Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Inside the numbers … when being #1 matters!

There are many instances where being number one is important; combinations of platforms, technologies and databases is continuing to propel NonStop X to the top of the list when it comes to systems anchoring modern data centers.

The faint hint of smoke rising from the outside kitchen is a clue that there’s something on the grill, as for the past couple of weeks the weather has simply been too good to stay indoors. The greater Denver area, including Boulder, boasts of being #1 when it comes to sunny days with 300 days of sun per year. Numbers have been very much on my mind this past week and it wasn’t simply because I had been counting sunny days or even because I had passed another blogging milestone with my last post to this blog.

I’m not sure what the count is up to, but with the most recent event that took place this month in Sydney, Australia, in support of the OzTUG community and with another next month to be put on by the folks at VNUG at Rånäs Slott, just outside Stockholm, Sweden, there have been a lot of NonStop user events this year even as the planet appears to be well-covered by NonStop enthusiasts. There really shouldn’t be any reason to miss any gathering of the NonStop community that takes place near to you but unfortunately for me, even though I am well-supported by my clients, the numbers are just too great to be able to say that I will make them all!

It was numbers of a different kind that caught my attention this week. It was ETI-Net’s CEO, Andy Hall, who first drew my attention to a news item I had missed concerning SGIs acceptance of HPE’s purchase offer for the company. According to the August 11, 2016, news release from SGI,
Hewlett Packard Enterprise to Acquire SGI to Extend Leadership in High Growth Big Data Analytics and High Performance Computing, the deal looks to be done but a look at the numbers has led to questions being asked. This isn’t the SGI we once all knew, the one that for a time dominated the landscape of Silicon Valley. That SGI went bust quite a while ago, but somehow assets (including the name) were acquired by Rackable Systems who promptly rebranded themselves as SGI.

Back to the numbers! According to SGI’s news release, it has “approximately 1,100 employees worldwide, and had revenues of $533 million in fiscal 2016.” And yet, HPE’s successful offer was only “for $7.75 per share in cash, a transaction valued at approximately $275 million, net of cash and debt.” It should come as no surprise that questions were being asked and lots of comments were being made as soon as the news of the acquisition was made public.  Opinions ranged from talk that HPE didn’t really have a big data strategy to perhaps HPE not having the best solution in SuperDome X to match the servers SGI was now selling – particularly when it comes to the all-important SAP HANA customers – to perhaps it being a preemptive strike to take SGI out of possible acquisition contention from other vendors, most notably Dell and Cisco. Both Dell and Cisco have been reselling SGI servers with considerable success. 

Again, from the news release, “‘At HPE, we are focused on empowering data-driven organizations,’ said Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager, Enterprise Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. ‘SGI's innovative technologies and services, including its best-in-class big data analytics and high performance computing solutions, complement HPE's proven data center solutions designed to create business insight and accelerate time to value for customers.’” On one hand, you have to say, did HPE then get the deal of the century or what?

Approximately $275 million, net of cash and debt will buy you a leading edge contender for best hardware offering in support of big data and its resultant actionable insight! And with it, the potential to grab a big chunk of the SAP HANA market!  When you think of the numbers that have been thrown around previously for acquisitions by HPE, for a major vendor generating tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue this just has to be the steal of the decade!

On the other hand, has the media forgotten that HPE has enjoyed a partnership with SGI for some time so in a sense, taking the next step and purchasing SGI may have been more of a no-brainer than at first thought. According to a February 9, 2016, column in the publication, The Next Platform,
HPE fill a NUMA server gap with SGV UV iron, “HPE admits that it has a gap in its product line.” Working together, HPE and SGI have been chasing those customers “who want big memory machines,” but for HPE to go alone – and yes, they could have – and invest the money required, made little sense.

And what’s the key driver for scale-up machines with big memory? Databases; in particular, in-memory databases! When it comes to big memory machines “SGI already has such a machine in its UltraViolet 300 series that is based on its own NUMALink 7 interconnect and – perhaps most importantly – it is already certified to run Linux as well as some of the databases that some HPE customers want to run.”

