Sunday, May 27, 2018

Changes of approach; changes of storylines! And NonStop anchors it all!


NonStop vendors are not only capitalizing on changes taking place with NonStop they are becoming more prolific with their marketing outreach …

I am a stickler for clean windscreens. I have to admit I like to see where I am going and I just cannot stand smudges and blurs impeding my sight lines. I am also a focused driver on our highways, being one of those unusual drivers these days who simply lock away their mobile phone – no, you cannot talk to me. “Just leave a message, maybe I'll call,” sang the Eagle’s Joe Walsh many years ago. Right now I have a Jeep that is in dire need of having its windscreen cleaned, but as it’s our go-to vehicle I just keep putting it off. Maybe this weekend the car gets a thorough cleaning?

On the other hand, vision is something that has been the subject of a lot of talk of late among the members of the NonStop community – yes, there have been lots of RUG meetings each providing ample opportunity to talk to NonStop enthusiasts on topics ranging from the mundane Java issues to what’s happening with virtualized NonStop and even Blockchain.

The consensus view among these NonStop enthusiasts is that we are seeing a vastly different NonStop product line unfolding and it’s really going to be offering NonStop users a variety of options. It’s going to be a lot more about choice than ever before! Talking of choice and of clear vision and yes cars, it was a whole lot of fun touring the Porsche factory at Leipzig with GTUG. Walking the factory floor was one thing, but then capitalizing on a “taxi ride” around their FIA-approved race track was even more fun.

Hybrid IT is a reflection on transitions under way within the data center. It’s becoming easy to see the new being introduced even as we continue to depend on the old. Traditional computing has to stay the course even as cloud computing makes its presence felt. It is clear to every IT professional that there are major changes of direction and approach under way and where computing is being served-up on a pay-as-you-use basis. As a matter of fact, this is a new dynamic that the industry is only just coming to terms with– there’s no place for big iron if it’s only occasionally used.

At this time of year many of the vendors we know are releasing their quarterly financial results. There are always updates on organization structure and on changes to product lines. There is also a predisposition to paint a rosy picture of the future as each vendor sees it. In the latest financial results from HPE published a few days ago, HPE CEO Antonio Nero told financial analysts that

“… HPE Next is our company-wide initiative to re-architect HPE to deliver on our strategy and drive new wave of shareholder value. It is all about simplification, execution and innovation … The changes we are making through HPE Next will not only improve our cost structure. It will also give us a significant long-term competitive advantage.”

Yes, HPE has a very clear vision of the future and by all accounts has translated its vision into a strategy against which it is successfully executing.

But the topic of having a clear vision has other implications when it comes to a solutions vendor such as OmniPayments and it shouldn’t come as
a surprise to any member of the NonStop community when I say that there has been a very distinct uptick in visibility of OmniPayments of late. This year, OmniPayments has been everywhere; RUG meetings and industry events have seen plenty of orange banners promoting OmniPayments. And for good reason; as I see it, the company is on a roll – it is winning new business in both the banking and the retail markets and is possibly the most unabashed fan of NonStop. What’s not to like about this?

While some of the choices on offer today for consuming NonStop are very much in their infancy, this hasn’t slowed down the OmniPayments development team as it has brought to market support for all three major NonStop options – traditional, virtualized and as-a-Service. Surprised? For one, I am not surprised at all as Yash made the commitment to NonStop a long time ago and has almost single handedly turned the marketplace for payments solutions on its head as he is delivering possibly the best price/performance configurations of all.

And yet, how many members of the NonStop community have kept up with what OmniPayments has been doing of late? Starting with the basics, if you have your own NonStop hardware already deployed on-premise, then you can license the OmniPayments solution in a number of different ways. Yes, OmniPayments continues as a software solution for that section of the NonStop community. If you do not have the requisite NonStop hardware available then you can purchase NonStop from your HPE sales team, or alternatively OmniPayments can put the whole package together for you – OmniPayments is the only HPE appointed NonStop VAR for all of South America.

