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Friday, January 14, 2022

Can’t let it go!

                

“I’ve got a feeling and I just can’t let it go!” This is a line from a haunting song by Los Angeles indie electro-soul band, Caught a Ghost. Not to be confused with the song from Frozen, it became the theme song of Amazon Prime series “Bosch” that was based on numerous novels by Michael Connelly. For those familiar with the novels or those who have viewed the Prime series, you will know that the main character Bosch enjoys jazz and the choice of this song for the series title may have been a surprise and yet, it absolutely captures the indomitable spirit of Detective Bosch.

This is the same feeling I get whenever I hear news about the latest cloud offering or about the enterprise that has elected to migrate everything to the cloud. And this feeling is amplified whenever I read of news about yet another outage affecting millions of users. It is almost as if IT professionals have forgotten the first law of IT: Change. Call it cause and effect. Call it the swinging pendulum. Maybe think of it in terms of Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s not surprising then that there are those who are beginning to question the validity of migration to clouds.

No matter what you might think of enterprises embracing clouds that IT constant of change suggests that something better will always come along and for a period, represents a return to stability. Just as importantly a return to reliability. As for those of us who watch these movements, then perhaps we are among those that understand the lines in that song Can’t let it go:

I feel my body in two different places
Still playing for both teams
Sometimes it feels I was born with two faces

It isn’t easy to ignore the current conflict within IT that has us wrestling with staying traditional or going virtual. Of staying centralized or going distributed. Of CapEx or OpEx. And yes, of doing nothing or doing both. Welcome, as vendors like to say, to the hybrid world of IT where it is OK to be supporting both teams. However there is legitimacy in clouds that we as the NonStop community need to acknowledge.

According to AWS, “Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.” And yet, as Computerworld in an HPE sponsored opinion column of May 31, 2019, noted,

“The business and IT needs of any organization are defined by many factors according to IDC, such as the organization’s specialization and business model, mix of workloads, financial health, maturity, workforce and customer base.”

Furthermore there are positive outcomes that come with the cloud experience. Simply stated, Computerworld says:

“The overall cloud experience has had far-reaching benefits on all groups within the enterprise.

“Additionally, the pay-as-you-go model used with cloud-based IT lets the enterprise better balance capital and expenses with corporate objectives.

“Even though the way applications are built and consumed is changing, IT teams can’t easily abandon existing business-critical workloads. After all, the smooth operations of the business depend on the reliable and predictable delivery of business-critical workloads.” 

For the NonStop user, you just have to love this last sentence. After all Computerworld reports – and yes, it is a HPE paid-for infomercial after all – “business depends on the reliable and predictable delivery of business-critical workloads.” It is true that this article was written back in 2019 when little was known about GreenLake (and bringing the cloud experience to the enterprise) or the support of GreenLake by NonStop, it does highlight a potential opportunity for NonStop. 

And yet there is, however, vulnerability with an “all-in on clouds” approach. Call it fragility or perhaps better still, a lessening of reliability to where outages are occurring with such frequency that enterprises are beginning to rethink their options. A number of British banks for instance have backed away from going all in with clouds. Recall the recent news coming out of Barclays and yes, there are other financial institutions following suit.

In my last post, What’s not broken and just keeps on running? NonStop delivers! I wrote of how “Two opportunities come to mind that in the coming months I will be exploring in more detail. And they have to do with how we think about NonStop going forward and whether our own ideas about the role of NonStop may indeed be outdated. Might there be the potential to have NonStop play a guardian role – no pun intended? Should there be a NonStop essentially overseeing the hybrid multi-cloud environment common today among enterprises so that exposure to any one cloud can be marginalized to where outages have no impact on the running of mission critical applications?

When we think about the value that NonStop brings to any discussion on hybrid IT and cloud computing given the above then perhaps it is best explained albeit with a goodly amount of humor by HPE Distinguished Technologist, Keith Moore. “HPE NonStop is a mature peer-group soft system of super-paranoid, autocratic, self-centered kernels working together but with communication rules for up to 4080 enemies, all working independently and together, watching themselves and all other kernels with universal distrust.”  

When IBM first unveiled Parallel Sysplex for the mainframe – an overt attempt to upgrade the resilience of the mainframe when delivered as a cluster – they introduced the “coupling facility.” Initially a dedicated mainframe but later updated to run virtually. The coupling facility runs no application software and has no I/O devices – it is purely in place to oversee the key elements needed by mainframe applications to ensure their continued operation. Often referred to as “clocks, locks and lists” you couldn’t run a mainframe cluster with Parallel Sysplex without the coupling facility.

Fast forward to today; clouds and the possibility for NonStop playing a similar role. When an enterprise pursues a hybrid cloud deployments that include traditional systems, on-prem private clouds together with access to a number of public clouds, it’s almost impossible to guarantee levels of availability we set down as mandatory for our business-critical workloads. But how would this work? What would it entail?

