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.”

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