Friday, December 26, 2014

Yes, we are getting it!

Along the drifting cloud the eagle searching down on the land; Catching the swirling wind … Go closer, hold the land feel partly no more than grains of sand; We stand to lose all time a thousand answers by in our hand …” so go the lyrics from a YES song written decades ago and yet, it foresaw we stood to lose a thousand answers …


In a play on a title I used for the final post of 2012, Yes, I get it! closing out 2014 brings with it a lot of anticipation. There will be NonStop community members – users and vendors alike – that have placed orders for NonStop X and more than likely have been testing their applications on NonStop X for some time. The prospect of installing your own NonStop X system is bound to arouse excitement typical for this time of year. For all of us living in the northern hemisphere, the prospect of spring seems a long way off, as winter has us fully in its grip, but spring will come, no matter what, and that’s how I sum up NonStop X. It’s coming, no matter what!

Perhaps more importantly for the NonStop community at large, and let me just change gears here, as it’s very easy to forget the real story of NonStop and of the journey that will now see the passing of a major milestone. NonStop thrives because it brings unquestionable value to the most important transactions of all – those reflecting the interaction between business and consumers. Behind the increasingly richer consumer experience all business is pursuing there’s the execution 7 x 24 x 365 in support of every enterprise as they participate in today’s always-on world. This passage in the journey of NonStop will see it flourish as the ability to bring the most modern applications to NonStop proves more practical than at any time in the past. Commodity, openness, embracing standards, and having raw performance is a heady mix for anyone in IT.

Yes, we get it! When it comes to fulfilling its mission for the enterprise, like something from a movie plot – whether Star Wars or simply Lara Croft – we are witnessing changes on a scale that I have not seen in the many decades I have been part of the IT world. The Internet of Things (IoT) will influence all we do in unimaginable ways with literally streams of data passing us by as grains of sand. Yottabytes of data will become commonplace for many of the larger enterprises. With the arrival of IoT, Big Data will take on an even bigger role within the enterprise – we just have to know about these “things” to stay competitive in our marketplace.

HP Master Technologist, ES&A Americas, Justin Simonds, has been giving presentations on IoT a lot of late, including at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp in November, 2014. Among the slides he used one featured excerpts from the book, Fundamentals of Stream Processing, where the authors spelt out the requirements for processing the streams of data arriving at our door. “Parallel Processing”, the “Ability to Scale” and “Fault Tolerance” top the list, and for good reason. “Other application segments however cannot tolerate any failures as they may contain a critical persistent state that must survive even catastrophic failures,” the authors observe, yet another observation not lost on the NonStop community.

When we talk about clouds I foresee clouds to be just as we see them above us, in the sky – there will be thunderous cumulous clouds rising to great heights, cirrus clouds also riding high in the sky, stratus clouds much closer to the ground and of course combinations of all three. Commodity clouds, enterprise clouds, industry and association clouds and yes, as with real clouds, combinations of them all. Whiteboards everywhere will be depicting clouds within clouds intersecting with other clouds and all in the name of flexibility and versatility – the potential to dream as big as we want to.

Yes, now we are getting it! I have participated in a number of discussions of late that bemoan the fact that much of the NonStop installed base is among very conservative clients. By the very nature of the applications being supported, there is considerable resistance to change of any sort, less these mission-critical applications should founder. So watching the take up of the latest iteration of NonStop – the new NonStop X family – will be more than interesting to watch. Will the traditional strongholds of NonStop in banking, retail and the vast networks of credit and debit processing that support these industries find new ways to deploy NonStop X?

IoT will mandate Big Data just as Big Data will mandate Clouds – it’s the only way the enterprise can keep up and with Clouds, x86 will dominate for the foreseeable future and finding a home in the Clouds will be NonStop. Of that I am extremely confident – ask OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia. In the December, 2014, edition of the eNewsletter, TandemWorld, there’s the heading
OmniPayments Is First NonStop Partner to Take Delivery of a “NonStop X” You will need to page down a little way to read the story that follows, but suffice to say OmniPayments Inc. will be the first HP NonStop partner to take possession of the new NonStop X server and the NonStop X is on schedule for delivery by the end of the year! Talk to Yash about where he is headed and it’s all about clouds – a basic cloud service utilizing NonStop is already operational at OmniPayments.

