let’s start with big data and the work being done by Vertica.
When you consider HP’s recognition of data and of being overwhelmed by data - particularly when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) and, just as importantly, the explosive growth of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) dialogues – and that this is what has driven HP to pursue the vision of The Machine, you would think the team at Vertica would be well versed in all aspects of big data. However, it is unclear just how broad their focus is at this point in time.

Throw into this mix the recognized need for real time analytics and the rapidly-developing customer requirement to bring all pertinent data, including transactional, reference and historical, to bear at the time a transaction is being performed, and Vertica becomes vague on the matter. One expert tried to persuade me that I could achieve this is if I narrowed my “update window” sufficiently so that Vertica could refresh my operational database with pertinent information “in a timely manner” – a less than elegant solution, in my books.

On the other hand, anyone who has recently paid a visit to the web site of WebAction, Inc. knows full well that imagined technologies are coming off the whiteboard quickly with new products being aggressively marketed. “Along with NonStop real-time data, the WebAction platform can ingest any other structured and unstructured data source and provide you with a single view of your data streams,” said WebAction executive vice president, Sami Akbay. “For example, bring together your system logs, social media feeds, infrastructure logs, and correlate them with events happening right now on your NonStop system and elsewhere across your enterprise.” And that synchs well with my own observations but as yet, hasn’t really percolated up to Vertica management.

WebAction is light on its feet when it comes to NonStop, running outboard on a cluster of servers but what it detects, and then reports can be ingested on NonStop – applications on NonStop responding to web actions will become routine and this is very important to the NonStop community. However, while this is understood to be a legitimate business requirement, providing big data in real time remains alien to the team at Vertica.

Moving from big data to clouds, and to NonStop and clouds in particular, at HP Discover the discussion often ended even as it began. Get in front of the cloud evangelists and then raise the concerns large financial institutions have about privacy and security and of how comprehensive (and time consuming) the certification process is today, when it comes to changing a simple routine or process, the disengagement happens very quickly. However, the reality is that there’s numerous large applications that could benefit from cloud computing but all that seems to catch the cloud evangelist’s ear appears to be web hosting and web serving opportunities.

It’s all a services model today, right? So just put the services that chew up the most resources into the cloud and problem solved! Not so fast, or so it would seem – again, the work being done at the macro level by HP, with cloud messages omitting way too much to hold out much hope for the NonStop community. Or is there hope after all? “After marketing maRunga to NonStop users and telling them how easy it is to burst into clouds whenever demand on a NonStop system exceeds capacity, it’s clear that, to most NonStop users, introducing anything that’s cloud oriented scares them away,” said Infrasoft Managing Director, Peter Shell.

However, “what is becoming interesting is the re-awakening of interest in Pathway,” Shell added. “As much as the community talks about TS/MP, it’s hard to ignore it’s really all about Pathway so we are refining the message of maRunga to highlight the added capabilities we can provide Pathway users. Since the advent of TS/MP 2.4 it’s relatively easy to plug in maRunga and extend the persistent coverage Pathway provides to processes running on systems other than NonStop.”

Everything of value today on NonStop runs under Pathway – you want to set up a JVM then yes, it’s just another instance of a Pathway serverclass. NS SOAP? Yes, runs under Pathway, too! With consideration being given to hybrid configuration involving NonStop and Linux, “wouldn’t it be valuable for processes on Linux having the same degree of persistence as any other instance of a Pathway serverclass,” said Shell.

At HP Discover there were a number of packaged offerings built around Converged Infrastructure that HP is calling Converged Systems (CS) and it’s no stretch of the imagination to think about how easy it would be to throw in a rack or two of NonStop processors – the CS100 already holds a Moonshot cartridge draw – and then engaging Pathway via maRunga to obtain levels of availability normally reserved solely for NonStop. Should the wait for such a CS package prove too long, there’s already one solutions vendor who has begun building their own hybrid in a tower that I will cover in a future post.

However, few can argue that maRunga with clouds is off the radar screen for many within HP. But like WebAction, while the underlying product set isn’t changing, the messaging is – and finding a fit with HP’s big messages. Unlike some of the slideware I ran across in the Discover Zone, it is a real product and just prior to HP Discover, maRunga was successfully deployed within HP’s Advanced Technology Centers for all to see at the event.

When it comes to mobility it would be remiss of me not to mention InkaBinka – a product I have covered in several previous posts. InkaBinka was highly celebrated within HP and following the decision by InkaBinka to deploy the product on in-house Moonshot system, InkaBinka’s web serving solution was heavily promoted at the event. Late breaking news? InkaBinka featured in Enterprise Tech – check out the article by following this link: InkaBinka Moves From Cloud To Moonshot For Launch 

“Today, Sunday, June 22 InkaBinka became the #4 app under ‘news summary’; the same morning it had been #10,” wrote InkaBinka CEO, Kevin McGushion, this past weekend. “Thank you to everyone for downloading and loving the app!” Pictured above, is McGushion (on the left), along with HP VP & GM, Moonshot Business Unit, Paul Santeler, addressing InkaBinka on Moonshot during a panel session at HP Discover.

I will be covering this development in more detail in a future post. But again, Mobility? Today InkaBinka has become one of the most downloaded apps in news summary, and a lot of credit needs to go to HP for giving the InkaBinka product as much exposure as it did. So, even as I wonder about the effort needed to grab HP’s attention for work being done in support of big data and clouds, accepting chance opportunities can still prove beneficial to NonStop vendors as HP is not immune to throwing its weight behind something it sees as strongly aligning with its own interests.

And this leads me to my final observation – when it comes to the big messages being promoted by HP, it’s good to recognize the breadth of coverage as well as the intensity of focus. As of right now, the focus is intense but the coverage still presents opportunities and not for a moment should any in the NonStop community feel NonStop is not being given due consideration. Get the message right, and HP listens – what I have watched happen at InkaBinka more than proves that point.

For me, it’s encouraging whenever NonStop partners break through the noise and are given greater visibility – there’s no escaping an increasing NonStop presence in big data as mission critical transaction processing around the world continues to depend on NonStop. Cloud participation will continue to be a hard sell but again, it’s the message and not the solution that needs fine-tuning. There are more posts still to come about HP Discover elsewhere in the blogosphere even as the event itself begins to fade from memory but  for now, it was rewarding enough just to have participated. 

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