Sunday, February 23, 2020

Best of both worlds – NonStop has you covered!

It hasn’t been hard to catch a sunset or two in California; for the NonStop community, it’s time to look again at twin stars (as covered in a post more than a decade ago) that is even more relevant today!

Looking towards the far-off horizon especially when it has to do with watching the sun set over the ocean has always been a sight that has grabbed my attention. Of late, Margo and I have had the opportunity to drive up and down on California’s coastal highway where there was more than one occasion to enjoy brilliant sunsets. Margo and I now live in northern Colorado where it is not the sea but rather the mountains that frame the suns last rays but, all the same, it is a reminder that no matter what took place during the day, there is a finality to it all; the sun has set and night will prevail.

Paging through older posts to this blog I came across the post of October 20, 2007, The pull from twin stars ... published just after the European ITUG event in Brighton, England. It began with references to the very first Star Wars film (Episode IV). Given the topical nature of all things Star Wars of late, you may not recall that in that first installment of the Star Wars saga, Luke Skywalker was depicted living on a planet that orbited two suns where the double sunsets were a spectacular sight.

Two suns or better still, twin stars, present in the real universe exhibit some pretty interesting gravitational effects – pulling very large bodies into their orbits while, over millions of years, kicking many heavenly bodies into the depths of deep space. Bright as they are they are turning up pretty much everywhere astronomers look. And yet, this image of competing forces got me thinking once again about this new decade for NonStop. It’s hard to ignore that change is taking place, rapidly, to the point where vendors like HPE are wrestling with solution priorities as no vendor can address it all!

Furthermore, when you think of twin stars, gravity and the inherent conflicts that arise from the presence of such twins, images of conflicted CIOs come to mind. In that post of 2007, I noted that when looking for the right solution (to today’s business problems), there is more often than not the question about “the dynamics of the pull and push effects on our data center, as we first distribute and then centralize. We empower our department users and then we pull it all back again. And over the years there have been very sound economic reasons in support for each directional change.” But is it really a question at all? Are we in fact on the receiving end of the best of both worlds where there really isn’t any wrong answer – just answers?

What is even more interesting to Margo and me is that as we scrolled back even further through the blog we came to a post just a few days beforehand. If you look at the comments that followed the October 6, 2007, post, Don’t change my toys! When it comes to further consideration of what answers will work for business today, it’s good to note that there is nothing new about such discussions as even after a decade, some observations still ring true today. For instance, with regards to the October 6, 2007, post -

Take a look at the first comment:

Shouldn’t we be spending our time addressing the requirements of our business more than re-working our code? Shouldn’t our NonStop servers be transparent to the graduates out of school wanting to develop solutions?

We are spending tremendous energy and money to make the systems (toys) we use make sense to more of us. Just further evidence to me that the hardware is reaching its limits and has far outstripped the soft side of IT.

And then the subsequent comment:

We are still "babes in the woods."

We are just beginning to feel the first waves of compressed time in a rapidly changing world. Platforms, environments, UI's cannot and will not remain the same... unless we want stagnation. Get used to it.

There is much that I could say about these separate comments even as they resonate as strongly with me today as they did all that time ago. And who could have guessed we would still be talking about how best to “educate” IT professionals about how easy it is to write solutions for NonStop even as we continue to think in terms of the world being software driven. 

But there is one more item that needs to be included here and that is that circling back to the issue of two stars, and the influence they exert, given that today we have the issue of where NonStop lives in a world dominated by conversations of the Core and the Edge. While there are some questions about the gravitational effects on orbiting satellites when it comes to whether or not this HPE strategy is having an effect on NonStop then the simple answer is, of course!

Analogies with heavenly bodies can only go so far and as the comments posted back in 2007 highlight, there are just as many questions as there are describable business scenarios. However, when it comes to NonStop systems today, we can safely say we have the best of both worlds – for support of databases and SQL at the core, NonStop performs well and for support of transaction processing at touch points with end users NonStop performs equally as well. Throw into the mix the option to deploy a traditional converged system or virtualized and companies now have an abundance of riches with NonStop.

When describing the conflicts faced by CIOs it’s hard to ignore too that they are being tugged back and forth. The comment made all those years ago that asked “
Shouldn’t our NonStop servers be transparent to the graduates out of school wanting to develop solutions?” is right on the money. While other vendors are promoting the programs they are supporting at universities around the planet, the real answer lies in ensuring the tools we use today to develop solutions for systems can readily be used with NonStop. In other words, use the tools you have – no training required! In a world where it’s all about DevOps, deployment on NonStop shouldn’t be a problem.

Given the work done of late to ensure NonStop can participate as easily as any other system in a DevOps world, there is little chance that the ill effects of gravity hurling orbiting bodies deep into outer space will apply to NonStop. And this is indeed good news. As a community we now know that we can leverage the attributes of NonStop – availability, security, scalability – easily and readily just as we now know we can deploy NonStop at the Core or the Edge. Perhaps the heavens can continue to educate us after all; the models that hold the universe together seem to be working quite satisfactorily since time immemorially.

Looking at sunsets as we often do on our travels, particularly when it involves travel to the west coast where sunsets involve watching the sun disappear over the horizon, is a time-honored custom for Margo and me. But then again, so too is ruminating on the positive aspects of NonStop and the benefits NonStop continues to bring to companies whose business cannot be interrupted for any reason. 

Gravity indeed may influence the decisions we make but isn’t it good to know, we are maintaining a stable orbit around the mission critical needs of those businesses. There will indeed be challenges ahead in this new decade but taking a positive stance over NonStop will not be one of those challenges and as a community, this is perhaps the bright spot of the year for us all!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

It’s time for three more wishes for NonStop!

Three years have come around rather quickly this time but it’s still worth thinking further ahead when it comes to our wishes for NonStop in 2023!