This has been the subject of a number of conversations that are at best introductory in nature even as they continue to be ongoing. When it comes to how they might work the biggest hurdle is in building out the type of resilient and redundant high-speed interconnect fabrics. Forcing a take-over of a cloud determined to be misbehaving and offloading to another resource, be that another public cloud, or something on-prem demands some level of application awareness. Maybe not check-pointing but perhaps something akin to Pathmon with the resilience it provides may be all that needs to reside on our NonStop “guardian.” And then there is the modernization of applications taking place and the way we build new apps may indeed prove beneficial when it comes to easing into this approach to cloud resilience.

“There should be a balance within IT where successful innovations to the business migrate to the traditional side where efficiencies, standards and cost reductions are applied to that innovation.  All truly successful innovations should become foundational IT systems.  I’ve never seen that as a goal within agile development but a successful IT project should deliver business benefits for many years,” said HPE Master Technologist Justin Simonds. “Doing Agile, fast-fail new business applications in the cloud makes sense since they are quickly constructed and just as quickly deconstructed (if they fail).  However I have yet to see a strategy for migration from the cloud, when a new application/service is a clear benefit to the business.  When something runs 24x7x365 it is very expensive in the cloud.  Applications that become critical to the business are most effectively, efficiently and inexpensively run in-house.”

All things are possible and I don’t think that the presence of a high-speed duplicated fabric will present an insurmountable problem – aren’t today’s WAN offerings already superior to what was present on early models of Tandem Computers? Isn’t Pathmon sort of already doing this (above) in a Virtual Machine? Haven’t NonStop vendors already taken some baby-steps towards achieving this, whether their approach was simply for disaster recovery or better load balancing? And the monitoring vendors would be well-positioned to provide real time analysis of where your apps and data were running for all those with regulatory issues needing to be addressed?

If you consider this a little too futuristic the only ingredient missing as a real world customer requirement and as it has always happened in the past, unless we take our introductory level conversations public, how will they know that something like this is possible? It certainly lends itself to a baby-steps approach, one app at a time. Maybe you do keep the database on NonStop after all and simply execute the apps anywhere you like under the watchful eye of your NonStop guardian?

As I began this post “I’ve got a feeling and I just can’t let it go!”


Saturday, December 18, 2021

What’s not broken and just keeps on running? NonStop delivers!

As I look back at the past year perhaps the best way to describe it was how there were many times where things were broken. I am not talking about the occasional drinking glass or dinner plate but objects that mattered to us. When things are broken their performance is hindered to where in some cases they no longer serve any useful purpose. Replacement appears to be the order of the day.

Mind you, I am not talking about the weather here in Colorado as I have lost track of how many days have passed without a meaningful snow fall. This morning may have been the exception as a little rain together with what might pass as a little sleet did fall but not for long enough to stick to anything. Enjoying December days that have climbed into the 70sF (20sC) would surely pass as unusual even if we didn’t talk about weather patterns that look to be broken.

However, before developing this story line further, please be happy for us as remedies for almost everything have been found. But what was broken? This time last year Margo broke her leg badly where the remedy happened to include the insertion of metal rods and nails. In summer our Range Rover was rear-ended on the freeway and the insurance company wrote it off. That new sectional we had waited for did finally show up but the central portion of the sectional had been scratched in transport.

When it comes to IT and to the digital transformation and the pivot to everything-as-a-service, it’s hard to make light of the fact that the role clouds are playing isn’t proving as rock-solid as promoters would have you believe. Not for them is an outage here or there something for us to worry about, but when a major cloud services provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS) breaks then yes, we should all be concerned. In fact there were enough outages for CRN to publish The 10 Biggest Cloud Outages Of 2021 (So Far). As for the tag line, it was rather long but managed to sum up the predicament of many affected at the time:

“‘Outages can mean the end for companies, depending on their choices in design and deployment, or they can be complete non-events,’ Miles Ward, chief technology officer at Los Angeles-based Google partner SADA Systems, tells CRN. ‘Cloud has changed the nature of outages.’”

But then, CRN highlights something that should warm the hearts of many in NonStop, particularly at this time of year. Consider it your early arrival of your Christmas gift:

“‘Every cloud engineering team has seen how impossible it is for customers to engineer around these kinds of outages and is working hard to distribute, subdivide, and make fault-tolerant these central services,’ Ward said.”

Given that this article by CRN was published back in late July so missed reporting on the big AWS outage it’s worth noting that among the top three worst outages were:

In third place – Fastly Outage in June. “Fastly impacted bulletin board website Reddit, video streaming service Twitch and a number of news sites including CNN and The New York Times.” Among the comments reported at the time by CRN was this particular gem:

“Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based solution provider, told CRN at the time that the global outage shows how critical it is for customers to properly architect their cloud and on-premises network.

