Sunday, January 27, 2019

HPE is playing the long game with NonStop and IT is the beneficiary!

Looking for a fun ride into the next decade? You can’t do better than jumping onto NonStop – still the best platform for mission critical applications …

Our time down under is now well and truly over. We have returned to Windsor, Colorado, where the weather is taking some getting used to – after a lengthy stay in what can only be described as tropical conditions, it has been snowing here in Colorado and temperatures dropped overnight to 8F degrees (about -13C). Looking back through the photos taken during the time spent in and around Sydney, I came across the photo I took as the family walked towards “The Dish” – one of the largest movable dish radio telescopes ever built. The Dish was also the title of a movie made a while back that highlighted how it was this radio telescope that relayed the signals coming from the moon when Neil Armstrong first stepped onto its surface back in 1969.

Yes, it’s huge. But until you get close enough to give it a good look, its size is deceptive. At 210 feet across it was only beaten, size wise, when a similar radio telescope was erected in Tidbinbilla, close by to Australia’s federal capital, Canberra, which was upgraded to 230 feet in the late 1980s. Both radio telescopes remain operational and still have ties back to the US NASA administration. According to the CSIRO –
The observatory has remained involved in tracking numerous space missions up to the present day, including:
·         Mariner 2
·      Mariner 4
·      Voyager Missions (but no longer due to distance of the probes, only the 70m dish    at the CDSCC can still communicate with the two Voyager probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.)[16]
·      Giotto
·      Galileo
·      Cassini-Huygens

What is remarkable about this is that the city of Parkes other claim to fame happens to be the Parkes Elvis Festival held every January, with Elvis impersonators arriving from all around the world. You just have to believe that seeing so many Elvis impersonators in the very same city as The Dish has some of the locals scratching their heads and wondering whether aliens have arrived in Australia’s outback. What is equally as remarkable is that you soon realize that this is all located out there in the middle of nowhere!

It is only with trips touching the perimeter of the outback that you get a real sense of how big continental Australia really is and how remote are the townships with their pubs, gas stations and newsagents! You also realize how challenging it is to live on the second driest continent that, at this time of year, is proving to be among the hottest places to be found anywhere on the planet. Challenging? Remote? Middle of nowhere?

As I look back at places we visited during our time down under, I can’t help but muse on the opportunities ahead of NonStop in 2019. HPE has done much of the heavy lifting needed to bring NonStop back into relevance for CIOs and data center managers, but the onus is still on the majority of the NonStop user community to translate this heavy lifting into meaningful deployments in support of the most critical of mission critical applications that just have to run without any interruption. It’s also a clarion call to the NonStop vendor community to help simplify the tasks of managing NonStop as well as developing new applications on NonStop. There are still many NonStop users that feature NonStop at the very heart of their operations and who will continue to depend on NonStop for as long as HPE keeps on making NonStop.

In a recent post to a financial blog that appeared shortly after IBM announced its fourth quarter (and year ending) financial results January 22, 2019 retail investor, Tom Armistead, wrote of how he was quitting investing in IBM. Among the remarks he made was the observation that, “In the 2017 10-K, (IBM) noted that Unix is being supplanted by Linux, without specifying what its strategy and tactics as far as participating in the transition were expected to be. My initial reaction to the planned acquisition of Red Hat (which is all about Linux) was favorable, in that they had to do something, and the transaction was of sufficient size to make a difference.” With respect to the Red Hat acquisition, if it goes through to completion, Armistead added, “It's Hail Mary business thinking - bet the farm on one last shot at a quick recovery. It's the same scenario, an old tech company languishing while innovators flourish, then trying to buy its way back into the game.”

Yes, IBM is experiencing challenging times even as, from a technology perspective, it is in the middle of nowhere when it comes to transforming to Hybrid IT. Its plans to push deeper into cloud computing have stalled even as it hasn’t been making a lot of money from its extensive library of patents. And all the while the Unix market and indeed, IBM’s persistence in relying on proprietary Power chip sets, is only adding to the remoteness many of its enterprise customers are feeling right now. IBM continues to promote zLinux, advertising how the combination of zSystems / zLinux provides, “
A powerful node for new capabilities, revenue generation, and cost savings. See what is possible with a more secure and reliable Linux platform.”

Ouch – a more expensive option for Linux can scarcely be imagined and the point here is that having sold its x86 server business (to Lenovo), it’s an all or nothing gamble as few enterprises would ever consider deploying zSystems for the first time. zLinux only appeals to current mainframe users who have excess capacity and view Hybrid IT as being little more than running zLinux alongside zOS until their cloud compute environment becomes fully operational. Compare this to the x86 based NonStop system we have today where the L-Series operating system opens the door to running NonStop not only on x86 metal but on any hypervisor running atop x86. Such flexibility drives home the importance of industry standards and commoditization in a real way – you no longer write to NonStop but rather to SQL, to Java and to frameworks that allow you to very easily port to NonStop.

There comes a time when you just have to take stock of what is needed and what is on offer when addressing the business needs of enterprise IT today. Whereas IBM focuses on the mainframe and looks around to what could be deployed on the mainframe, NonStop has turned the tables right around. You want a highly available platform to support mission critical in a way that is completely fault tolerant – you have NonStop. You want to scale out to whatever – you have that too on NonStop. And so the list unfolds – your mission critical application has very specific requirements and NonStop accommodates. The IT world is no longer heavily centralized, but rather it’s distributed and NonStop plays better in a distributed IT world than almost any other “seven nines” platform.

I have been in IT for a very long time – in November, 2019, I have been in IT for five decades. I have seen IBM pull away from the BUNCH and fend off the emergence of a very competitive, albeit potentially disruptive, Plug Compatible Mainframe (PCM) business. It is with a tinge of sadness that I am seeing the decline of the mainframe as this was my introduction into IT and for some time now I have been of the opinion that you should not “go long” on IBM, but rather to short your positions should you have any investments in IBM stock. Having written this, I am not privy to any inside scoop or have access to information other than I read in trade publications.   

On the other hand, it is with a great sense of relief that those in power at HPE gave NonStop its due and invested in the new NonStop. To put it mildly, NonStop is no longer in the middle of nowhere and it doesn’t need a massive, world-beating Dish to be sensitive to what is happening all around it – NonStop is right there in the mix of today’s competitive IT landscape. You want Linux then just look at the new NS2 for an insight into how to best do virtualization in as open a fashion as is possible in the world of x86 today. In time, IBM will be broken up and there will be numerous spin-mergers announced. It’s inevitable. And yet, why NonStop? It’s still the best solution on offer today from any vendor that meets all the criteria business demands when it comes to running those all-important mission critical applications.  

HPE can only benefit from being early to this spin-merger game and that NonStop was recognized “core software” is important for everyone in the NonStop community to acknowledge. Aren’t you glad you maintained your investment in NonStop? Aren’t you glad that HPE NonStop developers made the migration to x86 as easy as they did for you? And there is no doubting that the virtualized NonStop (vNS) is going to become an important option for many looking to embrace private clouds – aren’t you pleased to see that option become available?  

You don’t need a world class radio telescope to pick up the signals emanating from HPE when it comes to NonStop these days – all you need do is visit any Regional User Group (RUG) meeting to hear firsthand from the NonStop user community. They have all the real inside scoop when it comes to how well NonStop performs today in support of mission critical business applications. From everything HPE is telling us, if you want to assess the future of NonStop today then all I can add is to “go long!” It’s going to be a fun ride for all us in the 2020s.  

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