Celebrating each New Year comes with a lot of obligations. It’s not just a case of staying up late to enjoy the fireworks, although, I have to say, I haven’t managed to do that very often – my trip to Sydney to see its firework display being the most memorable exception. Then there is the mandatory popping of champagne corks and celebratory hugs, and more, and it was only a few years ago when Margo and I took to the streets of Key West to witness its approach to welcoming the New Year, where we were quickly educated about crowd control. However, perhaps entering each New Year is even more memorable because of the tradition of making a wish. Whether it’s embracing a new diet, spending more time at the gym or simply deciding to spend more time outdoors, each of us makes a wish / resolution of one kind or another.

Having written this, it seems only appropriate that I segue into the focus of this post – it’s a post I always approach with enthusiasm. I write it only once every three years, but even now, with the rate of change accelerating perhaps I need to consider providing an updated list of wishes at the start of each year. Imagine for a moment, as some pundits are declaring, what IT might look like in the future if the cost of computing does indeed go to zero. How far would you like to see computing go in terms of interacting with everything we do? On the other hand, what if it meant that NonStop could run everywhere and anchor all applications we would then be relying on round the clock, every week, every month, every year?

However, before taking a deeper dive into my next three wishes, it struck me that with the beginning of a new decade and as we move deeper into the twenty-first century, what predictions others had been making that were more general in nature. As a CNN Business report published, Nanobots, ape chauffeurs and flights to Pluto. The predictions for 2020 we got horribly wrong that weren’t shy about reporting on the shortcomings of some predictions. “According to various experts, scientists and futurologists, we would have landed on Pluto and robots should be doing our laundry by now. Oh, and we'd all be living to 150. ‘Futurists and technology experts say robots and artificial intelligence of various sorts will become an accepted part of daily life by the year 2020 and will almost completely take over physical work,’ Elon University noted in 2006.”

Furthermore, and just a little closer to home and to reality, it was also reported by CNN that “in 2000 (futurist Ray) Kurzweil also predicted that computers would be ‘largely invisible’ and ‘embedded everywhere - in walls, tables, chairs, desks, clothing, jewelry, and bodies,’ by 2020.” What doesn’t escape our imagination is that indeed, we are close to entering an era where robots can do many of the tasks we do today and much of the information we gather and the transactions we execute will be guided by AI somewhere in the background. If only we could get rid of those dreaded chatbots, we might be able to see better uses of data and ML / AL becoming beneficial to us all. One last prediction as reported by CNN: “In 2000, Eric Haseltine wrote in Discover magazine that written signatures would be ‘considered quaint’ by 2020, replaced by biometric IDs, including iris, fingerprint and voice-recognition systems.”

Back in posts to this blog in 2008 I managed to squeeze in two separate quotes by legendary baseball manager Yogi Berra. In the March 2008 post The path well-trodden – to Mandalay Bay! , where I wrote hesitantly about which NonStop products will gain traction with the community, I wrote that when making predictions we might do well to remember Berra when he said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” It was only a matter of a few months later in the June 2008 post It's still the same, just different! where I wrote about strategy and setting directions, I again referenced Berra noting how he once said, “If you don't know where you're going, chances are you will end up somewhere else.” When it comes to NonStop it is indeed tough to make predictions about the future of NonStop even as it’s perhaps even tougher to state categorically where NonStop is headed.

Putting all of this aside for one moment, there is still value in taking the information the NonStop team has provided in presentations given to the NonStop community in 2019 and extrapolating a couple of highlights that in turn can be used to anchor further conversations about what might happen over the course of the next three years. Naturally enough, in the preview post of July 30, 2019, Three more wishes coming soon – the path ahead for NonStop I dropped a few clues as to what I might be covering in this post. But then again, in the short time that has passed since that post was published, events have intervened to the point where the direction has changed and the predictions taken on a different meaning.

If we are looking to start then it is useful to look back at what three wishes were documented on February 13, 2019, Three new wishes for NonStop that address the next three years! To summarize, these included predictions that NonStop users would be buying more NonStop X systems and in migrating to L-Series OS, begin looking at virtualized NonStop. As for NonStop vendors, it was an admonishment to them to lift their game not so much because they were slipping behind as much as it was an encouragement to keep up with NonStop development. When it came to the NonStop development team, the predictions here would be that we would see more education, training, mentoring and promotion and this was to be driven by a need to better educate the industry (including the press and industry analysts) about the new NonStop! So, how did we do?

Sales of NonStop X really took off in 2019 and new services in support of modernization and migration were introduced. Virtualized NonStop has come through some serious PoCs and contracts have been signed. Virtualized NonStop too has been the subject of a HPE video that is now live and can be viewed at -

Or, if you prefer to view this video on Youtube, that too is now an option

Furthermore, HPE Mission Critical Systems (MCS) marketing has published a new post on the subject of virtualization and Virtualized NonStop that can be found at -

This uptick by MCS marketing is refreshing to see in that it is a tangible sign that NonStop is very much a part of HPE’s modernization program. When you think about it this is one aspect of my wishes for NonStop through the years, that are coming to fruition, even as it has been an area of interest for most of us – well done HPE and the MCS team!

As for NonStop vendors, they did indeed step up their game and the NonStop community now sees more vendor products included in the NonStop price book than ever before. As for NonStop development, including the Mission Critical Systems (MCS) marketing team, we have seen three videos produced promoting NonStop even as at major events, symposiums and boot camps, we have seen presentations being given that were designed to educate and challenge. The changes that I wished for in that post of three years ago have mostly come true even if looking back, they weren’t all that aggressive in terms of measurable deliverables.

However, this all changes with this post as, once again, we go out on a limb. Predicting the future may indeed be hard but then again, it’s also an opportunity to begin a whole new conversation on NonStop. To put headings or titles to these latest three wishes, then perhaps these will prove helpful: Three Platforms, One Channel and yes, Transparency. HPE has laid out its vision and is executing a strategy that targets June 2022 – their own three year plan if you like, that was launched last June at HPE Discover 2019. When it comes to transforming the enterprise and delivering Hybrid IT based on a model that calls out Data, the Core and the Intelligent Edge, everything available today at the Core will become available for the Edge and everything in the product portfolio that is software will become available as a service.

And now for the wishes that I have for the next three years!

