Friday, May 29, 2015

If it’s the end of May, then it’s time to return to Vegas!

About to hit the road, literally, for the drive to Las Vegas for this year’s HP Discover event. Will this be the last year for the big tent event covering all of HP and will we see a new show just for HPE in 2016?

For anyone east of the Rockies, May has been a month of hard rains a’fallin! To add one more sentiment from popular music, well there's floodin' down in Texas and just about everywhere else across America’s heartland, for that matter. Before saying anything further I need to pass on my families condolences to all those who suffered losses in Texas - the situation in that state went from bad to worse as I was writing this post. It's a tragic situation for many of its folk. 

It was only part way through the month when the local weatherman reported that we had just two days of sunshine – a first for the Colorado front ranges – as rain kept falling. Everywhere, that is, except for California where the rains are needed most – and the negative impact on California’s economy is hard to miss. As the California landscape slowly turns from golden yellow hues to dusty brown even the coastal regions have begun to look a lot more like the deserts of Nevada than the plush green acreages we see reflected in postcards. And Margo and I should know, as it is with May coming to an end, it’s time for us to drive to Las Vegas for HP Discover.

But what can we expect to see? What will generate headlines, and most important of all, what will it all mean for the NonStop community? For many of the NonStop community THE big event of the year continues to be the NonStop Advanced Technical Boot Camp, held in the fall, and that too is firmly on our radar screens, but HP Discover represents an entirely different experience with the opportunity to hear firsthand from the leaders of HP. This year will likely mark the end of an era as we look to the HP split taking place before the end of HP’s current financial year, and for many, there are anxieties mixed in with relief as well as some heightened expectations

Splits cost money, and with this split two companies will be equally dividing HP revenues right down the middle – both companies will start out with revenues of $50+billion – means that there will be a measure of duplication, but more importantly, those who may have been concerned about the direction HP was taking will likely breathe a sigh of relief as each company is free to focus more tightly on what their core business will be. It is being repeated often in the financial press that now one company will likely be consumer centric whereas the other will be enterprise centric, and indeed, with the new company names – HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) – this focus seems obvious.

But what of the anxieties about the split others will feel? For starters, whenever there’s a company split of this magnitude, it’s often the mundane things that cause grief. The HP office you turned to for support is no longer with the HP company, post-split, and perhaps a little less mundane, you have invested in HP products that now span two sales forces and two support organizations, where previously you only dealt with a single HP company. So, who will be these new people calling on your company? Overall, these are mostly transition concerns and once the two ships start steaming away, following their own respective courses, this new sense of focus is bound to make it easier for all of us, particularly those in NonStop vendor community. To find out more about what the NonStop vendor community thought of the coming changes to HP I went back to the same vendors I referenced in the last post for further comments, this time just about the upcoming split.

While the majority of the NonStop community welcomed the original Compaq / HP merger (although we all knew it was really an acquisition), nevertheless immediately following the completion of the transaction, there were those within the NonStop vendor community who saw NonStop not fairing all that well as the bigger HP settled into its new style of operations. “In those early years of HP’s ownership of NonStop”, said DataExpress CEO, Billy Whittington, “our perspective at THAT time was that the NonStop platform had got completely lost within HP, had no uniqueness, and that momentum would be lost and therefore the future of NonStop looked dismal to us”.

Indeed, according to OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia, “It was only a short time ago but in those days after the HP acquisition of Compaq, it wasn’t all that clear that HP would even keep NonStop considering there were still elements within HP that never truly came to terms with the departure of Jimmy Treybig and the success that followed.” Telling the same story, IR Inc. President, Andre Cuenin, made his position very clear as he explained that, “With our Prognosis product our joint customers will be with HP Enterprise. Martin Fink’s new role as HP Enterprise’s CTO and his appreciation for the robust NonStop architecture, we think is actually good news for our joint NSK customers.”

But what will be the focus of the one company most of the NonStop community is most interested about, HPE? Following the release of this latest quarter’s results HP CEO, Meg Whitman, told an audience made up of financial analysts that, “Over the past six months we have seen our customers shift and evolve at a rapid pace, demanding services and solutions that will help them manage traditional IT better while planning the journey to a hybrid infrastructure.  (We have to) move faster and smarter to meet that demand.” Call out the journey to a hybrid infrastructure the way she did, is certainly newsworthy and not an accident either – HPE will be selling multiple architectures so bringing them together and wrapping them under the heading of hybrid infrastructure just makes sense.