But wait; there’s even more! Ever since NonStop X began shipping, OmniPayments set up a series of data centers around the world in support of OmniPayments served up as Software-as-a-Service. OmniCloudX gives you immediate support of this option even as it lays the foundation for running atop virtualized NonStop. OmniPayments is already working on this latest option for NonStop from HPE and I think that this is a really good move on the part of OmniPayments.

Yes, just as HPE is advocating today for NonStop in general – payments processing can be consumed on-premise and on your hardware but also as SaaS from off-premise on OmniPayments NonStop X systems not to mention from out of a cloud deployed by OmniPayments. And there’s even more news about to break. For anyone who has noticed the uptick in visibility of OmniPayments and is following them on LinkedIn, watching the promotions being made for upcoming participation at RUG meetings, you will have seen one more very important development.

Yash isn’t just talking about Blockchain, or trying to educate the NonStop community about its potential benefits for NonStop users. Quite the opposite – he is doing something with Blockchain. There is work under way to integrate the Mission Critical Distributed Ledger Technology (MCDLT) on NonStop into OmniPayments. From the NYTUG RUG Meeting, came the following post to LinkedIn:

Blockchain is a very powerful technology. Keith Moore from HPE is kicking off #NYTUG2018 and talking about how this technology fits into the NonStop world.

Stay tuned to learn more about OmniPayments’ Blockchain implementation!

Missed it? Well, there is a lot more to come shortly about the actual application being developed but suffice to say, while other vendors are talking up possibilities and potentials, Yash has directed his team to capitalize on all the hard work the NonStop team has been doing to bring R3: Corda to NonStop and NonStop SQL/MX. I have my own ideas about these new products and the value they will provide, but I will await confirmation from Yash before I write anything more. Although it you know something about KYC and AML and what these acronyms mean and yes, all that it currently entails (and the heavy costs financial institutions are currently incurring to pursue), then you may have an early idea about where Yash is headed.

For as long as I have been covering HPE and NonStop I cannot recall a time when so much has been created by NonStop development – yes, “new logos” are being added to the NonStop community and some of the biggest traditional NonStop users are reconsidering their usage of NonStop – we went to Linux but we didn’t quite get the availability or indeed the simplicity (of development and operations) we thought we would – is it easy to get back to NonStop? Well, it sure is …

And perhaps it is this very serious uptick in NonStop product development that is part of the reason why NonStop vendors like OmniPayments have become more visible in the marketplace of late. There is a potential to penetrate new markets with solutions on NonStop able to be consumed any way you need it and isn’t this a good thing for every stakeholder in the NonStop ecosystem? Isn’t encouraging for us to see competitive product utilizing the latest technology being supported by NonStop?

I read a lot. It goes with the territory as a blogger. Probably more accurate would be to say I read everything – whatever comes in the mail and yes, if it’s prefaced by “Richard, this is a good read” I even click on links sent to me. In the introduction to a popular column in a car magazine, its author wrote:

“The joke goes that we live in the future. You know, that cliché we trot out for anything amazing and tech-related – mind-blowing gifts, something ahead of schedule.”

Followed a little later with:

“The novelist Warren Ellis once noted that the future sneaks up on us, in the fringes of daily life … it suggest keeping a weather eye open for reasons to be stoked, wary, or both.”

And it kind of reminds me that to some extent, over these past couple of years, NonStop has crept up on us. HPE has invested in NonStop to where they have trotted out something amazing – NonStop consumed any way we want. More than that, what HPE NonStop has developed is probably more closely aligned with customer requirements than at any other time in its history. Yes, NonStop too is on a roll!  

Perhaps it’s time for many more of us to clean away the grime that has collected on our “IT windscreens” and to take a really good long look at the new NonStop and the many ways NonStop can now be consumed. But you may want to be wearing sunglasses as what you see could be a lot brighter than you expected. And if this is all a bit much to take in then make sure you head to HPE Discover. I will be there and I will be on the exhibition floor so look for me and perhaps we can have coffee and if you need to, let’s just check out your eyesight to see if you share the same vision for NonStop as I now do.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It’s a journey for NonStop across an ever-changing landscape!