Firstly, NonStop will be an option on all primary systems from HPE: Three Platforms - from ProLiant, to Synergy, to Apollo! In some instance this will result in NonStop “morphing” into just a feature of these product lines whereas there will be other instances where NonStop as software will be present on a co-processor plugged into massive amounts of shared data. Virtualized NonStop will hold the key and in so doing, proves that there will be no limits as to where NonStop can be deployed; consider this as a key deliverable within the framework of everything running at the Core will become available at the Edge. Within the Core or out on the Edge, enterprises will have options and it is only reasonable to expect NonStop to gravitate closer to where the action takes place – the Edge. 

Secondly, NonStop will find its place (and role) within HPE Greenlake: One channel!  The recent announcement of Greenlake Central is setting the stage for delivering on the promise of everything as a service. If all goes to plan, this will make NonStop available through major channel partners and combined with the new gateway / console model, almost any business manager will be able to choose to run mission-critical applications on NonStop. HPE will retain a dedicated sales force in support of NonStop but in time, as HPE gains experience with NonStop participation in Greenlake, the emphasis will likely shift to this sales force becoming more integrated within Greenlake.

Thirdly, there is still a lot taking place within the data center where you will see progressively greater usage of private clouds: Transparency in that you may not know where NonStop is running and it won’t matter. We are still seeing the majority of NonStop users deploying NonStop on traditional converged systems, but very quickly and because of the cost savings from reliance on standardized automation, orchestration and provisioning and yes, management and monitoring, NonStop on private clouds will prove popular and in three years’ time, begin overtaking the presence of NonStop on traditional systems. We will see a clearer understanding of how enterprises can benefit from infrastructure and middleware running on NonStop such that DevOps will be able to include NonStop deployments complete transparently – and hasn’t this always been an ultimate goal for NonStop?

When it comes to starting a new conversation on NonStop, perhaps it should begin with the new mantra being repeated in all high level presentations on NonStop: Industry Standard, Software Defined, Cloud Optimized. Yes, NonStop? Won’t Stop! That too conveys a lot in just a few simple words. So, to really put it out there, I see a future for NonStop that even the newest member of the IT organization can assemble new services using Java or Python or Ruby together with tools that are being widely deployed today across the IT organization including the likes of Puppet, Chef, Jenkins, Salt, Ansible, Kubernetes, Docker, Nagios, Cloud Computing and storage platform, and Infrastructure as a Code.  Yes, the barriers have come down to where today GIT and Jenkins run on NonStop just as NonStop can interface with Ansible.

NonStop on all systems! NonStop in all channels! And yes, NonStop becoming transparent, disappearing as it were, into the cloud. All that is then left to ask: Are you ready? 

Monday, February 3, 2020

For NonStop users, feeling all at sea - RUG events are a must!

Where do we really learn about what’s new with NonStop? Who do we turn to for the real skinny on all things NonStop? It’s when the NonStop community comes together at RUG meetings where it all happens!

Many of the miles Margo and I accumulate on our cars, in any one year, have to do with driving to Regional User Group (RUG) meetings. For us both, it’s an integral part of the culture that is NonStop. We wouldn’t miss an event held anywhere in North America if we can attend and oftentimes memories of past meetings are only triggered when we remember which car we drove to the event. There were even times where we elected to drive our former Company Command Center clear across country. Maneuvering the RV in and around Virginia proved a daunting task I have to admit!

But then again, we like to drive. This past month it’s been all about the drive, once again. If you come up short on the specifics of those recent trips, you may want to just check back through recent posts to this blog as well as to the January post to our social blog, Buckle-Up. All up, driving is a time to decompress and to simply take solace from a little downtime. How many times have we started our day looking forward to pursuing a task only to have the day’s plans turned upside down with an email or a phone call? For the NonStop community, particularly the NonStop user community, so much is taking place within our companies that simply staying atop of change is proving particularly challenging.

Long gone are the days sitting in a classroom setting listening to knowledgeable instructors talking about how best to leverage our investment in NonStop. It is perhaps a sad commentary on the times when we no longer have budget approval to upgrade our skills – remember those times when we would happily participate in a three-week course on data base, especially when the fundamentals of a relational data base  management system (and SQL) were being covered? Or when there was an in-depth tutorial on how best to capitalize on the features of a transaction monitor like Pathway? Point is, if we cannot find a Youtube clip walking us through a process then we are left bereft of knowledge and that’s never good in our world of IT.

Fortunately, the NonStop community has RUG events. For as long as I can recall, there has always been some form of education involved, whether directly through an optional half-day session or indirectly, where a NonStop engineer or product manager is presenting. When it comes to the bigger events that are held annually either here in the US or in Europe, there are frequently front-ended by full days’ worth of education and the value that participants derive from the guidance and information provided is well, priceless. It cannot be underestimated or downplayed in any way – gathering of the NonStop community always communicate something beneficial to the participants no matter the focus of the event or the agendas of the presenters.

Shortly, we will see SunTUG kick-off its much anticipated RUG event in Tampa, Florida. Anticipated, that is, by all those who continue to be knee-deep in snow. Any opportunity to embrace the “snowbird lifestyle” is welcome at this time of year. I have attended several SunTUG events through the years and the team that puts the program together always makes sure that there is a social day immediately following the formalities. Once again, it will be the SunTUG Golf Tournament. Living alongside a golf course in Northern Colorado these days is no substitute for being on a course in Florida and I am expecting a goodly crowd to show up for both the formal and social portions of the event.

Successful RUG events have traditionally been associated with opportunities to socialize. And this is an important aspect of RUG events as it’s always a time for informal discussions on matters raised at the event. Strategies can be fine-tuned and complex infrastructure options all sorted out. In days when there’s an absence of meaningful user case studies oftentimes, it is over networking opportunities where we jet the skinny on what really works and what’s still very much slideware. Who else should you be turning to other than to a colleague that is already a couple of steps further along the product deployment path than you are?

