Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It's good to be alive right about now … NonStop rocks!

Back from HPE Discover 2016 and with opportunities to converse with my clients, the news about NonStop is good. All involved in the NonStop community see the development of NonStop the system, NonStop the software and NonStop the services as positive and there’s excitement and anticipation evident everywhere I turn …

HPE Discover 2016 continues to occupy my thoughts even as I am now deeply involved in a number of projects arising from conversations with my clients. Las Vegas may not be to everyone’s liking but when it comes to the biggest of HPE marketing events, HPE Discover 2016 does throw a lot at you in a very short period of time. For me it has always been about the sidebar conversations, the opportunity for a brief exchange with an executive and the chance, and often quite unexpected, meeting over cocktails. This year, there was a reception for the NonStop community hosted by America’s sales head, Jeff Skinner, and that proved to be the place to be Tuesday evening.

The question I was asked most often at HPE Discover was who are the members of the NonStop community? Why do they continue to invest in NonStop and yes, how is it possible that after all these years there remains such a healthy ecosystem of vendors, consultants, service providers and even bloggers continuing to thrive from supporting NonStop? More often than not, when I began talking about this ecosystem, the degree of surprise coming from whoever I am talking to only grows bigger with each example I provide, to the point where I am more than sure my audience begins to assume I am simply exaggerating.

On the trip to Las Vegas, we took it rather leisurely with an overnight stop in Cedar City. Opting to bring the company command center along with us and with our Mini strapped to our trailer the resultant big rig proved challenging coming down through the narrowing Virgin River Gorge of Arizona. There has been considerable bridge repair being carried out and warning signs posted as you enter Arizona that vehicles over ten feet wide cannot make it through and with our big rig slightly wider than eight feet, there was little room for error.

Concentration was the order of the day as we threaded the needle. Suffice to say, we made it through the gorge unscathed. But challenging situations seem to be the flavor of the day now that I have returned to Boulder and my thoughts continue to take me back to Las Vegas and to the dual themes of Digital Transformation and Digital Disruption.

When travelling, there are numerous occasions where you come upon forks in the road; whether it’s changing from one interstate freeway to another or simply exiting for diesel, gas or food. Not surprisingly, with the big rig we have to be judicious about which turns we take as we remain vigilant about exactly how we will return to the freeway should it prove necessary. More than once we have made a wrong choice only to face restrictions on how best to make it back.

And I have been reminded of this dilemma as well – there have been numerous members of the NonStop community that left the NonStop freeway based on signage erected long ago. Concerned about the narrowing gorge they faced they elected to take the exit even as they missed the signs that the path chosen was not heading in the direction they wanted to take, after all.

Challenging situations being met by a unified and now incredibly strengthened community is the message coming from HPE following HPE Discover 2016 and it resonates loudly with the NonStop community as much as with the bigger HPE. Furthermore, “Tomorrow belongs to the Fast” is definitely something I understand and such a message is proving attractive as it is encouraging. But there’s something more here as well and it’s to do with collaboration. HPE is openly willing to work with partners, something that hasn’t been all that clear in the past.

At last year’s event the music being played before the first keynote presentation by Meg Whitman, HPE CEO, seemed a very strange mix of songs and something I raised with those around me from HP – seems that nobody really paid much attention to the mix beforehand. I don’t plan to write about that mix other than to say the mix of music was much different this year for HPE and one of the organizers came up to remind me that yes, they did pay attention this year and no, Larry Ellison wasn’t responsible for the choices made for 2015 as I had suggested!

For 2016 the opening numbers began with the song, Wake Up whose lyrics included the lines:
So wake up
Your sleeping heart
I know sometimes we'll be afraid
But no more playing safe, my dear …

Followed by the song Lean On with the lines:
Will we walk down the same road?
Will you be there by my side?