“‘Cloud isn’t any different than on-premises—with both cloud and on-premises you need to make sure you have the right architecture,’ Goldstein said. ‘We make sure that when we put mission-critical applications in [Microsoft] Azure for our customers we have multiple data center regions to prevent an outage like this. You need a fail-safe and a continuity plan to prevent outages.’”

Rising to second place and given the generalized heading of More Microsoft Issues this time it centered on issues to do with Microsoft Teams. Apparently, “Teams’ calling service sent calls straight into some users’ voicemails.” Now depending on your level of tolerance of virtual meetings this may have been a blessing in disguise, but in reality, it really all came back to issues with the infrastructure, according to Microsoft via updates provided by the Microsoft 365 Status Twitter account:

“…Microsoft ‘isolated a recent change that has caused portions of infrastructure to send some Microsoft Teams calls straight to voicemail.’”

But then, one Microsoft partner, Amaxra, according to its president and CEO, Rosalyn Arntzen, told CRN that “over the past few years, Microsoft had gotten “dramatically better” at updating partners “as soon as they are aware of an issue and listing when they expect the issue to be solved—or at least provide a status.”

Coming in with the blue-ribbon winning outage of the year (so far) was the Akamai Outage, June 17. Remember this outage? Turns out it happened “Nine days after the Fastly outage, (where) a system issue with Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies caused internet outages for global airlines, banks, and stock exchanges. The company saw service disruptions for its hosting platform, which helps defend against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.

The way CRN reported this outage was to highlight that:

“The disruption affected several large companies around the globe, including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Bank, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, as well as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s website. Services for many of the companies impacted were restored within the day.

“Downdetector.com showed spikes in complaints about service outages for websites of companies inside the U.S. as well as in a number of other countries including Australia, Germany and India.”

And remember among the also-runs was the outage at Verizon that reports blamed on a fiber cut in Brooklyn, but that was later confirmed as being “a software issue triggered during routine network management activities.” And then there was the issue at Google when “The Google Drive cloud storage service—and associated cloud apps including Google Docs and Google Sheets—suffered multiple service issues … While users could still access Google Drive, affected users could not create new documents and were ‘seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior,’ according to the company.”

And there you have it: The myth of the infallibility of clouds. Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Of course, it was left to Larry Ellison to capitalize on their circumstances by virtue of his claim that Oracle cloud didn’t fail. Surely, you cannot be serious, Larry?

For all the upside associated with capitalizing on cloud services there is still the fundamental issue that resilience and indeed reliability of levels we associate with NonStop are simply mythical. Fail-safe continuity and indeed fault tolerance for “central services” is being openly discussed even as we know that with todays’ modern languages tools and services there is a lot that can be done to deliver a kind of pseudo fault tolerance. To think that all those years ago, the original Tandem Computers understood the issues better than any other vendor.

And yet, when those cloud services' vendors, providing the underlying infrastructure and most important of all the networking and integration services get it so hopelessly wrong, how can users deploying mission critical applications know for certain that these services will always be there, 24 x 7? The reality is a lot more sobering; they cannot provide anything close to ironclad guarantees. There is a reason why NonStop continues to thrive four decades after being first introduced; it’s fault tolerant in so many ways that it should be hard to ignore it’s contribution to cloud computing.

I am not entering into this conversation lightly. However we aren’t discussing how to best fix a broken toy of which there will be many reports over the holidays. Two opportunities come to mind that in the coming months I will be exploring in more detail. And they have to do with how we think about NonStop going forward and whether our own ideas about the role of NonStop may indeed be outdated.

There is the potential to have NonStop play a guardian role – no pun intended. Should there be a central NonStop essentially polling the hybrid multi-cloud environment common today among enterprises so that exposure to any one cloud can be marginalized to where outages have no impact on the running of mission critical applications? This is clearly an over simplification but there are models that feature NonStop in this way that readily come to mind.

There is also the potential for NonStop itself, virtualized as we now have the option to deploy NonStop, treating the world of hybrid clouds as no different to either converged NonStop processors or as virtual machines. Consider one cloud as being CPU0 and another cloud as CPU1, etc. and you get the idea. This too is clearly an over simplification that perhaps throws a spotlight on the capabilities of the cloud services providers interconnect with each other, but the idea is still simple in principle. A single image NonStop system spanning multiple clouds, with the ability to perform its industry-leading take-over whenever a cloud misbehaves?

Once we get past the idea that yes, like real CPUs and even Virtual Machines, clouds are just as unreliable then the future of NonStop will warm to the opportunity this represents. The mere fact that one publication is already producing an annual Top 10 Outages article should be evidence enough that enterprises need to more seriously consider what the cloud experience really entails?

