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!

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