When it comes to NonStop RUG events in 2020 what may very well top the list of topics being covered will be virtualization. This is very much a topic near and dear to my heart having first tested the virtualization waters five decades ago (yes, I was a child prodigy as I keep reminding myself). Replacing traditional converged NonStop systems with virtual machines is well, different. After being inundated for decades with the message that Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) computing models were the way to go and that having many touchpoints to the metal was important, it’s as if we have left dry land and are all at sea – the seabed now hundreds if not thousands of feet beneath us. 

The novelty of Virtualized NonStop is beginning to wear off, fortunately. And yet that feeling of being out of our depth, with no lifeboat, to be seen is a reoccurring thought many of us are having – will NonStop lose its identity, for instance? If NonStop is out there, running atop hypervisors as a collection of virtual machines, does it even exist? Of course, any existential musings we may experience may only alleviate part of our angst that is, until we catch up with the experts at the very next RUG event! Want to know about lifeboats when all at sea? Just talk to a NonStop solutions architect or someone from product management as they pretty much have the seabed all mapped out for us.

This time last year I was all at sea, literally. On the Majestic Princess – a monstrously large vessel that is a city more than a mode of transportation. One of its features was a glass walkway that curved away from the ship all the better to view the sea below and yes, the lifeboats still in their derricks just a few decks above the waterline. Several times, late at night when it was all quiet on deck, I would walk out onto this glass deck just to watch the waters rushing by – for a big ship, the Majestic could ease any concerns you may have for your safety. It was a modern ship and as such, its propulsion system ensured that at that late hour, it could cut through the waters at a high rate of knots.

When it comes to RUG events, it’s unrealistic to view them as our life rafts. Yes, NonStop is moving forward very rapidly and yes, we no longer have our feet on dry land. And yet, knowing we can turn to life rafts should situations develop is comforting. There is so much to be learnt from RUG events: Isn’t it good to know that, with the speed of change taking place with today’s modern NonStop, there’s no reason at all why we need to lack knowledge on any NonStop related topic. It’s all out there and it’s all accessible.

Perhaps the image of a life raft isn’t as much a comfort as it is a tangible reminder that we all need to be onboard the ship. Moving with the speed of the ship, well aware of where we are headed. As the year unfolds before us there will be plenty of opportunities to network and socialize even as we hear from HPE itself – will we see you at one of these events? Margo and I will certainly be attending as many as we can, so don’t hesitate in coming to us even if it’s just to say Hi! We would be only too happy to chat about the good ship, NonStop! 

Friday, January 24, 2020

What industry vertical comes next for NonStop?

As is so often the case, the NonStop community is looking at where growth will occur next; simple answer? Everywhere …

Traversing the continental United States as often as we do it’s easy to forget what we have seen along the way. From North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the San Francisco Bay, we have pretty much seen it all. In the last year, we chalked up some 50,000 plus miles in our vehicles and each time we pull back onto the driveway of our Windsor, Colorado, home much of what we have seen becomes little more than a blur. From the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, to the massive salt works outside Salt Lake City and then the many transportation hubs between there and the Mississippi, you would be hard pressed to think of anything other than the immense diversity of industry between the coastlines that define America!

January is almost at an end and already, Margo and I are thinking about the upcoming European NonStop HotSpot 2020 - Conference & Exhibition. It will be a surefire way to kick of the year. Taking place in Berlin it will certainly be a drawcard for most of the European members of the NonStop community even as it will prove popular with the NonStop vendors. As for your team from Pyalla Technologies well, you guessed it, we will be participating and hope to be able to catch up with all of you. Take this as an early reminder as once again, I have been invited to present an update on behalf of NTI, an opportunity for which we have to give the NTI team a big thank you.

While covering the NonStop community has been a priority for Pyalla for many years now – it’s hard to accept that the company has been in business for more than a decade where the only downside we can admit to is that yes, you guessed it, Margo and I are both ten years older. But then again, we all are a decade or more older than when we first began blogging just prior to a similar event, the European ITUG summit that was held in Brighton, England, back in the fall of 2007. Admittedly, this was a couple of years before we created Pyalla and yet, with those very early faltering steps towards a career in writing, writing blogs has essentially defined us. However, with the connection we now enjoy with the NonStop community globally, one question continues to be asked. Where will NonStop make its next big impression on an industry vertical?

Our most recent trip to San Francisco, with extended visits to Silicon Valley, gave us an opportunity to pause for just a moment and to talk openly with colleagues and friends about what might be next for NonStop. As the picture above so accurately portrays, to enter the rest area we had to leave the freeway. Isn’t that a reminder that to really see what’s happening all around us, we do need to step away from our daily routines? No surprises here, I have to admit and I am probably not the first person to make this observation, but when it comes to NonStop systems today, they can support almost anything that involves a transaction; an interaction between end users (including consumers) and a service.

NonStop is many things to many industries, but before looking more deeply into what industries really benefit from NonStop I can’t help being amused by an interaction between two actors captured in an episode of Burke’s Law that ran in the mid ‘60s. In the episode “Who Killed 711?” the detective asks a murder suspect:

“What is it?”
“Well, it’s my therapy. I’m still perfecting it.”
“What does it do?”
“What’s it for?”
“Well, nothing — nothing. I mean, that’s the beauty of it. Every machine in the world does something, but not mine.”

Even after all these years, it makes me think of what was talked about in the labs of Tandem Computers as folks began putting together that very first NonStop I system. What does it do? Well, it doesn’t stop, for starters, and yes, that just has to be therapy for many data center managers of the day! Yes, you can go home of an evening and no, the system will not fail you. Good grief, you won’t even need all those system and infrastructure personnel you employ today – it’s just that simple to use. Forget your mainframe; Tandem Computers delivers the intelligent front-end you have been looking for all this time. That mainframe may go down but transactions processed by your Tandem will just keep on going either stand-alone and saving exceptions for later transmission to a reinstated back end or switched to another back end machine as network connections support.

Today, NonStop systems covering more than one generation of servers, dominate the financial industry. The undisputed champion of never failing to process an online transaction whether initiated at an ATM, a POS, a mobile phone or from you laptop, wherever you happen to be. $3.6+ trillion of credit and debit card “charge volume” each year. The largest retail payments processor in the world runs NonStop just as three out of the four top gas stations’ acquiring networks in the US likewise depend on NonStop. Just stop and think about it – you go online and purchase goods or even services and your card will hit at least one NonStop system, no matter where you happen to be in the world.