A flight to Germany continues to be a rare occurrence for me and yet, GTUG held promise of more good news on NonStop so I simply had to go! 

It might appear that road trips have been a consistent theme of mine over the past couple of weeks. True, the topic of road trips always is close to my heart as I like getting out onto the highway to simply drive towards the horizon. And yet, it is also highly relevant in today’s technology environment – as much as I enjoy a changing landscape and a changing vista, every now and then the destination is important. Even if the neon sign flashing far out in the distance might only be that of a motel offering overnight accommodation, there is always the distinct possibility that something far more meaningful is being communicated.

Margo and I have just gotten back from a brief trip to Leipzig, Germany. Yes, as much as we bemoan air travel we simply had no other option than to head to the airport a couple of weekends ago and traverse a considerable part of the planet in order to make the GTUG supported
European NonStop HotSpot 2018/IT-Symposium 2018 - Conference & Exhibition! Big name but fortunately, same agenda as in past years, although this year we did enjoy the company of VP & GM Mission Critical Systems, Randy Meyer. And yes, a note of thanks to another big name, NTI, for making this trip happen for Margo and me!

It isn’t every day that I can throw into a current post references to former HPE CTO, Martin Fink, and it’s been a long time between drinks hearing references to Martin coming from senior HPE managers. But just this past week, on more than one occasion Randy did reference Martin and that was pleasing to hear. One of those references really resonated with me and I thought its inclusion was both timely and a reminder that some really smart minds are still focused on NonStop. “Listening is tactical; observing is strategic,” said Randy referring to an earlier comment made by Martin. I have heard Martin say this before and it’s still as relevant today as it was a decade or so ago.

One of the motivations for me to embark on road trips is to observe. I am fascinated by what is transpiring across the transportation industry – yes, we know the economy is picking up when all the big-rigs on the interstate look new and yes, the number of temporary tags on passenger cars are more plentiful than previously observed. Walk into any Starbucks bordering the interstate and see how long it is before they serve you coffee as the hustle to accommodate the drive through lanes snaking back out through the parking lot. Randy and Martin are right in saying observation is strategic.

When you hear members of the NonStop community refer to themselves as being customer-driven and that they are always listening to the business needs of their customers, don’t be surprised to see them changing direction often. It’s an old saying that being close to the customer means being close to closure! Seriously, listening to the immediate needs of someone sitting across the table from you more often than not triggers a kneejerk reaction about which we later confess as being inconsistent with what the industry may be telling us. Or our own people!

So, what is it that HPE has been observing of late and what is happening that is relevant for the NonStop community? In a nutshell, it’s hard to miss the signs of hesitancy on the part of entrenched NonStop users even as the companies those NonStop users work for look to tackle the twin issues of hybrids and clouds. “We are transforming to address a changing landscape,” said Randy. “The world is hybrid and when it comes to NonStop, we don’t want to be constrained by the tools (at hand) or the environment (that arises),” was the argument coming from the boss of all Mission Critical Systems.

“How does NonStop fit into this transformation,” asked Randy of the audience. Bringing it back to what is happening within his own organization, Randy then answered his own question with his team having observed that “evolving Mission Critical Systems to be cloud-ready and where NonStop is consumed as a service” has become the priority for the NonStop development team. That’s right, cloud computing moves by companies led to virtualized NonStop even as hybrid IT has generated an opportunity to provide “new ways to consume NonStop!” 

Observing the ever-changing landscape, as you typically do when you drive any distance inside America, let’s you develop a deeper appreciation for what’s about to happen in the not too distant future. You certainly know that autonomous big-rigs make sense even as you realize that with everything communicating (in an always connected world), why on earth haven’t we seen even more elements in the supply chain being automated? As part of the visit to Leipzig for GTUG many of us elected to visit the Porsche factory to watch Porsche cars and SUVs being built and it was hard to miss just how much automation exists on the factory floor. And yet, there were still a thousand or more folks engaged in putting things together.

