Monday, November 28, 2016

A last look at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp, 2016

From the many activities listed in the NonStop Technical Boot Camp program there were presentations, panels and social events that I really liked. Each of them added a big exclamation point to the value proposition from attending this event …

Margo and I have always loved to travel even as we have always loved to entertain and there have been many miles covered in the years since leaving Tandem Computers even as there have been many good times around our BBQ and alongside our pool. In many ways, the willingness of Margo and I to entertain at our home have defined us to the community as looking back through Facebook and the social blog posts we have made, there is rarely a comment passed that hasn’t included some references to the fun times we have had.  If you were an ITUG volunteer or even an ITUG Board member not to mention a SHARE volunteer or SHARE Board member, you will remember the times you may have spent in our company.

All of this is by way of introduction to the fondness Margo and I have for all gatherings of the NonStop community – today's users of technology are often accused of adding fuel to a legacy model for networking but if that’s true, then Margo and I will willingly take some of the blame. But networking is just such a powerful communications tool that has so many side benefits that there is little chance of us ever scaling back on our willingness to continue sponsoring such gathering.

This past NonStop Technical Boot Camp was perhaps a strong reminder for us all just how much the NonStop community warms to the occasion and it’s such a great feeling to have as we left the venue knowing that in 2017 there will likely be even more attendees than this year – NonStop sales are growing at double digit pace so wouldn’t it be good to see future NonStop user events enjoying a similar level of growth.

What really captured my attention and what did Margo and I enjoy most at this year’s event? From presentations to workshops to panels to social events, there was a lot of good material from which to pull stories and there will still be many more written before the year winds down. However, what has been on my mind has been a mixture of social occasions, a panel session and yes, real user presentations.

Oftentimes, the networking opportunities that arise at events like Boot Camp are discounted and more or less relegated to the nice-to-enjoy bucket but they are valuable for determining what’s really going on across the NonStop community. I have touched on this in previous posts to this blog so won’t be revisiting the topic other than to start out with saying one of the highlights of this year’s Boot Camp was a farewell dinner comForte held for Dr. Michael Rossbach.

Michael has been a good friend of the community for many years and has been a strong advocate for user events ever since I began attending ITUG Summits and associated RUG meetings. He has stepped in numerous times to help out financially ensuring comForte always had a presence and over time, of course, this served him well as he saw comForte develop as one of the more influential partners within the NonStop vendor community.

The photo above was taken of Michael with his brother Knut on one of those occasions when we entertained clients at our home. At the time I snapped the photo I wasn’t sure what the topic was that they were discussing but it looked serious and that is one of the few times I have seen such intensity – Michael has always been a warm and friendly host whenever he has entertained guests and Margo and I wish him all the best for his retirement even as we will miss his presence at events like Boot Camp.

Networking of a different kind saw me participate on a small panel where the topic was services. Following the news from HPE that NonStop was now enjoying its second year of double-digit growth, a revelation to many of the attendees at Boot Camp, the topic of this panel session was how would companies manage to staff up to support the deployment of more NonStop systems as well as more applications on NonStop. Where was the knowledge going to come from as we entered a new era with virtual NonStop (vNonStop) capturing market share.

It is easy for HPE’s own IT to deploy vNonStop and to implement NonStop SQL on the basis of a new DBaaS offering – they had all the NonStop skills they would ever need just across the hall (or across the ocean) inside of the NonStop development team. But this is not the case for everyone else and coming at a time where there is a record number of retirements together with limited educational programs (and simply not offered in many regions) – how will access to skilled NonStop personnel grow in numbers commensurate with the double-digit growth in NonStop sales?

TCM Solutions led off the session with an aptly named presentation, Adapt or Die! A tad draconian for some tastes but it made the point that the audience agreed upon – there’s a compelling story behind the growth in companies providing managed services. TCM happens to be one such provider and they have found a willing market in Europe even as they plan on entering other regions, including North America. The questions that were directed my way during this session had mostly to do with whether or not there was a way to tap into the presence of a very knowledgeable and all together willing work force of retirees, all looking to continue to provide support. 

The shortest and simplest answer from me was to contact your nearest managed services vendor – something that the folks from TCM were only too willing to acknowledge. As enthusiastic as I am about another generation of NonStop supporters coming into the marketplace – something I acknowledged in a discussion I started in the LinkedIn group, Fools for NonStop simply called
NonStop "young guns" (If as yet you haven’t joined this LinkedIn group – you may want to consider doing so) I also have a great deal of respect for the knowledge and experience brought to the table by the retirees, many of whom did not really seek the opportunity to go fishing, but were persuaded with high payouts….

Managed services providers will see a major uptick in interest by NonStop users in the coming year and a half particularly as we see vNonStop making inroads into the data centers of the biggest NonStop users. However, existing solutions and middleware software vendors are already taking a serious look at either partnering with existing managed services providers or complementing their product offerings with Software-as-a-Service out of cloud computing environments they create.

One of the more compelling reasons to attend events like Boot Camp is to hear from other NonStop users who are deploying new solutions on NonStop. With double-digit growth, there has to be quite a number of them but even after hearing how well AsiaPac / Japan has done in terms of adding “new logos” it’s very important to hear from users a lot closer to home. OmniPayments supported two such presentations – Banco Agrario replaces Unix-based financial transaction switch with NonStop X solution which saw a new NonStop X system installed, and Casa Ley select new loyalty rewards program on HPE NonStop which excited me just as much.

Adding a second or third application onto an already installed NonStop systems is a healthy situation. As Craig Lawrance, VP New Business Development EMEA, OmniPayments, Inc., reminded me after the event, “End-user presentations created discussions which were hugely positive. To my way of thinking, every HPE field member should have been in that room after all, they want new Nonstop customers, right?” Following these user presentations OmniPayments hosted a late night “Nightcap” for attendees where they provided a live demo highlighting just how many transactions can flow through an OmniPayments switch.

According to OmniPayments VP Client Services, Jessica Nieves, “The NonStop System used for the demo was a NonStop X NS7 X1 featuring 6
quad-core CPUs. OmniPayments was configured to run in four of them while our simulators were configured to run on the other two. We sent over five million purchase transactions to OmniPayments and we exceeded 5,000tps. The CPUs were only running at half capacity while the average response time remained around 4ms. Shortly, there will be a video becoming available that describes this demo and I will let everyone know the moment that happens.”

Looking back at Boot Camp 2016 and at the presentations, panels and social events where I was present, they all reminded me of just how far NonStop has come in a very short span of time. The references here to comForte, TCM and OmniPayments are just a few examples from many that I could have featured when it comes to the variety of sessions that made up this event. I hope that as Boot Camp continues to grow, there will be many more I can reference in future posts.

Recalling the early days of Boot Camp going back to 2010 or was it 2009 when a NonStop-centered event was given a reboot, they were very humble beginnings indeed. And even as I wrap up this post, the final in the series on Boot Camp, I have to admit I am really looking forward to the return event which in 2017 will be held on Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco and I hope to see even more of you in attendance as that date rolls around!

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