“Our products have been all about hybrid configurations,” said Yash. “When you consider the way we deploy our OmniPayments solution, it’s all about optimizing the placement of components according to best fit (in terms of price and performance) and it’s becoming more routine now for customers and prospects alike to show preference for a mixed Linux and NonStop hybrid.”  No discussion about hybrids today would be complete without some references to cloud computing and this too was part of the message I received from IR’s Cuenin. “From an IR perspective HP is today a technology partner, a user of Prognosis both on the NonStop and Unified Communication and Contact Center side. We also understand that HP Inc. has a keen interest to deliver their IT services through the cloud and, with our Cloud Enabled Architecture, we are in a strong position to continue serving both entities.”

HPE certainly has a brand new NonStop family to promote that now brings NonStop more tightly integrated with the rest of the product lines – the NonStop X family just released this year. “Over the years, and I am sure many backroom discussions occurred between large NonStop customers and HP, NonStop seemed to regain some momentum,” said Whittington of DataExpress. “We saw Itanium born but there was only a limited low-end offering in the NS2300 / NS2400 so it again seemed that HP did not want to confuse the market. With their other HP platforms, offering both low and moving to high-end capabilities, and NonStop almost an afterthought, HP of old seemed comfortable to let it tick over “somewhere in the corner’”. But no longer, as the focus on NonStop by HPE becomes better known, according to Whittington.  “With the advent of the NonStop X family of systems,” he said, together with “the promise of lower cost to market models and the ability to grow exponentially within the same platform all WHILE keeping the redundancy that only NonStop has, shows huge promise.”

Along similar lines, Cuenin notes that, “There is always a balance between synergies and focus. Certainly the reaction from the stock markets supports the belief that two focused entities split into Enterprise and Consumer narrows the focus and still allows to leverage many synergies within each organization.” As for comForte’s CEO, Dr. Michael Rossbach, the upcoming “split will be good for ‘everybody’; partners and customers will benefit from a better focus in general.” And Rossbach expects that, “HP will streamline the different parts of the business. ‘Small is beautiful’ - although ‘small’ is pretty relative.” In closing, Whittington admitted that from the perspective of DataExpress, “the split is brilliant because it will allow HP to divorce their efforts between vastly differing market segments, which will allow the lower consumer market to be measured in its own space and more importantly let NonStop stand shoulder to shoulder with its HP cousins in the enterprise space.”

When it comes to looking further down the road, after the separation into two entities has been completed, Yash of OmniPayments admitted that, “without a thriving NonStop vendor community prepared to develop more solutions, there’s still a risk that NonStop will continue to meet the needs of only a select marketplace even as there will be those vendors looking over their shoulders, concerned about what comes next as the excitement around Martin Fink’s ‘The Machine’ continues. But from the perspective of OmniPayments and the markets we serve, this move by NonStop to industry standards and participating in hybrid computers is all good news and having more of the spotlight shining on NonStop following the split is something all in the NonStop vendor community have been seeking for many years.”


2015 HP Discover will likely be a time for revelation even as it will be a time to see just how wide the HP split has already become – the banners flying over stands on the exhibition floor will be one guide to just how much progress has been made. Mobile, Security, Social, Clouds and Big Data will all be strongly represented – will we see the new HPE branding everywhere? Synergies? Focus? Hybrids? As for my own observations about the upcoming split ever the optimist, I can only see good things coming from it.  As for heightened expectations then it may just be California Dreamin’ on my part, but even as the grass turns brown and skies stay blue, I’ve already mentally checked out as I pack my bags for Vegas! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We may want to leave a Legacy, but NonStop stands apart!

With the introduction of brand new NonStop systems – the NonStop X family – distance is being put between the modern NonStop systems of today and any lingering thoughts CIOs may still have about former legacy systems from HP and Compaq.