For Margo and me, this is just the beginning of a theme that we will revisit in 2022, so stay tuned. But again, the items that broke for us in 2021 have all been addressed and having said that, can you all say the same about your own hybrid IT and its supporting infrastructure? Even as we wish you the very best for the coming year perhaps it is time to ponder that ultimate question about NonStop: When did availability ever not be the issue of the day?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Have we stopped worrying? Yes, John, we are serious!


Walking into my office the only thought I had on my mind was how the year was coming to an end. I distinctly recall getting an early night New Year’s Eve 2020 and yet, here we are and 2021 is drawing to an end. It is also pretty easy to remark over how different 2021 had been to what was predicted two, three years ago. Remember the pundits writing about the coming doom that will overwhelm us and it had nothing to do with the global pandemic?

Leave it to the predictions of the French philosopher Michel de Nostradamus (who some think has been “freakishly accurate”) when he wrote of “World-ending asteroids, zombies and ruinous famine are on deck for 2021.” In response I can only repeat the most famous words of the American tennis ace John McEnroe, “you cannot be serious?” Renowned for his on-court theatrical outbursts, we all learnt to love the guy in time.

However, it is another image that perhaps sums up the year better than others and it is of the British actor Peter Sellers when he starred in the movie Dr. Strangelove that was even better known by its primary title, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb! It may in all honesty be too soon to look back on 2021 and say with a straight face how well we accommodated the global pandemic and for the most part, simply go on with it. Just today we cancelled one more business trip as the circumstances dictated.

Yes, we can be serious at this time and yes, we are making adjustments to better live with the presence of COVID-19 and all its variations and mutations, but putting all that aside for the moment, what did we truly learn this year? What impressed us the most? When it comes to the NonStop community and the opportunities to network you may want to consider the number of times we managed to find time for each other remarkable.

Come what may and as addicted to our home computers as we have become, we still found time to “dial into” that webinar or event even as we turned to our smartphones a lot. Did either Margo or I call you on a business related topic this year? If we did then we can honestly say we sure did appreciate you making time for us. It was also a time when the Connect organization faced many difficulties and yet was still able to help out the NonStop team even as they came to the assistance of many NonStop vendors.

There were three things that stood out as I look back on 2021 that I will address here, in no particular order other than what impacted me most at the time. They could be summarized as being integral in the way the NonStop community interacted, the way the NonStop team advanced the image of NonStop vendors and the breakout of perhaps the biggest differentiating product available today only on NonStop systems.

The NonStop community interacted using many different solutions. As the NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2021 (NonStopTBC21) transitioned from in-person to virtual, we were all we better prepared to use Whova even as we caught on to the underlying ZOOM participation. Enjoying a mix of live presentations together with those recorded earlier gave us an opportunity to revisit presentations after the event ended. Although I have to admit, I thought that there would be many more replays than actually happened.

Find the time! There is great material out there. Of course, being involved in events and webinars, some of us learnt some very important lessons. If you actively switching between solutions involving video transmission, make sure you restart your home computer as there are instances where one solution will not readily give up ownership of the camera. Messing about between Teams, Zoom, GoToMeetings, Skype and the like (and yes, I am talking to you Skype), can be problematic and being presented with blank screens and upside down video became more prevalent as the year progressed.

But we made it and we enjoyed those occasions when we could interact. The unveiling of the Showcase was a major milestone for the NonStop product managers. Being able to present your case to be added to the NonStop price book certainly generated more than its fair share of activity as many in the NonStop vendor community realized this was an answer to returning to a level playing field. For some already entrenched NonStop vendors whose products were already on the NonStop price book there were more than a number of furtive glances around the community as they wondered whether their competitors would make the cut!

However, for the most part, there is now a good mix of products available from the NonStop sales team but that doesn’t imply that it is an exclusive mix. Many NonStop vendors with their own sales and support teams whose product offerings were already established in the marketplace have elected to keep on doing what they have always done and this shouldn’t reflect badly on any of them. Most important of all is that the options for NonStop users continue to be out there so make sure your selection criteria takes into consideration the many vendors who will remain staunchly independent.

Finally. The breakout product of the year! You would have been hard pressed to miss the many articles and presentations that featured NonStop SQL. We were all introduced to NonStop SQL/MX Database Services (DBS). “By now, you all know that the intent of NonStop SQL/MX DBS is to simplify the tasks for NonStop system administrators on the one hand, and to allow easier use of SQL/MX to the end user,” was how the NonStop Academy and the NonStop ATC positioned this development.

And if you missed my own article in the October issue of NonStop Insider then you would have missed reading of the welcome given to the world of NonStop SQL Cloud Edition:

Who could have imagined that we would welcome the latest iteration of NonStop SQL as the NonStop team brings to market NonStop SQL Cloud Edition? Yes, from data processing to data base to data in the cloud, the answer may not be as simple as 42, nor is it to be found coming from the android, Data, but rather, only a few keystrokes away as NonStop continues to deliver on the database needs of corporations today. And still, even as 2021 draws to a close, there will be many more CIOs who are still trying to wrap their heads around NonStop SQL and the value it affords every corporation.