Returning to what will likely trigger initial interest across the NonStop community in IoT I have the sense that it will come from mobility and it will just as likely impact the very same banks and retailers already referenced. In the very near term, many of us will dispense with our wallets, other than as fashion items, and turn increasingly to our mobile phones. As “smart devices” we will be using them for much more than purchasing a latte and the subsequent explosion in network traffic will be obvious even to the most conservative of NonStop users – nothing startling here, I suspect. “Mobility is ushering in a new peer to peer paradigm from the older client / server browser / server model,” I was told by one knowledgeable source within HP, leading me to believe we will most likely see a change in the type of applications deployed on NonStop as the computing model continues to evolve.

Inside the data centers themselves expect to see not just NonStop systems but IBM mainframes as well – all networked and all engaged in the support of modern applications. Writing a little too soon, I suspect, an IBM blogger posted last month
The ultimate JavaScript environment: Node.js and Linux on System z. In today’s discussions about modernization, Node.js is never far from the spotlight. According the IBM blogger, “For those of you looking for a screaming server-side JavaScript environment, your search is over. IBM recently made available IBM SDK for Node.js Version 1.1 (even though it ‘is not formally related to or endorsed by the official Joyent Node.js open source or commercial project’) for Linux on System z. It is ideal for high-performance JavaScript server applications or to consolidate many server applications to one system to save time and money.”

Given the work being done by InfraSoft with considerable cooperation and feedback from the HP NonStop organization, as one HP source told me this past week, “Once again NonStop is out of the gates early with a JavaScript offering”. If you have just received your copy of the Nov – Dec, 2104 issue of
The Connection magazine you will have seen that the cover features the headlines, “Node.js on the HP NonStop Server” so clearly, IBM with Linux on System z doesn’t have a lock on Node.js inside the data center.

IBM System z CICS and HP NonStop Pathway are being taught entirely new dance routines and it’s a credit to their original creators that they are proving to be as adapt as they are to change. The better NonStop X and System z work together, the more prestige NonStop will enjoy and with NonStop X supporting higher LAN speeds (thanks to the InfinBand fabric supporting LAN adapters) it’s safe to say that what NonStop brings to the enterprise, in terms of price point, availability and indeed, scale-out, will be welcomed inside the data center of many an enterprise.

It’s the holiday season and it’s a festive occasion for all of us, no matter where we reside. There were many pleasant surprises among my extended family as we ripped wrapping paper from gifts and all the while I was remembering just how far we have all come on this NonStop journey. Forty years ago, NonStop were among the earliest systems to feature terminals from day one of their release. They adapted to the client server world easily and the arrival of the internet with browser access barely caused a ripple. Mobile devices? No worries – piece of cake.

Likewise, from files and tables to databases to SQL and now to Big Data, even noSQL – integration with whatever data model is most needed by the enterprise hasn’t halted the progress of NonStop. Open the next surprise gift, take a quick look and yes, a process here and a routine there and it’s supported as has been every technology introduced for the past forty years. NonStop is just that versatile and we all get that, some sooner than others, naturally.

So welcome to 2015 and yes, welcome the NonStop X family; embrace Big Data, Clouds, Mobility, IoT – work at better integrating with all we find inside the data center; Blue, Red, or otherwise. You aren’t doing anything wrong or different from what many others in the NonStop community will be doing and celebrating. Most of all? Don’t miss, as the song writer exhorted, those thousand answers that lie in our hands! And with 2015, the next part of the journey begins and it won’t be long before the industry gets it, too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

For NonStop users, this is our season!

Yes, it’s only one quarter away from being shipped to customers, and already the NonStop vendor community is very much on-board with this latest addition to the NonStop family of products …

Kicking back and beginning to take it easy as preparations for the holidays continues unabated, even as our home embraces the festive seasons. The tree is up and decorated; the wine cellar restocked; and the food is in the pantry only needing to be cooked. Preliminary parties are behind us – only the big one to go and it will be over. However, this is also the season to simply take a deep breath and to be thankful we have made it through another year as we all begin planning for 2015. For the NonStop community, it’s going to be a very big year.