In an interview given to The Next Platform, Jeff Kyle, Director, Product Management for Enterprise Servers, HPE, told the reporter that, “
doing a (partnership) deal with SGI to offer a more scalable eight-socket machine aimed at database workloads was in keeping with HPE’s mission to offer the right technology at the right time at the right price, and it didn’t hurt that the SGI UV machines come in a rack form factor that is more compact than the Superdome X.” Furthermore, “With this (partnership) deal, HPE is going after business that Lenovo, using the former System x line from IBM, has been aggressively pursuing, according to Kyle, in the eight socket space.” 

But wait, there’s one more thing and I believe it has relevance for the NonStop community. After rereading the various articles that followed the press release on SGI, I have to ask - will this add further weight to the primary message of transformation to a hybrid infrastructure? Will this dovetail nicely with the already strong message of converged infrastructure that ties together traditional IT with private clouds? Purely musings on my part of course and more than likely leading to further clarification by those much closer to the HPE - SGI deal.

So let me transition to the most important number of all yet again – being #1! For some time I have been posting about the possibility of NonStop SQL/MX becoming the OLTP database for applications like SAP when the system configurations are hybrids. HPE IT is testing NS SQL/MX as a Service, provisioned from within an IT private cloud. But SAP HANA is all about in-memory databases and while HANA can support both row and column organization, for most users, it is the columnar organization that comes to the fore.  As one blogger observed recently, “Use rows for transactions, where you’re trying to enter data. Use columns for analytics, where you’re trying to look at data.”

HANA protagonists go to great pains to say HANA can do both – “In HANA, a table can be row-oriented or column-oriented; the programmer (or data designer) simply decides which it is to be.” However, from where I sit, the expectation is that HANA will be most beneficial in support of analytics and this is where NS SQL/MX comes in. Leave HANA to support the columnar processing, in-memory if you prefer, that we associate with data analytics, and let NS SQL/MX do the row processing we associate with transaction processing. And for sure, this will provide a compelling #1 solution for many enterprises where SAP has become deeply entrenched; wrapped up under the cloaking of HPE’s primary message – transformation to a hybrid infrastructure.

I am still to confirm whether there is dependence on SAP HANA within HPE but my suspicions are that there is. Just as Oracle is on its way out at HPE, the quest for answers has led to a renewed faith in NonStop and in particular, NonStop SQL/MX. Has the quest for faster SAP HANA led to the purchase of SGI? Have the news agencies only got the story half right – sure, throwing up roadblocks for the likes of Dell and Cisco may look the more obvious ploy but pulling together the pieces for a powerful NonStop / SAP HANA hybrid looks awfully appealing. And to think, for numbers Silicon Valley just don’t seem to get these days – a pittance involving just a few hundred million dollars!  When it comes to major vendors, could big savings become the true measure of being #1?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

You want to read more? Posts on NonStop enter their tenth year!

With this post to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, I celebrate the beginning of my tenth year of blogging. Keeping to the theme of HPE , Mission Critical Systems and in particular, NonStop, has proved fertile ground for a storyteller and I expect no letup in new topics to cover in the years to come …

If there was ever a time when I thought I could simply kick-back, relax and write a few posts as I quietly ease away from technology I can no longer recall when that was exactly. This summer I have spent more time in front of the keyboard than I can recall ever having done before. However, the good news is that well, there’s more good news than ever before. And I cannot recall the last time I said that or said it without harboring lingering thoughts myself over whether or not I was pushing a little beyond the realm of reality. However, putting those thoughts to one side, Margo and I headed to our favorite Boulder steakhouse where we did kick-back and relax while we celebrated the passing of this milestone.

But no, for the NonStop community things are definitely looking up and I have to admit I really am energized by all that I am hearing about NonStop. Perhaps sitting down with Andy Bergholz, Senior Director of Development of HPE NonStop, during HPE Discover 2016 did it as his enthusiasm has proved contagious and it rubbed on me – and for that I have only Andy to thank. Did you see his column in the July – August, 2016, issue of The Connection? If you haven’t then you should as you will get a sense of what I am alluding to. It’s positively entertaining, to quote one popular television series I regularly watch.
There is a reason why we have the expression about enthusiasm being contagious. It’s hard not to become engaged when all around you there are people actively engaged in conversations about NonStop. Now, having said that there are a couple of words I have eliminated from my vocabulary of late – no more references to legacy, proprietary or even to special, unique or just plain different. What NonStop brings to the table is excellence.