This article also appeared in the September – October 2021 issue of The Connection under the heading, Data; it lives and it grows – with NonStop SQL, data truly has found a home.

Living with video conferencing while we see a new approach being taken by the NonStop team to meet Customer needs for product integration via the price book together with more news on NonStop SQL should have us worrying a lot less about the future of NonStop. Indeed, as I have noted a couple of times over the course of the past few months, there is an ongoing renaissance for NonStop clearly visible to the NonStop community that needs to be better communicated to the broader IT Industry.

And it cannot be left to HPE alone to pursue. We need to be more actively engaged in extolling the virtues of all things NonStop whether it is the edge, the core / cloud or somewhere in the middle. Whether data created on NonStop needs to go out to other NonStop systems, down to the edge or up to the core / cloud, when it comes to the age of insight it’s downright hard to ignore all that NonStop can contribute in a world aggressively pursuing analytics, AI/ML and more.

Will 2022 become an era of NonStop? We will just have to wait and see but one thing I can say, I sure hope I have an even better story line to write next year. And to quote that infamous Australian Politician, Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen KCMG, when it comes to what will take place in 2022 and the story I might tell then all I can now close with is, “Don’t you worry yourselves about that!”


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Is retirement in our plans? NonStop never sleep so why should we?


I have just added another post to our social blog, Buckle-Up, that was the last of ten posts retelling stories that first appeared in Speed News, a digital publication of the track club to which for the better part of a decade Margo and I belonged. The title of the post was Retiring from HPDE and for those not familiar with the HPDE programs they were all about High Performance Driver Education and catered for those car enthusiasts who prefer to experience speed on tracks rather than on streets.

When it comes to the subject of retirement nothing tugs at the heartstrings more firmly than thoughts of lazy days spent on a tropical beach, beneath a palm trees, sipping on a fruity cocktail. However, for most of us, those tugs on the heartstrings are only part of the story as there is a lot more that influences us than the quiet life. When it comes to the IT industry and, particularly when it comes to all those dedicated to support of the HPE NonStop ecosystem, is a quiet nap even in the plan?

We retire applications, of course. Those tasks we assigned to our computers when appropriate. Repetitious, for the most part and more recently, mission critical and yet, as the tools of the trade have evolved it’s often proved more productive to rewrite an application than fix what is already in place. Often under the guise of modernization an argument in support of so doing has often revolved around the simple observation; how do we keep our highly skilled staff if we don’t let them stay current with technology?

The last application I wrote was for an IBM mainframe where the programming language of choice was PL/1. Having come from a background writing routines in IBM 360 Assembler, the productivity boost from using a modern language became obvious very quickly even if the resultant code was truly verbose. In my case it was an application to track empty containers arriving in Australian ports to make sure that they were truly empty and that yes, each departing container ship had the needed empty containers onboard to ensure return trips to Australia with the full container loads were possible.

A relevant topic for today it turns out as our supply chains struggle to get goods to where they are needed. Retiring applications seems a sensible thing to do and we all recognize the value but what about retiring systems? When I first took up the position of Managing Director of the Australian arm of a US software vendor it was all about giving new life to old mainframes. As IBM introduced the 370 line, a replacement for the 360, what were the mainframe leasing companies to do? How were they going to keep moving the inventory that was steadily building up in warehouses across the country?

Simple solution, retrofit the operating system of the 360 to include the new features IBM made available only on the 370. And it worked – EDOS and EDOS/VS brought value to enterprises not yet ready to retire their older mainframes. That was a special case involving mainframes, but what about Prime? Data General? Four Phase and even DEC? With price points well below a mainframe, retiring these systems as each new model appeared was all part and parcel of the non-mainframe experience. When it comes to NonStop then today we know that their stickiness is even more apparent and none of us would be surprise to read of a NonStop II still running production tasks.

Much could be said about the networks we once deployed. Are we all depending upon the Internet and what is now ubiquitous with TCP/IP? Very little is discussed of late that involves SNA, OSI and the like. Still want to write code directly to NetBEUI – the NetBIOS extended user interface? Probably not and for the very good reason. Programming has moved on and the likes of PL/1, COBOL, Fortran, etc. are simply the domain of some really old programmers.

When it comes to people then the global pandemic has opened our eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Even as the headlines today write about The Great Resignation and tell us that it has reinvigorated workers, putting them in the driver’s seat for the first time in 30 years (or more), but I have the sense that when it comes to those of us in technology, it’s proving to be a time where there is enticement being dangled before us to join the gig economy. Yes, those tugs on the heartstrings we though were pulling us toward retirement may in fact be telling us a completely different story.