Leveraging this distinct advantage with financial institutions and taking it to other industries though has proved elusive in recent times. In the past it was easier to talk about the presence of NonStop in Telcos, Healthcare even Newspapers. Not to forget that quickly the sizable footprint NonStop enjoyed at Stock Exchanges all over the world. Changes in leadership, changes in ownership and changes in priorities have all had an effect, but here’s the truly great news for NonStop: it’s no longer a case of looking for that next killer solution that leads to domination in a market vertical. The reality is that ever so gradually, NonStop is becoming a presence in many industries. Who could have imagined NonStop in transportation – from ticketing to tracking baggage! It’s all being done on NonStop and its taking place in Europe, Asia and America; railways, airlines, car rental firms – NonStop does it all!

Who would have imagined there would be a call to install NonStop in support of a bakery and yet, that has already happened. Who would have thought lines of robots would be managed by a NonStop? Who would have thought one of the world’s largest container seaports would be overseen by NonStop systems?  And who could have possibly imagined that technology companies would be dependent upon NonStop for mission critical application support?  Manufacturing, transportation, distribution and much more – it’s all about solving current business problems where the business needs to be in business 24 x 7 to remain competitive. Killer applications? Think more of an ever-adapting killer server that can be deployed as either a converged or virtual system.

Every machine in the world does something, but only NonStop does it unfailingly. When you take the time to step back and look at what is possible – and who hasn’t seen HPE’s Franz Koenig give his presentation, NonStop – The art of the possible? – the only ingredient missing is us! As a community we hold the key to the future of NonStop. Our testimony over what we can do with NonStop is all that is required – case studies and references sell C-levels everywhere. When it comes time for the European event in May, I have to believe Franz will be providing an update and if as yet you haven’t seen it then make sure you do. Furthermore, make sure your company hears about it as the message here is just as much about letting every company running NonStop today know it isn’t alone in so doing. Isn’t that cool?

For many of us, attending the big events held each year are times to pull off the freeway and into a rest area. It’s a time to take a breather and catch up on what others are doing. It’s a time to take a good hard look at what the NonStop vendor community is providing. And it’s a good time to simply take it all in – every NonStop in the world really does something important. Will you be looking to apply your NonStop system to the benefit of your company and in so doing, bring NonStop to yet another market vertical? And when you do, let us all know as I am confident there really isn’t any impediments in the way to NonStop processing every transaction that emerges in this brand spanking new decade!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Seriously: Are you keeping up with NonStop?

Yet one more trip to San Francisco and this time, it was all about taking in the history of the place even as we came to better appreciate the contribution NonStop still makes to Silicon Valley!

These past few weeks have seen Margo and me back on the road again. If you read the last post to this blog, you will have read about our most recent trip to the west coast that gave us an opportunity to view the history of Silicon Valley. From the original garage where Hewlett and Packard began HP to where the Google lads rented a garage to plot their entry into the search business to the Facebook, Google and Apple campuses and not forgetting breakfast at Buck’s Restaurant at Woodside or a drive around the parking lot of Kleiner Perkins we managed to absorb a lot of what it takes to keep Silicon Valley as prosperous as it is today. Other locations attempt to compete telling investors that they are the next up-and-coming Silicon Valley, but none have succeeded to date.

However, the trip to the California gave us a lot more than sightseeing opportunities as it was time to sit down and reflect on the current state of affairs with one of Australia’s best performing executives, Dieter Monch. We have friends in Sydney, Australia, who have played golf with Dieter and only this week, playing in Palm Springs, he landed a hole-in-one. After a successful management career it wasn’t surprising to see Dieter becoming an investor so you can imagine where most conversations headed. But then, this was a brief encounter, but it led to me making a number of observations after we parted ways (and before I heard of him hit that hole-in-one). Chief of which was just how frequently we turn to the internet for all sorts of information.

It would be all too easy for me to say that without the arrival of the internet and the rise in social media it’s hard to imagine a thriving magazine and newspaper business in the future. Yes, we spent some time touring Hearst Castle as we listened to just how powerful publisher Hearst became (he spent an unimaginable $9 million on his hilltop estate, or ranch, back in the ‘20s), but today, it’s no longer the likes of the Turners and the Murdochs that have taken on the mantel of media mogul but rather the folks at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and the likes. 

While Murdoch sold off a good chunk of his business to focus on media I am more than sure we will see his interest in traditional publications wane considerably even as he takes another shot at becoming a major player with digital publications. On the other hand, things didn’t altogether go swimmingly after the company bought MySpace which, at the time, was the largest social networking site in the world.

Time hasn’t always been good to even the most popular vendors in Silicon Valley. The photo at the top of the page featuring SUN Corporation isn’t easy to find and we came across it quite by accident. In case you aren’t aware of the story, Facebook now occupies what was once the SUN campus and while their name and signature icon adorns the sign facing the traffic, walk behind that sign and scramble into the bushes and there you will see the only reminder of a once major player in Silicon Valley. On the other hand, it wasn’t easy for Margo and me to embrace the new Apple headquarters – spaceship Apple – as its construction pretty much took out all the buildings (and signage) that once were home to the sprawling campus of Tandem Computers. So much for the 201 Comm building or the 247 DSM building, both of which featured strongly in both of Margo and my careers! 

When it comes to checking out facts and looking up sites, there really isn’t any substitute for the search engines we turn to when so challenged. It’s easy to overlook how drastically Silicon Valley “do-overs” have altered the landscape. The new headquarters of HPE down at the southern tip of The Bay are nice enough, but they are now just one of many high-rise glass structures you will see at the bottom end of Silicon Valley. 

