Thursday, May 18, 2017

eBITUG - Fantastic vibe, great vendor footfall and genuine interest in all things NonStop!

Jimmy may have been a drawcard but NonStop has come a long way from its Tandem roots and recent user and industry events are highlighting much that is really new for NonStop!

A casual reading of posts to Facebook or tweets to Twitter and the like quickly reveals just how much networking is being done today by those pursuing new business opportunities. Barely a day passes without someone or other highlighting a cityscape or a restaurant complete with a caption or two recommending the venue and the people. It isn’t as though I don’t do that fairly often but rather, just further examples of how so many of us turn to digital media – social as well as business – just to keep up with what is happening around the world. Then again, there’s still no substitute for networking in the real world
While it is a truism that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry it came as a complete surprise to Margo and me that the very week of eBITUG would coincide with packing up our home, readying it for the movers that came this week. As a venue London and, in particular, that part of town close to the Tower always grabs my attention. The cityscape is now so different to when I worked there from late 1975 to early 1976 and yet, any chance to catch up with the NonStop community in London is always a treat!

Putting to one side any further excuses, now that the event has wrapped up and those participating in the 2017 pan-European eBITUG conference and exhibition have returned home, there has been a steady stream of emails arriving in my inbox. Perhaps it was the presence of Tandem Computers founder, Jimmy Treybig, pictured above (and a special thanks to my good friend Craig Lawrence for sending the photo to me) or the rooftop bar overlooking the Thames or maybe it was the content and enthusiasm that was on display from all those giving presentations.

All the emails were positive about the event – I didn’t receive a single email that contained any criticisms indeed in one, reference was made to a comment coming from GTUG member who said that not only was the event good for the NonStop community but that it would now be putting pressure on GTUG to deliver next year; a situation I think GTUG will warm to with the same level of enthusiasm as was on show at eBITUG.

So what were the comments and where did they come from? There were clearly positive comments coming from those of the HPE NonStop team that were present. But there were also positive comments from solutions, middleware and services vendors. One point that came up more than once – the opportunity to visit the “Shard” and enjoy the networking opportunity it provided and thanks have to go out to CSP for making it all possible. Well done!

OmniPayments, LLC., had a presence at the show and was part of the program. Observations that came from both Craig Lawrance and Jessica Nieves were very upbeat about the event and their responses to my inquiries were positive even as they addressed more than just what was central to OmniPayments’ participation. “vNonStop was probably the biggest talking point,” said Craig. On the other hand, Craig also shared a comment that was common to all responses that I received when he noted how, “Some attendees are saying the OpenStack software will be so expensive that’s it’d be cheaper to buy a NonStop X system!”

As for Jessica, she was even more forthcoming when asked about NonStop X she responded with, “I certainly saw that customers are either migrating or making plans to migrate from older systems to NonStop X” When pressed as to what trends she recognized that were developing among the NonStop user community, Jessica said. “The Cloud has been on the top of almost every conversation that I had. And it’s not just been at eBITUG, mind you, but throughout all the events where we have participated during the year, no matter the region of the Globe. Certainly modernization and continuous delivery are also topics of interest among customers and I heard it being openly discussed.”

Jessica observed that even at eBITUG, there were discussions concerning the need “to deliver new features or changes at a faster pace and having the tools and processes that support embracing such a faster pace is key. Companies are incorporating technologies such as big data, node.js, splunk, java frameworks to modernize and create innovative solutions – something that was also the topic of a number of sessions. And innovation does not end in NonStop!”

To this point, Jessica then explained that, “as a matter of fact, the Under 40 SIG that met during the event, is advocating for modernization and educational initiatives as it looks forward to growing the awareness of NonStop as a platform to run modern applications and attract young talents.  I was part of the Under 40 SIG meeting at eBITUG and had the honor of listening to the Tandem father saying words that I won't forget: ‘It's not about the NonStop platform, it's about the applications that run on it.  Going back in history, there was no need of Tandem, they needed ATMs!’”

All the numbers that were provided – number of registered attendees, number of end users, vendors, etc. – were impressive. It was left to Iain Liston-Brown, Master Technologist working for the EMEA Pre-Sales Organization to post on LinkedIn that, 
“We had about 258 registrations. Just over 1/3 were customers and a little more were vendors/consultants with the rest (50ish) being HPE. The customers represented 35 companies. Delegates came from the UK & Ireland, Europe (including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy & Greece), Thailand, New Zealand and Australia plus the USA - so quite a broad spectrum!”