Pictured above as a half-height blade, NonStop X, featuring a Xeon 4-core E7 processor - the latest product family in a long line of fault tolerant systems coming out of Silicon Valley, is tantalizingly close to reality. Just a couple of months to go before shipments begin in earnest. Just as there is with every festive season there’s also an element of surprise along with a huge sigh of relief when all that we hoped for is realized. While the HP NonStop sales organization is still holding a few cards close to its chest it’s apparent to everyone in the NonStop community that if you want to be aggressive in your dealings with HP and you want to ensure you get the best introductory offer possible, then you may want to get after your favorite HP salesman as quickly as you can.

Catching a little television, as we wrapped packages and placed then under the tree I watched the latest advertisement from the United States Postal Services (USPS). Of course any time a NonStop user comes across the airwaves, I always perk up a tad. “We’re about to make more deliveries to more places than anybody on earth,” says Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Donahoe. “Football has its season. Baseball has its season. This is our season!” I can see very few reasons why not to believe him – with family members scattered across the nation, nearly everyone in America is sending a package or two to a loved one or three!

NonStop maintains a presence in mail and package delivery marketplace – a lot more than many within the NonStop community may realize - and as the competition between carriers increases, the real-time flow of information only gets larger. Much of the infrastructure delivery services in place, including the planes, trains and automobiles carrying mail and packages, touch a NonStop system whether it’s a train scheduled by NonStop systems or simply a delivery van built on a vehicle chassis assembled with the help of a NonStop system.

However, as I listened to the advertisement by USPS the point they made struck home. NonStop support of the Intel x86 is a really big deal and has potential to see NonStop systems find additional homes. Coming at a time as it so happens when other vendors’ platforms are beginning to look a little tired, HP could mount a serious challenge to IBM and Oracle / SUN. As I posted last week (and it’s worth repeating here), with NonStop X then, according to an interview of one strategist by the Wall Street Journal, “The bigger question is how IBM and Oracle will look competitively a few years down the road. Developing your own platform with Power and Sparc are very large investments and getting bigger. Intel can literally leverage billions in R&D.”

One of the benefits from participating in as many NonStop user events as I have this past quarter is that I was able to spend time with vendors and draw from them insights about how they view the arrival of the NonStop X family. I was curious about the impact to their business and to what extent they would be investing in this latest product family from HP. Overall, the sentiment was extremely upbeat and it wasn’t difficult pulling optimistic quotes from any of them. Middleware vendors, tools and utility vendors, solutions vendors – all expressed a positive outlook for NonStop X, even as they all agreed the NonStop season was upon us.

“Of course, like many vendors, any potential expansion of NonStop usage is exciting, and of interest to DataExpress. We have been around long enough to have witnessed numerous changes to the NonStop systems, but this time the potential of having NonStop servers in an attractive price bracket is bound to attract much wider enterprise attention,” said DataExpress President, Michelle Marost. “Specifically, as some of HP’s traditional product lines are showing signs of being in decline, NonStop may very well plug the gap and see much greater customer acceptance with their new initiatives.” Reacquainting myself with DataExpress products this year has certainly been a surprise that many of the largest financial institutions on the planet rely on this product for secure, managed, file transfer in an age where “real time” dominates the agenda, it’s sobering to recall that we still need to move vast libraries of files around to ensure our enterprises continue to run.

With their solutions and working as they do with heterogeneous systems, Tributary Systems are at the forefront of data center build-out and as such, provide insight into why NonStop will be beneficial to modern enterprises. “We believe that the ongoing business trend in IT is converged infrastructure and the unifying of data centers into single unified architecture serving diverse business needs as opposed to the older ‘silo’ approach of proprietary and open systems,” said Tributary Systems CEO, Shawn Sabanayagam. “The introduction of the x86 NonStop system presents unique opportunities for Tributary to further consolidate and unify data protection across all HP platforms not to mention HP’s competitor platforms with Storage Director running on all HP hardware!”

Along similar lines, when it comes to the utilization of industry standards and commodity packaging, WebAction Cofounder, Sami Akbay, told me that, "Having enjoyed a long association with the NonStop Community, we are excited about the new NonStop X product family running on commodity servers.’ Furthermore, and every bit as important, according to Akbay, “This shift should help grow NonStop among Global 1,000 Companies, creating opportunities in real-time analytics, where the partnership between HP NonStop and WebAction can offer new solutions." Maintaining a NonStop presence within the enterprise data center is one thing, but being able to better integrate NonStop with everything else being deployed was a reoccurring theme not only of Akbay but of the previously quoted vendors as well.