In the key markets it serves, mission critical transaction processing, where every transaction executes in real time, NonStop excels. It’s at the top of the charts when it comes to availability and given the ongoing discussions after the fallout from some massive outages of late for airlines around the world, we should be shouting as loudly as we can about the merits of NonStop! If IDC continues to reward NonStop with the prestigious AL4 badge – something no other vendors can lay claim to, although IBM pushes close with its Parallel Sysplex configurations, but you try looking over the wall-charts describing all the paths between the mainframes in the Sysplex and you will understand that even for Parallel Sysplex it’s annotated with an asterisk!

My plans for kicking back and relaxing have been interrupted this week for one additional very good reason. With this post to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, I start my tenth year of blogging on HPE and NonStop. If you missed it, page all the way back to the post of August 20, 2007, where I introduced myself to the community as perhaps the very first blogger supporting NonStop. In that post I finished with the observation and question - what did we all think about the recent HPTF&E - how many events do you go to each year?

HPTF&E has been long gone, replaced by HPE Discover that in turn has been complemented by the end of year NonStop Technical Boot Camp event, but the question – how many events do you go to each year? is a very relevant question and for me, very important. Local events have begun to flourish around the world – I had been hoping to make it to OzTUG for their event in a few days’ time even as others are preparing to travel to VNUG (I was present at a luncheon when the decision was taken to re-launch VNUG and to rename it VNUG from VTUG back in the early 2000s) but no, I couldn’t pull off the trip this year to the VNUG event or to find time for a trip down under.

For every member of the NonStop community they should be able to make it to a user event somewhere on the planet at least twice a year – their local user group meeting as well as more widely attended GEO event, either in EMEA or the Americas. If you aren’t able to pull off making the journey then you aren’t alone as I have to make some hard decisions and skip a couple each year but I will blog about each and every one I attend. And that’s the real value that comes with blogging – sharing information. Alerting the community whenever something exciting transpires! Keeping NonStop in the headlines no matter what.

As the day approached for the start of my tenth year, I emailed Randy Meyer, Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Systems, HPE. Through the years, Randy and I have exchanged many emails on the topic of spreading more ink on NonStop across the industry. On numerous occasions, as busy as Randy has been of late, he has found time to sit down with Margo and me over coffee and for that, we are both highly appreciative – it was Randy’s initial encouragement all those years ago that helped motivate me to blog.

Randy’s response to the news of this particular anniversary was to the point and yet again, reflective of Randy’s own enthusiasm for all things NonStop. “I’m not in the least surprised that you still have interesting and exciting things to write about, and that it’s more popular than ever,” said Randy. “The NonStop team continues to drive innovative solutions help the most demanding customers in the world run their businesses – all day, every day. Who WOULDN’T want to read about that?”

It was as I entered my third year of blogging that I talked about why social media was becoming as important as it is today – it’s where many of us first learn of something new. In that post of September 13, 2009, And the rockets' red glare! I quoted web-sales teaching guru, Brian Clark. “So, blogging can be vitally important, but most likely it will open doors for you that lead to revenue or help you promote things you are selling, as opposed to generating a ton of money from advertising,” he suggested. “There’s a huge shift going on thanks to globalization and the growth of the Internet, and those who can create and express ideas online will be at the top end of the economic spectrum.”

As with everything you run across on the Internet, I then added, you have to be a little careful when applying all that is conveyed by gurus and other thought-leaders. However, I continued in that post, the basic observations Clark makes remain valid; “product placements” in blogs are becoming just as important as in any other medium, and the trend today is that more and more people are relying on the Internet for all of their product information. Ignoring this medium and letting your competitors gain the upper-hand, will be tough to reverse when you wake up and finally “get it!”