And then there was praise too for the HPE NonStop team involved in presenting the latest news about NonStop with a continued emphasis on NonStop being a lot more than what you may have seen with more traditional NonStop systems. Echoing what OmniPayments’ Jessica had said, it was the HPE source who reported that “Andrew Bergholz and Roland Lemoine (had) focused on what we have just delivered and what is coming next regarding Virtualised NonStop (vNS) and NonStop SQL/MX Database Services/Compatibility. ATC focused on DevOps, SQL/MX 3.5 Database Services and also Middleware/Microservices. So this was anything but legacy!”

All agreed with HPE that there had been a “Fantastic vibe, great vendor footfall and genuine interest from delegates across the two days. The vNS demo was running throughout the two days and all the customers and vendors were enthusiastic and glowing with praise.” And this wasn’t all that was said. According to Frans Jongma, Master Technologist, NonStop Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in a post to LinkedIn how, “the SQL/MX DBS demo was a nice thing to add to the vNS one. It only took a short bit of time to create an easy to access demo using iTP web server simple HTML pages that invoke the DBS API. Even I was surprised how easy it was; thanks to the booth staff for running the demo!”

There is definitely renewed interest in NonStop. In my own business environment where I am in dialogue with parties not traditionally associated with NonStop there has been more than a casual interest in NonStop as word begins to spread about vNS, OpenStack and the potential to run in a cloud environment. Perhaps even multiple hybrid cloud environments!


There was acknowledgment by the community gathered at eBITUG over the pricing of vNS and OpenStack and that for many of them, simply upgrading to a new NonStop X made better financial sense. But that’s the point. If you have experience with the hardware and the integrated stack then stay with it. However, if you already have your x86 servers in place and are deploying apps along with data (provisioned as is done with clouds) then why not introduce NonStop to provide better availability whether supporting apps or even NS SQL/MX?

The coverage of NonStop and clouds didn’t stop with the vendor community as it was left to TCM CEO Tony Craig to add a different element to the exchanges I was having, following eBITUG, even as he too posted to discussions that followed on LinkedIn. “Firstly, a big thanks to the eBITUG committee who delivered a really great 2017 eBITUG event. TCM, as platinum sponsor, was delighted with the turn out. We were extremely busy over the 2 days with considerable interest in our range of NonStop services.”

Once again, as had been the case at last year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp, an interesting and yes, somewhat poignant breakout presentation “Adapt or Die – The NonStop Skills Gap” by Daniel Craig, covered the well-known aging Nonstop community issue and how TCM is addressing this going forward by investing in their Centre of Excellence, youth training and System Management cloud based services. And yes, Daniel is another member of the NonStop community who is right at home in the Under 40 SIG that OmniPayments’ Jessica had referenced earlier in this post.

What caught Tony’s attention? “Most popular was the TCM cost-effective cloud based Systems Management service which can complement and embed within an existing client's team or be the total answer for a client's system management needs, ensuring a complete end-to-end support solution. This is a Global solution and we certainly received global interest at the event!” And for more information about TCM’s services, Tony reminded me, just contact him directly at tony.craig@tcm.uk.com as I am sure he would like to hear from you.

Occupying the booth adjacent to that of TCM’s was that of comForte and few have missed the pictures taken of TCM’s Natalie Craig blending in well with the stylized portrayal of comForte management in a James Bond setting. comForte made quite a splash with this James Bond theme which they carried through from the booth, the outfit of our guys and even in John Bycroft's presentation on Tokenization.

Among the highlights for comForte’s Thomas Gloerfeld, was the reaction coming from HPE NonStop EMEA boss, Dave McLeod. “He was excited about his NonStop business for the first 6 months - killed the targets - and remains bullish for the second half - continuing to grow.” From comForte's perspective, it was a “great event; busy with customer and partner meetings alike; managed to progress existing and uncover new opportunities.

