Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It’s all goodness; some useful and important information!

Where am I bound, it don't matter
Pocket dialing halfway 'cross the nation
What do I hear? Mindless chatter
All this useless and important information

Jimmy Buffett, "Useless but Important Information"

Pulling the company command center into our Boulder, Colorado, home for what will likely be the last time in 2015, it would be remiss of me not to mention just how useful having this RV has proved to be. Racking up more miles this year than any other, we have attended 2015 HP Discover, swung through the state of Texas with a visit to N2TUG before heading across to California and now the trip to Washington D.C. with a visit to MATUG before weekending on the outer banks of North Carolina, essentially seeing most of continental USA from out of the windscreen of our RV. Looking at a McDonalds sign above the exit to the city of Champaign seemed every bit as incongruous as it appears on first sight, but then again, what we see on the road we do need to share with friends. Yes, another case of “All this useless but important information.”

Unfortunately, for our trip to San Jose, with a visit to the NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC), it will be back to a vehicle we can trust to get us through potential snowfalls in the Sierras or the Rockies, as given the timeframe, there’s a likelihood we will meet winter’s arrival at some point. The Jeep SUV has proved every bit as trustworthy as our command center RV, but all the same, checking into and out of roadside hotels has become rather blasé. There’s something to be said about taking it all with you! We sure will miss the command center.

Future trips always have me pulling out the maps to ensure the route isn’t one we have travelled before - after all, for us, we both like variety! I have an ancient paper map of the continental United States and after several years of abuse, the yellow highlight is fading from many of these  routes so picking out something entirely new is becoming a challenge, and yet, the thought of doing a trip that takes us somewhere completely different always excites us. With both Margo and I born far from these shores and having missed the annual family excursions in the station wagon, it’s all still very new to both of us.

With this having been said, there is quite a lot that’s similar to what we are experiencing today with NonStop. Even the most jaded NonStop supporter will recognize how each trip with NonStop is across virgin turf and that, facing any new project the first task undertaken is to bring out the product roadmaps. After all, so much has been changing with NonStop it’s almost inevitable that the yellow highlight has faded as well. It’s been twenty years this coming January since I last worked for Tandem Computers and yet, it’s hard to fathom at times – the Tandem blood flows strongly through my veins. And product roadmaps continue to keep that blood flowing prodigiously!

I have to assume by now that every member of the NonStop community has become aware that the keynote speaker at this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) will be then HPE EVP and CTO, Martin Fink. Probably the most influential technical mind inside of HPE, it’s also common knowledge that a number of years ago, Martin headed the then NonStop Enterprise Division, or NED, as it was referred to by the NonStop community. After spending many years as an ITUG volunteer I finally was elected to the ITUG Board at the end of 1999 and went on to serve as a director from 2000 to 2006 being the Chairman from 2004 to 2005.

While this may be ancient history for many in the NonStop community, by coincidence, 2004 was when Martin ascended to the top position in NonStop and I recall vividly how we both shared the stage for ITUG Europe in Berlin, 2004. I wasn’t all that sure what to expect from a HP manager, but any uneasiness was quickly put to one side as soon as Martin began talking about the benefits of NonStop and while he has taken up other posts, and his days at NonStop only a memory, Martin continues to be a supporter of the NonStop community so his agreement to be the keynote speaker at TBC didn’t come as a big surprise for many of us who are HP watchers.

At this point I have to give the game away. I am fully expecting that we will hear some pretty useful and entirely important information. It wouldn’t be anything else coming from Martin. I have always held the belief that NonStop is the unpolished gem in the greater HP product portfolio and this has been very much on my mind these past couple of days following the MATUG event outside Washington D.C. To be completely honest, my time spent this past weekend on the outer banks saw me playing the beachcomber as I searched fruitlessly, as it turned out, for the odd Spanish silver piece of eight that may have washed up on shore overnight. For the NonStop community that gem is the inclusion of NonStop as a key participant in the product roadmaps of HPE – alongside Windows and Linux, NonStop is the sole participant from a much broader product portfolio  of just a short time ago.

Expecting such useful and important information I emailed Martin for some insight and fortunately for the NonStop community he was pretty responsive to my request. “At a high-level the plan is for me to tell the story of ‘what really happened’ over the last years with Nonstop.” write Martin. “Folks see the new products and what we’ve done, but there’s the story behind the story that’s not visible to many.  I’ll tell that story.” Nothing too obscure with these remarks – we are going to hear it all. Of course, much will come down to Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Servers at Hewlett-Packard, Randy Meyer, but there’s little doubt in my mind given the usual Labs folks seeking the support of the field organization that Randy will be on board with Martin’s program. At any rate, given that Randy’s presentation immediately follows Martins, we should all know Randy’s position pretty quickly.

In a later exchange with Martin I was able to find out that as part of his presentation he would be providing, “a sneak peek into my CTO-level vision for future opportunities for the NonStop software and capabilities.” For some time now I have observed that the future role of NonStop may not be limited to just the box and the integrated stack that comes with it and essentially, ships as a fully operational system. No, for me, the game looks to be broadening to where its influence may be a tad bigger than anything we imagined, but I will stop with this as Martin hasn’t given any indication that this is part of the plan. So like you, I will be in the audience at TBC waiting to hear exactly what it is Martin has in plan for the bigger NonStop!

That I will not be sharing the stage with Martin or Randy doesn’t really count as useless but important information, but you catch my drift. Those days are behind all of us and yet, there is a real sense of continuity that almost every other platform I have been associated with through the decades simply hasn’t enjoyed. NonStop, some forty plus years on, is still commanding attention and that the most influential technical mind inside HP is coming to TBC is of significance of itself – want to hear a stronger message about NonStop? Well, try this on for size, we have Martin coming to fill in all the blanks in person.

I could add that there will be numerous vendor dinners, and cocktails will be readily available throughout the week. I could also add that there will be numerous presentations as well as product demonstrations – it will be a very full program. I could also add that there will be educational opportunities that many attendees will take full advantage of. But you guessed it. Anything more I could add now would only be seen as a lot of "Useless but Important Information". Yes, pack your bags, book you flights and accommodation. Martin is coming to TBC and it’s all goodness for the NonStop community!

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