All we need is somebody to lean on …

And then a song or two later we all heard the Coldplay son, Adventure of a Lifetime, which seemed more than appropriate when it suggested:
Turn your magic on … Everything you want's a dream away

Cause you make me feel like I'm alive again …

Follow? Wake up followed by lean on followed by the adventure of a lifetime and for those from the NonStop community, the message couldn’t have been clearer. Collaboration – yes, it’s out there and I expect many takers of HPE’s invitation to wake up our sleeping hearts. Of course, it would be remiss if I didn’t add that the final song played as Whitman took the stage was Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah):
Now all my dreams are coming true, ya
I've been waiting for this moment

Nice! And corny as it may sound, NonStop too, now rocks!

The members of the NonStop community come from many industries. Of course, there were the financial institutions along with the telco industry that continue to be the perennial stalwarts of the NonStop community. But there were those present from government, transportation and entertainment that make up the enterprise market segment where NonStop has held sway for decades. When you add in those today who are in manufacturing and distribution as well as the occasional hospital you can see a picture forming that reflects the perfect conflux of technology, products, use-case scenarios and end-user engagement. We all know that technology today is being driven by the consumer experience and the rise of apps and microservices is a reflection of that trend. But this conflux is exactly right and timely for NonStop – yes, NonStop the system, NonStop the software and NonStop the service.

When I put the question to the NonStop vendor community about just how popular this newfound willingness to push NonStop in different directions and separating NonStop the system from NonStop the software, the responses were all very positive. In their post of June 24, 2016, to the DataExpress NEWS / BLOG,
NONSTOP INITIATIVES – HOW RELAXED SHOULD WE BE? DataExpress executives are quite open about their views on these directions as they state, “Full of anticipation, coupled with a little trepidation together with an acute awareness that we can react to what we see coming, we may not be quite as relaxed about the new NonStop as we are when relaxing by the pool this summer. But there is no denying that among the team here at DataExpress, there is excitement developing over the future of NonStop.”

As for comForte CTO, Thomas Burg, he too shared with me much the same sentiment. In a recent email on the matter, Burg reiterates how at comForte, “Yes, there is plenty of change coming from HPE NonStop lately but we are THRILLED! EXCITED! (And) why wouldn’t we?” Indeed, as far as comForte is concerned, Burg simply concludes with, “Who wouldn’t be impressed to see the market for NonStop broaden to be all inclusive no matter the systems preferred, just NonStop or hybrid; real or virtual; private (cloud) or public! We see no downside from all that is changing.” Clearly, HPE’s support for NonStop is palpable but just as importantly, it has the attention of senior executives and is now an integral part of the plans for the new HPE IT.

“It’s time to get excited – NonStop is the standard for large scale enterprises who demand secure availability,” said Tony Craig, TCM Solutions (TCM) CEO. And what he has looked at to date, leads him to make yet another important observation that speaks volumes of NonStop now appealing to markets apart from traditional enterprise market segments. “With the Hybrid and Virtualization, NonStop becomes the obvious choice for the Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) market where security and availability is also key to their success,” Craig said. 

“This potentially doubles the NonStop target market place - exciting times ahead. We are looking to expand our NonStop consultancy operation for the delivery of both on-site and remote service solutions to meet the demands for expert NonStop support and cost-effective complete managed services.  We have been doing this successfully for 20 years and this is definitely the most exciting development we have seen in NonStop!”

The photo was taken of our big rig at rest place alongside the freeway at Grand Junction and yes, rather fittingly, we too as a community have reached our own grand junction. NonStop is generating excitement even as it embarks on numerous different journeys. Will it all pan out? Will it generate a whole cadre of new users both big and small? Will the NonStop user community continue to invest in NonStop? Will internal HPE politics become a factor and will the need to address more than just NonStop become a factor in many NonStop vendors’ plans.

When I put this to Andy Hall, ETI-NET CEO he was very straightforward with his remarks. It has been hard to miss the acquisition trail ETI-NET has been pursuing of late and of how these acquisitions include support of platforms apart from NonStop. Excitement? Politics? Perhaps cultural differences? “Operational politics take on new significance when NonStop applications must cooperate, accommodate, or insulate themselves from surrounding events,” said Hall.

