Sunday, October 18, 2015

Still talking; still writing; most importantly, still here!

What will NonStop look like in the future? Worth discussing of course but what NonStop can do right now is very impressive. When it comes to hybrids, being cloud-ready and indeed, virtualization a closer look at NonStop may surprise you …

The other week I attended MATUG – the opening welcome address pictured above - and it was well attended and full of energy. However, this week I had time to recall some pretty bleak days of about the same time, late 2009. While sitting in my favorite Simi Valley Starbucks the news came of the passing of my father.

Members of the ITUG board had the opportunity of meeting my father shortly before I became Chairman of this organization as our home was a popular venue for board meetings as well as gatherings of the executive team. Other members of the community may also have encountered him – back in Sydney there was more than one Tandem employee who took advantage of the services he provided, be it picking up folks from a railway station or simply fetching a good bottle of red wine which he was known to enjoy later in life. Reminiscing about my father’s passing was something I covered in the post of August 30, 2011,
Stories we could tell …

Year 2009 was also the year GoldenGate was acquired by Oracle and a short time before Oracle launched into its bloody battle with HP over Itanium, the upshot being that all involved with UNIX, Oracle included, watched a rapid downward spiral in interest in all things UNIX. Today, the UNIX business is only a shadow of its former self and as all participating at the recent MATUG event heard, with the emergence of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), there’s good news for the NonStop community. Avoiding such labels as old, proprietary, or even legacy HPE grouped its current mix of products under the heading of Continued Innovation. Included in this group were HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop. However, looking ahead at what will be participating in the HPE product portfolio going forward, under the heading of Transformational Advancement, all present at MATUG saw just Linux, Windows and NonStop listed – no more UNIX and no more OpenVMS. How times have changed, and fast!

Perhaps the highlight for me was that in October of 2009 I started my own company focused on consulting, research with some analysis, and writing; Pyalla Technologies, LLC. I continue to be asked about Pyalla and what it means, but it’s really all very simply. Pyalla is an Australian Aboriginal word for “to talk”. And just like that, six years have passed by and the best part? I continue to really enjoy what I am doing – perhaps this small business thing isn’t such a bad gig after all! It was with some trepidation, I have to admit, that I wrote in that first post of October, 2009, Let's talk ...  of how this was to be the beginning of a new phase, a change of seasons, of adjustments better aligned with what I really like to do, and yes, even back then, I had to admit that it’s a new world even as I acknowledged that I was having a lot of fun – fortunately, creativity and enthusiasm are still in great demand and I just love to talk!

They say the first year of business is the hardest and should you survive, you will be fine. What they never say is that the first five years are even harder, or that with each passing year it gets even harder.  Having elected to focus on the NonStop community I may have limited my business model, but here’s the deal. Looking ahead at where NonStop is headed I am getting the sense that limits of the past may be falling away and that my decision to stay focused on NonStop knows no boundaries. Yes, I am part of the enterprise community and that’s where the most dramatic technology changes will occur. Over the course of the next four years, to when I will be celebrating ten years of being in business, can we guess what the NonStop will look like? And which market segments NonStop dominates?

How about looking nothing like it does today, even as HPE will be only too happy to supply you with NonStop systems no different from the familiar ones of today, even as their presence in market segments will continue to grow? New languages, new tools and frameworks, new plug and play integration, all using common industry standard components and underpinned with tried and true familiar attributes of NonStop. Solutions that can be easily “dropped in” on any NonStop system, and yes, newfound desire within HPE to “seed NonStop” within other projects and platforms – I expect that in another six years’ time, we will see a vastly different world of NonStop.

How so? It would be easy for me to look well beyond my headlights and try to describe the shadowy shapes that I see in the murkiness well beyond the illumination my headlights provide, but it wouldn’t be of that much value to those making decisions today. However, having said that, I do foresee a time when NonStop is a part of other platforms and solutions making up HPE’s product portfolio. Wouldn’t we all like to see the defining attributes of NonStop leveraged more broadly by HPE – with an uptick demand for the skills we all share when it comes to building products for NonStop?

In the near term, what is shining brightly in my headlights is the upcoming hybrid support for NonStop. That is, NonStop participating as part of mixed system configurations such that a common chassis will house NonStop X blades along with Linux and even Windows. The work being done by development as part of the Yuma project – the provision of an API in support of accessing adjacent systems in the common chassis – has reached the point where there are a handful of important partners participating in a PoC, but talk of hybrids also brings with it discussions about NonStop being cloud ready and I have to admit, NonStop having a hand in cloud support, and in so doing adding additional security and robustness to the cloud, is a tantalizing vision shared by many in the NonStop community.

It would be remiss of me, however, to consider hybrids and cloud-readiness without providing some commentary on virtualization as the more we see in our headlights the more we realize that there’s a need for a virtualization story. It may come as a surprise to many when they see the latest NonStop roadmap presentations that includes the slide, Fully-Virtualized Integrated Stack. It may also come as a surprise that in Pathway today, NonStop has a process virtual machine already sharing many of the same properties as a language-specific virtual machine. But of course, the presence of the more popular system virtual machine, such as many of us are familiar with in IBM’s z/VM and EMC’s VMware, has as yet not shown itself to the NonStop community. Here the image begins to fade back into the night but even so, I am convinced that when it comes to NonStop, it will not be left out of future discussions on virtualization. 

Don’t get me wrong, for as far as I can see into the remainder of the decade, the NonStop community will still have a choice of NonStop systems from both, the i and X families. But again, in a very brief exchange with Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Servers at Hewlett-Packard, Randy Meyer, he reiterated that indeed, there’s a lot NonStop can do around hybrid, cloud-ready and virtualization. With Randy sharing the stage with HP EVP and CTO, Martin Fink, consider this just one more plug for the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp in San Jose this November. In the meantime, there’s more writing I need to do, even as I remain as enthusiastic as always about all things NonStop!

Yahoo News just wrote of how Americans shift away from traditional jobs: study. “More than 42 million Americans are part of the independent workforce, representing a shift away from traditional jobs as more people join sectors such as the ‘on-demand’ economy,” says Yahoo reporter, Rob Lever. Here it is again, the “on demand” economy. By this, Lever notes, “The study by MBO Partners covers a variety of professions, but a growing portion of those are made up of young workers taking "gigs" with startups.” Gene Zaino (founder and chief executive of MBO) is reported to have said, "The independent workforce is thriving, and we're predicting that it will expand at more than five times the rate of the overall hiring growth in the United States in the next five years."

Perhaps my taking up this gig as Pyalla isn’t so strange, after all. Perhaps it’s not just about having fun as much as it’s about taking a giant leap of faith and joining the on demand economy that is gaining as much attention as it is these days. Irrespective of your own assessments of the work I have done, these past six years the initial message I received from Randy Meyer still resonates strongly with – it’s all about generating more ink for NonStop and there’s little to detract from how I have kept that message front and center in all that I do. So yes, here’s to the next six years and as always, I really enjoy the feedback you provide and I suspect on this occasion, there will be little to restrain any of you from passing a comment or two.

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