With the passage of time almost every important historical figure begins to muse on the legacy they will leave behind. In America, this involves a lot of discussion about philanthropy, even as it touches on the ramifications of endowing considerable fortunes on their heirs. As for Presidents, the talk is about future presidential libraries and having spent time in the Ronald Reagan library I can see why the creation of presidential library can cost a princely sum. With much work ahead of him still, I was curious to learn that President Obama is already talking about his own presidential library and the likely impact of his own legacy on the citizens of the U.S. as well as the city of Chicago.

A colleague of mine from the time when I was on the board of the IBM mainframe user group SHARE, Jim Michael, has come to terms with his own imminent retirement and has elected to document it in a novel and somewhat sobering manner – via a blog he is simply calling, Last 100 Mondays. This is in recognition that, with his first post to the blog, there is only 100 more weeks before he retires. As for the best quote from his first post, it is Jim’s acknowledgment that his “emotional intelligence has been an asset and I believe it has helped me as a leader. One of the things I have most enjoyed in my work is helping people to come together by exploring how their diverse points of view can lead to better outcomes.” What Jim’s blog so poignantly reminded me of is that like life itself, technology has very well defined beginning and ending points  and what was once considered highly creative, perhaps even disruptive (even by today’s standards), can lose its sheen pretty quickly.  

“There is an ongoing dynamic tension between seeking input and choosing action,” Jim writes in his most recent post.  “With good quality information flowing between the IT staff and those we serve, moderated by managers to help ensure clear communication, we can avoid the pitfalls of both top-down and bottom-up design.” Not forgetting, of course, the need to keep it all in historical perspective. When it comes to IT there seems to be little attention given to that famous quote of the philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, George Santayana, who admonished us with, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. A case in point?  As we rush headlong into cloud computing those of us with more years in IT than they care to recount, see many similarities with past models for IT.

Whenever the topic of Legacy comes up there’s so much emotion involved, but is the label, Legacy, being unfairly applied today? We don’t doubt that a system is Legacy when we see that its I/O is limited to punched cards and paper tape but are we misusing our emotional intelligence assets?  The picture above is just one representation of the vendor ecosystem supporting NonStop and the good news is that there’s many more vendors represented than just a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, whenever we talk of middleware and solutions, the waters become even murkier – one vendor’s brilliance may be viewed by another vendor as nothing more than ho-hum, same-o! Same-o! Perhaps Legacy is best defined by how we find it being used and perhaps, it is the environment that speaks volumes about what’s Legacy!

All too often I have had correspondence with individuals who have dismissed a product or solution on the grounds that they considered it and found it to be less than leading edge. Ouch; you mean there’s no market for something that addresses a real business need without resorting to usage of a just-emerging programming model, framework or language? For data center managers, charged with the oversight of multiple generations of systems and servers, unwilling to pull that cable when they aren’t sure what is on the other end, Legacy may not be a label as much as it is a reflection on the decisions made over many decades. It’s simply not possible to “rip and replace” every time something new comes along so balancing the investment in what’s new with what’s needed requires considerable skill.

When it comes to Legacy, the question is whether we are captains of our data center, or captives of our environment?  And what of vendors, too, balancing investments in new solutions and middleware against reluctance on the part of users not to be on the bleeding-edge even as they want to appear innovative? Yet, can we put a stake in the ground, dig our heels in, and say this is good enough?  For the NonStop community  not a week goes by where there aren’t similar challenges and the number of times I have been quizzed about the future of NonStop – just this year – I don’t care to recall.

The investment HP has made in the new NonStop X family has given me new opportunities to direct the spotlight onto a system that is industry standard and every bit as modern as any other system in the data center. And yet, I really have to work hard to convey this message to IT professionals, be they data center managers or CIOs. However, for most vendors developing solutions and middleware it is the view of these IT professionals that determines these vendors’ actions and without a doubt, dictates the pace of change they are prepared to embrace. We may not be relying on punched cards and paper tape anymore but we still have to connect to terminals, we still have to move files offsite, and we still have to batch up data and churn out reports in order to meet regulatory mandates. In the view of many who work day in, day out, supplying innovative solutions to the NonStop community, Legacy remains colored in many shades of grey.

