Monday, December 21, 2015

Time for gifts and time to sing the praises of NonStop!

It’s so easy to become too pragmatic and to ignore the progress that comes with the passing of a year – but this year, the journey for NonStop has taken us all down a new path. NonStop as a software offering and solutions vendors are welcoming the transformation! 

This time last year I wrote of how I was kicking back and taking it a little easier and I wish I could write something similar now. There are but a few days to go and I am engaged in lively exchanges with a number of my clients as each of them looks to the New Year with a degree of renewed energy that I did not see being so high in quite a few years. But it’s hard to miss the holiday season with chorales singing outside crowded shopping malls and there’s still my own list of gifts that needs to be checked off even as the snow continues to fall along the Colorado front ranges. Even so, there’s still evenings when I can cook outside and I never miss an opportunity to fire up the grill!

One of the true benefits of being independent and yet enjoying strong ties with a goodly number of vendors focuses on NonStop systems is that you get as many opinions as there are vendors and this really helps when it comes time to summarize all that has transpired in a year. I always find time to email a question or two to my clients, particular in the lead up to important user and vendor events, and many times their responses help frame questions I ask of Hewlett Packard Enterprise executives and managers and I am still processing the results of what followed.

I have been spending a lot of time of late, too, picking over past blog posts as well as wandering onto web sites featuring technology and architectures I am interested in – there’s nothing like a couple of Google searches to put you right in the middle of some very interesting musings. I still think Gartner is old school these days, preserving their observations to only paying subscribers, but even here, many of Gartner’s key findings end up being referenced in publications like ComputerWorld as well as the likes of Fortune and Forbes magazines. 

However, there are a lot of columns out there in the ether well worth chasing down and even my posts are being more widely read. Recently, I was asked to grant permission for another payments focused publication to republish my posts to the forum ATMmarketplace on NonStop and payments solutions. Seeing my posts being reposted in the IBS Intelligence Blog is always a good sign, not so much because it’s my commentary that’s proving of interest as much as it is that posts featuring NonStop are fashionable once again.

In the lead up to the 2015 NonStop Technical Boot Camp I once again asked my clients a simple question. If you owned the NonStop HW / SW roadmaps, what would be your top three priorities? And let’s think big rather than just an outstanding RFE we need; “let’s go big, or go home,” as the song suggests. Among the responses there were the obvious, “Price / affordability needs to be high on HPE’s radar. We’ve lost a couple of customers simply because they’ve re-platformed.” 

And then there has also been a lot of attention paid to the database offering on NonStop including stark reminders that more work is needed. When you read about the need on NonStop for, “Redis, an in-memory DB, (together with) MongoDB, a document-oriented NoSQL DB.” The work associated with database received a boost when Redis running on NonStop was part of a demo by HPE solutions architects at Boot Camp (which in turn was referenced in the post of November 23, 2015, What did I learn from 2015 NonStop Technical Boot Camp? As for price / affordability then this has taken me down an old familiar path this week.

In the post this time last year, For NonStop users, this is our season! I celebrated the first shipments of NonStop X systems. At the time, I referenced an exchange I had with OmniPayments, Inc. CEO, Yash Kapadia. Yash is always very forthright about where he sees NonStop heading even as he remains very bullish over his own potential to exploit NonStop in the markets he serves so it came as no surprise to hear of his initial purchase. “I have purchased a NonStop X to see how we can leverage the latest technology for our OmniPayments and Big Data solutions,” said Yash in that post in 2014. 

“Since the announcement by HP that NonStop would support the x86 architecture, their announcement of the NonStop X family is cause for celebration. And for two reasons – the positive reinforcement it gives to the NonStop platform remaining strategic to HP as well as the continuing push for greater use of lower-cost commodity technology. As we see it, there’s now nothing unique about the hardware, it’s all a software play for HP and we can work with that!”