We are now in the height of the Regional User Group (RUG) event season with many more to follow from New York to Dallas to Sydney. Some of these are being held in hotels, others in the offices of HPE and yet others in the offices of vendors. Of course, 2017 HPE Discover will be soon held in Las Vegas and that’s one I rarely miss. What is being showcased is a whole new story from HPE featuring NonStop – yes, we are now over the shock of NonStop X and vNS even as we embrace the new features (and compatibility) of NonStop SQL/MX – even as NonStop takes to the cloud.

Who knows what else HPE has planned and who dares second guess HPE NonStop at this time? What we do know, however, is that investment in NonStop continues even as the interest in NonStop gains further momentum. We also know that there is an Under 40 SIG that is gaining visibility with each event and shouldn’t be discounted but given greater support by all of the NonStop community.

Perhaps the enthusiasm evident in London will prove contagious and should that happen, the rest of the regional events planned for this year will be something none of us will want to miss – so yes, see you soon and hopefully, eBITUG will be the last large event either Margo or I miss for the remainder of 2017. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Missed the boat – could have been in London!

To all those about to participate in this year’s eBITG event – the pan-European revisit to Euro ITUGs of former years – for me, nothing will match the event in Lyon in 2002 but then again, it’s all about the people so it may very well succeed in doing  so …

I know that I don’t make the number of overseas trips I once did and following the likes of Striim’s Sami Akbay as well as HPE’s Randy Meyer on Facebook, it’s hard not to think back on the journeys I once made and simply at the time, took for granted. Sami? Randy? Keep up posting as it’s fun to see the places you’re visiting, although I have to admit, I can’t help noting how long those trips often last. Not to say that I want to return to those days but rather, the opportunity to spend facetime with friends and colleagues had always always been a highlight of any trip for me. And I know that this is what drives both Sami and Randy. On the other hand, over the course of the last couple of years I have seen more of America than I have in the previous twenty plus years I have lived here and that’s not a bad second prize.

At this time last year I was headed for London to participate in the BITUG event. While there we were given an opportunity to walk the venue for the then under-consideration, pan-European eBITUG event and spending a late afternoon rooftop at the outdoor bar of the DoubleTree by Hilton, made up my mind for me. I would be attending the 2017 eBITUG event, no matter what. Adding to the excitement was the prospect of having Tandem Computers’ founder, Jimmy Treybig, participate well, what can I say. I just had to make this trip happen. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be even though one of my clients stepped forward and was planning to have me attend as part of their team.

If you missed my coverage of last year’s event you may want to check out the post of May 11, 2016, “London Calling” to which I can add, “Anchors Away!” as well as the post that followed on May 22, 2016, NonStop on forward path – and it’s just not stopping! Both of these posts covered that event and, in particular and in fact of importance for every member of the NonStop community, the reappearance of a more youthful group of attendees than I had seen for some time. Looking back to ITUG days, there was always a major event held each spring that attracted participants from all of Europe and the palpable excitement each event generated made holding the event worthwhile.

My very first trip to Europe was for an ITUG event, held in Munich, was in the spring of 1991. As a program manager overseeing the development of NonStop NET/MASTER, I was to provide an update for the community but unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it. The Amsterdam office of Tandem Computers was all I saw of Europe on that occasion. However, for the spring event in 1992 that was held in Nice, I did manage to make it to Euro ITUG and I have referenced that fist event in several posts to this blog over the years. Should you be wondering about the mugs featured above and unsure as to where the mug from Nice is - check the post of Mat 4, 2015, where you will see depicted in the photo that mug, The road to Vegas and further discoveries … Unfortunately, it has been packed away for now but will make its reappearance in my office in our new home.

Euro ITUG, Nice 1992, proved to be a turning point in my relationship with NonStop and with the NonStop community and began a journey that continues to this day. In the lead-up to the annual San Jose ITUG event in 1999, it was announced that I had been elected to the board of ITUG and my association with major and regional user-group events has been a constant in my working life ever since.

Many of the miles I did travel were as a direct result of my support for events no matter their location, type or number of participants. So with London calling, once again, I want to list what I view as the main reasons why members of the NonStop community should always make plans to support user group events. It’s a small list, mind you, and may differ from other lists you may have seen, but these items have always represented the key considerations that influence whether I make the effort to board a plane or not. There have been times when events in support of NonStop were held by NonStop vendors, including ACI and GoldenGate that I particularly liked and that have been covered too in posts to this blog but at the end of the day, there is never any substitute for those events solely catering to the needs of the NonStop community.
 