And that has been one of the most encouraging aspects of my blogging – from the earliest days, even as I was working at GoldenGate, it was Sami Akbay, then VP of Product Management and Marketing, who told others at GoldenGate that indeed, I get it! And I have to admit, Sami did understand the potential to effectively and rather inexpensively communicate a message and when it comes to NonStop well, I blogged non stop. I also have to thank at this time Yash of OmniPayments. Without Yash’s longtime support and indeed encouragement, I am not sure I would have had enough stories to tell and as anyone who knows Yash well, there are plenty of stories yet to tell.

Do I envision kicking back any time soon and to seriously consider taking it easy? The short answer is heck, no! As a community we are sitting atop the best potential for NonStop making a difference, ever. Yes, ever. The market has truly turned and is coming to NonStop. And I have to admit, to reuse Randy’s words, with many more years to come and even more posts to be written, then “Who WOULDN’T want to read about that?”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Where do we turn for news? For the NonStop community, it’s all in blog posts!

Blog posts may very well have replaced any need for post-it notes but the goals are similar – simplified newsworthy communications targeting interested parties; for the NonStop community today’s many blogs are where much of what’s interesting about NonStop is disseminated!


Where do we get our information today? Where do we turn for the news that matters most? It wasn’t all that long ago that we took real photos and dragged them out only occasionally to remind ourselves of past experiences and as to our friends, well, they were grateful when we kept the evidence of past adventures well and truly hid away. But today? With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – we can see it all and blog posts keep the storyline moving along, no matter the audience. The question today is what did we do before social media exploded onto the scene as vibrantly as it has of late?

In an episode of the now defunct sitcom, Sex and the City, the central character, Carrie Bradshaw, complained bitterly to her friends about her boyfriend announcing the break-up of their relationship via a simple message on a post-it note stuck to her refrigerator. In a surprising update to this mode of communication it would appear that a blog post is having a similar effect for many in business – is reading about a change in responsibilities or worse, being let go, in a company blog on par with how Bradshaw reacted to that infamous post-it note?

Companies, technologies and indeed products, are all subject today of blog posts. Should you need to know what’s happening to your favorite tool, utility, product or solution – there is bound to be a post published somewhere! The press as well as business and financial analysts all have blogs and they have taken over as the principle source for news on current developments. No working hour goes by for me without checking a couple of blog sites to see if anything surprising has taken place, and of course it would be hard for me to ignore all that is transpiring at HPE! If you haven’t been keeping up with the steady flow of posts then for the past two years at least, they have provided me with many of the story lines you will have seen in posts to this and other blogs where I contribute.

All of this came back to me as I pulled up announcements concerning not only Martin Fink’s retirement from the post of CTO but also the recent elevation of Ric Lewis to oversee the new group, Software-Defined & Cloud Group, where previously Lewis had been the senior vice president and general manager of converged data center infrastructure.  Both Fink and Lewis had strong connections with the NonStop community and yet, according to the press coverage I turned to, the news apparently was announced in a company blog.

HPE is putting its Helion OpenStack and Helion CloudSystem businesses into a new “Software-Defined & Cloud Group (SDCG),” to be headed by Ric Lewis, formerly senior vice president and general manager of converged data center infrastructure. It was in a web update from Fortune Magazine where I read, and I quote, from the blog: “By bringing these assets together, we create a single organization tasked with a common mission—to provide best-in-class solutions that enable developers and operators to deploy their applications across traditional and cloud infrastructures, simply and effortlessly. Mark Interrante will lead this team.” And yes, “Interrante will report to Lewis.”

For everyone in the NonStop community sympathy with the folks at Fortune Magazine is highly likely, as even among this venerable institutions’ journalists, it was hard to ignore how “Change is the norm at HPE, especially in cloud.” Now, I am not one to criticize the decisions coming from HPE of late nor will I be the one who raises an eyebrow over how much is happening within the companies executive suites, but I am just so glad that the NonStop products within the Mission Critical Systems group are doing as well as they are these days.

