Monday, December 28, 2015

NonStop – why some may be fearful, quite wrongly, about the future (of NonStop)?

“You are what you read,” so read a headline of a column in Fortune magazine – but to many in the NonStop community, what we read about NonStop may not be all that appealing to us. But should we be fearful? 

At this time of year you more or less have to prepare yourself for gifts family will give you even if past experiences suggest not to be too surprised by what finds its way under the tree. However, this year, one of the more imaginative gifts I received was an apron to wear while I grill. Or pull corks from a bottle. The message was hard to miss, “Bites, Bytes & Blogs. I deliver.” Yes, I’m very much into bites, bytes and blogs.

Two years ago Margo and I made the trip to Denver and we repeated the journey once again. Even stayed overnight in the same quirky hotel and took time to walk the city streets to check out the changes – none bigger than the completion of the fully refurbished Denver Union Station. While more complete observations on the transformation of not just the railway station but the dwellings surrounding it will appear in an upcoming post to our social blog, Buckle-Up-Travel, it may end up proving to be a destination in its own right – has a great bar and an even better common area. 

Blogging for different clients and armed with different agendas has kept me fully occupied for yet another year. In my August 20, 2015, anniversary post to this blog, Another anniversary … and NonStop still holds center stage! I noted that over the years my business and social posts have attracted quite an audience. From association blogs (e.g. ATMmarketplace and more recently, BAI, IBS Intelligence), to vendor blogs (IR, comForte, DataExpress, WebAction, etc.) to NonStop community blogs, like this one, Real Time View, there have been more than 1000 posts with readership anywhere from 350,000 to 500,000 plus over the past eight years.

Today I consider myself a professional blogger, even as I view the work I do as no different to what more illustrious (and higher profile) industry analysts do, and increasingly, providing commentary and opinions both written and verbally, as in webinars, has begun to take more of my time. As a former Tandem Computers and ACI Worldwide product manager, this has to be expected of course. With the year coming to a conclusion, my first order of business is to thank each and everyone one of you who has read a blog posting by me.

While scanning my home page on LinkedIn a few days ago, I came across another blogger who’s one witty observation made a big impression on me. If you read LinkedIn on a regular basis I am sure you saw it too. It simply said, “A blog post is like a miniskirt; it has to be short enough to be interesting, but long enough to cover the subject.” While I blog I am also at heart a storyteller and coming up with new ideas is what keeps me awake at night – there’s not a day that passes where I am not on the hook to come up with two unique storylines for the clients I serve.

However, the observation has a point and so, depending on the communities I post to, the length of the post will vary, but at all times, there will be short hook that gets your attention and then what follows is the message I want to convey. In the end, of course, it’s all a moot point if you don’t read the post and furthermore, it’s even less interesting if I cannot get you to think about the message I provide or have you come up with ideas of your own. For the NonStop community, so much is going to change in the coming 24 to 30 months and while I am excited there may be many within the NonStop community who face this new future with dread.

In the December 15, 2015, issue of Fortune Magazine there appeared a column, “
The Big Think – You are what you read.”  The column opens with, “Innovation. Ideation. Out-of-the-box problem-solving. Creative decision-making. So much of what we value in the brave new economy depends on people having fertile, expansive, and dynamically open minds,” But then, the writer hits us with, “So it may come as a surprise to many that the default state for our minds seems to be, well, ‘closed.’ Or at least inhospitable to ideas that differ from the ones already set in our consciousness.”

Ignoring for the moment that the electronic version now available online differs from the written text in the magazine and now reads, “The Big Think - This Is Why You Can't Always Trust Data” but it is the same story and I will return to this thought a little later in this post, but for me, the thought that you are what you read along with the observation that the default state of our minds seems to be closed is something I have come to understand after all these years of blogging.

We may be technologists and we may all be involved in IT but that’s not any guarantee that we welcome change. On the contrary, it’s why I now believe so many within the Nonstop community are fearful of the changes coming to NonStop. Furthermore, why aren’t we exploring the many ideas we have for NonStop preferring, I am seeing all too often, to just keep on doing what we have been doing?

“This is an unfortunate state of affairs for a matter as important as,” in this case, let me just plug in NonStop for arguments sake. Quoting once more from the column, “But it also offers some insights that may be valuable for all of us—lessons about how we draw conclusions from data, and how leaders should act on data.” The reason I am focusing on this particular aspect of the column is that the writer outlines three important considerations applicable to all of us in the NonStop community.

“First, the process of generating ideas gives the illusion of novelty of thought. But very few ideas are new.” This is then followed with, “Second, decision-makers must frequently choose a course of action in the face of imperfect data. It is why we pay leaders—to make tough calls when circumstances are murky and the path is anything but clear.” And then, “Third, data analysis, be it in universities or in industry, is conducted by someone with a set of incentives.” Finally, summing it all up, the column ends with, “The challenge for all of us is to stay informed, but not fully formed in our views.” 

At this time of year I want to encourage the NonStop community to keep reading, to be ever wary of who is writing the post or article, and to not have a closed mind but also and yes, most important of all, accept the challenge of staying informed without already having “formed our views.” The revision to the subtitle of the Fortune column – in print as “You Are What You Read” whereas in electronic form, “This Is Why You Can't Always Trust Data” - are connected. Raw data from analysts and industry observers (and I include myself as a potential source), is everywhere. In today’s always-on world you can find data to support every possible position you would like to explore. But it isn't always correct or not without bias. 

Being smart calls for not just reading the data / information and weighing it against what you know within the context or framework of what’s happening, but rather being open to the thought that what you did know may no longer be in touch with any new reality. And for NonStop, it’s now a world that is opening up to us in ways we simply had not anticipated just a year ago. NonStop as software? NonStop independent of infrastructure? NonStop realizing value from virtualization without any dependence on a hypervisor? And perhaps, a lot more!  

The question we all have to face up to is whether we are on board with, “Innovation. Ideation. Out-of-the-box problem-solving. Creative decision-making.” Or, are we simply fearful of all that may transpire? If we up for thinking a lot more about NonStop then assuredly, we are just leaving the blocks as we entertain an exciting year to come! And yes, on this, watch for even more blog posts to come. I deliver? Well, let’s just see how that all works itself out in 2016.  

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