I have often thought that perhaps the use-by date for the NonStop brand has expired and that it is time to move on from Tandem and NonStop to something a lot more appropriate for the times, perhaps even associating it with the trend towards hubs and appliances. When you walk into a home for sale and see brass fittings everywhere, you form an immediate opinion that the house was built in the 1980s but should the sellers swap out the brass for chrome, impressions change instantly. Has the time come to swap out the name NonStop for something else?  Should HP be actively seeking input and choosing action? “The NonStop brand is a very strong brand” said a good friend and client quite candidly. “If I were to look at changing anything perhaps I would look to change the marketing strategy around NonStop.”

On the other hand, the opposite of Legacy surely must be modern. If that is the case then no IT professional can make a case for NonStop X not being modern. NonStop X embraces the Intel x86 architecture, utilizes InifinBand for processor and peripheral interconnect, and is capable of supporting the current brace of popular platforms including Web services / SOA, REST/JSON, SQL, Java and JavaScript – what more is required? Few IT Professionals will argue any longer that, after installing NonStop X, they remain captive of this component of their environment – they are indeed levelling the playing field in a way that sees them moving beyond today’s vision of what’s modern and put distance between NonStop X and their otherwise less reliable racks of energy consuming commodity boxes. Changing the marketing strategy necessitates a big rethink not just by HP, but by every stakeholder in the NonStop community. That’s right – it needs us to voice our appreciation for the modern NonStop we have today.

“We remain firmly customer drive as it’s the customer who sets the requirements for a solution; if an industry body or government agency mandates a daily file transfer, then so be it,” said OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia. “But it hardly qualifies any platform as being Legacy. Likewise with languages – if critical business logic is written in COBOL it is not up to others to deem the platform old.” Sharing a similar sentiment, WebAction, Inc. Marketing Director, Jonathan Geraci, notes that, “I think our play in ‘Legacy’ is that we are agnostic to sources and targets, which makes WebAction a great place to bring all of your heterogeneous streaming and static (context) data together in one place for analytics.”


Customer driven is also a theme of DataExpress. “I think we’re driven by our customers, and they are driven by their customers in turn, it’s a lifecycle in which the software vendor is the bottom feeder,” said Michelle Marost, President of DataExpress. “In all honesty, in an economy which, despite what Wall Street is telling us, is still under stress, and flooded with software vendors trying to catch a break, we have no choice but to be customer driven. If Bank A has a customer who is happy with their dial up connection they have no choice but to support them, and we have no choice but to support Bank A.” And yet, Marost wasn’t prepared to take a backward step for a single enterprise. “I’ll temper that statement with a note that if a customer tries to drive us away from our capabilities to an area which would cause harm to that core, we will have to make a stand,” she said. “We can’t dilute our resources too greatly to please one customer.”

According to comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, who puts a lot of energy into their company’s modernization messages, “Of course, the NonStop ‘platform’ is not Legacy! That should be “Duh!”, but not everyone is prepared to accept that even with NonStop X,” said Burg. “However, many ‘applications’ on HP NonStop are very much legacy. There is no point in beating around the bush here and we sustain a thriving business rectifying that situation by using a 'lean and mean' approach that makes legacy applications no-more-so.” In features and webinars, comForte is making a major investment in highlighting how important it is for CIOs and data center managers to know that the Legacy label may only be attached with Velcro.

Committed to customers and being responsive to their needs even as we fully realizing that the environment may hold us captive (and often, for very good reasons), there’s no truth whatsoever in the thought of NonStop itself being Legacy. The exception here perhaps is that the NonStop today is most definitely a positive aspect of Jimmy Treybig’s legacy to us all. But just as there’s nothing to sustain the idea that a data center is Legacy because of a modem, a file transfer or anything else that comes as a result of a customer or partners “special request”. Legacy hardware is easy to spot even as legacy tools, middleware and solutions quickly reveal themselves but in a world revolving around an always-on, instant gratification, need it right now, today’s modern NonStop system is sitting squarely in the cross hairs of those with the intelligence assets charged with ensuring a business keeps moving forward. 

Our choice of language and platform may suggest there’s room for improvement but even here, the waters remain murky. Let’s not let CIOs, or data center managers, be too quick in mislabeling NonStop given how far it has come these past forty years. Repetition of references to the Legacy moniker, with respect to NonStop, no matter the conversation or publication is a grave disservice to all who make up the NonStop community! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Why would I think our lives will get any better?