When it comes to attractive price brackets this too was what comForte Marketing VP, Thomas Gloerfeld, homed in on telling me that while, “It’s a bit early to fully understand the ramifications of NonStop X the obvious one is the renewed / enlarged commitment by HP to the NonStop platform. As to the non-obvious ones it will depend on some choices HP will make in the new future, for instance whether they want to introduce a true ‘entry-level’ system and, if so, how they will price and ‘limit’ (sic!) it. Ideally, the entry-level system would encourage more people to work on and develop for the platform – while not cannibalizing the existing high quality, high-availability product. Either way, I think there are exciting possibilities ahead with NonStop X and that the next twelve months will show what new possibilities arise.”

Looking at the NonStop X from a purely comForte perspective, Gloerfeld was quick to point out that, “With its rich, flexible and somewhat modularized product and through its partnership with innovative companies like Infrasoft, comForte is certainly well positioned to take part in any new developments, providing the required additional infrastructure as needed.” Such self-promotion wasn’t limited to comForte as everyone I talked to this past quarter was quick to point out how they were going about adding value to NonStop X. More surprising, perhaps, wasn’t what was being talked about but rather what actions were being taken by the vendor community.

“We received our first (pre) order, and have to deliver a preliminary version of x86 Shadowbase for testing by late January. So, it is a HERE AND NOW effort for us”, said Gravic Executive VP, Paul Holenstein. Certainly, and understandably, Gravic, “is very excited to see these systems running in the field as they have substantial performance capability beyond the existing NonStop I bladed line, and we expect customers to snap them up pretty quickly. For this need, we are preparing for bi-directional and active / active with x86 NonStop, as well as to and from the other NonStop I models as well as other server systems (e.g. Windows and Linux).”

Going one step further, OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia, was putting down his own money. “I have purchased a NonStop X to see how we can leverage the latest technology for our OmniPayments and Big Data solutions,” said Yash. “Since the announcement by HP that NonStop would support the x86 architecture, their announcement of the NonStop X family is cause for celebration. And for two reasons – the positive reinforcement it gives to the NonStop platform remaining strategic to HP as well as the continuing push for greater use of lower-cost commodity technology. As we see it, there’s now nothing unique about the hardware, it’s all a software play for HP and we can work with that!”

There were many more vendors within the NonStop community who told me similar stories about the work they were doing in support of NonStop X and of their upbeat expectations about the greater potential for sales that will come from having a NonStop system based on a popular, widely-deployed commodity chip-set such as HP will have with x86. Turning away from the television set following the broadcast of the USPS advertisement, I had to agree with the sentiment expressed even if I did apply it differently to what Postmaster General Donahoe was extolling. Looking at where the marketplace is headed how could we not think of NonStop X as being the product that will turn 2015 into our season?  Yes, it’s our time and it’s our season! 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

HP makes headlines; NonStop message will distract the competition …

HP grabbed more than its normal share of headlines this past week and it was all good! To see as many references to Superdome and NonStop in the same sentence has set a precedent – on equal footing, attracting equal time in the spotlight, is a harbinger of good days to come!

I maintain two distinct office spaces complete with walls, windows and most importantly, doors, so that when it comes time to talk on the phone, I take myself away from my PC. I need to maintain this separation as I am prone to excessive multitasking, so much so that it becomes a distraction. Just by walking across a corridor I am in a new, considerably less stimulating place than where I spend most of my time. In a business environment dominated by the ubiquitous cubicle, one side effect from having a separate business work space in the home is that I have a real office where my daily routine doesn’t disrupt anyone else!

These past couple of weeks, distractions have been on a whole different plane. Reading the constant scroll of company and product news releases as well as newspaper and magazine headlines it seemed that HP had cornered the market. 2015 HP Discover Barcelona was proving to be a popular venue for providing fresh information to a hungry press and it ended up proving to be too big a distraction to ignore. First thing, Monday morning of the event, there was an email from good friend, Kevin McGushion of InkaBinka, informing me that he and cofounder, Chris Brahmer, were on site and relishing the opportunity to further promote InkaBinka and it made me realize just how much I miss participating in major HP events.