Don’t think of retirement, think of just doing what you like to do seated under that palm tree with a tablet or smartphone and an internet connection and have at it. Write those requirement specs. Write that code. Join that scrum, and more. Perhaps nobody will notice that fruity cocktail by your side. Don’t feel self-conscious about the lifestyle you have embraced but rather, enjoy it to the full as IT doesn’t know about any age requirements. For the NonStop community even as we entertain the potential coming from an Under 40 Special Interest Group (SIG), the profile of members of the NonStop community is somewhat skewed towards the elder generation.

For as long as I can recall working for and with NonStop, I have been in discussions about the downside of a workforce that may disappear in time. Not physically but rather a workforce that ebbs away one proficient technologist after another. But wait, those days represented a time when we all came into the office, talked around the water cooler and sat through endless PowerPoint presentations designed to improve the level of communication across the company and NonStop, nee Tandem Computers, was no exception in that regard.

Today, the experience is still all there and continues to provide value even as its relevance isn’t lost on anyone in the NonStop community. We have a culture that has endured for decades that centers on the willingness to share knowledge. Applications will continue to be rewritten even as systems, networks and even vendors are replaced, but accumulated knowledge remains at a premium and the tools now at hand mean contributions can still be made in support of those rising through the ranks.

So no, retiring our most learned of experts shouldn’t be in the cards any longer. That includes me! We have all been dealt a new hand and how we play it is up to each of us. As for those that are part of the NonStop user community then yes, there are ample skills out there that are readily accessible – just look at those who post to LinkedIn and even twitter. Whether these posts come from the NonStop team or from vendors fully committed to the platform, it is reassuring to know that the platform continues to exceed the hype that is growing around NonStop.

If you come away from this post without a renewed sense of the renaissance that’s happening around all things NonStop then take a moment to pause and consider how far NonStop has come following serious investments being made in the platform by HPE. More important still, take a look to at the major global enterprises expanding their NonStop footprint to better support their mission critical applications. And yes, if you are looking for new challenges and an opportunity to realign your career then remember this renaissance of NonStop isn’t complete without your participation, today!  

As a final reminder of what we have all witnessed these past two years amid the global pandemic, enthusiasm to contribute knows no boundaries and with the tools at hand this level of enthusiasm cannot be underestimated. Looking to enter a new career? Looking to resign? Looking to retire? Then by all means look at that lifestyle alongside a beach, but remember you can do it all with just a couple of items on the side table where you place that fruity drink.

It may just be the real future for you that up until now was little more than a misty, dreamlike aspiration that you knew all along just didn’t sit right. Welcome to the age of the individual, the gig economy and yes, you guessed it, the age of working as you always envisioned it from the time you first entered the IT industry! And if you would like to read that final post referenced earlier that triggered thoughts appearing in this post, then follow this link –


https://buckle-up-travel.blogspot.com/2021/11/tenth-and-final-post-to-nasa-speed-news.html

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Another webinar delivered by Pyalla Technologies, LLC is in the works!

With as many virtual events as there continue to be, it’s not always easy to get a message across to a target audience. I was reminded of this just a few days ago when I was enjoying an exchange with another vendor about an upcoming purchase. To say it was car related purchase would be something that you would expect to hear from me and so it was. 

GM announced the arrival of a new car and it did so in a virtual event that it broadcasts to the globe. Calling it an event, free to all interested parties and recorded for posterity, maybe a stretch at a time when much is being conveyed in webinars and podcasts, but then again, the launch of a new Corvette certainly warranted the creation of an event all by itself.

It was only a short time ago that this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp (NonStop TBC21) came to a close and in the intervening time, we have all had time to review sessions of interest to each of us. I certainly have been no slouch in this regard and have found that taking a second look is well worth the effort. You just never know what statement or explanation made during the actual presentation was missed until you hear it for the second time. 

For me, it took several reviews of the main GreenLake session by David Lambert, HPE GreenLake Cloud Services North America Pre-Sales Manager, who made it very clear that “The next wave of digital transformation will be fueled by Apps and Data everywhere.”

Data has been very much on my mind of late as I am scheduled to give a webinar next week. With NTI as the vendor in the spotlight and the Connect organization working with NTI to ensure registrations are handled smoothly, the webinar comes when a lot of my time has been focused on NTI and on its DRNet® product suite. For most of 2021 Margo and I have turned our attention to the NTI web site and have created entirely new content that is in line with the vision and the strategy of the company.

Delivering great solutions that bring life to our vision, throw a spotlight on our strategy, and strengthen the support for the journey we all are pursuing,” is perhaps the best way to describe what NTI has been up to of late. And you have probably already seen references to this in some of the promotional posts and tweets from Connect about this upcoming November 17 webinar. 

What might not come across in these early promotions is just how excited I am to be involved with NTI and to be asked to create content for the webinar based on the material now present on the web site. Have you visited the site yet - https://network-tech.com/ ? Your feedback is important to us all, even as there is still much more work being done to further complement material already visible to any visitor to the site!