From every indication that I have, following HPE Discover 2016, I am now reasonably certain that sales revenues from NonStop have pushed past other product offerings in the Mission Critical Systems product portfolio, but then again, this is just an opinion I have formed so don’t hold me to this too stringently. And yet, this is probably the real situation within HPE’s Enterprise Group and if it is, rarely do vendors the size of HPE go around pulling the plug on such success. More importantly for the NonStop community is the sheer size of the recent investments in NonStop as it first moved to support the x86 architecture, then OpenStack as NonStop became free of not just the hardware but the infrastructure as well.

But post-it notes and blog postings may not tell the whole story or indeed, through omission, simply divert attention to matters less important. Follow the link on the HPE web site to the Mission Critical Computing Blog and it will take you to a page with the heading, Servers and Operating Systems – a little confusing I have to admit. But scroll down and there are numerous blog posts but find one on NonStop? After almost an hour of trolling through pages and checking the archives, I found only two posts for 2016 (and just six for all of 2015) with one of the two 2016 posts being  a summary of all sessions involving Mission Critical Systems at HPE Discover 2016.

Contrarians among us would argue that the only posts being featured on the HPE web site are from those systems and servers struggling to maintain market share – for NonStop, no “break-up of a relationship” messages is perhaps a good thing and more a reflection on the continued strong demand for NonStop systems in the marketplaces they serve.

It is my expectation that we are living in times where shipments of the Itanium-based NonStop i family will show significant growth, enough to surprise even the pundits proclaiming the demise of this family of NonStop systems. I just had the opportunity to spend time with a customer who has just ratcheted up their investment in NonStop i and for good reason – it’s stable and it’s a known quantity and for the community NonStop serves these remain important considerations. However, knowing there are new NonStop systems coming to market is a reassuring and seriously, highly newsworthy, development – you can’t see NonStop losing its sheen within HPE with even more options becoming available to run NonStop.

It is also my expectation that we are moving to a time when complementing Itanium-based NonStop with x86-based NonStop will accelerate many enterprises consideration of hybrid solutions made up of traditional systems working in combination with private clouds deployed right alongside x86-based NonStop on the very same servers – the label of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware is now inclusive of NonStop with the work being done on providing a virtual NonStop (vNonStop), and that too is a message that resonates well with me. A vendor the size of HPE simply wouldn’t go down this path if there were plans to move in a different direction and having executives familiar with NonStop now spread throughout HPE upper management is refreshing news to all who belong to the NonStop community.

Remember Sean Mansubi? Mansubi preceded Andy Bergholz as head of NonStop R&D and is VP, R&D - Converged Platform Software & Infrastructure at HPE. Like Lewis, he has considerable knowledge of all things NonStop and even as his current product line responsibilities will fit nicely with Lewis’s SDCG plans, I can’t help wondering whether at some point (particularly with vNonStop on the horizon), we will hear more about NonStop making a contribution in a world that is converging.

Of course, while on the topic of NonStop knowledge permeating the ranks of NonStop, it would be remiss of me to leave out references to Randy Meyer who is now Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Systems, HPE. For those in the NonStop community unfamiliar with conventions and protocols at HPE, whenever you run across an executive who has in his title General Manager then you have met an individual who has direct Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibilities. Meyer now looks after the complete product portfolio for all mission critical systems and with his background deeply anchored in NonStop, the success NonStop is enjoying just has to be an ongoing source of pride for Meyer, I would have to think!

I am sure there are other former NonStop managers now in executive positions within HPE and I would not be surprised to hear from them following this post. But that in itself is part of the story – just like me many of them wouldn’t let an hour go by without checking select blogs and according to the stats I review, it’s clear that many of my readers just happen to be located in Palo Alto. We no longer resort to post-it notes, although I still have plenty of them in my desk drawers. Transformation to a hybrid infrastructure, software-defined everything, including clouds, converged platform software and so forth all reflect the changes happening deep inside IT (and yes, not just for HPE has change become the norm)!

While there’s no publicity as yet about the presence of NonStop I am of the opinion that should the current efforts to integrate a virtual NonStop into HPE’s own IT organization prove successful, then it will be hard to keep that information from seeing the light of day in the marketplace. And should that likely event happen any time soon then yes, look to the blogs for the first news to break as for sure, as a blogger, I wouldn’t miss such an opportunity to post about it the instant I see announcements being made – post-it notes be damned!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Time to reach for the big guns – fighting for NonStop has begun!