It is a rainy Friday morning and I am sitting in “Moe’s Bagel” shop, having earned my half a bagel and lox smear by walking on a treadmill and doing my 7.5 min of elliptical …Worth it!

The statistics clearly lie – the unemployment stats do not explain why the gym is filled to the brim at 10 am on a Friday – and I know that many of my fellow hamsters are preparing for yet another round of resume sending while walking on treadmills - smartphones and tablets clearly at the ready.

As I watched from our favorite bagel shop here in Boulder, I could see a garbage truck, green and shiny, using mechanical forks to lift two huge garbage containers, and it empties the contents into its huge belly.  It has a driver, who is also the operator. Period! I recall garbage trucks where two guys were in the back, catching a half-hazard ride, and as the truck came to a stop they would grab a garbage bin and empty it with the driver moving on to the next collection point. The two guys would jump back onto steps in the rear fenders and continue their ride somewhat nonchalantly and completely uninterested in what they do.

That is two jobs per garbage truck that no longer exist in their previous form. That’s my little example. There are many more!  I am reading in the South China Morning Post (about a manufacturing facility. Reading the paragraph about the sheer number of replaced humans made me wonder what will be the future for my grandchildren? “Since September, a total of 505 factories across Dongguan have invested 4.2 billion yuan in robots, aiming to replace more than 30,000 workers, according to the Dongguan Economy and Information Technology Bureau.”

So, it is safe to assume that there will be a shortage of jobs, possibly much greater than I am observing here, in Boulder, CO, today. That would imply that people will have even more time on their hands. But will it be fun? Disney is about to come out with the Tomorrowand, a movie based on their showing at the 1964 World’s Fair (and now a Disney attraction) and I have to wonder, are they behind this movement to automate everything? “What if there’s a place. A secret place. Where nothing is impossible. A miraculous place? You wanna go?”

I don’t really think so. I also recently read a Washington Post article about Google perfecting self driving cars! “Google’s algorithms can determine whether a cyclist is present, and then identify parts of his or her body. Once Google has identified a cyclist’s hands and arms, it can recognize signals and act accordingly. So if a cyclist sticks out his or her arm to indicate a left turn, Google can recognize the motion and adjust the car’s speed or direction as necessary.”

Sounds like a great step forward, but it makes me think that my grandkids will not have a chance to enjoy driving cars, real fast! They will be driven by smart, self-driving vehicles with very little interaction with their occupants. Yik!


Not all of it is gloomy, I know. In the April 27, 2015, issue of the Khaleey Times, there appeared the article Smart policing to come Dubai with robo-cops.  “‘Colonel Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi said that in the next two years robots will be used to bolster police forces patrolling malls and other public areas. The robots will interact directly with people and tourists,’ he said.  ‘They will include an interactive screen and microphone connected to the Dubai Police call centers. People will be able to ask questions and make complaints, but they will also have fun interacting with the robots.’” 


In four or five years, however, Alrazooqi said that Dubai Police will be able to field autonomous robots that require no input from human controllers. ‘These will be fully intelligent robots that can interact with people, with no human intervention at all,’ he said. ‘This is still under research and development, but we are planning on it.’”

In one respect, it sure beats the recent standoffs with real cops …

OK, yes, I am concerned with what the future holds for my grandchildren, but I am also thinking that, if what is coming is to my liking, I may try to see if there is a chance of taking advantage of the new research on aging and dying – NOT! 

Amazing! Coming from down under the article tells us, “‘To achieve longevity, de Grey is developing a therapy to kill cells that have lost the ability to divide, allowing healthy cells to multiply and replenish the tissue.’ de Grey said his research aims to undo the damage done by the wear and tear of life, as opposed to stopping the ageing process altogether. If we ask the question: ‘Has the person been born who will be able to escape the ill health of old age indefinitely?’ Then I would say the chances of that are very high,” he said. ‘Probably about 80 per cent.’”

Why would you want to live longer, what would you want to see?

I am thinking that I may want to see a world where robots take over jobs nobody really wants to do (robo garbage collectors being a perfect example, but robo cops come to mind too), where people have way more leisure time thanks to the progress in automation of anything and everything, where computers will be “using electrons for computation, photons for communication, and ions for storage.” Wait! The Machine from HP is not that far away - check out the HP web site.

