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. 

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