Parking next to an impressive infantry field piece brought up images of big guns and when you consider all that’s surrounding HPE and yes, even NonStop are we seeing the emergence of a big gun in the mission critical transaction processing marketplace?

It was hard to ignore the potential metaphor when we first saw the transporter with a self-propelled artillery piece, albeit on the smaller side I have to admit. Nevertheless, the damage it could unleash at any point was unquestionable and just sitting alongside it was cause for something other than casual conversation – no, the driver of the transporter was not prepared to discuss what it was, where it had come from or talk about where it was headed. On the other hand, the color scheme wasn’t very desert friendly and as it was headed to the West Coast, we assumed it was off to the Far East.

Experiencing life on the open road is something Margo and I have come to enjoy immensely and there are few NonStop events we cannot reach with our mobile command center. We have found it useful in attracting customers and vendors alike to drop on by for a visit and no matter the adult beverage of preference, there will always be very little resistance on our part to shaking a martini for anyone who goes out of their way to spend time with us. Retirement? Well, heck no! Bizcations? Well, heck yes – while Margo collects shells by the seashore I have the perfect office set up and I am happiest when looking out across an unfamiliar landscape.

Naturally, the symbolism didn’t escape me as I drove right up alongside this big gun. While I am sure there will be those in the NonStop community that point out to me that this really isn’t a big gun. Useful as it would be in a battle, there are a lot bigger guns at the ready for generals in need of something more forceful. However, when it comes to technology in general, and IT specifically, I am coming to the opinion that HPE couldn’t have called up a bigger gun than Intel nor could they have produced better munitions for the fight than what we see today with NonStop X.

Intel is the big gun in the chip business. For a while, IBM was really hyping the Power 8 chip in the lead up to the introduction of new Power Systems (as well as the mainframe), but now all the talk is about the upcoming Power 9 chips. And for good reason; while the Power 8 looked good on paper, there were some pretty dreadful “unintended consequences”, according to my contacts deep within IBM. And yes, the report of May 11, 2014, by the team at financial analyst company, Motley Fool, didn’t hold back on its punches in any fashion. Yes, power at a price isn’t always the desired outcome major vendors are looking for.

“Intel's success has never just been due to performance leadership; a 6-core POWER 8 about matches a 15-core Intel Xeon, and the 12-core variant of the POWER 8 would utterly embarrass it in performance. The problem for IBM is that the equation for data-center dominance isn't simply about performance, but is instead about performance per watt per dollar. While it's too soon to get a read on the performance per watt of the IBM POWER 8 (although it's likely that this kind of performance doesn't come cheaply), the real problem that is likely to plague it is the cost.” And this is exactly what has transpired over the past two years – IBM couldn’t manufacture, or indeed sell, on the scale of Intel.

“Intel's Xeon E7 (Ivy Bridge-EX) is a 4.31 billion-transistor machine weighing in at 541 square millimeters built on a quite mature 22-nanometer FinFET process in factories that have to date pumped out hundreds of millions of 22-nanometer FinFET processors. While the volumes on this part are low, and while yields on this chip are almost assuredly trickier than a 1.4 billion-transistor Haswell notebook CPU, they are probably better than the IBM POWER 8's at this stage of the game,” concludes Fool analyst, Ashraf Eassa.

And yes, remember all the messages from HPE NonStop product management – we are simply following the Intel roadmap and, without elaborating further, could we see NonStop running on Broadwell? “This is Intel speak for their new
14 nanometer die shrink of its Haswell microarchitecture. It is a ‘tick’ in Intel's tick-tock principle as the next step in semiconductor fabrication,” so Wikipedia tells me. As of this post, NonStop X is based on Xeon E5-2600v2 series processors so, even as “Some of the processors based on the Broadwell microarchitecture are marketed as ‘5th-generation Core’ i3, i5 and i7 processors,” the images of the big guns persist! Well, IBM is still playing around with 22-nanometer FinFET processors – get the picture? That’s a big gun alright, but perhaps guns, with bigger bores, aren’t what is required in this gunfight.