For over a decade Margo and I have been involved in providing content. This post to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, being just one example from the many media channels we support. Symptomatic of what is transpiring across the NonStop community, partnerships between members of the NonStop vendor community are gradually forming as that old adage we heard so much about many years ago, Better Together, really does apply in this instance. For Pyalla, a content creation, blogging and yes, within HPE circles, an influencer, it’s a natural fit to move beyond a simple client relationship to where Pyalla is now a partner of NTI.

Call it “Friends and Family”, if you like, but the message couldn’t be any clearer. Partnerships bring extra muscle to the competition and after all, as friendly as it happens to be among the many members of the NonStop vendor community, it is still a very competitive landscape and one where the win-win mantra is limited to just the relationship that forms on the day between a NonStop user and a specific vendor. 

Competition is healthy for the NonStop community. Ask any NonStop product manager as they encourage multiple options being presented to the HPE customers to meet their business requirement. It is a very positive way to communicate that a product line is healthy when NonStop product managers can reference many NonStop vendors investing in solutions on the own dime.

As for NTI, there is a partnership with TANDSoft with TANDsoft Principal, Jack Di Giacomo being very positive on the potential such a partnership can bring to both vendors. NTI has enjoyed a longstanding business relationship with TANDsoft and it came as no surprise to the NonStop community when in June of 2021 this partnership was expanded to include additional products – FS Compare and Repair, and FS Backup and Restore. 

You will now find these referenced on the new NTI web site under slightly different labels - DRNet® / XPcr and DRNet® /XPbr. These additional DRNet® products, grouped as part of DRNet® eXPress product line, are just one more example of how two vendors can benefit from partnering on complementary products.

If you want to hear more about this development and much more make sure you register with Connect for this November 17 NTI webinar. This you can do by simply following this link –

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_en-fP2y2QcyYycdfvI8teg

Whenever you describe a company’s vision and then its strategy, you will find supporting messages being promoted. When it comes to NTI there has been consistent messaging behind the DRNet® product suite for some time. If you missed my session at NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2019 in Burlingame, California, you may want to revisit it prior to the webinar. It was that session where Margo and I took the opportunity to describe the vision, the strategy and the messaging and that has remained central to all the commentaries, articles and posts Pyalla has published about NTI these past two years.

There is much more we can say on this topic but you will just have to tune into the webinar to hear more of where this has ultimately led NTI. So as a teaser of sorts then yes, be prepared to hear of a new product being announced particularly if like many within the NonStop community you need data created on NonStop to be integrated with open platforms including Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 and more.

Whether these databases are deployed on traditional systems from Linux servers to IBM mainframes or within a cloud service such as supported by Azure, NTI has the solution. Should you want to see that same data integrated into industry standard messaging like Kafka, Splunk and Elk, NTI has that covered as well! All of this being available with DRNet® given that it continues to replicate to external NonStop systems too for disaster avoidance.

Devoting a post to just one or two vendors may be a surprise for some, but in reality, Pyalla today enjoys partnerships with multiple NonStop vendors. Bringing a spotlight to bear on a single vendor in this instance is to ensure the majority of the NonStop community is fully aware of the upcoming Webinar. NonStopTBC21 was good at many things, but letting a single vendor take center stage for 45 mins or so for a complete product update isn’t always an option for those in charge of the event.

As for that GM direct broadcast it was watched all around the world given it marked the launch of their latest model of the Corvette family of sports cars. Webinars just happen to be one way to extend NonStop TBC21 in a way that keeps bringing new product updates to the NonStop community and that requires little commitment to time on the participants part.

And with that, I trust you will check out the new web site as I also hope you will find time to join me on Wednesday, November 17 at 10:00am Central Time as I take the wraps off NTI’s continued pursuit of all things data, your data! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

For NonStop, marketing no longer along for the ride …

Driving into Ft Collins, Colorado, Margo and I came across this big billboard. It brought a smile to both our faces even as we were later to comment that in fact, it was a poor reflection on our times. The creative process leading to innovative expressions seems to have lessened during the lockdowns driven by the global pandemic as not being able to congregate around the water cooler, throwing out ideas, and challenging each other just doesn’t seem as productive in the virtual world as it did when we could hassle over the choice of words in person.

I wasn’t familiar with Creative Agency of Ft Collins, Colorado, but when I looked them up on the web, turned out that they were “a full stack digital marketing & creative agency.” Naturally enough, the reference to a full stack caught my attention, but then again, as they state on their web site, “Your time is precious. Leave the strategizing up to us.” Well, there you go again, leave the strategizing up to you marketing partner. Ouch!

Marketing comes in many guises and for large companies, including HPE, you will find groups categorized as corporate marketing that often includes marketing communications. Then you have a variety of customer and partner facing organizations such as industry marketing and product marketing both self-explanatory that is, if you are into marketing. No matter the title, marketing today is all about communicating with specific target audiences using your knowledge about who they are and most important of all when it comes to positioning your product, what they need.