As much as we like to talk about virtualization these days, when it comes to NonStop there really isn’t a physical campus any longer but rather a NonStop team networked around the planet. Of itself, that isn’t necessarily all that bad – I read that there are now NonStop developers near my office, here, outside Ft Collins, Colorado – but it proves that one of the benefits provided by the internet is that connectivity is no longer an issue and everyone can be anywhere when it comes to contributing to a development project.

While reading through Facebook and checking out different groups, I always find time to check out what is being posted to the Facebook group, Tandem Computers. A lot of memorabilia surfaces and there have been times when I have been envious about one collectable or another from the ‘80s and ‘90s that for one reason or another I failed to retain. What did catch my eye was a post by Lou Custodio, a former employee of Tandem Computers back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, that included maps of the Tandem campus - and a big thanks to Lou for providing this graphic! While it didn’t bring tears to my eyes, as it were, it did remind me of just how large a presence Tandem had in Silicon Valley and of how much distance I covered walking between buildings 2 and 247.

A lot has changed since those times and it’s hard to ignore how strongly emotions run whenever the past is brought up; let’s not forget that Tandem Computers was a great place to work or that its technology changed the world. However, despite how often we talk about Tandem Computers, it’s important to recognize the new NonStop even as I ask the question, have you been keeping up with today’s NonStop? We should never ignore history but it’s equally as important to be well-informed about the new chapters that are being added to this company’s history. 

Being on social media as frequently as I am, it’s still surprising to read from those active in the industry who ask about Tandem and whether Tandem is still around? When it comes to keeping up with NonStop, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that in pursuit of transformation, enterprises everywhere still value availability, security and scalability.

I have written a lot of late about Hybrid IT, Cloud Computing and Virtualization to where I am being careful not to fall victim of my own words. By this I mean out of necessity I have to put to one side my rose-colored glasses to be sure I am giving NonStop a fair shake. NonStop has come such a long way in a relatively short timeframe and yet, it’s only now that we are seeing enterprises deploying the new NonStop – a creative mix of traditional converged systems based on x86 servers and virtualized systems (including virtualized converged systems) capable of being deployed in private clouds.

What is really changing is that the shift to virtualized NonStop encourages enterprises to better leverage the skills of their IT organization through the use of the very same automation, orchestration and management tools that they rely upon when interacting with other servers. Suddenly, oversight on a single pane of glass becomes very real and with that, the cost of NonStop comes down significantly. Again, have you been keeping up with NonStop and have you relayed all you know back to the rest of the enterprise? For sure, NonStop has deep roots within Silicon Valley and supporting signage to that effect may be long gone but NonStop’s contribution to the enterprise hasn’t lessened in any way. It’s still providing the premier platform for enterprises’ mission-critical applications.

Thinking back to Dieter Monch and his hole-in-one this past week reminds Margo and me of the many times we sat in meetings in Cupertino as the Tandem Computers management team described the next big thing that they would deliver. Having sat through Cyclone, Himalaya and the S-Series there were always surprises lurking around every corner, none more so than when we all heard Microsoft Bill Gates had visited with management and was making an investment in fault tolerance. 

Wow! Fast forward to today and it’s encouraging to know that across Silicon Valley there are many vendors – think of Microsoft, VMware and the likes – where NonStop knowledge resides. And that’s perhaps the biggest take away from our recent trip to Silicon Valley as insiders everywhere know of the contribution NonStop continues to make for enterprises everywhere. If you have been keeping up with NonStop then perhaps this is the equivalent of the hole-in-one after all. As a community we certainly have a lot to look back on but more importantly, there is so much more still to come from NonStop. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

When things go right!

A trip to the west coast that crosses both the Rockies and the Sierras is always fraught with potential disaster but this time, a little snow didn’t deter us and things just went right for us …

This time last year I wrote the post, What does Sydney bring to the table … as Margo and I were wrapping up a three month stay in that most magical of cities. We had made it “down under” for the traditional New Year’s fireworks celebration on Sydney Harbor, my daughter’s birthday, and the SIBOS Sydney 2018 financial institution conference. I had also managed to arrive in time for my High School fiftieth reunion even as we found time to visit the farm of my sister-in-law. In other words, this time last year a period of full immersion in all things Australia was coming to an end. But this year, it’s time to head to America’s West Coast.

It’s early in the year but it’s an ideal time to spend a few days in Silicon Valley before heading south to tinsel town and to that other big tech center that has basically arisen overnight, driven by the gaming industry. The worlds of film, television, amusement parks and yes, gaming platforms are morphing in ways that challenge reality. Just watching the advertisements for some of the latest games during the run-up to Christmas was enough to leave me catching my breath – did I just see that? Just as interestingly – have we entered a new realm of mission critical applications where the follow-on effects from any outage is a substantial loss of audience to where business can fold with just one outage?

Perhaps, a little extreme and yet, when things go right for all involved, the excitement and thrills being created can be seen whether those interacting with a screen or whirling around on a stage. Getting to where amusement can be sustained is every bit as important as delivering a handful of banknotes at an ATM. Perhaps too it has a lot to do with the time of year, with snow on the ground and shorter daylight hours, but heading to sunny California always proves hard to resist at this time of year and yes, we succumbed to a number of invitations to visit that came our way and despite the weather, we drove our beloved Li’L Pumpkin, (our orange Range Rover Evoque ragtop) the 1,300 miles to the coast.

Refueling the Evoque in windy Wyoming, where the temperature hovered around ten degrees Fahrenheit, was not pleasant. Then again, when is Wyoming anything other than windy? As for that first driving stint we had to negotiate slick roads and blowing snow with the occasional light snow falling. On the other hand, what else could we have expected to encounter and besides, we were truly looking forward to being back in the Bay area just as we were looking forward to seeing former business colleagues! Yes, California, here we come! In a last demonstration of nature’s wrath, we had to weather snow falling in the Sierras that gave us a slick ride down the mountains!

One request we received that we dutifully delivered upon was a tour of Silicon Valley – our guests was a former Managing Director of a major European tech company in South Africa and later, in Australia / New Zealand. Not sure whether or not it was a case of following the Rugby, but his time leading the Australasian operation turned into a lifetime commitment to the country and he and his wife have remained in Sydney to this day, but the lure of Silicon Valley loomed large as it has been twenty plus years since he last visited San Francisco and even then, there wasn’t time to drive down 101 or even I 280. This all changed this time around, as we put plans in place to visit a number of the campuses of companies that essentially anchor the valley these days.

