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! 


harry van der horst said...

I have been in Tandem/nonstop since the early 80ties.
What is missing at this time is a preconfigured cloud solution including pre build service management processes and procedures.
That would enable buyers to escape out of the roll your own into a high quality environment profiting from the excellent hard/software structure of NON-stop.

Richard Buckle said...

A preconfigured cloud system - interesting. I assume you want the elasticity of provisioning that comes with Cloud - could / should Pathway play a part?
Curious ...