Sunday, July 22, 2018

We don’t belong in a museum; new applications for NonStop systems!

Museums have their place, of course, and given the right circumstances can be entertaining. Fortunately for the NonStop community, HPE continues to ensure the future for NonStop remains bright!

There aren’t all that many things that surprise me these days, but the other week I was totally blown away by what I had missed out on all those years I had lived in Niwot, Colorado. Only a few streets away from our former home is the Shelby Car Museum housing priceless gems which we visited for the very first time only now! A current edition Ford GT was behind ropes having sold for $2.5Million and one of the older race cars had a valuation in excess of $40Million. The cars themselves are arranged according to historical events and there is certainly a lot of memorability surrounding all of them. I could have spent a lot more time looking at these cars as the chronicled the history of car racing from long-forgotten tracks all the way up to Sebring, Daytona and naturally enough, Le Mans.

Margo and I have been very fortunate to have seen a number of good cars parked in our garages over the years. When we had residences in both Colorado and Southern California we ended up with two cars at each residence with a fifth as the go-to all-weather option when it came to driving between the two. You might say, we had backups of our backups, but there was frequently a need for Margo and me to head in different directions and also, there was our blossoming career as gentleman racers, although we acknowledge we are using the word racers very loosely as we never competed in door-to-door competition but rather participated in untimed sessions with fellow like-minded enthusiasts. Like almost everyone we knew at the time, we enjoyed reading the book, Racing in the Rain and now that a movie is being made, we will be highly motivated to check it out once it hits the theaters.

A discussion I had with a NonStop vendor this week made me think back to the unexpected pleasure that came with finding the Shelby Museum. It also made me think back of our own vehicles and the transition that has taken place inside our garage. Yes, today we are spending more time in just one car than we ever expected doing and that is our BMW hybrid. It was yet another vendor’s executive who returned from a GTUG event held in Munich a few years ago enthused by all that he had heard about hybrid IT from HPE to where he went out and bought his own hybrid car from BMW. So much for life imitating art, one could speculate.

When it comes to NonStop there was a time when many members of the NonStop community wondered out loud whether or not their sightings of NonStop systems would only ever happen inside museums. Fortunately, life did intervene and as it so happened, it wasn’t a case so much of life imitating art as it was practicality derived from openness. And industry standards! There will come a time when every member of the NonStop community will look back at 2013 and say, I was there when NonStop broke through the last proprietary barrier as it embraced the Intel x86 architecture. In my post to this blog of November 4, 2013, of The real deal - NonStop supports x86! I included the quote by Randy Meyer, then HP VP and GM of Integrity Servers, talking about NonStop as being “a timeless architecture!” How true – five years later and NonStop X systems are gaining much wider attention across the industry. 

Anyone else noticed, too, the return of the message affirming NonStop as being fault tolerant? It only struck me during the conversation this week with the vendor already referenced earlier in this post that at HPE events around the world, signage above the NonStop X systems being demonstrated includes a reference to Fault Tolerant Compute. Check out the signage above, “Redefining Always-On Compute and Storage for Hybrid IT!” Must we say anything more?

The return to the message of Fault Tolerance, undeniably the centerpiece of all previous successful NonStop marketing campaigns decades ago, should really get us excited. And emotional! Certainly, for Product Manager Ozen Ercevik pictured above, it was evident in how enthusiastically he was greeting all those who passed by at HPE Discover. Coming at around the same time many of us reconnected with Jimmy Treybig in Dallas, after so many years, suggests the stars are realigning. And HPE is back orbiting IT with powerful NonStop systems at a time when increasingly, the complexity of imitating NonStop is resulting in more outages than ever before.

It has been more of a curiosity footnote to read how IDC ranks HPE NonStop Systems as being Availability Level 4 (AL4). A curiosity simply because few IT professionals I encounter know what this means and oh, by the way, aren’t IBM mainframes still AL4? I know I am going to light the fires under some detractors but really, IBM mainframes were never designed to be fault tolerant and at best, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Sorting out how to endear IBM mainframe’s Parallel Sysplex with true fault tolerance (and you will need a massive budget and be able to tap the few people still alive who have the expertise to create such configurations) is probably not worth the effort. But again, I digress. You want fault tolerance at the application level then read the sign. With NonStop HPE has a line of Fault Tolerant systems today and it all works out of the box! And we all do value not having to react to late night phone calls as our systems crash, don’t we? Or, much worse, waking up to see TV newscasts telling the world that our application is no longer operational!

But what is really different this time around and what is delaying NonStop systems being on display at our local technology museum?  This is where it gets really interesting. You are good at coding with Java, well then go right ahead and deploy your program on NonStop. No extra work involved and the NonStop middleware will take over and ensure your program is always available. Prefer Python or Perl? No worries; continue coding as NonStop supports this as well. Want to continue to access Oracle but don’t want to pay the bills? Well, your Oracle calls are now supported by NonStop SQL/ MX – just ask HPE IT which is doing exactly this. As with our cars sitting in garages in different cities, NonStop continues to be ahead of the curve when you need to geographically separate business critical processes; massively parallel processing properties make this a breeze and there are well-established products that drop right in that support such business needs. 

It gets even better as HPE has announced support for VMware for its virtualized NonStop product offering – think virtualized NonStop workloads running in your data centers newly developed private cloud! NonStop ready for a museum? I think not!  This is about as powerful a message about NonStop as you can read today and the good news is that by all accounts, HPE marketing is aware of the differentiation that comes with NonStop being fault tolerant and the even more compelling business case NonStop makes for running your most critical business critical applications of all!  You know; the ones that support interaction with your customers and business partners. It’s easy to argue that today, in the everything-connected, always-on, world we live in everything has become a critical process for business and is a candidate for NonStop.

Interesting side note based on recent presentations at user symposiums and HPE events, management isn’t just talking about NonStop in finance and telco but is illustrating NonStop deployments across seven different verticals – who knew? A bakery running NonStop – you’re kidding, but indeed, in Japan for instance, this is exactly what one bakery is doing today. It was an opinion paper I wrote many years ago that was published on the HPE web site and remains accessible today – just click on this link to see the complete paper
HPE NonStop Systems as you haven’t seen them before  - I wrote of some of the more surprising use cases for NonStop but after attending several events, the number of verticals and the instances within the verticals has grown significantly. Shortly, we will see early deployments of blockchain featuring NonStop and NonStop SQL and I have to believe we may see even more verticals develop where NonStop finds a home.

Hybrid IT and the engagement NonStop has with the Hybrid IT mission is truly a godsend for NonStop and the new systems announced five years ago have really helped NonStop come closer to the vision HPE has for IT. In so doing, getting close has meant there will be many more years to go before anyone considers putting NonStop on display in anything other than a data center (traditional NonStop with NonStop X) or cloud (virtualized NonStop with vNonStop and VMware). Yes, as the songwriter said, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!”

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