Following the end of the event, McGushion emailed me again. “With an emphasis placed on our natural language processing (NLP) to deliver condensed news and information, we demonstrated the power of using InkaBinka as a search tool,” said McGushion. This is the latest development as InkaBinka continues to evolve. “By directing InkaBinka to perform search, driven by Google’s API, we can deliver instantly summarized search results that quickly get to the point. InkaBinka’s powerful ability to net out important information fast when thrown against something as vast as Google, and this attracted the attention of Meg Whitman’s executive team.  According to McGusion, “One of the team members said, ‘we have to sort through large amounts of information to make informed decisions and InkaBinka could be very effective in helping us do that quickly.’ Needless to say we are very excited by the possibilities of doing the for HP.”

In a very early post to this blog, back in May 12, 2008, I wrote
The Clouds in Spain where I described a couple of days spent in the city prior to departing on a sailing cruise. I had arrived just a few weeks after the HP Technology@Work event had taken place and had reported on presentations made by key HP BCS executives. The highlight I had stated was the presentation of Martin Fink, Senior VP of HP BCS, where he talked about the move from Monolithic to Polymorphic computing. And now, seven years later it’s hard to argue that Martin Fink’s televised interview with US financial news channel, CNBC – HP's 'Machine' of the future if you skip the advertisement what follows is fun to watch.

Trying to add controversy to the exchange, the CNBC reporter wanted Fink to compare the work being done on The Machine with the IBM Watson program. Without missing a beat, Fink suggested Watson is nothing more than an App and that The Machine is where you could run such an App. Ouch, that hurt – and I’m sure the marketers at IBM are now all over this, defending the huge investment IBM has made in Watson. Nothing more than an App? Surely not! But the venue for such an interview, HP Discover 2014 – Barcelona, speaks volumes of just how important this big-tent event is to HP and its executives.

Among the more catchy headlines last week was the Dec 3, 2014, story in the electronic publication, Seeking Alpha.
Reawakening The Sleeping Giant At Hewlett-Packard, so the headlines read for an article by journalist Gary Hirst. “Is Hewlett-Packard a dinosaur trying to learn new tricks? The harsh and true answer is, yes. But HP is catching up with the times in a bold and, frankly, courageous way,” said Hirst. “Building an entirely new computer architecture is a return to the company's roots, and according to Fink, ‘We think we have no choice.’” According to Hirst, “HP is pursuing a vision that, if successful, will put it years ahead of the competition in computer architecture (Intel), data analytics (IBM), and artificial intelligence (Google). Analytics is a gold rush waiting to happen.”

For the NonStop community it’s quite refreshing to be reading that HP will offer “Intel Xeon-based versions of its high-end Superdome and NonStop servers, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other reports.” How many thought they would see Superdome and NonStop referenced in the same sentence? The quote above came from Yahoo Finance – read the full report,
That’s gotta hurt: HP to offer Xeon-based Superdome servers – but for me, it was the final paragraph that proved truly distracting. “The bigger question,” according to Patrick Moorhead, founder of analyst firm Moor Insights & Strategy, as told to the WSJ, is “how IBM and Oracle will look competitively a few years down the road. Developing your own platform with Power and Sparc are very large investments and getting bigger. Intel can literally leverage billions in R&D.”

Separately, it was Moorhead who, in another article published in the Dec 2, 2014, issue of the WSJ,
H-P Moves to Retain Corporate Customers Ahead of Breakup said when it comes to embracing Xeon, “It’s about keeping some very high-margin customers.” This came after the WSJ noted that “Superdome and NonStop servers are still used by banks, telecommunications carriers and other companies particularly concerned with reliability.” More precisely perhaps, the WSJ then followed with, “The Nonstop line handles more sensitive jobs like ATM networks and stock exchanges. H-P inherited these crash-resistant machines from former operations of Tandem Computers Inc.” When was the last time so many articles featuring NonStop were published? 

Timed for the Barcelona event was the publication by HP of a new solution brief,
Redefining availability and scalability for x86. While there has been some discussion about it on LinkedIn groups, including Tandem User Group, a group whose membership is only just shy of 3,000 members and becoming a must-belong-to priority for many across the NonStop community, it’s refreshing to see HP marketing adding more collateral about NonStop to HP’s recently face-lifted web pages about NonStop. And I expect to see more between now and March 2015, as NonStop X availability draws nearer.

