Monday, June 8, 2015

First impressions – all that happened in Vegas at 2015 HP Discover!

2015 HP Discover proved eventful for numerous reasons - less about The Machine and more about Composability ... for the NonStop community, the future is beginning to come into view!

It’s been a hot, dusty and somewhat dirty week in Las Vegas and returning to the green landscape that is Boulder has brought into stark contrast the difference of just a few hundred miles. Living in the command center wasn’t without its challenges this year, as unfamiliarity brought unintended consequences. Who knew a push tab on the shower head would reduce the flow of water to barely a drip and who knew that the pilot light on the RV’s hot water system would go out … but in the end, we were able to keep our cool (and our hot) while showering with good water pressure!

The world takes on a completely different image when all is well on the motor home front. Rested and looking forward to each day’s program, 2015 HP Discover was all about perceptions and presentation. Passing an exits sign on Interstate 15 for the Utah township of Browse - even with the assertion that there would be no services – more or less summarized my intentions for participating in 2015 big tent event by HP, as I had many questions I wanted to pursue.   

What would happen to the event itself following the HP split and would the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) continue to be a good home for NonStop? Would HPE become more like the desert of Nevada or be as verdant as Boulder? Of course, like everyone else’s in the NonStop community, my hopes are high that with renewed focus on the enterprise HP will place even bigger bets on future contributions NonStop can make to the company.

On my way to HP Discover I caught up on emails and newsletters, among them my old favorite, The Rust Report. Author Len Rust has been a stalwart of the Australian IT industry for decades and was responsible for me landing a very good job back in the 1980s, so I always give him the benefit of the doubt when he writes about IT, but in the newsletter of May 25, 2015, his editorial column, Rust Bucket, I found myself agreeing to all the points he makes. In the changing landscape Rust let’s fly with a broadside, telling us that “The IT world today is rapidly moving from legacy application software to SOA, SaaS integration and APls all driven by the power of convention over configuration and the promise of agility and better operational efficiency”.

So far, so good – nothing too extraordinary or earthshattering at this point, but then Rust adds, “A profound change is occurring in the IT world; the power of technology has been discovered! After years of relegating computers and information technology to the back office as a cost cutting productivity tool, the community has discovered that technology has an exciting potential as a force in the marketplace.” While it may have taken some time for companies to make this discovery, Rust then makes the observation, “Companies of all sizes today are grappling with aging complex systems that are costly to maintain and too inflexible to support new business initiatives … Innovation today is no stranger to the information technology function … Many corporate leaders though are now raising the bar: they expect IT’s core mission to expand from cost-cutting to enabling revenue generation all within a short period of time.”

The crowds for 2015 HP Discover appeared as big as I had previously experienced, even as there were those I talked to speculating about an audience down in numbers from previous year, but come time for each day’s General Sessions and the large auditorium filled quickly. As depicted below, it was quite the spectacle although, I have to admit, the choice in welcoming music was a little puzzling and about that, I will say nothing more.

The most critical message that came from HP CEO, Meg Whitman, and HP CTO, Martin Fink, during the Wednesday General Session at the 2015 HP Discover event was that, “Time is the enemy”. In my most recent client newsletter, released this weekend, I noted how these two HP executives went about launching the concept of “composability” and defining it as the “key enabler for this continuous everything world” they also expressed how vital it was for business and IT that they understand that the “need to compress time to value (and get resultant insight) will never stop accelerating”. 

Furthermore, when you consider “our legacy systems, think concrete buildings; once we knew what we wanted, we poured concrete walls and (the result was) a structure that was strong but very rigid”, Fink told the audience. “But now, if we operate with the notion of buildings, we lose; we have to think more of writing symphonies where it (the finished musical score, over time) may be subject to changes of instruments, tempo and even key.” In the same way, we should all expect our business services be capable of self-composing based on business rules, policies and context and just as Rust pointed out in his newsletter, it’s now all becoming a case of the power of convention over configuration!

In all, Fink talked about the “digital business platform”, the “transformation services” and the “infrastructure as code” as the core elements within composability. While there were a number of detours, the most important, and indeed relevant, topic was the launch of Grommet , which is a big bet by HP on an open source framework. But this detour into the launch of Grommet was for the most part, a demonstration by the new HPE of just how seriously they were taking open source.

As reported in the June 4, 2015, edition of the UK publication, The Register, Open source? HP Enterprise will be all-in, post split, says CTO “‘We have taken this very, very seriously and we are all-in on the notion of open source,’ Fink said, adding that even game-changing big bets like the Machine will be backed by open source software. ‘We are the Number One contributor to the OpenStack project (and) we contribute large bodies of code to the Cloud Foundry project. We are heavily involved with partners who lead open source projects – like Hortonworks, for example. We are contributing heavily to making the cloud open source and making that real for you."

Furthermore, according to The Register, “Going forward, however, Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be more vocal about how it takes advantage of existing open source projects and will be more proactive about contributing code of its own. To prove it, on Wednesday HP announced Grommet, a new user interface framework that's specifically tailored for enterprise applications and that HP has released under the Apache License. ‘I want to stress something here: It is not called HP Grommet. It is called Grommet,’ Fink said. ‘It is HP's contribution to the IT industry to bring consumer-grade capabilities with an enterprise user experience framework so that all of you can take advantage of it.’”

Less information was provided this year about The Machine although there was a lot of coverage of The Machine in the HP Labs booth. Walking to the booth after Wednesday’s General Session, I ran into Fink, the Enterprise Group head, Antonio Neri, and Meg Whitman walking the stand and interacting with those manning the booth. See below for the brief video clip I captured – without a security entourage (that I could see) or a bevy of handlers, it was pretty good to see such interaction by HP’s most senior executives. 

While the trip to Las Vegas gave me plenty of time to read and catch up on correspondence, the return trip was an occasion of quite a difference nature – I spent much of the time in thought. Yes, The Machine was progressing as was Hybrid Computing and as such held significance for all in the NonStop community. What was more important however was the very significant message about just how open HP was becoming and just how big an impact open source was having even among the most senior HP executives! Could we ever see NonStop as software and perhaps, even as part of open source either in part or in full? More about this at a later time ...

HP Discover events rarely disappoint and this year’s big tent was one I found most enlightening. If you missed my daily updated to the LinkedIn group, Real Time View, you can see them all listed under Managers Choice. IN particular, check out the final post – Final day – all things come to an end … In a few short weeks’ time I am off to Dallas, Texas, for the N2TUG NonStop user group meeting where I hope to catch up with more of the community, but again, impressions remain important for everyone in the NonStop community and the lasting impression from this year’s HP Discover is one of focus, intent, and greater differentiation versus their competitors, and yes, a sound home for all that today is NonStop!

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