And of course, when it comes to the ETI product set, they have “thrived on these hardware and software interdependencies since our inception and we have a culture that understands the organizational factors that result in technical success or failure.  And our most recent acquisition of open system monitoring software is an added asset in this quickly changing landscape.” More to the point, when it comes to where NonStop may be headed, Hall was also quick to add, “ETI-NET is well-positioned to capitalize on NonStop software co-existing with open systems in a commodity hardware framework.”

The questions kept on coming at HPE Discover 2016 but the simple truth remains. HPE values NonStop backing this up with major investments; HPE is supporting NonStop usage in their own data center and yes, the market for NonStop will grow – if the NonStop vendor community is excited then all stakeholder in the NonStop community that constitute an ecosystem that others would enjoy having need to rejoice – as for me it’s simply a case of I've been waiting for this moment! It’s good to be alive; Hallelujah!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hybrids, Connectivity, Analytics and Natural Language Processing … NonStop, of course!

What was on display at HPE Discover 2016 led me to take a closer look at some of the start-ups where Pyalla Technologies has a presence and the results add further weight to the argument about just how far NonStop systems have come – who would have guessed just a year or so ago! 

Wandering the exhibition hall at this year’s HPE Discover, for me, it was a treat to see as many cars on display as there were. Whether it was the HPE sponsored Formula E or what I recall was a Nissan Leaf or even the BMW i3 pictured above, there seemed a lot more engagement with cars at this show. Of course, there was the opportunity to race a car against other attendees; that was part of the HPE Labs exhibit but the “controls” were a tad artificial and not to my liking, so I wasn’t tempted to join in the fun.

The BMW i3 is a pure electric play and where HPE was involved had to do with gathering information from many sources in order to keep the car on course and in practical terms, safe. The i3 had communications to the HPE IoT Platform where the integration allowed “for rapid installation of new services or applications, as well as for communication with nearby connected devices.” What this integration covered was, “Advance warning of rain, high winds, and potholes using “swarm” intelligence; Smart home/infrastructure integration and Geo fencing to alert drivers to restrictions as they cross international borders.”

Of course this was all complementary technology to whatever autonomous car technology develops but it was a graphic way to demonstrate a future where unheralded volumes of data are routinely examined with potentially important data communicated to where it’s most wanted. For the NonStop community all of this may be peripheral to the core function of processing transactions, but for many years we have heard presentations by classic bricks-and-mortar retailer, Home Depot, of how it has integrated weather feeds from the internet directly into its transaction processing on NonStop systems in order to ensure the right merchandise is in the right store when local weather crisis develops. And yes, this is only just the beginning.

Part of what Pyalla supports are a number of start-ups where my involvement has run the full gamut, from product management and marketing to business development to simply supporting media outreach programs. One start-up centers on NonStop while another includes NonStop. The third is not on NonStop, even as it is a huge user of HPE products. However, there is a synergy evident in these start-ups. They are all bridging the old with the new and helping us get a firm foothold in solutions that will allow us to tap vast resources, no matter how the data is captured, processed or stored. Given the renewed focus on NonStop within HPE, the associations I have with each of these startups is likely a foretaste of what the NonStop users will become very interest in over the course of the next 18 to 30 months. And the catalyst for all of this interest has been the arrival of hybrid infrastructures where NonStop X is playing its part.

My involvement with
InfraSoft dates back to its earliest days as the company came together. Based in Sydney, Australia, it was only natural for Pyalla Technologies to remain engaged with a company that influenced the choice of company name – Pyalla. Following considerable market success with its uLinga communications product suite, it has been its deep port of Node.js that has really interested me. So many applications written in JavaScript have to do with processing data that it’s not surprising to see the need to support Node.js’ gain as much momentum as it has.