Martin Fink and The Machine; Kevin McGushion and InkaBinka. “We displayed InkaBinka in the Moonshot booth as InkaBinka runs entirely on Moonshot servers,” said McGushion. “The common thread seemed to be that everyone had either heard of InkaBinka or was using it to get their daily news.” In case you aren’t connecting all the dots it all goes back to Fink telling the audience at HP Discover Las Vegas that we will see early iterations of select The Machine components as part of project Moonshot. Watching the progress InkaBinka makes – yes, a few more dots to line up? They are big users of JavaScript including the server-side Node.js – is just part of watching one possible future of NonStop unfold.

With Intel reportedly adding support for 64bit x86 to Atom chips – according to one source I checked, “the ability of an Atom-based system to run 64-bit versions of operating systems such as Ubuntu or Debian GNU/Linux may vary from one motherboard to another” - would suggest that there may be a NonStop A on the horizon  once NonStop X is established alongside NonStop I. NonStop on Moonshot leading to NonStop properties on The Machine – makes sense to me!

Distractions can cause bodily harm. However, distractions can alert us to events about to happen that could influence the plans we have – obviously, major companies like Oracle and IBM will have read the same stories as I have just read. Their reaction will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks as any response at all will be a confirmation that they too have been distracted by the activities accompanying this latest HP Discover event. For the NonStop community the unstoppable progress being made to ship a second Integrity family – the NonStop X – is positive news. Having choice is always good news to those looking to upgrade or, perhaps, add to their installed portfolio of NonStop systems.

There are still a number of NonStop focused events taking place this month and taking nothing away from them, it’s hard to ignore the changing landscape of HP as a result of what was on display at both the Boot Camp and HP Discover. Simply by making headlines featuring servers HP will prove disruptive to the competition, distracting them in ways unseen for a long time. Just being elevated to be equal with the discussion involving the former halo product of HP’s Unix solutions, Superdome, is a milestone to remember and clearly wasn’t something HP pursued lightly – it has a lot of meaning to all who follow HP.

Perhaps my final observation should be to finish with the closing words from the Seeking Alpha article, already referenced. When it comes to the future of HP, “Buy HPQ before the pre-spinoff hype inflates the price too much, then sell off your shares of HP Inc. and put them into Hewlett-Packard Enterprises. It will be a hard road, but Hewlett-Packard Enterprises is pursuing a bold vision bridging Big Data and next-generation computer architecture.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Niches open and niches close and yet the versatile NonStop prevails!

A chance posting to Facebook had me looking at the attributes of NonStop and whether you argue for availability or perhaps scalability, in the end, just having the discussion suggests NonStop is still very much in the game …

Versatility! How many times have we heard a sales pitch that highlights the versatility of a product? In many ways, this is an approach to mitigating potential future obsolescence and it extends the product’s useful life.  Flipping through pages about NonStop on the web, I came upon a reminder of days past when NonStop was considered the Swiss Army knife of computing – versatile in its own right. This knife featured in a First-Friday skit by Jimmy Treybig that just came to my attention following a post on Facebook by long-time Tandem supporter, Maria Olivero. However, the original fault tolerant message has been replaced with new messages on availability, scalability, data integrity, security, networking, manageability and so on. So what really does propel NonStop to the fore in the twenty-first century? 

Looking around at the NonStop users present at the recent NonStop Technical Boot Camp it was pleasing to see a lot of familiar faces. Once again, MasterCard took home the NonStop Availability Award – a reminder too of the time I spent in Product Marketing as part of the NSA team under Dr. Tim Chou. However, this time MasterCard went home with a perpetual trophy as, after 20 years, the program has come to an end and it seemed only fitting that MasterCard be rewarded in this fashion having won the award more times than anyone else by my count. Seems that when it comes to availability, too many corporations are loath to talk about the levels of uptime they achieve and view the stats they may have as being strategic to the business. Even so, while some big name customers might be reluctant to talk about what they’re achieving, as far as SLAs go, I think that the bigger issue is talking about the processes that they have in place in order to achieve those SLAs. Wouldn't it be cool if we could get that discussion out into public forums! NonStop today may be about a lot more than availability but its importance to business shouldn’t ever be discounted. 