Despite the tricky drive into California, we took time to do a number of things we hadn’t previously done. This included visiting the HPE garage - the birthplace of Silicon Valley. It also included a side visit to the offices of Kleiner Perkins on Sand Hill road as well as a visit to the garage that was “borrowed” by the founders of Google as they kicked off their search engine project. And, of course, we took in the sight of “Spaceship Apple” even as we lamented the loss of much of the former campus of Tandem Computers. Biggest surprise? Go behind the Facebook sign on their campus and it still reads SUN …    

What really stood out for Margo and me is the complete fluidity of the place. Not just with the names on the buildings or even the focus of the companies themselves, but rather, the mass movement to both ends of the valley – San Francisco and San Jose. It’s as if the valley was looking more and more like the bone your dog might chew on. Yes, there are some major campuses in the middle – Apple comes to mind – but with the towering skyscraper in San Francisco that is home to Salesforce to the sprawl of new buildings spreading north and west of downtown San Jose, the once mighty clock tower of Stanford University seems to be little more than a central pivot point anchoring these two ends.

HP Inc. can still be seen but, unless you know the actual address, you really don’t stumble onto HPE by accident and perhaps this is a story in its own right. HPE is redefining itself in a very big way and it’s taking a while for the industry press to catch up. Taking note of the fact that HPE is exiting the low margin, high volume white box business even as it continues to gravitate towards much higher margin software and services businesses, you could be forgiven thoughts you may have that HPE was perhaps less interested in selling boxes any more. Up to a point this has a ring of truth about it but on closer inspection, it’s just that HPE views the Core more cloud-like even as it promotes the importance of the edge.

“HPE today remains a hardware company, as evidenced by the profile of its revenues, but the future looks software and services shaped,” noted The Register in a December 23, 2019 article HPE goes on the warpath, attacks AWS over vendor lock-in. “HPE seems to have a much clearer strategy since its split with HP Inc., and the sale of the Enterprise Services and Software sides of the house,” noted the reporter who then added, “But this isn't necessarily feeding through into the financial results yet.” 

On the other hand, it’s becoming clear even to jaded publications like The Register that even as there has been a “fall in sales of servers to tier one cloud builders” when it comes to the big picture, “Operating margins were, however, up in the hundreds of basis points, and were up to 13.2 per cent in Hybrid IT, a historic high.” Strategy is clear; the exit from tier one cloud builders is almost complete; company trajectory to “everything-as-a-service” is continuing – and now financial analysts are beginning to take note and to reassess their recommendations for HPE.

On December 12, 2019 Deutsche Bank resumed coverage of HPE “with a Buy rating and $19 target, a 20% upside.” Furthermore, analyst Jeriel Ong thinks “the core revenue declines are ‘likely overstated’ and sees a multiyear growth market for the core Total Addressable Market (TAM).” In combination, the press acknowledges that HPE has a strategy that it is pursuing that is making more sense by the quarter and now financial analysts are not only resuming coverage but see positive outcomes ahead. All of which is to say that yes, keeping the NonStop products as part of the mission critical product portfolio and embracing mission critical systems as a key contributor to Hybrid IT is certainly good news for the NonStop community! And yes, for the NonStop community, things can go right for the product line after all.

Finding HPE’s head office in Silicon Valley may not be as easy as it once was; a vast sprawling campus on the south side of Page Mill Road. But in a world that is increasingly virtual and where the cost of CPU’s is heading to zero, and where “Services companies give away the hardware because of the non-existent cost of CPU” should we be surprised to find HPE looking more and more like an Adobe or a SAP or even Microsoft? A company where HPE’s product portfolio is being offered on a consumption basis – essentially pay-per-use? A company, as Jeff Kyle, VP & GM HPE Mission Critical Systems, pointed out during his presentation at the November NonStop Technical Boot Camp, overseeing the transformation given how “Hybrid IT is the new normal – and it’s complex; (it’s a challenge) to deliver new products and services faster (while) keeping the business running?”

It is in such an environment that we find HPE becoming the systems integrator, on our behalf, that we have demanded over the decades. Providing solutions on commodity hardware utilizing industry-standard interfaces supported by open software – isn’t that what we wanted? What we are seeing today is the emergence of a new HPE with a product portfolio better aligned with business needs and that includes NonStop – as software, and virtualized. And with a new head office, in Silicon Valley where it truly belongs! The drive to the coast may not have been easy and the time we spent cruising Silicon Valley may have taken more time than we planned but even as we may miss the old Tandem Computers campus (and the swimming pool), as a community we all have to thank HPE for the investment it has made in NonStop and in making NonStop a part of a strategy that is now delivering for HPE!      

Thursday, December 26, 2019

For the NonStop community it’s time to reflect.

With the year rapidly winding down there is much for the NonStop community to consider going into 2020 …

The traditional Christmas dinner is over and for some it’s been a time to revel in even more traditional Boxing Day fare. For Margo and me it’s been a time where our thoughts have drifted back to where this time last year we were busy celebrating the season in Sydney. When it comes to traditions then yes, it was a feast that included grilled sausages (on the nearby BBQ) together with Pavlova for dessert. Sorry, my Kiwi friends, Pavlova is an Aussie creation / tradition. On the other hand, so too is watching a cricket test match beamed live from Melbourne, even as locally all eyes are on Sydney Harbor for the start of the annual blue water sailing classic, The Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Here in Colorado it’s been more a case of celebrating Christmas Eve with the family where Polish traditions have dominated the conversations. And the food! There will be deviled eggs along with special Polish cakes and much more. Our grandkids are now 6 and 4 and continue to develop right in front of our eyes – after a troubling time for the twin boys following birth routines have been established and they seem to be making good progress. There is nothing quite like ripping the paper off presents to set a positive upbeat tone for any gathering. And did I mention, laughter?