There is a reason why NonStop is riding the Intel roadmap and there is a reason too for the naming convention HPE chose for NonStop – ever wondered what all those numbers and letters meant? A NonStop X NS7 X1 suggests one of the numbers refers to the generation with all indications supporting that the X1 simply means the first go-around of the Xeon chip. Doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that in time we will see X2, X3, X4 and so on – but don’t take my word on that. Check this out with your friendly NonStop product manager.

Suffice to say, as virtualization takes hold within NonStop development and supports regular, commercial off-the-shelf hardware, including Proliant as well as CloudLine as best as I can tell, perhaps these Xn suffixes tell us another story. Or could it be the occurrence of the first X telling us an even bigger story – will NonStop i and NonStop X be joined by a third line comprising servers taken straight from the stripped-down x86 server vaults and packaged in ways to meet customer needs (of the time)? Could we see something like NonStop O (for open) become the follow-on to NonStop i and NonStop X – it’s fun to speculate like this, even as it’s pretty harmless. However, just a few years ago when NonStop looked to be anything but strategic to HPE, such musings would have not been possible.

Turns out the big guns for HPE have nothing to do with size or indeed performance. Rather, the big guns are those that the users can aim directly at legacy and traditional applications – with the price points established for NonStop X there really isn’t a mission critical application that wouldn’t benefit from running atop a fault tolerant NonStop system. And maybe, just maybe, the NonStop community we are all part of today isn’t alone in its understanding of just how important this is to users everywhere. Did you all see the news late Friday, July 29, 2016?

According to one financial publication, HPE could go the way of Dell and become privatized.  No real surprises here for many HPE watchers who not only raised an eyebrow when HPE split out HPES with the intent to combine with CSC (on an equal basis) but openly discussed the possibility of further sales. I think by now we have all read stories of HPE looking for buyers for much of its software businesses – Autonomy, Mercury, Veridata, etc.  However, even as this Friday’s news reports raised the level of noise,
pushing the stock price of HPE higher, with one report suggesting that according to Barrons “multiple private equity buyers were kicking the tires … considering a possible buyout.” 

I am not quite ready to jump on that bandwagon. I will hold any further comment about this for a later post as I have to believe that there will be further reports in the coming weeks. But HPE provides value and HPE has brought NonStop into the very heart of its operations, and there are those who see considerable value in HPE as it continues to support the Intel x86 architecture across its product portfolio. 

On the other hand, no private equity firm appears to be looking at IBM and I suspect that too is a story unto itself. No value to be unearthed over there; move along! While it’s true IBM has sold off practically everything of value and would have sold off the Mainframe if it had been able to find anyone that was interested. IBM’s strategic initiatives in clouds and cognitive processing are moving very slowly and in some aspects, have begun to falter, losing ground to the competition – with all of its guns firing in support of clouds, it only grew its clouds business 30% in the latest quarter whereas Microsoft grew its cloud business by 150%!

It’s always important to be able to lay your hands on the big guns as and when you need them - yes, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing you brought the biggest gun to the fight. However, how we measure today’s big guns is vastly different from what was considered important just a decade ago. Today, it’s all about following standards, being open, tapping vast pools of talented staff and yes, let’s not forget, it’s also about price. And with adoption of the x86 architecture I believe HPE has pulled out the biggest gun of all and no matter what features come with Power 9 the market is beginning to understand IBM’s Power will only ever be second to Intel – the numbers simply speak for themselves.

Symbolism still has its place and watching the big gun on the trailer continue on its way, the symbolic nature of it heading towards the west coast where innovation and technology thrive – NonStop may not yet be the biggest gun within HPE but it has become a lot more visible as the big gun in fault tolerant mission critical transaction processing. In doing so, clearly the prospects of HPE are “looking up” as a result. Whether it becomes an extended family of NonStop i, NonStop X, NonStop O or whatever – the fact remains; NonStop is on a roll and taking aim squarely at blasting away at the days of being typecast as proprietary, closed and “too expensive for us!”