What will I Discover in Madrid this time around with HPE?

Bags packed! Heading for the car in the morning! The trip to Madrid for the year-ending HPE Discover event is about to start and I will be providing commentaries and posts every opportunity I get … stay tuned for more news to follow!

It’s only been a week since we drove back from the NonStop Technical Boot Camp and even as I finished up a number of posts and commentaries and finalized submissions to a couple of publications,  I have just had to return to the wardrobe to repack for another week away from home. The photo above was taken just as the first keynote session was about to begin and as you can see, the event pulled quite a crowd. I don’t do anywhere near as much travelling as I once did when it wasn’t unusual for me to make it to Europe for an ITUG event in May only to see that I had already passed 100,000 miles. And yet, it’s hard not to have many of the emotions from that past life resurface and they don’t help; a time to relax in business class? Not quite! For me, it’s a return to the back of the bus, as even with the status I have reached with United I simply don’t fly enough for any benefits to kick in.

When it comes to social media outlets like Facebook, many of you probably are part of groups similar to mine and share many of the same friends and it likely hasn’t escaped you that so many of our friends still do the heavy lifting when it comes to promoting NonStop and related NonStop software solutions. Look at the updates coming from HPE VP & GM, Synergy, Blades and Mission Critical Systems, Randy Meyer, for instance, or Striim Cofounder and EVP, Sami Akbay. No kidding, they live at the airport and the conversations over adult beverages late into the night at Boot Camp only reinforced the message of just how many air miles those in sales accumulate in a year. However, this time I am extremely thankful no matter what class I happen to land or where I end up staying as I am a guest of HPE. You will not be hearing any complaints from me! To the contrary, I am truly excited to be heading to this final HPE Discover event of the year. I will be a part of the “independent blogging community” and designated an “influencer” even as I continue to be active in the HPE VIP Community. On the other hand, as someone who is passionate about NonStop and yes, Mission Critical Systems (MCS) too, it looks as though I will be the sole voice promoting all things NonStop within the blogging community so we will just have to wait and see how much visibility I can generate for NonStop.

NonStop continues to be a very special product line within the MCS portfolio. It doesn’t escape the NonStop community that the spotlight rarely falls on NonStop these days and in many ways that is a shame. For sure, it is a technology-heavy product that plays in a well-defined niche but in all other respects, how users can go about exploiting its capabilities today has very few limits. The world is now connected, always-on and users expect services to be available 24 X 7 – we are coming off Black Friday in the US and already articles are appearing highlighting lost revenue opportunities due to outages, with Macy’s being the latest to acknowledge a slow-down of their card processing systems. Ouch! HPE Discover is a showcase for the entire product portfolio on offer to enterprises worldwide and Madrid should be a place where we see a little more attention being given to NonStop. Even though I have just read that the weather forecast for Madrid is for rain (should I be surprised – the Rain in Spain, etc.), I am hoping for some sunshine radiating from NonStop!

Back in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, I visited Madrid numerous times as part of NonStop Product Marketing and then again, as part of NonStop Product Management. However, my best memory of all was when NonStop Director of Product Marketing, Chris Rooke, called me in my Cupertino office and asked if I could leave that evening for Madrid. NonStop was on the hook for a comms and networking presentation to a major bank and there were no resources on hand in EMEA to give the presentation so out the door I rushed and grabbed that flight to Madrid. Transiting though Heathrow, it was only on arrival in Madrid standing in front of the Spanish immigration booth that I was asked for my visa – as a “green card” holder living in the US I was still an Australian citizen and I had to have a visa to enter Spain. Again, ouch! Seems like the Heathrow folks should never have allowed me on that flight to Madrid!

Well, as the story goes, the local NonStop country manager called the airport police, vouched for me, after which I surrendered my passport to the airport authorities in exchange for a 24 hour pass. Needless to say, I was focused and after a very late nightcap with Chris who checked into the hotel around midnight, I found myself back in my Cupertino office a short 54 hours later. I attracted little sympathy from my Cupertino colleagues, needless to say, when I told them that I was a  little exhausted from being jerked all over Europe! In subsequent years I enjoyed a more leisurely time in Spain and made sure that for each trip I had the right paperwork, but now, as a freshly minted US citizen it has become a lot easier to take those journeys into Europe.

The NonStop community may yearn for more attention within HPE and long for the white-hot spotlight to be directed onto NonStop, the HPE product, but this past week, it really has been all about HPE, the company. There has been so much news coming from HPE in the lead up to HPE Discover that at times I simply haven’t had enough time to digest it all. One of the things I like to do is to review various financial filings coming from HPE so it was very early on that I saw the footnote about current HPE CEO Meg Whitman preparing to hand over the role of CEO to current President, Antonio Neri. As from February, 2018, HPE will have a new CEO and one who has a firm grasp on technology, and for many in the financial industry, this is cause for some renewed interest in HPE.

According to a report in Bloomberg last week,
HPE Returns to Techie Roots Naming Neri to Succeed Whitman they wrote of how,  “‘The next CEO of the company needs to be a deeper technologist, and that’s exactly what Antonio is,’ Whitman said Tuesday on a conference call discussing the succession plan.” Blomberg then reported how,  “The CEO position is a different job now than what it was when Whitman first took over, and will focus more on the operational aspects of the company, said David Heger, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co.  ‘They’re at a point now where they need a different skill set than what she offered,’ he said. ‘They’re finished with doing spinoffs and re-engineering, and now what they have left is what they’re going to focus on going forward.’”

I think it is safe to say that Bloomberg wasn’t the only publication to highlight this shift in focus from financial to technology nor were they shy about the importance of the timing. There is a real sense of urgency about correcting the course HPE has set to better compete with companies already dominating in markets where HPE once held sway. There continues to be a lot of nay-sayers when it comes to the future prospects of HPE and yet, the NonStop community knows full well that the availability, scalability and business continuity attributes inherent in NonStop quickly separates it from the rest of the server pack. In many ways, it is time for HPE to move on from Unix and even OpenVMS – the time for mourning is long over and it’s time to embrace the hybrid world of Linux, Windows and yes, NonStop! If it truly is good for HPE IT then it is good for the rest of IT, no matter the industry – financial services, retail, telco, manufacturing and distribution, healthcare and yes, travel. 

It hurt to read in a post published by the investor-centric publication, SeekingAlpha, Hewlett Packard Enterprise: A Company In Chaos. According to their reporters, “The unifying theme is clear: HPE operates a portfolio of legacy businesses, and while it can manage to hang on to customers in the near term, it doesn't have any definitive brand leadership or reputation for quality in the markets that can drive sustained growth in the longer term. Everything that HPE does, other companies also do - perhaps even better.” Really? No definitive brand leadership? No reputation for quality? Even as it reflects the consensus view among investors it makes light of just how good the technology coming from HPE of late truly is – just ask Randy Meyer about their latest High Performance Computing (HPC) offerings!

Yes, it is time to pass the baton to a technologist. Yes, it’s time to feature all that differentiates HPE’s product portfolio from those of others. And it’s time, too, to direct that white-hot spotlight onto NonStop (did someone say, blockchain?)! Participating in the final HPE Discover big-tent event of the year is certainly going to prove interesting as we get to hear even more from heir-apparent, Antonio Neri, but every bit as important will be the attention given to all that differentiates HPE from its competitors. And safe to say, I will be watching for just how many references are made of NonStop and in so doing, use the references to blog, comment and post to as many social media channels as I can. And with that, it is off to the airport for my longest trip of the year!   


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