For the HPE NonStop global community the holiday season as such takes many forms. It would be hard for me to catalogue them all so suffice to say, in whichever language or custom it takes, Margo and I wish you all the happiest of times as we head towards a New Year.  When it comes to 2020 there are plenty of commentaries being shared highlighting that in years like 2020 we do think about how far we have come. Automotive executive Bob Lutz just wrote of how:

“There's something about a year with a zero at the end that gets our attention. It seems more important. It makes us recall the last "zero" year, causing us to pause and reflect—not only on our own lives (slipping by ever faster), but also on society, politics, the world.”

Lutz also wrote that:

“It's been quite a decade, marked by arguably more change than in the previous five decades put together. I'd like to highlight some of the more notable ones, whether they're caused by creative engineers, manipulative marketers, government regulations, fickle buyer preferences, or, in some cases, a complex blend of several initiating factors.”

Indeed! A year ending with a zero sure does get our attention even as the changes we all witnessed were caused by creative engineers, manipulative marketers, etc. or simply by a complex blend of several initiating factors! I am pretty sure that this rings true for many of us. Not everything that came to fruition was by design nor did everything that was designed resonate with everyone. Where’s my flying car? Where’s my robot housekeeper? Ooops, that’s right – we are almost there on both counts, I have been informed. The sad thing about making longer term predictions is that they have a habit of coming about in ways not imagined. Who would have imagined that I could order paper towels and have them delivered the same day?

A year ending in zero reminds me too that it was back in 1970 that I turned up at Wollongong’s steelworks (John Lysaghts and not nearby BHP), to start a two year cadetship in computing. Yes, back then Australia’s universities did not consider computing an academic pursuit so to be part of this new industry you had to become an apprentice. I had sat for the apprenticeship qualifying tests back in the summer of ’69 – that’s the Australian summer of ’69 but that’s a whole different story – even though my interest in computing dated back to ’65. That was when my father, Roy Buckle, was responsible for bringing to Australia’s shores a computerized Mergenthaler “line-o-film” typesetting system and the first such system to be setup in Australia. The data entry keyboard for such systems is depicted above where the photo could just as easily have been taken at my dad’s place of work.
As I look back at that apprenticeship, we were taught IBM 360 Assembler in excruciating detail – our online system in support of the different steelwork machinery (from cold reduction lines to pickle and plating lines) only accommodated programs that could fit into 4K of memory. Yes, 4K. And I am sure that this will bring back memories about the early days of computing for many members of the NonStop community looking at the improvements in productivity over the past decades! At the time, I was given the task of writing the disk access code – as yet we didn’t have enough memory to support logical I/O; it was all at the physical / channel level where sorts could be executed directly within the disk channel processor.

For some reason, I recall the concept of channel command block / channel command words (CCBs /CCWs) and in particular, the Transfer-In-Channel (TIC) command. And I am not sure why that is! Even so, here we are writing about DevOps and the breakthroughs we are seeing with Open APIs and technologies like REST and JSON. Wow! So likewise, this has taken five decades to reach this point, but productivity today is incomparable to anything we witnessed in the very early days of IT. And yet, here we are. Whereas I was learning 360 Assembler way back then today it’s more the case of assembling a process / program from libraries of code that are then used to flesh out a basic code stub pulled from somewhere else. And I thought it really cool to have an approved global macro accepted by IT and to have it saved to disk for other programmers to access.

Fickle buyer preferences? Have to believe that without the push to accelerate the way we develop code we wouldn’t have key social media channels that dominate today’s conversations. Just think what Google has brought to the table or before Google, think of what Netscape achieved? In many ways I am glad to report that I never made it to where programming was all about the manipulation of objects, and more, or where a terminal was anything other than a simple keyboard. On the other hand, it would be unreasonable to expect an industry so forward thinking as IT would have ever stood still over any prolonged period. Yes, those fickle buyers of computers always wanted something better, faster and naturally enough, cheaper.

For the NonStop community there has been so much talk this past decade about the need to train more programmers on NonStop. Just as importantly, there has been equally as much talk among CIOs about the difficulties in finding qualified NonStop staff. Unfortunately, both discussions missed the point – with the steps that the NonStop team has taken this past decade, you shouldn’t be too concerned about either, but more so, leverage today’s modern development environments and platforms to build applications for NonStop. Again, deployment shouldn’t be confused with development and with the options available today for development teams to choose from, there shouldn’t be any need to look outside the skillsets already on-hand inside any IT organization. The above slide was used recently by HPE’s own Franz Koenig and it has already began turning heads and in so doing, has begun framing the discussion for the coming decade – why not NonStop?

I may not be able to describe in any depth the majority of tools and utilities listed on the above slide. But I do know where to go to obtain more information should I need to do so – talking to the NonStop vendor community and almost all of them are leveraging one or more of the products included on the PowerPoint slide. What stands out most of all is that we are no longer thinking in terms of bringing programmers to NonStop but rather, quite the opposite. We can now talk openly of bringing NonStop to any programmer and thereby leveraging the current skills of all programmers. Key point? Program today’s business logic and have the deployment option inherit NonStop attributes transparently!

This decade beginning with a zero will prove to be a fascinating decade. Starting with 2020 we will see even more discussion about clouds and service models with many new ways to consume technology. However, by the end of this decade, when it comes time to write about expectations of those entering 2030, will the cloud be even part of the discussion? Will traditional computing models even be relevant? Will we even have to pay for a chip or worry about memory – 4K bytes, or even 4Y bytes (Yottabyte) it won’t matter; the cost will essentially be the same.  What then? Will we be throwing out ideas to an assistant buried deep within our car whatever that might be and see programs come to fruition automatically?

We may yet be still waiting on our flying cars but suggesting ideas and having them transformed into programs well, probably not too far away. Let one more zero show up on the calendar – I am ready for it, are you? And with that, Margo and I wish you all the very best for the coming year and yes, the coming decade!

Best of both worlds – NonStop has you covered!

It hasn’t been hard to catch a sunset or two in California; for the NonStop community, it’s time to look again at twin stars (as covered i...