Monday, November 23, 2015

What did I learn from 2015 NonStop Technical Boot Camp?

How do the words of a Jimmy Buffett song, a car magazine’s report of the Viper and the message from Martin Fink, EVP and CTO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, “Fix it, or Exit” have in common? Only at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp would you make such a connection … 

Sometimes you just know that, at a time when you least expect it, your travels take a detour. Now, having said that, and with winter beginning to make its presence felt, getting hit with an icy, wintery blast shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But hit us rather hard, it did!

In the opening stanzas of the song, Jamaica Mistaica, by Jimmy Buffett there’s a couple of lines that I find appropriate at this time of year:

But every now and then, the dragons come to call
Just when you least expect it you'll be dogin' cannon balls


Having successfully traversed the Sierras and made the passage through Nevada and Utah to pull up the mountains and into Wyoming, well sure enough, we were dodging snowballs as Interstate 80 was closed east of Rawlins effectively cutting us off from any hope of making it home by Saturday night. On the other hand, Sunday morning saw the Interstate open once again, and even with some vehicle restrictions, we made it home in one piece.

However, the thought of “dogin’ cannon balls”, or in our case, snowballs, took me back to where we had been, San Jose, California. The event that occupied our attention for nearly all of last week was the NonStop Technical Boot Camp and there’s always mixed emotions whenever this event comes around.

I remember all too well the ITUG Summits of former times and miss them a lot, but Boot Camp, after an inauspicious reboot a few years ago, has come on strongly these past couple of years so much so that the events are beginning to resemble ITUG Summits of past years. If you had as yet not made up your mind as to whether you would ever return to San Jose for Boot Camp than be concerned no more – plan for it as NonStop is only now beginning to flex its technology muscle in ways many of us thought we would never see again.

Martin Fink, EVP and CTO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, gave an enthralling keynote address that was, almost to the day, a decade after he took the reins of the then NonStop Enterprise Division. So, yes there was something celebratory in his presence. What he covered in his keynote I am going to address in my next post to this blog but I want to make sure I did include one point Martin made right from the get-go. 


It now seems that Martin was given very specific marching orders as he accepted the leadership position of NonStop – “Fix it … or, Exit!” Now, there were a few exhaled breaths following this declaration by Martin but immediately after telling us about this directive he then added that he never really contemplated an exit even as he was given little room to get the business healthy. Talk about dodgin’ cannon balls!

Now for a first; in the presentation the following day by NonStop management, talk turned to the NonStop vision with an update as to where NonStop was headed in the coming years. From a possible exit of the market to a comprehensive discussion of a vision for NonStop in just one day” Kudos to a corporation willing to green-light a bright future for NonStop and this wasn’t missed by any of the attendees!

For me it is still very much about what happens in the exhibition hall and for this year’s event a lot of business was transacted around the tables.
The set up of the exhibition floor, with coffee served on a regular basis and the tables used for all meals, there was ample time to talk with vendors. Throw in so many presentations by vendors on topics we all wanted to learn more about – NonStop X migrations, hybrids, new solutions and much more, and you gained a real sense that interest in all things NonStop was beginning to return to a community long on patience, but just a tad short of significant and indeed, cool technology.

My own personal favorites were those pertaining to the arrival of node.js on NonStop and with it, the support of JavaScript. From presentations given by the HPE solutions architect, Keith Moore, to the skinny on what was being provided in the initial release by the developer deeply involved in the port, InfraSoft VP R&D, Dave Finnie, there’s no greater endorsement of the contemporary nature  of the NonStop X family than seeing something as important as Server Side JavaScript becoming available. If you would like to participate in the early release phase of bomBora – the node.js deep port from InfraSoft - contact InfraSoft’s Managing Director, Peter Shell.

And in case you missed it or were unaware of what transpired, in the joint presentation by HPE solutions architects, Keith Moore and Justin Simonds, with some assistance from Alan Charley, set up some sensors that were in the room and where two of these sensors were transmitting – one was sending out current temperature and the other was a button that sent a message out when someone hit the button. The other two were receivers with one displaying the temperature from the first one, and the other would light an LED when someone pressed the button on the other one. So what’s so cool about that? 