For those who participated in the presentation by HPE IT at HPE Discover 2016, we heard of the choice of JavaScript and Node.js underpinning their applications (with JDBC access to SQL/MX on NonStop) and this is only the beginning. The processing of voluminous amounts of data and then doing something with the data that is of interest is right at the center of the sweet spot for JavaScript and with as much talk as there is of late about microservices, it’s good to see that there is a solution for NonStop X systems and whereas Node.js may be thought of as a platform running on Linux as part of a HPE hybrid infrastructure, the addition of NonStop can only elevate the importance of Node.js for many users where NonStop has a presence.    

When it comes to data and data analytics however, in my opinion the premier vendor in this space that should be on the radar screens of every NonStop user is
Striim. Originally called WebAction and established by former GoldenGate Software executives, the transition from simply supporting data integration as was being done by GoldenGate to where the data itself was the interesting element shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the NonStop community.

The first PoCs among NonStop users are being done and shortly there will be news about a number of successful use-case scenarios everyone in the NonStop community will be able to relate to – Striim is synonymous with data stream analytics and there will not be a transaction process solution operating anywhere without the deep ties to the environment that Striim so effectively supports. Like InfraSoft, Striim is platform neutral where Linux is perhaps the more viable choice of platform making it an even stronger candidate for running on HPE hybrid infrastructure.    

Whereas my ties to InfraSoft are deeply rooted in my ties to all things Australian and my ties to Striim are associated with my good times at GoldenGate, my connection with InkaBinka can be traced directly to time spent at Starbucks, Wood Ranch, Simi Valley. Chalk it up to unintended consequences or simply to serendipity, but from the time I met InkaBinka founder, Kevin McGushion, over a Starbucks’ Latte, I was hooked. And today, what started out at InkaBinka with its news application, a neat way to read news summaries while standing in line for that Latte has developed into a serious piece of raw feed processing utilizing very advanced natural language processing. 

Or, as Kevin recently explained it, “InkaBinka has created a state variable, neural network that can summarize vast amounts of information by writing about a subject, emulating human abstraction. This is especially powerful in internet search, where 300 million results are common for a single search term. This neural network, through learning and building of a summary, creates new ways of visualizing information while allowing rapid discovery of new information that would have been hidden by the sheer volume of content.”
 

For me it’s a case of InkaBinka developing an optimized neural network that learns over time and creates and adjusts relationships between ideas, something Kevin now calls “connectedness,” as those ideas evolve. InkaBinka then uses a form of neural network that relates more abstract ideas to summarize large volumes of data. “Artificial neural networks at a basic level emulate the function of neurons where, if new information is introduced, processes may be applied to learn about those new things, essentially allowing the system to become smarter,” said Kevin. 

And of course, from a high-level, macro perspective, “It’s hard to apply these concepts to abstract things such as language. Traditional NLP (natural language processing) works sequentially where a next state is dependent on a previous state and works well for things like spell checking, grammar checking, translation even code breaking. This is not how the human brain tends to work.”

Before diving even deeper into what was behind InkaBinka today, by way of explanation Kevin then suggested that I should, “Take, for example what the human mind does when it begins to formulate a sentence, a series of sentences or a thought. It does not create each sentence with each word sequentially. Rather, it takes into account the main ideas to be covered and the order in which they are to be covered. This may depend on a number of things, such as most important concepts, most recent concepts, or even bias. The mind then takes those main ideas in a prescribed order and weaves them together with individual words, taking into consideration what has been said and what is left to be said.” 

In the example below (and now viewed many times on numerous social media sites), 10,024 websites may be learned from in order to create a summary and a connectedness map of basic ideas covered in these sites. Any node of the connectedness map may be selected and a new summary created based on the relationship between these words.  Information can be quickly discovered without the need to sort through page after page of internet searches, representing a ‘wall of text.’   



It is often a mystery to a user how internet search engines relate or rank information but now, with InkaBinka search, the connectedness is graphically understood and manipulated. Like for many in the NonStop community, visualization works best and the above goes a great way to explaining the powerful transition under way inside InkaBinka. 