Measuring NonStop availability leads me into the subject of this post – there have always been markets where the attributes of NonStop have been greatly prized. Sometimes considered just a niche or a submarket, nevertheless, the expectations of what NonStop could provide propelled it to a place of preeminence. When it comes to niches, NonStop has a rich history of being able to dominate. Over the 40 years of NonStop systems being used, niches have proved to come and go with the fortunes of NonStop closely tied to each niche – it’s just good fortune smiling on the NonStop community that NonStop found one of the longest-lived niches in finance, for instance. For anyone who has followed postings to this blog, my fervent belief in niches, in tapping cool applications and in NonStop being at the heart of some very hard-to-do processes, have been hard to miss.

Across the NonStop community and from customers and vendors presence at numerous user group events it’s well known that German manufacturing giant, Mercedes Benz, depends upon NonStop systems at all of their plants and that these systems oversee manufacturing. In a recent editorial published in the January 4, 2015, issue of Motor Trend, Angus MacKenzie comments on how today, “If there’s a niche, fill it. And if there isn’t a niche, create a new one. That’s the mantra at Mercedes Benz these days.” I can’t think of any other way to express where I see NonStop heading than what Mercedes Benz states here and while that may not sit well with everyone in the community, there are few other viable options for NonStop if we want to talk about the next 40 years.

When you talk to the team at WebAction about their inclusion of NonStop as part of their Data Drive Apps program, the story is very much about a niche. The only reason the executives at WebAction were keen to keep NonStop in their program is that key mission-critical applications run on NonStop and as their goal is to “build and deploy real-time data driven Apps in days, not months or years” it made little sense to ignore the NonStop marketplace. WebAction, Inc. Cofounder, Sami Akbay, summed it up best last year when he said, “Niche means distinct, specific, and distinguishable. Niche doesn't have to mean small or dying. When it comes to the bigger picture of computers worldwide – then yes, NonStop is a niche.”

Along similar lines, it was OmniPayments, Inc. Yash Kapadia who told me that, working as long as he has on NonStop, that “There are times when we do struggle hard to make NonStop sound like a normal system and try our best not to call it a niche. However, when it comes to the bigger picture of computers worldwide – then yes, NonStop is a niche.” Both Akbay and Yash agree that once you appreciate that niches are indeed sub-markets, then when it comes to a sub-market as big as payments, NonStop is the predominant player.

However, is it the availability or the scalability value proposition that today fosters renewed viability for NonStop? And does it even matter if NonStop can continue to carve out niches best suited to its superior ability to support mission-critical applications? In the final analysis it still boils down to cost and perhaps, “cost – scalability”. Or, should that be “low – price availability”? According to DataExpress President, Michelle Marost “scalability to me means being able to start small, and grow.”

Marost than acknowledges that as of right now, this “is not evident in the NonStop environments, both hardware and OS, and until they are made more affordable by HP they won’t be considered ‘cost-scalable’. Like many within the NonStop vendor community watching for more news on the NonStop X product family, to exploit a niche or submarket, the price for newer models in the NonStop family have to be affordable to more submarkets and any improved viability of NonStop will likely be snuffed out, according to Marost, should there be any “elimination of a small (i.e. cheap) starting point”.

Scale-out and even, scale-up; have these attributes begun surpassing the availability story in terms of importance for the enterprise? “Guess what, we can scale to the wazoo and do you know what else? It doesn’t ever fail … cool, eh?” Will conversations like this become more prevalent in the future even among NonStop users? Just as importantly, are there even more niches for NonStop to occupy in terms of scalability than there are of availability? Is this the future for NonStop and if indeed scalability attracts the spotlight, will we likely see a greater presence of NonStop in the future? Possibly, even inside enterprise clouds?

There’s much anticipation over NonStop X and its price points just as there is over the arrival of a more industry-standard packaging of NonStop. No matter what transpires over the next few months – hopefully, a situation better clarified at HP Discover, Barcelona – NonStop is firmly entrenched in the twenty-first century with many more anniversaries to follow. Availability! Scalability! Indeed, demonstrable versatility! Pick your favorite attribute as you may want to do but in the end, just having discussions like this suggests NonStop systems remain a viable option and even as we read of companies looking at alternatives, we also hear about those that elect to stay with NonStop. And to look for new ways to leverage NonStop!