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?

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