InkaBinka runs completely on HPE Moonshot processors and is implemented using JavaScript and Node.js. And it’s heavily focused on data, search and visualization – all sounding rather familiar given the interests of Pyalla. When it comes to hybrid infrastructure we have already seen SLQ/MX on NonStop X being accessed by microservices on Linux (at HPE IT), so thinking in terms of NLP on Linux being accessed by transaction processing on NonStop doesn’t represent too big a stretch of our imagination.

With the looming presence of virtual NonStop, running on commercial, off-the-shelf hardware, where all that is required is a Linux and KVM (think OpenStack) perhaps there will be those looking for an even lower cost hardware option where Moonshot may become an option to consider. If not Moonshot – how much attention is being paid to HPE CloudLine as here too, there is another alternative for use with virtual NonStop. In other words, it would be unwise to place any fences around HPE and NonStop as to where it’s products will surface or is it wise to rule out participation in a solution by any one product.

Microservices, data analytics and natural language processing, all are involving NonStop today. In many ways, too, pointing to where NonStop is headed as well as to the types of platforms we will likely see NonStop becoming a part of. The support Pyalla is providing is not accidental nor is it random and even though these associations developed several years ago where, as the time, their likely impact on NonStop transaction processing may have been dubious at best and a completely off-the-wall at worst, it’s symbolic in many ways of just how wide the net is now being cast when it comes to future possibilities for NonStop.  HPE Discover 2016 opened many eyes not the least being my own. The question now for the NonStop community is simply one of how open are your eyes! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

What we discovered in Vegas!

HPE Discover 2016 was the “big-tent, marketing event” we have come to expect. Hearing HPE CEO Meg Whitman introduce Home Depot onto the stage as a NonStop user was great! With uptick in interest in all things NonStop (including HPE IT) we're going to need a lot more help from services providers …


A year may not be a long time between HPE Discover events and then again, when you also factor in Boot Camp having been only half a year ago, it continues to intrigue me how HPE has picked up the pace so dramatically. Often relegated to being old-school or even a leftover from a previous era, it’s all too easy to denigrate a company that’s been in business for three quarters of a century, but this is far from being an accurate depiction of HPE today. 

The breakup of the former HP into the two companies, HPQ and HPE, was executed extremely well such that today HPE is single-mindedly focused on the needs of enterprises everywhere. Furthermore, the decision by HPE to spin off its services group – a legacy of the times when buying EDS seemed such a good idea – with the plan to combine it with CSC to form a new entity focused solely on services, further frees HPE’s hands to pursue leadership in the enterprise systems business.

As HPE CEO Meg Whitman reported at the time of the announcement, "As two stand-alone companies with global scale, strong balance sheets and focused innovation pipelines, both HPE and the new company that combines CSC and HPE's Enterprise Services segment will be well positioned as leaders in their respective markets. For HPE, our balance sheet, capital allocation strategy, and cost structure will now be fully optimized for a faster growing, higher margin and more robust free cash flow business. And, the new company will be in a stronger position to win than either organization could have been on its own."

While HPE’s competitors thought this all very strange even as they were doubling down on software and services investments, this announcement doesn’t discount the need for services – just different type of services. From what I heard at HPE Discover 2016 was that the HPE Enterprise Services group wasn’t producing the goods consistently enough, and not to make too fine a point of it, the tens of thousands of individuals still resident within HPE Enterprise Services had made it the last resting place of former EDS consultants that couldn’t find a home elsewhere. There remains within HPE an active services group – still thousands of individuals spread around the globe – that is more closely aligned with the product directions now being pursued.

HPE is going to need not just the help of the thousands of folks that are part of the HPE Enterprise Group but of a much bigger ecosystem closely aligned with individual products and indeed, technologies. By this I mean key technologies like OpenStack and yes, security, monitoring and perhaps most importantly of all, virtualization. The rapid march to virtualization is unquestionably the biggest takeaway from HPE Discover 2016. The good news for the NonStop community is that NonStop is becoming a key contributor in this march – with HPE IT swinging its enormous weight behind virtual NonStop (vNonStop). 