It’s no coincidence then that the rise of The Machine, the opportunity to live forever, and robots are just around the corner. I’ve been following the IoT for some time but really hadn’t connected all the dots – it’s the Internet of Anything / Everything even if I want them communicating or not. And while I can imagine rebooting a robo cop and perhaps even a stalled garbage truck, when it comes to anything / everything else, always-connected as they will be, then it’s going to be a perpetually working world. Without interruption, or downtime!

With that then I have to admit, yes, I am almost certain that the soul of the new machine will be of the NonStop variety – why would you spend all this money, effort and human talent to create something less than a NonStop? Why would I ride in a car that could simply stop? Why would I call 911 if my robo cop was in maintenance? Why would I even contemplate a longer life if I was to be left “on hold” interminably? Nah – it’s just got to be a NonStop world. Will someone pen a song about “it’s a NonStop world after all”, as I reckon it will catch on quickly if not today, then obviously, tomorrow.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

The road to Vegas and further discoveries …

Big picture reveals are always important and for as long as I can remember, the major draw card for any event involving NonStop has been an opportunity to see the bigger picture emerging. However, 2015 HP Discover will likely see more attention given to HP than to its products and just for that, it’s bound to draw a Las Vegas size crowd!

May will be the first month of 2015 when I haven’t been to Vegas. Conferences and events have been the primary attraction and I have covered them in previous posts – both the post Of hubs and spokes; of niches, clouds and beyond the horizon; it all looks good for NonStop X! and Read the news? NonStop information presentation powered by InkaBinka! Of course, visiting Las Vegas also gave me additional material for posts to our social blog, Buckle-Up-Travel, where I am pleased to say, readership has steadily climbed this year – something I am putting down to there being less talk about cars on track and more about business considerations that arise from these many road trips. If you would have told me that 2015 was to be the year I spent more time in Las Vegas than in northern California I would have been very surprised.

On the eve of 2014 HP Discover I blogged of how I had written posts from the exhibition floor many times in the past and that it looked likely that, one way or another, I will be at it again this year! Among the many traditions at such events are the vendor dinners and cocktail gatherings, where unfettered exchanges take place on just about every aspect of technology, and there is always a variety of venues involved. For more, look back at the post,
Mow down barriers, rip out legacy! What’s coming to NonStop will surprise … and yes, as in 2014, I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to attend once again.

As the community has acknowledged for the past couple of years, HP Discover isn’t a replacement for ITUG events of the past – to some extent, the “flavor of ITUG” lives on with the
NonStop Technical Boot Camp and in 2015, the event returns to essentially its roots in San Jose. However, there’s always a sprinkling of NonStop community members at HP Discover, but this event’s main attraction has always been getting a firsthand glimpse into the HP “bigger picture” and for NonStop to even be mentioned is always a cause for celebration. On the exhibition floor there will be a new NonStop X system on display with some well-known faces on hand to provide information on NonStop to those attendees still not familiar with HP’s sizable investments in one of the better enterprise systems on offer from HP.

There is a culture within the NonStop community that thrives on events and it’s good to see not only the return of the Boot Camp but the continuing enthusiasm for regional events planned for all four corners of the globe. Even as I write this post, the Connect GTUG - IT Symposium held this week in Munich is all but wrapped up for the year and I am hopeful that I will be able to bring news from that event after I catch up with the HP NonStop product management team that was in attendance. According to comForte Marketing VP, Thomas Gloerfeld, when it came to the big news coming out of this event, “the roadmap for NonStop X clearly showed an accelerated plan for both 2 core and 6 core additions to the NonStop X product line and that these would likely be introduced before the end of HP’s financial year.”

The first ITUG event I have ever attended was held in 1992 at Nice, France. It’s something that I will not easily forget as alongside my monitor, I still have the coffee mug given out at that 1992 ITUG Spring Conference at the Nice Acropolis. As a newbie to ITUG events I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of all who participated even as it represented many firsts. Wine was freely provided during lunch that led to less-than-anticipated attendance at afternoon sessions. I was on a booth, alongside Tony Bond of SDI, demoing the very first release of NonStop NET/MASTER even as, across the passageway, Steve Killelea of IR was demoing an early release of Prognosis – on color screens, too, as I recall – in his irrepressible best form!

