Monday, January 18, 2016

Cooking up a storm …

When it comes to cooking it’s important to have the right ingredients and for the NonStop community, HPE has all the right ingredients are at hand. And not just for one tasty treat but for many – NonStop is factoring into many more plans of HPE …
I continue to be approached about my ongoing interest in NonStop systems, with my contemporaries asking me to give it a break! Surely, the industry has moved on and what once made NonStop so unique has little going for it today – industry standard solutions are so reliable, why would you pay any premium for fault tolerance, and isn’t fault tolerance essentially a waste of hardware? Redundant processors, duplicated controllers, limited application software offerings – isn’t the time of fault tolerant over? In today’s highly mobile world, where everything is low cost, why preserve with NonStop? And truly, are these ingredients still important for today’s fast-moving enterprise?

At this time of year, with much cooler temperatures and snow on the ground, North Americans forsake the grill and head indoors. From Thanksgiving onward there’s barely a week going by without some special meal or another being prepared as it’s a time to welcome family and friends – even small gatherings to watch the “big game” on television need catering and there are many reasons why the festive season becomes a marathon. Did I mention I like my food with a little extra spice?

Walking into the kitchen this weekend on more than one occasion I found the island littered with spices and vegetables in preparation for another meal. While Margo and I are neither vegetarians or have any diet restrictions our overriding compulsion is to enjoy meals that feature fresh fruit, vegetables and yes, meat, fowl and fish. Those of you who follow our Facebook pages know all too well of how much we enjoy food and indeed cooking and for us it really is all about the ingredients. We entertain a lot and almost exclusively our guests gather in the kitchen to watch, where the obvious question always arises, “What’s cooking?”

To even the most casual observer with an interest in technology, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is cooking up a storm, so as to speak. From its vision to its strategy to the goals for itself it has published, there’s a growing awareness that this isn’t the same old HP we thought we knew so well for so long. And change it has to do, as today, enterprises wanting to move quickly to capitalize on new ideas and new business opportunities have to be more responsive than ever before. No longer do we see these enterprises discussing their three or even five year plans or even talking about new initiatives that will begin to develop traction in a year or so. It’s all about what is being done today and which deployments are taking priority and even that vendor or partner is being leveraged.

For the NonStop community, in less than eighteen months we have seen the NonStop X family introduced, a sibling to the original systems unveiled (and shipping) and a new API developed in order to better integrate NonStop with key systems,  including enterprise Windows and Linux. The NonStop X NS7 X1 supports 2, 4 and 6 cores whereas the NonStop X NS3 X1 supports 1 and 2 cores – more variation than we have seen available from HPE for a long time and there’s still a viable NonStop i family on offer as well. The ingredients are all there for fast moving enterprises to capitalize on the “highest level of availability and reliability in high-stakes environments demanding continuous business and 100% fault tolerance.”

When it comes to low cost, that doesn’t mean our kitchen practices change – while we have eaten a hamburger and ordered pizza when away from our home, fast food and instant meals are rarely seen in our kitchen. That’s not to say meals cannot be quickly “assembled” and there’s been many a time when both of us have gone at it, prepping a meal when timeliness has been an issue. For us, speed doesn’t mean loss of quality or indeed, value. And yet, how many enterprises do we know that have simply abandoned normal business practices and simply blindly followed fashion – and the “Gucci Marketers” that champion process comprised of little else than “wood and straw.”

My biggest concern over wanting speed is to confuse speed with being fast. Expedient, versus efficient and optimal! The microwave oven in our kitchen is rarely used as the finished product is always less than desirable. I know there are many families when there are few alternatives and where the task of managing a large family intercede and for that reason, there will be a need to gravitate to the expedient but when it comes to enterprise IT, the same arguments cannot be made.

There’s a tempest to come and it has many names – M2M, V2V, IoT, etc. - where everything and anything will be communicating and where the world of sensors will dwarf the population of the planet. Already we are seeing commercials on television promoting GE as being an “information / computer centric company” that also makes trains, planes and even hospitals. “Do you know what GE is,” being the tag line of these commercials.

It’s been a long time coming from me but it’s time we all take a second look at HPE and ask a similar question, “Do we know what HPE is?” Unfortunately for a number of NonStop users, the wheels were put in motion a couple of years ago such that their enterprises are electing to move solutions to platforms apart from NonStop. Not as many as some in the industry predicted but nevertheless, it’s hard to ignore.

This was back when Itanium was under attack and when it wasn’t being made all that clear by former HP executives what the future of NonStop was going to look like. But now we know – HPE’s mission critical server portfolio, while it still includes Itanium, is all based on x86 and supports Superdome X running Linux, mostly, plus some enterprise Windows, and NonStop X.

And as we heard at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp, NonStop is the best software platform on the planet! Yes, ingredients for tomorrow’s systems are on display and it doesn’t take a whole lot of second thoughts to realize that mission critical processing on NonStop is even more viable than at any time in the past. Just as important as NonStop, the product or even NonStop, the technology, is HPE’s confidence in NonStop to be a critical component of its high-end product portfolio.

Equally as importantly, NonStop as software that is independent of hardware and infrastructure, ensures it will be playing an important role in what’s to come – Converged Infrastructure? HPE Synergy? NonStop as a Service? You want leading edge then yes, you have it – NonStop is right there in the mix of some of the most advanced technologies HPE is working on, and for good reason. It’s a key ingredient that cannot be left out as it brings with it the fault tolerance; the always-on world of the planet requires it to deliver on user expectations.

Every three years around this time I post of my three wishes for NonStop. The next such post isn’t due until July, 2017 – if you missed the last one, check out the February 14, 2014 post to this NonStop community blog, Yet three more wishes! However, three years is a lot of time and so a few years ago I began blogging about what my wishes may end up being eighteen months before the date. Again, if you missed reading my previous teaser for the post above, check out the July 19, 2013, post, Are our wishes still important? There’s still six months to go (and another HP Discover event, June 7 - 9, 2016) but already it’s becoming clear to me what I expect of NonStop in the future.

We will know a lot more about NonStop running on virtual machines as well as real machines, and we will likely know a lot more about the compelling story line behind NonStop as a Service together with NonStop SQL as a Service. But perhaps most important of all, we should be seeing the transformation to hybrid computers HPE is promoting, to all and sundry, beginning to take shape and where NonStop will be a vital cog in their deliverables having the fault tolerance HPE is now promoting more aggressively than at any time in the past.

NonStop has never had wasteful, redundant processors, unnecessary duplicated controllers, or even limited application software offerings. There may have been times in the past where our confidence in having a specific solution running on NonStop may have been low but today, look at what can be done with Java and indeed, now with JavaScript – there’s very few solutions available today that cannot be ported to NonStop in whole or in part (with hybrids) so there’s no limit to where NonStop will play a role. Of that I am extremely confident.

What’s cooking at HPE? In truth, with the ingredients on hand, HPE has all it needs close at hand. When it comes to what it tastes like and how it presents, not to mention how much is ready to be consumed, then HPE has the ability to turn out NonStop systems almost at will – the x86 storyline has much to contribute on this last point. The confidence of the industry in HPE, as is my own confidence in HPE, may not be something that is equally shared by all but one very important consideration is very much on display. From Meg Whitman and Martin Fink on down, HPE is changing up the recipe and it’s for a treat that many of us thought would never come. Yet it has – NonStop the system, NonStop the software and NonStop the service. Of course, I will want mine with just a little extra spice!  

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