The merits of the SQL/MX database haven’t been ignored by HPE IT even as it let slip the prospect of increased usage of its own products. Introducing SQL/MX into the mission critical transaction processing aspects of HPE IT, even as the migration of NonStop to the Intel x86 architecture has brought renewed credibility to NonStop, pretty much was a no-brainer both in terms of better functionality and the severance of ties to former proprietary products. Changing business circumstances often produce unintended consequences and the elevation of the profile of NonStop has come about in part because of a major rethink of the products HPE had been using internally in support of its business.

Migrating to vNonStop from real NonStop only required some minor retooling of the JDBC paths and users didn’t notice any difference and this all falls in line with what we had been told at the recent Partner Technical Symposium – “it just works!”  However, this time by an IT team familiar with the technology and with help only a phone call away. For the broader base of NonStop users, access to services is going to be more critical than ever and this is where I am seeing members of the NonStop vendor community doubling down to meet the needs.

NonStop vendors today represent an ecosystem of product, consulting, service and even media providers all prepared to invest in NonStop and after many years of the status quo where familiar names continued to ply their trade, I haven’t seen this powerful a stakeholder in NonStop looking healthier. The NonStop community often has many options to consider and this further encourages more participants and with the economies of the world encouraging even more freelancing, NonStop is likely to see its needs well met.


It was at last year’s Boot Camp where I first ran across TCM, a company out of Scotland – an incident I covered in my post of May 22, 2016, NonStop on forward path – and it’s just not stopping! Catching up with TCM again at BITUG gave me an opportunity to talk in more depth with Daniel Craig and Collin Yates. If you aren’t familiar with this company, as was the case for me up until recently, check out the TCM web site.

What impressed me most about TCM is that, in a world where services were being scrutinized to the extent that they are, and where recent decisions including that of HPE to split from its own HPE Enterprise Services group is the most recent example, the need for more tightly-focused, albeit specialist, services companies is on the rise. There’s never been an overabundance of skilled systems managers nor SQL/MX experts and this aspect of the NonStop marketplace shows every sign of increasing in importance.


What HPE Discover 2016 highlighted for me is that it’s not just products gaining the attention but the services needed to support those products. The appeal of NonStop X is going to see new first-time customers attracted to NonStop systems and while there will always be those influenced by individuals having gained knowledge of NonStop while working somewhere else, there will still be many others with absolutely no experience. It’s now becoming common knowledge among those who are close to NonStop sales that NonStop has turned a corner with an expected growth rate in the single digits but even if this sounds low, it’s still many more new NonStop users emerging than previously experienced.

Talking to the folks at TCM, what stands out for me is that they have a global reach offering remote operations support – yes, they can take full responsibility for a complete soup to nuts operation. TCM can order your system, set it up and deploy, and then remotely manage. They already have several decades of experience doing this and whether you are looking for a protracted arrangement or in need of short term assistance that is more project oriented (e.g. installing a new NonStop X system), the global reach of TCM allows them to work right alongside you, no matter the requirements you may have.

Migrating to vNonStop? Considering introducing vNonStop just for development, test and even PoCs? The intersection of operating system, hypervisors, and mapping guest systems for optimal spread across real processors – is a whole new ballgame for many NonStop stakeholders. Whether it’s to add a NonStop DBaaS via NonStop SQL/MX with nothing more than JDBC calls to NonStop or a comprehensive hybrid solutions spilt across many virtual machines, it will prove challenging to even the most experienced of NonStop sites. What I am expecting to see is a considerable uptick of interest in the likes of NonStop service providers such as TCM, so yes, watch for even more balance between solutions and middleware vendors and those providing services in posts to this blog in the lead up to Boot Camp later this year.