The surprise! Top of my list is something I like to call the surprise. Whether it is the location and there have been many that have turned out to be excellent even if at first they may not have suggested that a surprise was in stall – take for instance, the ITUG event in Lisbon back in 2001, I believe, where the conference center turned out to be subject to a major renovation just as event participants began arriving. No advance warning here but the event proved successful – there was even a Williams F1 (sponsored by HP) in the entrance “tunnel.” But surprises mostly have to do with what is said and for me it was the announcement of the port to the Intel x86 architecture that was surprising as it was good news for the NonStop community even if a number of its members had already been informed, but sworn to secrecy.

No surprises here but on any given quiet evening, I still raise a glass of Cognac and toast the likes of folks like Marty Edelman who, too this day, kind of knew that I was among the informed but restricted from publishing anything about “Project Cognac!” So much for being a blogger, eh! And then there was the surprise presentation by HPE NonStop Japan about a migration from Oracle to SQL/MX that included recovery times following a CPU being down on NonStop versus an Oracle RAC Node outage!

The pivot point! Running a close second on my list is the opportunity to be right there when something is announced that has the whole community buzzing. Not so much coming as a complete surprise but none the less the subject of many late night musings over how the NonStop market would react. The reference by then HPE CTO, Martin Fink, to NonStop running in a virtual machine that was as casual as it was stunning signifying a completely new way to look at NonStop has proved pivotal to the future of NonStop. It had only been a short time before that reference that NonStop had started to be called the best software platform on the planet but seeing a future where NonStop would come with the option to run on real and virtual machines was awesome!

The unintended consequences! Third on my list is the observation that can be made about unintended consequences. Coming from a simple statement by an HPE executive or the unveiling of a new utility or solution, speculation about the future starts almost immediately. And being there to hear it first hand is, as they say, priceless. More importantly, for those attendees that hear about the announcement, participation in the subsequent conversations can be the first to leverage the value that arises. Perhaps the best example of this came at last year’s Boot Camp event when everyone saw for themselves, virtualized NonStop (vNS) running on commodity HP ProLiant servers. Could we just license vNS directly from HPE and then configure and run on ProLiant servers we already had purchased? Could we run it on x86 servers including a couple of laptops in our office or development center? Could we run on servers we purchased from Dell, Lenovo, Asus?

While there has been a lot of clarification concerning vNS that may have stalled some of these conversations, nevertheless there are a lot of smart people who continue to mull over what may be possible and perhaps this isn’t as HPE had intended, but with this genie out of the bottle, I am expecting a lot of excitement being generated as a clearer picture emerges of exactly what HPE is supporting with vNS. And yes, this time next year we should know a lot more about vNS on VMware which will really kick into high gear any thoughts you may have about running vNS inside a cloud – public as well as private.

The networking! Always listed as a benefit from attending an event but sometimes, treated cautiously – we don’t want to turn events into recruiting opportunities – the fellowship among participants is hard to hide. Returning to my observations from that first ITUG event I attended in Nice, the executives that then camped out at the bar of the hotel and ran a tab on then-Tandem for the duration, certainly knew what they were doing. It took only a matter of hours before everyone knew that they could raise any topic that they wanted to chat about with an executive who had the budget to execute. If only they could successfully argue their point and argue they oftentimes did, and yes, with some success it turns out as you look back at the history of NonStop. Networking? Over an adult beverage - maybe even a Cognac? Yes, it continues to happen and it remains a highlight for many within the NonStop community.

All of us have our lists of reasons for attending and no two lists will be the same. But this year, I have definitely missed the boat and will be relying on the feedback from those who did manage to make it to London for eBITUG. As to why I will not be there it’s all about the timing of our move from our home and office of the past two decades to a new location that will shortly become our new home and office. A weak excuse perhaps, but I just couldn’t see leaving all the work to Margo as being a fair exchange but then again, the timing was a little serendipitous. Unfortunately but there will be other events to keep us current on all things NonStop. Serendipitous? Well now, maybe I need to add a fifth item to my list of reasons why I like to attend events; there’s always something to be observed – a chance meeting, an overheard conversation, an exhibit not widely promoted. Yes, I think I do need to add one more item to the list after all. So then, I have to ask; what’s on your list?