Big events; big agendas and yes, big news for the NonStop community

HPE is better articulating its message even as it is backing it up with product; NonStop community should be pleased to see the elevated position NonStop now occupies …

As the last days of the month come around I create a folder that I simply name for the coming month together with the current year. So, yes it was only a few days ago that I went to December 2017. Inside the folder I create another folder, Submissions. Yes, each and every month I follow the same process and all because of the desire to create a digital magazine, NonStop Insider. Others have pursued similar goals for a lot longer than I have while others have been more casual with their publication dates. But for Margo and me, it’s always been about pulling the magazine together during the first week so those we work with have a week to upload the content and to add all the necessary heading, links, etc.

I only dwell on this as this month, it has been a very difficult month and for a while I was hypnotized by a completely empty folder. If it wasn’t one thing it was another. There was the NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) and then there was Thanksgiving. For bloggers like me these events just happened to be followed by even bigger distractions like HPE Discover and for someone who doesn’t like to fly any more – flying business or business first can sweeten the deal, of course – it was tiring all the same. With this many sources for new material I thought that there would be a lot to cover but for many of the NonStop vendors, it was also a time for company kick-off events and other worthwhile retreats.

Which is the long way around to say that the December issue of NonStop Insider has been a tough row to hoe! Then again, just as the empty folder looked back at me forlornly, the submissions began to arrive and for sure, the past couple of weeks have proved fertile backdrops for numerous stories. As I create the folder each month I also take time to send out a reminder to the NonStop community that you will find posted to the LinkedIn blog, Pulse, and if you missed the latest post you can read it at:
Now the focus has come back on to my commitments for this month’s issue of NonStop Insider, but that is always a nice problem to face.

However, the back to back events of the past three weeks have really brought a lot of attention to NonStop. If you were to remember just one thing from TBC it had to be the emphasis placed on virtualization. Certainly, existing NonStop users with Itanium-based blade systems will continue to be supported for many years to come, but the reality is beginning to set in that the world for NonStop is virtual. Pulling together the separate threads associated with HPE’s grand mission of simplifying hybrid IT, it really only begins to take shape when virtualization has been achieved. All the new tools associated with clouds and software-defined everything can only be leveraged to the best of their capabilities when directed at virtual worlds.

For NonStop users however, simply getting to virtualization isn’t as easy a task to accomplish as has been other upgrades. The NonStop team has done a fantastic job when it comes to the L-Series operating system such that any application running today on L-Series can run on any underlying systems L-Series supports. And that means a choice of traditional systems as well as virtual machines. When it comes to hypervisors supported by L-Series it was good to hear of the progress made since last the NonStop community had met on support for VMware. While OpenStack and KVM may be options for some NonStop users when it comes to the traditional enterprise marketplace where NonStop has a presence, VMware is the more dominant hypervisor.

However, given how virtualized NonStop runs on systems apart from those provided by the HPE NonStop team  that is, commodity, off-the-shelf (COTS), hardware from any vendor with a system based on x86 and supporting RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE). With those two foundation stones in place, any server can be used and together with the right switches, you can “roll your own” NonStop system. Well, not quite so fast. It’s turning out that it’s not that easy to do and to end up with a system as resilient as one sourced from HPE as a true, out-of-the-box NonStop X system. At TBC we heard for the first time that this situation would be addressed with a third product line being added to the NonStop product portfolio – the Converged Virtualized NonStop system (or as it has been whispered during sneak peeks, a NS 2).

All of this has been covered in commentaries published here and elsewhere but what is coming through loud and clear is that when it comes to bigger messages being articulated by HPE, the NonStop product line isn’t being left out or overlooked. There are plans where NonStop aligns itself more closely with HPE’s key strategic initiatives around simplifying hybrid IT as well as powering the intelligent edge. At polar opposites of the technology spectrum – the center versus the edge – HPE is seeing the rise in popularity of clouds (the center) and IoT / Edge (the outer ring) as places where it can provide value. And as HPE continues to articulate its message in forums around the globe, it’s always about HPE seeing its role in providing high-value solutions – cracking the difficult code pushed aside by other vendors. This too is a further acknowledgment by HPE of its return to its roots. It’s a technology company that once prided itself with the tag line, Invent!

At HPE Discover we heard this message being amplified in ways many within the NonStop community may not have anticipated. Yes, HPE is driving towards virtualization and software-defined everything and the work being done in support of Synergy frames is perhaps the best example as too is the technology implicit with SuperDome Flex. Both Synergy and SuperDome Flex, by the way, are early examples of leveraging the memory-driven compute model as extolled by those working on The Machine. That’s right, The Machine. Evidence was to be found on many of the exhibits of ways The Machine was influencing development of new systems. And now it has it's own logo, visible behind and to the right of HPE Labs Chief Architect, Kirk Bresniker.   

In a joint presentation to the group of bloggers whom HPE had invited to the event (many thanks Becca and Laura), pictured above and labelled by HPE as “influencers,” a representative from the former SGI openly talked about how they think the acquisition of SGI by HPE (and driven by our own former head of NonStop, Randy Meyer) is a match made in heaven. They too were developing hardware in support of memory-driven compute but they didn’t have the resources to address the software side of things. That now has all changed for the former SGI folks and the creation of SuperDome Flex incorporates much of what SGI had been doing in memory-driven compute. Hence the performance gains they are seeing running such things as SAP Hana.

Could future derivatives of Synergy and SuperDome Flex (remembering too that these are primarily Linux boxes capable of supporting KVM and VMware hypervisors) see NonStop finding a new home? This is not part of any product roadmaps today and indeed, as NonStop team’s VP, Andy Bergholz, was quick to highlight, the sweet-spot for these systems is scale-up and not scale-out, so it may be many years before any convergence between NonStop and these platforms occurs. But the fact remains, NonStop remains a core software offering of HPE and as such, will ultimately be an integral part of future new technologies where the memory-driven compute model gradually influences all development programs.

And why not? Today transaction processing isn’t an isolated application and while the scale-out suits the model for transaction processing as we know it today, that is all about to change. Think blockchain and in-memory retention of blocks. Think analytics and in-memory workloads looking at everything arriving at NonStop and yes, mandating analysis of many other data streams from social networks to networked sensors.

And yes, think too of the disruption that will accompany the growing “enrichment of transaction” their value also increases to where running fault tolerant will be the norm and not the exception. Many more advocates of NonStop will appear and don’t rule out just how many of them will come out of HPE itself as already, listening to those presenting blockchain at HPE with little to no background in NonStop have become overnight acolytes!

The December 2017 folder is now filling up nicely and already there are a dozen or so entries in the completed submissions folder. Shortly we will be passing it all over to the good folks at TCM in Scotland for loading and massaging so yes, it’s all very much on track for its regular publishing timeframe of late next week. For the NonStop community the articulation of key messages by HPE over the past couple of weeks is taking hold with its customers and prospects understanding the direction being taken by HPE.

The most recent big-tent marketing event, HPE Discover Madrid, was certainly a success and although translating the messages into deployed solutions will take time, I am now looking forward to this summer’s HPE Discover event, which I encourage as many of you as I can to participate. Hope you can make it as already, I am looking forward to seeing many of you June 18-21, 
2018 at Discover 2018 Las Vegas!


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