According to Simonds, “Well the two transmitters were sending their information to a NonStop X7 at the ATC over MQTT running into Mosca (Node.js, javascript middleware) that wrote it to a Redis keystore database, also running on NonStop and available because of InfaSoft’s bomBora.  (MQTT - formerly MQ Telemetry Transport - is a publish-subscribe based ‘light weight’ messaging protocol for use on top of the TCP/IP protocol. MQTT.js is a client library for the MQTT protocol, written in JavaScript for node.js and the browser.) Redis is a pub/sub database and the two receivers in the room were getting data from this database, not from the sensors in the room.  Pretty dang cool and only available because of node.js!”

Running a close second was the sheer numbers behind the success of OmniPayments. In a presentation, Migrating to OmniPayments, CEO Yash Kapadia (pictured above during the presentation) talked openly of the architecture and modules that make up OmniPayments, but two items clearly resonated with me. If you have ever wondered about the scalability of NonStop, then stop! It’s now a moot point.

At one customer site, the message bus underpinning all OmniPayments products runs across 3,000 CPUs – more than the installed base of NonStop users running BASE24, for instance. The other significant item is the arrival of OmniCloud X where Yash has standardized on NonStop X systems to populate the cloud and if you were wondering about sales of NonStop X systems, then it’s probably a good idea to talk to Yash. He’s installed one of the 7s in his shop, loaded up and shipped out 2 more 3s and has orders in for a couple more 3s – all to brand new users of NonStop!   


High on my list too is the success with the NonStop community WebAction has had with its Striim (pronounced "stream") product. While there are factions within the NonStop community who express concerns over the viability of Big Data Analytics having an impact on NonStop then the initial deployment brings it all back to earth. Imagine having the math to be able to reduce a NS SQL database to a pattern then instantly knowing whether the NS SQL database at a backup site is current or a few seconds or indeed a few minutes behind? And then imagine too heavy penalties for falling behind by too much and simply not knowing it – well, Striim is doing exactly that for one big NonStop user.

With so many new discussions on virtualization springing up around almost every table, I should reference my latest white paper on storage virtualization together with support of both IaaS and PaaS. Written for the team at Tributary Systems, Inc. it is now available and downloadable from their web site under the heading of Storage Director: Avoid the “Lost Ark” with Critical Business Data, I cover the capabilities of TSI’s Storage Director product, which I believe is a big step forward as far as virtualized storage goes.

All things considered – and yes, there were many other presentations given including a couple where I participated (WebAction / Striim and DataExpress) that included support of Big Data and Big Data Analytics – it would have been a very brave NonStop advocate to suggest, only a couple of years ago, that the topics covered at a user event would include contemporary languages, clouds, big data and virtualization. But so much has changed and all of it for the better. NonStop as a software offering coming from HPE shortly, I think we all need to follow the vision for NonStop more closely in the coming months.

A special thanks to folks like HPE's Justin Simonds who co-presented with me on IoT Analytics (IoTA) and DataExpress's Susie Raye who helped me connect the dots between secure file transfer and big data. And watch for promotion of a webinar I am planning on doing featuring what is touched on in this post and much more that is part of an ongoing series of webinars I am doing for the team at IR and check out their web site for more details including how to register.

“Any time you’re feeling depressed about the state of the world today, just remember the Viper ACR exists, that there is actually a functioning corporation out there willing to give the green light to the consumer sale of what is essentially a (street-able) racer.” So wrote a journalist this month in the motoring magazine, Road and Track. Furthermore, “Driving a Viper, like riding an open-piped Harley (Davidson) is to place one’s self outside the influence of anything so stifling as ‘rules.’”

Arriving home from Boot Camp I cannot come up with anything better to describe the “Miracle on Hanover Street” any better as yes, the traditional, dare I add, stifling, rules of servers have been left behind with the availability of NonStop X. HPE has proved many of us wrong, the cannon balls have been dodged and the “Fix it!” plan is working so much so that NonStop now is at the very pinnacle of enterprise server achievements within HPE. Kudos all round and until next year’s Boot Camp, thanks too for all the material you all provided that will work its way into many more posts to come.   

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