“When everything is connected,” said Randy, we will get to a point where we get “crazy new insights into how things work!” In fact, we will find ourselves seeking answers “about things when before we didn’t know we would even be asking such questions!” When the edge meets the cloud and everything that is connected begins communicating we will be hard pressed to miss changes in behavior unlike at any time in our history. My own favorite possible new customer recognition option – our gait! Yes, simply the way we walk up to any device will be all it takes for that device to know who we are and what we are looking for.

We will still be able to buy NonStop systems the way we always have bought them – dropped off at a dock all wrapped up nicely with a bow. Fortunately for many, these new converged systems will become one of many options available to the NonStop community. More popular, perhaps, will be the option to deploy virtualized NonStop in-store / on-premise on hardware already owned, be that a server farm or a private cloud. In the coming months we all may want to pay more attention to work being done for NonStop that leverages projects like Ansible – Ansible playbooks that will be able to interact with NonStop delivered as a container that is subsequently pulled apart by Ansible and deployed atop a virtual machine – cool! And then there is the option to simply run NonStop as a Service from out of a public cloud (although, initially it might be more like from providers like Rackspace than Amazon) and that would be even cooler for many NonStop users!

When you take a good long hard look at the changing landscape for NonStop you’d be excited by the possibilities. Furthermore, if the journey that NonStop has been on for the past four decades is anything to go by, then perhaps Randy should have added, “And you haven’t seen anything yet!” I guess the biggest takeaway from GTUG may in fact prove to be that the journey is a pathway to even greater innovation and while we applaud the deep port to the Intel x86 architecture, should we rule out any other architectures being supported? I don’t think so … and you know, it is as if NonStop has now been freed from design and implementation constraints which we never thought possible just a decade ago.

What this journey of NonStop reminds many of us are the words to a popular song and in more ways than one:

But he was back in business when they set him free again
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

And I suspect few members of the NonStop community would disagree with the idea that yes, NonStop is back in business and yes, as Randy reminded us many times this past week in Leipzig, NonStop has been set free! Yes, observation is strategic and yes, here’s to hoping that the road goes on forever.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Road Trip – old or new it doesn’t matter; it’s the journey!


Whenever opportunity presents itself for a road trip – then count us in! But with next month’s N2TUG event I will be retracing steps I first took back in 1976 that led to eventual move to the U.S.


Road trip! Road trip! Did someone say road trip? I have just wrapped up a post to our social blog about road trips, including ones prompted on short notice in small planes and yes, that counts. But more importantly for this audience, our next road trip will take us to Dallas for the N2TUG NonStop user event. There have not been too many user events that we have missed, but there is always something very special about Texan hospitality. And it’s no secret among the NonStop community that for this event, there will be even more that will be special – the founder of Tandem Computers himself, Jimmy T!

It’s a little known fact that my first ever residency in the US was in Dallas. I had been living in Edmonton, Alberta, where I had emigrated to from London, UK, – no, a London winter wasn’t cold enough so I’ve emigrated to the frozen north of Canada. As a database specialist no less and yes, I am talking about the mid-1970s, when DBMS products like Cullinane’s IDMS, Cincom’s TOTAL and Insyte Datacom’s Datacom/DB ruled the roost. It was a time when IBMers everywhere had grown tired of ISAM and had taken to the more fundamental BDAM to essentially build their own DBMS product from scratch. A whole year of programming? No worries!  

I am also talking about the mid-1970s when arriving in Edmonton I bought my first new BMW – back then it was the mighty six-cylinder 530i, complete with a stick shift. Mind you, this was a C$12,000 car when everyone else was buying Trans-Ams and Mustang IIs for about $3,000, so little has changed of late. What was new is that shortly after taking delivery of the Bimmer, I drove from Edmonton down to Dallas and then on to San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco before running the entire west cost to Seattle and then crossing back over the Canadian Rockies to Calgary and Edmonton.

