Saturday, June 3, 2017

It’s time for Vegas!

A post from the road – the road, that is, to Las Vegas! HPE Discover 2017 has rolled around once again and for me it’s a mixed bag of anticipation together with whatever might happen that is unexpected …

The week began with us pulling out of the street where we had lived for nearly two decades to pursue the life of technology gypsies! Homeless; no fixed abode, with just a PO Box to keep us connected with the rest of the world. And no longer in possession of keys to the front door of the house we had made our home and where over the years we had entertained many of you.

Of course this isn’t a permanent change for Margo and me, but life on the road has always been something we have enjoyed. The timing, of course, couldn’t have been any better as we had committed to attending the HPE NonStop customer event in Dallas – N2TUG. Followed, just a week later, by arguably the more important HPE big tent marketing event, HPE Discover 2017!

If you look under Labels, to the right of these posts, you will see that I have been posting on HPE Discover from 2011 and then before that, HPTF from 2008 (even as Margo and I had attended the last ITUG Summit hosted by the then HP Technology Forum in 2007. Before that? More than a decade spent attending the ITUG Summits held prior to HPE becoming involved. While the focus on NonStop seems to have lessened with the passage of time it’s still important to hear the message of Mission Critical Systems from HPE executives in an unfiltered manner.

I am not expecting a big turnout from the NonStop community. With budgets always tight I anticipate most NonStop customers will be saving their pennies to ensure that they can make it to the NonStop Technical Boot Camp, which in many ways has been capturing the spirit of ITUG Summits past. On the other hand, I will not be surprised when I run into a familiar face in Las Vegas and I am expecting that there will be more than just a few NonStop customers making “the trip to the strip!”

Perhaps more surprising for Margo and me is that it’s June, we are heading to Las Vegas and it is the first time we are doing this in 2017. In the past, by the time HPE Discover came around, we have already been to Las Vegas on three or four occasions. But not this time – and put it down to the building of our new home. Readers will know that this year, we have stayed very close to Boulder and not made it to the NonStop Partner Symposium in Palo Alto or to the pan-European eBITUG event in London, even though we had both firmly inked-in on our calendars. When it comes to a project like building a new home there is always a healthy mix of anticipation along with responding to the unexpected.   

The unexpected does happen and plans do change and it has left me to wonder what unexpected developments may overtake HPE and perhaps even NonStop? Are we sure we truly understand all that is happening in the world of NonStop? While many of us were aware of the deep port of NonStop to the Intel x86 architecture there were fewer of us who were aware of the project to support virtual machines. And what of NonStop running on virtual machines comprised of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware? There has been much these past couple of years that can only be described as unexpected.

When it comes to experiencing the unexpected at big tent events, like HPE Discover, it always starts at the top. The tone will be set from the moment HPE CEO, Meg Whitman, steps out from behind the curtain for her opening remarks at the first general session. In the past, these have drawn large crowds with many standing outside the auditorium watching Whitman on big screens liberally scattered around the exhibition hall. This year, it will be interesting to observe just how big a crowd is drawn to the occasion as the show will be all about the products, together with some services, that make up the product portfolio of just the HPE Enterprise Group (EG).

Long gone are the folks interested in PCs and printers. Those interested in software and services will likely be absent from the show as well. No, this is like a much larger version of ITUG projected onto a much larger stage. There will be demonstrations of working elements of what was unveiled a couple of years back – The Machine. But much of the drama surrounding this enormous undertaking by HPE has lessened as plans now call for elements of The Machine to be released gradually as part of traditional computing offerings. As for what will take center stage this year I expect whatever is presented by Whitman will continue to center on openness and standards and on projects like OpenStack as well as the tools and services in demand by those moving to hybrid IT.

Cloud computing will be the subject of much of what HPE presents, I expect. As too will converged and hyperconverged infrastructure. Synergy, and the efforts to move to software-defined everything will also be highlighted but for the NonStop community, when it comes down to what business problems are being addressed, even with the attention these high profile themes will be given, it is still a bit of a yawn. According to presentation given by the NonStop team of late, including at this week’s N2TUG customer event, isn’t today’s NonStop system already a good example of hyperconverged infrastructure? Isn’t the latest NonStop X systems already being used by one solutions vendor as the technology powering their cloud offering?

Since the very first NonStop rolled off the production line and shipped directly to a customer, the hardware and all the required software had been not only packaged but rather been installed and tested. NonStop represents the industries best example of an integrated stack, from the metal to the user APIs. Talk about converged – it has already been done for NonStop customers, and has for decades. Hyperconverged? Well of course, with the arrival of CLIMs running on Linux boxes interconnected via InfiniBand fabrics – there is a lot to be said about NonStop being the only example shipping today supporting true hyperconverged infrastructure.

What I am anticipating to hear and see more of, and what unexpected developments could prove exciting? For some time now there have been slides in the NonStop product roadmap presentations that address topics such as IoT and Blockchain. I will be anticipating hearing more about NonStop and IoT as I have come to appreciate that IoT will gradually evolve into a tiered implementation, where important events will absolutely have to make it into the data center (whatever that ends up looking like). But this really is more of the same – placing a NonStop system in the transaction path to ensure mission critical data makes it to where it’s needed. While I am not expecting to see NonStop present in any IoT demo situation I sure would like to be surprised to see NonStop doing exactly this at some point.

On the other hand, when it comes to something as intriguing as Blockchain and the support of new-age applications demanding support of a distributed ledger, as we read about in almost every paper we pick up of late, there is movement on this front with regard to NonStop and at N2TUG this week, we were tipped off to expect to see NonStop participating in a demo for exactly this – Blockchain being supported by NonStop. Could this prove to be a tipping point for Virtualized NonStop? Could this be the one key development that truly does favor support by NonStop?

Arguably, it’s a stretch to make the comparison but when ATMs’ first arrived and the need was to ensure they operated around the clock, the appearance of the earliest NonStop systems proved to be a godsend for a number of software houses looking to support these new devices. As a result an industry was created where NonStop played a premier role. With so many concerns about security and indeed accessibility associated with Blockchain, could a similar situation arise for NonStop? In time, could NonStop prove to be the go-to system for support of Blockchain by financial institutions everywhere?

I have purposefully asked a lot of questions in this post and for good reason. Each time I head to HPE Discover I have lots of questions. Even as I am anticipating much and yes, looking for the unexpected to happen, I am reminded that in times past, dating back to the earliest ITUG Summits, vendors have held back a couple of critical developments just so that they can showcase them at their big-tent marketing events. Every attendee expects a little drama. Apple were the masters of the “one more thing …” approach and while I am not anticipating anything close to a major Apple reveal, I am not ruling out that there will indeed be something special announced.

And with that, I return to the road as Las Vegas is still a couple of days drive away and with the weather looking like it will continue to be a problem, I have even more on my mind. Should you make it to HPE Discover and should you be interested in hearing more about NonStop then yes, you will likely find something that surprises you. But even with that prediction the NonStop community has a lot to be thankful about as who would have imagined (just a few years ago) how rapidly NonStop has evolved to where today, it’s a platform, a system and yes, it’s software. Onward then to HPE Discover, 2017!

2 comments:

Justin Simonds said...

Richard and Margo be sure and see the mission-critical Blockchain demo being given by Keith Moore in the financial area of the show. It will be a major Nonstop/HPE announcement. I believe you will be surprised and delighted at the customer associated with the announcement. Have fun.

mohiuddin shehab said...

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