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! 

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