I am not sure exactly of the mileage but to accomplish this drive in just three weeks taking in, naturally enough, the F1 event at Long Beach won by Mario Andretti. Little did I know where this all would lead to, but suffice to say a presentation I gave in Dallas to the Datacom User Group during that road trip led to a job offer in Dallas that I accepted immediately! Let me think about it – the freezing temps in Edmonton versus the perpetual sunshine in Dallas. OK, I have already given you a clue as yes, not only did I take the job but it was also a ticket back to Sydney where I would become a Datacom partner company’s new Managing Director.

I am not sure either how I had become a fan of Southfork Ranch and JR and the rest of the cast of the TV show, Dallas, but that’s another story for another time.


In the years that have passed since that first sojourn in the U.S. I have taken many road trips and have seen more of America than many of my American friends and colleagues. For the past decade many of these trips, if not all of them, were influenced one way or the other by a RUG event. Regional gatherings of the NonStop community have always been special times and I have attended gatherings in India, Helsinki, Toronto, Sydney – you name the city and there is a pretty good chance that I have showed up at some point. Of course, spending two years as the ITUG Chairman certainly helped in expanding that list of cities.

Today, NonStop has come so far in a relatively short period of time. When you look back at the work the NonStop development team has done to embrace industry standards and open systems by porting to the Intel Xeon x86 architecture and then providing the option to run virtualized, they have given us a lot of opportunity to grow the number of enterprises running NonStop. I am not saying this without giving even more thought to where NonStop will likely appear next as it’s still very much a solution-driven business these days, but I do have a sense that with the newly trimmed-down HPE, there is more opportunity to be heard above the noise than there was even a year ago!

When it comes to any journey we plan on taking, particularly when it involves a road trip as is often the case for me of late, reminiscing about previous trips has always been important. My wife and fellow cofounder of Pyalla Technologies and I recall what hotels we liked and perhaps more importantly, what sessions caught our attention. Who can forget when support for x86 was announced or the comment made in passing by one of the speakers that NonStop could run virtual. And what about the blockchain port? Of course, reminiscing on the past always brings us both back to the grand days of ITUG Summits and as much as we miss them they were for another time and we certainly see the passion for NonStop in the faces of everyone who turns up for a RUG event.  

We often discuss the journey that NonStop is on and about the need to take baby steps on occasion but here is the really big news. NonStop continues to provide an unmatched architecture that is affordable for any enterprise wanting to have the best uptime signature for its mission critical applications. And along with the affordable uptime properties, NonStop also provides scale-out capabilities out-of-the-box that NonStop’s competitors can only propose using PowerPoint slides. Not cool – and no, not without a lot of extra costs. Perhaps, most important of all? NonStop has found its home within the Mission Critical Systems organization whose leader, Randy Meyer, has very strong ties to NonStop and that is a circumstance we don’t take lightly.

This journey by NonStop has seen it reinvent itself numerous times over more than four decades since it took those first couple of baby steps. And now, in a matter of a couple of weeks, we will be in Dallas spending time with the man who first saw the value in building a truly fault tolerant system. History is still a very important part of this journey that every member of the NonStop community is part of and if the number of times old photos are posted to the Facebook group, Tandem Computers, it’s a reminder of just how passionate about all things Tandem and NonStop folks continue to be.

The N2TUG team is among the most passionate of NonStop community folks and there is no doubt whatsoever that a Texas size greeting will be given to everyone who shows up when N2TUG presents ‘Protecting with Blockchain’ on Thursday, June 7, 2018. For those who may be curious, your Pyalla Technologies team will once again be hitting the road, in yet another BMW, but this time, a hybrid.  More importantly, should you be curious about how to register for N2TUG, of if you simply need more information, than send an email to bhonaker@xid.com with 
Subject:

                Registration for N2TUG 2018 “Protecting with Blockchain”

Or just click here ...

Bill reminded us all just this week of how the N2TUG team is hoping  “to see you in Plano for our 2018 N2TUG event; as Jimmy always says, it’s excitin’” And yes, added Bill in a promotional email to us all, “Jimmy will be our final presenter.  He will stay for the evening cocktail party where we can all swap stories and reminisce about the past or make plans for the future.” Count us in Bill and we look forward to seeing many more of you this year at N2TUG!

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