Monday, September 8, 2014

Yet another anniversary … yet another post! And NonStop holds firm …

I am still at it and the posts keep on coming. No surprises here but the readership continues to grow and fair enough, the message on NonStop is attracting an even bigger audience. Yes, it’s all happening and shortly, user events will dominate NonStop community agendas worldwide!

I had to remind myself not to forget writing this post; after all, remembering anniversaries remains an important consideration in all we do. Shortly, I will be returning to the race track for one more time before summer ends and there’s no escaping that, with the coming of autumn, winter is only a few weeks away. Already fall colors are in evidence everywhere; the neighborhood pools are being closed, gardens are undergoing their annual clean-up and trim, and inside garages battery tenders are being readied for use. 

This year I will skip a lengthy introduction and just come out with it – seven years of posting to this NonStop community blog are now behind me as of last month and now it’s time to look ahead at a new year of posts. Based on feedback from you I now post three, occasionally four posts a month with each one more or less a feature article. I learnt very early on that posting almost daily wasn’t something many of you had time to read, even if the posts were only 800 words or so and there was nothing technical involving the merits of some obscure programming trick or a feature of a programming language.

If you have missed an earlier anniversary posts, I have now set up a label -
Anniversary Post Follow this link and you will find all previous posts. Furthermore, and just as a reminder, there’s a label set up that takes you to all previous posts on my wishes for NonStop – posts I write every three years and if you are interested in knowing how these wishes have involved over time and have missed a couple of them,  take a look at this label - Wishes However, what I welcome most are the comments that are posted and also there are discussions in many LinkedIn groups, I continue to encourage readers to look at the many comments posted to the LinkedIn group of the same name, Real Time View.

Of course, there are folks within HP too who continue to encourage an ongoing presence in social media – it’s an inexpensive way to communicate passion for the product and to engage more directly with the community. Independent blogs with an arms-distance relationship to a primary vendor are among the best read blogs and in many ways, have relegated old-style newsletters from even the most respected thought-leaders to just historical footnotes. The immediacy of posts is appreciated by all members of a community and this is understood by many within HP. “I see tremendous value from independent bloggers providing commentary on HP and NonStop,” said Gary Allen, Senior Manager, HPS Marketing Programs. “Social networking is of huge value and doing so independently of HP, especially valuable as readers of your blog always anticipate a perspective that reflects your history and experience.”

Building a community around NonStop requires many things to happen and in the past, this mostly involved user gatherings. ITUG was once all that the community talked about – indeed, when I first joined Tandem Computers it was the very existence of ITUG that helped me decide to join Tandem. Working at the time on the east coast, colleagues returning from an ITUG event in New Orleans couldn’t stay quiet about all that had happened there. However, social media has pretty much plugged the hole that was once the task of big tent user–run events.

It’s not as if we no longer like to network, but the reality is that few of us have budgets that cover the cost of an annual pilgrimage to San Jose. In all likelihood, few companies running NonStop today even have the staff on hand sufficiently populous to allow a few to disappear for a week. In talking to HP, at one point the conversation turned to the matter of there no longer being a “bench” of technical staff trained and experienced in NonStop to throw at new projects – having tiers made up of senior managers, technicians and junior staff has evaporated leaving data centers staffed by just a few system administrators casting an occasional glimpse at a console display. Yet, surely we can afford time to get together for the shorter, regional, gatherings and we sure strive to find a way to get to the San Jose bootcamp! I hope to see many of you at those events through the year!

Recently, in a discussion on LinkedIn, someone asked the NonStop community whether “Tandem is any longer a renowned server” and “who is going to appreciate it”? Furthermore, from the same individual, “for Java developers working in Tandem it’s a hard task as they can’t bring any new things to it!” Now, I am not clear as to the maturity of this individual or just how experienced he is with working on the latest NonStop systems but I am sure there will be others within the NonStop community who will step in here and provide additional insight – but bottom line, if it’s the latest iteration of the NonStop stack, it’s not that hard to port Java applications these days. “Java rocks!” is still the catch-cry of one well- respected NonStop architect in the user community.

However, the question aside, the more important consideration here is that the issue was even raised in the first place. Social media may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for those within the NonStop community scattered as they are to the four corners of the planet, social media is doing a fine job providing us all with a sense of community. If you aren’t all that certain, just take a short time out and check how many active discussion groups and chat rooms are there – from LinkedIn to Yahoo and Google – all devoted to helping out NonStop developers whenever they experience difficulties.

How many within the NonStop community would have thought there would be separate LinkedIn discussion groups for them involving topics like Clouds and Big Data – if you missed it, this was the central theme of last week’s post,
A time to put the hammer down! NonStop accelerating adoption of Clouds and Big Data … If, as yet, you haven’t read that post, it’s well worth the time spent. Again, just the mere presence of such groups sends out an important message – there’s plenty worth discussing on topics like these and there’s more than just an individual or two looking at ways to leverage such key transforming technologies. For me, the presence of as many LinkedIn groups as there are that include NonStop in their group name is more than encouraging – and the NonStop community has to be pleased with the evolution of some of these groups.

This is the start of my eight year of blogging and as I look back, there’s been a couple of common themes but no matter how you look at them, these themes do center on why we aren’t doing more to promote NonStop and why aren’t there more solutions on NonStop and, in a related fashion, why isn’t the rest of the industry as proud of NonStop as we all are – the IDC and Gartner, the InfoWorld and CIO publications. After four decades, why aren’t informed CIOs more appreciative of the fault tolerant technology inherent in the integrated hardware / software stack that is today the modern NonStop system?

In part, it still is up to all of us to become part of the process – yes we would like to see more promotional material from HP but in the end, we have a thriving community involving many stakeholders and we have a voice. We should be using it far more aggressively – flooding every chatroom and community group we come across. Others are doing this and very successfully – so, what about us? Why should we be quiet?  NonStop is indeed a renowned server and NonStop has a global community that knows this! NonStop has a history and that’s important but having a history doesn’t imply a legacy solution – rather, it demonstrates flexibility and adaptability in a way few other systems can claim to have achieved.

Winter may be coming shortly – the signs of fall are more prevalent than just a few days ago.  The temperatures along the front ranges drop 20 degrees today and will hold at that level for the next week or so. But winter is a time of regeneration, a time to regroup if you like. For the NonStop community it’s also a period for user gatherings across the globe and yes, I will be attending several of them – from Philadelphia to Toronto to San Jose. In coming together as a group it’s time, too, to encourage and nurture – and to hear more good news about NonStop that will be the fodder for yet another year of blogging!

1 comment:

Dean E Malone said...

In your third-last paragraph you ask why the Nonstop community doesn't boast more. I personally run into the repeated assertion by critics that it is slow. In what way though? There is no shared memory across processors on Nonstop so its solution is to send the data as an IPM to the target CPU. IPM is slow compared to the DMA solutions offered by SMP platforms like Windows, UNIX etc.

The good news though is that all of this will change with the RDMA capabilities of InfiniBand. Latency will be reduced to 250 millionths of a second and I/O transfer rates will be in the several billions of bytes per second - if the processors can even keep up with processing such a huge data stream! On Cognac, the plumbing is there to solve the problem. At a minimum, the solutions reside in the OFED libraries. Hopefully it won't be that hard to leverage though.