Checking into my hotel I couldn’t help but hear the ruckus that was coming from the adjacent bar and sticking my head around the corner, there was Pete Schott, Randy Baker, and Gerry Peterson – essentially the brains trust behind the sales and support for all Tandem Computers sold at that time. This was my first encounter with 24 X 7 “networking” at the bar, an essential part of every ITUG I attended after that – for many an integral part of the culture that was NonStop!

ITUG Nice was also the first time that I ran across longtime Tandem and NonStop supporter, Bill Honaker, even as it proved to be a place where I was introduced to  Chris Rooke and Gary Sabo with whom I was later to become more closely connected, as I moved on from being a development program manager to a product marketer. It was also just another milestone in a long journey that saw my involvement with Tandem and NonStop user groups that spanned more than a quarter of a century. The culture that I witnessed developing around a fault tolerant architecture I never anticipated holding sway over as many smart people as it continues to do for as long as we now know it has – clearly, there’s a lot more going on here than many of us care to acknowledge. Do we simply hang around for the trinkets, the tee shirts and coffee mugs? Or is it far more meaningful than that?

What I am anticipating hearing more about is the ongoing process to split HP into two companies – HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. News continues to trickle out about the split and yes, for the NonStop community the news here is that the CTO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be Martin Fink, an executive with very strong ties to NonStop, dating back to when he was head of the NonStop Enterprise Division. Just in the last couple of weeks we saw Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and CEO, Meg Whitman, unveil the new logo and colors for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In the news release posted to the HP web site,
Introducing Hewlett Packard Enterprise Whitman tells the world about, “What I love about our new logo design is how it stands out among our competitors. The color we picked is no accident. I wanted us to stand apart …The other thing that stands out for me is its simplicity.” And yes, apparently HP Inc. retains both the current color scheme and logo that we all associate with HP.

So maybe at 2015 HP Discover there will be an abundance of trinkets, the tee shirts and coffee mugs reflecting the new branding unveiled for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Perhaps what the culture of NonStop has always cherished – the trappings that reinforce our identity – will receive a new injection of life! Will we see green tee shirts, green coffee mugs and yes, green backpacks and hold-alls? Personally, I am hoping that there will be items that are truly unique as I have an office full of bags, notepad binders and so forth, but I guess I will just have to wait. Maybe this isn’t the bigger picture many in the NonStop community want to hear about, but it’s significance to users and vendors alike shouldn’t be discounted – HP splitting into two corporations is a very big deal.

In an age where every business is being told to focus and to stay true to their calling – just look at how rapidly GE is being dismantled in the post Jack Welsh era. In the New York Times article of April 13, 2015,
Jeffrey Immelt Is Putting His Own Stamp on Jack Welch’s G.E. reporter, Steve Lohr, references Noel M. Tichy, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, who said “Where G.E. is going to end up is back to the future.” According to G.E. as reported by Lohr, “It has been a lengthy and often humbling corporate journey animated by the recognition that G.E.’s real strength lies in industrial engineering rather than financial engineering.” Comparing HP to G.E. may not be accurate but you can see in HP’s plans to split the consumer-focused retail business from the corporate business is also a return to the industrial engineering that put HP on the map in the first place.

Culture is important for user communities and we have all witnessed that in the time we have spent with ITUG and now Connect, but it’s also very important for companies like HP. A strong culture is the glue that binds a company and helps cement its place in business – there’s nothing worse than to simply not know what value a company provides in a marketplace. As I look ahead to 2015 HP Discover and the events that will likely overtake all who attend this year I will be very much focused on what lies ahead and how this is communicated – it should be hard to miss, I expect.

However, having said this, I am acutely aware that for those looking to hear more about the latest feature for NonStop or Linux or Moonshot or even The Machine, the references to the transformation under way at HP may prove overwhelming. And yet, this is bound to be the big picture we all need to see and comprehend before any other consideration is made. This may very well be the last HP Discover but on the other hand, it may prove to be the very first of something even more worthy of discovery – Las Vegas, that city of ultimate illusions, may yet have one more rabbit to pull from its hat after all!