The emergence of service providers is extremely important to everyone in the NonStop community going forward – factor in an aging / retiring workforce with NonStop skills, a dearth of in-depth training coming from HPE, and deployments of NonStop systems into sites with little enterprise IT experience and you are looking at a recipe for potentially less than stellar deployments. And I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t all arrived at the doorstep of an important new category of NonStop stakeholders – these experienced service providers.

The need for an ecosystem of service providers in support of open, security, application monitoring in support of NonStop was perhaps the biggest takeaway for me from this HPE Discover event. It will be very interesting to watch just how this evolved over time as increasingly, NonStop isn’t what it once was – that data PBX in the corner with a chatty console. No, NonStop is not only becoming open and standard but pervasive and will likely show up in unexpected places providing extraordinary capabilities and looking after it all will be skilled operators populating support facilities practically anywhere on the planet!     


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Partner Summit – peaks the interest of the NonStop vendor community!

The days of partner summits takes me back more than a decade to when they were an integral part of major ITUG events. Seeing them return and be successfully managed by the NonStop team is really big news and is a indication that all is well at HPE NonStop!

Sitting in my home office after a whirlwind trip to Palo Alto, aware that this week I have a lot of writing ahead of me, it seems only appropriate that I begin paging through the notes that I took while in Palo Alto as well as read the numerous emails that have now taken flight! The reason for the trip was the HPE NonStop Partner Summit – the first such event held in many years and yes, it was a good one.

Like a NASCAR winner, let me make sure that thanks are extended to all in HPE who made this event as successful as it proved to be; I think all of us need to thank the product management and development teams at NonStop for taking the time to meet with the vendors and for providing much greater insight into where NonStop is heading. For every vendor, such insight is priceless as it removes considerable second-guessing and being able to chat with other vendors also meant gaining different perspectives as to what it all means. Bottom line? Better alignment! Better products!

Once again, it was a road trip and over the 8 days we racked up some 3,200 plus miles. The return trip took us to San Francisco Thursday morning, before we spent a leisurely afternoon driving up the northern coastline of California. I have lost count of how many times I have driven highway 1 but it’s always provided the perfect backdrop to let ideas percolate and have the results, from the many conversations that took place, take on a more solid form. And the highway didn’t fail to deliver for me, once again! Nor did the quiet lunch Margo and I enjoyed at Bodega Bay!


This week I will be talking with all of my clients and this time, there will be a level of enthusiasm from me that is much higher than normal – a rarity of itself, as I am always upbeat about NonStop. But now I have a real foundation supporting such enthusiasm. HPE is enthusiastic about NonStop and that really is a first – since the dark days of Compaq, I thought a return to prosperity wasn’t in the cards. Listening last year at Boot Camp to Martin Fink, EVP &CTO, HPE, talk about being given a directive to “fix it … or exit” reinforced just how big a challenge it would be to turn around the good ship NonStop.

Fortunately for us all, Martin had no intention of exiting the NonStop business and a decade later, NonStop is clearly one of the more significant contributors to the Mission Critical Systems revenue stream.  Looking at all that was covered in the Partner Summit, perhaps it’s best to start with the ending. As the day of formal presentations came to end, Randy Meyer, VP & GM, Mission Critical Systems, HPE, walked to the front of the room with an unmistakable spring in his step and a smile he just couldn’t shake. Unbelievable!

While portions of the Partner Summit cannot be reported at this time and very strict CDAs are in place – something I was constantly being reminded of during the day as I was busily taking notes – Randy appeared after the official results of the quarter had been announced. The infamous SEC mandated quiet period that happens in the days leading up to any quarterly results announcement from a publicly traded company was officially over and while HPE has a history of not breaking down the numbers by products, it was easy to see that from Randy’s perspective, NonStop sales globally had performed well. Just how well – this I will leave until we all re-gather for this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp in San Jose at the end of the year. If my impression holds true, I am sure that Randy will have a lot more to say on this topic.