We now refer to commodity hardware as industry standard even as we have come to accept NonStop as being all about software, with Martin Fink, EVP and CTO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, telling us all at Boot Camp how NonStop now is “the best software platform on the planet.” But no other vendor I know is more excited by the improving price / affordability than OmniPayments so I went back to Yash for additional observations.  When I asked him whether, on the first anniversary of his comments above, did he remain as bullish in 2015 as he was in 2014, the response was more than I expected. 

“Yes, one year later and we are even more impressed with the NonStop X family that we were this time last year,” responded Yash. “Back at the end of 2014 we had purchased a NonStop X7 but since then, the equally impressive entry level NonStop X3 system has arrived with a price point that makes it highly competitive in the markets we serve. As a result we have already air lifted two NonStop X3 systems, fully populated with OmniPayments payments solution software, into South America – and they are now installed and will be operational shortly. And we now have two more NonStop X3 systems about to arrive in our California offices where they will be set up for new customers also in South America.”

When I then asked Yash whether the NonStop vendor community was equally as bullish and whether he needed any of their product offerings as I checked to see what the impact on OmniPayments pricing of solutions would have, the response was even more illuminating. “No, we don’t rely on other vendors for expensive middleware. That’s what allows us to competitively price our products and in the markets we serve this is helping us drive new business to NonStop. When it comes to OmniPayments there is no Pathway licenses, no replication software, no external monitoring software and we have negotiated a discounted NS SQL/MX license that we bundle with OmniPayments, passing the savings directly to our customers.”

Furthermore, said Yash, “As our architecture is based on a thin client model when it comes to connected terminals and devices so again, our customers need not budget for many items that other solutions mandate. For right now, we are finding new opportunities among midsize to small retailers who for decades have been overlooked by NonStop sales but for $5,000 per month, we are delivering a Rolls Royce solution for a competitive price.” Not content to leave the issue of other vendor participation at this point, I asked Yash if he saw value from advising his customers about what other vendors did provide and then exposing his customers to the thriving ecosystem of NonStop vendors active in the NonStop marketspace.

“Absolutely! Customers can augment our payments solution with other vendors’ middleware products and many of our customers have done that. We receive calls about options in a number of areas but the point is that with NonStop X3 in particular, the pricing is so competitive that traditional middleware vendors need to consider their own value proposition. 

It’s not for us to tell them how to run their business as that’s not our call but for NonStop X to continue to grow its presence in key markets, we all have to stop thinking in terms of selling million dollar systems to where we can now support hundred thousand dollar systems. Add into the mix that we are now selling OmniPayments as a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering from out of our own cloud configuration made up of NonStop x systems, and we begin to entertain even more aggressive pricing as we support pay-as-you-go models.”

When it comes to price / affordability, the ecosystem of vendors we have that are focused on the NonStop system know requests of HPE run both ways – it’s a question they ask themselves as often as they ask HPE. The simple fix each vendor tells me is for HPE to put more focus on NonStop and to sell more systems but today, this is a solution sell and the real answer lies in attracting more solutions to NonStop. 

This is an age-old, easily recognizable, “quick fix” and as a community we all have been promoting for a very long time. But not so fast! It takes considerable effort to turn those boats around but having said that, with the price / affordability we are now all witnessing, perhaps the first couple of boats to leave the flotilla and head NonStop’s way may happen.

In the post of November 29, 2015, To profit from business the business must profit! I blogged about Martin’s keynote presentation and wrote of his seven rules of strategy. Rule four of strategy, according to Martin, was “Know your Value Proposition.” As Martin retold the story, “I was blessed when I came to NonStop; everyone in NonStop knew the value proposition by heart – Data Integrity, Scalability, Fault Tolerance.” 

As a community perhaps the time has come for us all to consider adding a twist to this that is all of our own doing. Perhaps, today, it may be time to respond with yes, it’s scalable, available and by the way, affordable. With the holiday season in full swing this may be the very gift that all in IT need and we shouldn’t be bashful in heralding this latest addition to the value proposition of NonStop! 

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