From a very high level, I have three observations that I feel comfortable passing on given the CDA all participants signed. If there had ever been any doubts over making NonStop great, again, then forget about it – no apologies for throwing in a little politics or a little east coast slang. However, I think that this message has lain dormant for far too long. Too many enterprises are reacting to information that is now old and are heading down the wrong path – Unix? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! No, there should no longer be any CIOs harboring doubts about the future of NoNStop.

My first observation has to do with the audience itself. At this Partner Summit there were as many CEOs as there were product management types and even development leaders. And this begs the question – when it comes to future Partner Summits, given the size of the turn out, then perhaps the NonStop team may want to give consideration to a separate CEO track, as business issues – market positioning, competitive strengths, pricing, etc. really do need more in-depth coverage going forward as does greater emphasis on what Mission Critical Systems can do to better support the many vendor commitments to NonStop.

However, this shouldn’t detract from what follows here and I digress just briefly. When it comes to my second observation then what the NonStop community need to adjust to is the raw speed of NonStop development – in the past there was always time for a vendor to plug a product or feature gap but no longer. NonStop development is moving faster than at any time in the past. 


When we talk about Big Data there are several Vs that come to mind – Volume, Variety, Veracity and Velocity and I couldn’t help but think of how these same Vs could be directed at HPE NonStop’s R&D. Clearly, the velocity of change and the speed with which tasks are being accomplished is hard to miss. Variety and volume pretty much speak for themselves and as for veracity well, for some NonStop users there may be a degree of uncertainty about what the bigger HPE is up to, but not for the better informed. HPE NonStop is marching to a plan, and it’s clear, NonStop isn’t stopping any time soon.

As for my second observation well, it certainly is becoming very clear. If NonStop development is moving as quickly as it is, where is it headed? Why the rush? We all know a vacuum is abhorrent to nature and is quickly filled. The exit from former powerhouse operating systems (OS) and ecosystems such as Unix, OpenVMS, and even some mainframe stalwart operating system options is opening a new era in openness. While the focus is on Linux, what’s different this time is that the Linux badge is constantly evolving – not just with the distributions on offer but internally as so many contributors are at work. While such change is both good news and bad news – enterprises cannot simply throw up new releases every week, it’s moving the ball forwards at a rapid clip.

Enter the new NonStop - or should I say, virtual NonStop (vNonStop). Already referenced here and the subject or previous posts this is a very serious goal for NonStop development and in turn, is responsible for the rush. There’s a degree of measured anticipation of a new order for NonStop unlike anything I have previously witnessed and I was a product manager at Tandem Computers who was on the S-Series team when Tandem switched to MIPS and introduced ServerNet.

Yes, this is big – and the first base on which vNonStop will run is Linux with KVM – Kernel level, or based, Virtual Machine. Think OpenStack – if you haven’t been paying attention, you may want to spend time too on a beach thinking again about just how much emphasis HPE is placing on Open in general and OpenStack in particular.

The third observation is that your friendly NonStop vendor is going to be under increased pressure to consider providing more services than they have possibly ever considered providing in the past while specialty service-only providers are being given a huge opportunity to grow. How many current NonStop system managers feel comfortable adding Linux and VM to their roster of technologies to oversee?

And then there is monitoring more than one moving part – your NonStop is running very nicely, thank-you, and then someone kills the VM! Finally, security has to take a holistic view of a multi-tiered mesh of OSs. Handing off credentials as solutions navigate the many layers will require considerable orchestration.

Listening as Randy, Karen and then Andy Bergholz walk the attendees through the many initiatives under way recalled many of the good times at Tandem Computers. But whereas Tandem was trailblazing and needed to push into areas with proprietary, often very unique offerings, the new NonStop is embracing openness in a way that will ensure NonStop has a place everywhere. No longer is fix it or exit, an issue, but rather, more likely it is a case of flex it.

There’s real muscle on display across all of the NonStop programs!  And now the NonStop vendor community is in on the rush – and for having this opportunity, it’s just one more reason to thank the team at NonStop for the great work they did this past week in support of the Partner Summit! See you at Boot Camp in the fall.