Marketing isn’t about selling but rather smoothing the path to better sales results. Essentially, clearing the path of any obstacles prospective customers may be concerned about, whether real or imagined. One of the better explanations I came across was that of an IT Pre-Sales rep who recently wrote. “Marketing objectives is to get consumers to think about a company’s brand and generate leads. At the same time, Marketing has to align with Sales in order to understand whom they should target, how should they target and the best way to do it.” 

I like this as it is simple and to the point. And yet, when it comes to HPE and NonStop, like most members of the NonStop community I wish that more could be done to better market NonStop, particularly now that there is a path laid out for NonStop participation in GreenLake. Historically, ever since those disastrous times under Compaq ownership, marketing of NonStop has only been obvious because of its absence.

This is not a criticism of the HPE marketing teams, but rather a reflection on decisions made to market HPE, its vision and strategy and its desire to become a global leader in the edge to cloud everything as a service platform provider. Individual HPE products, including NonStop, then have to pull budget from wherever they can find it with the assumption that simply the brand HPE sells itself. But is the marketing of NonStop really absent from the industries it serves? The NonStop organization isn’t always showcased at NonStop events but I have become acutely aware over the past two years that there are marketing activities underway globally.

For NonStop, as the product moved beyond fault tolerant to being massively parallel to where today it’s well, it has become a lot of things:

Experience 100% availability, massive scalability and operational efficiency with a fully integrated, fault-tolerant software stack.

How did I come across this? Yes, the web site, but then where marketing is often simply the presence of a web site there is the troubling issue of determining exactly how to navigate to the pages you want to view. In this case it requires navigating to products, selecting compute, then knowing you need to go to mission critical and from there scroll to the end to find your first reference to NonStop. Don’t try typing in something simple like HPE.COM/NonStop as that isn’t recognized.

HPE Ezmeral targeted Twitter with tweets promoting a Big Announcement. That was it – it was a teaser to a future product update featuring cloud-native analytics. I am not sure what response this generated but it did leave me scratching my head. Seriously? With no reference to a stack, full or otherwise? There are ways to communicate using Web sites, social media channels and digital publications, but at the end of the day, every member of the NonStop community is today a marketing outlet. All of us have the ability to communicate.

I have written about this numerous times in the past, but to simply sit back and suggest HPE invest even more into the marketing of NonStop isn’t realistic. What is realistic is the work being done by the NonStop vendor community and by organizations like Connect. Together with committed individuals prepared to promote NonStop this represents marketing at its finest. Remember those times where it was a matter of writing a customer case study that would be highly influential to closing a sale? Well then in today’s digital world, every tweet, post and commentary is in reality a testimonial of one type or another.

Marketing as we may have thought it should be isn’t along for the ride. At its best it is an active participant in smoothing that path that closes the sale. With the volume of comments exchanged on your popular social media site there really shouldn’t be any opportunity missed where we can extol the virtues of NonStop – yes, it’s fault tolerant and it can scale massively. A single system image across 24,000 cores – try anything as massive on any other system! And orchestration of processes across it all courtesy of TS/MP (aka Pathway) – yes, a major contributor to the overall fault tolerant properties found on every NonStop system! So yes, marketing is very much alive and surprise, surprise, it’s all of us. Welcome to the world of crowd-happy marketing of our favorite product, NonStop.   


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Coming down from the heights of NonStop TBC 21

From Photos posted on Whova

For as long as I can remember participation in NonStop focused events has been the highlight of the year! I have had the good fortune to travel to events worldwide, from Europe to Asia and even to Australia. The opportunity to simply catch up with former colleagues and newfound friends has made any inconvenience experienced on the day a moot point. Then again, my enthusiasm for customer-focused events can be traced back to 1979 when I attended my first global gathering of the EDOS community.

As an Australian working in the early days of IT, making plans for any overseas trip was always a mixture of angst and longing, given how the price of the airline ticket to almost anywhere on the planet was exorbitant. The companies I worked for wanted to maximize any perceived value on offer, so at the time before I joined Tandem Computers in 1988, these trips to international events seemed to always total something like six weeks.

Many telexes and faxes were involved as itineraries were developed. As for the paper tickets that finally arrived at the office, they were books more than they were a couple of tear out coupons. Direct flights were a rarity and somehow, I always managed a stopover in Asia or New Zealand in order to step back from my daily routines to organize my thoughts for what layed ahead. Before airline loyalty programs took off in the US, I had already accumulated more than a million miles across the combination of QANTAS, Ansett, British Air and a host of the smaller airlines that crisscrossed North America. Who remembers flying on Hughes Air West with the bright yellow bananas?

All of which it to say, with the new abnormal we are getting used to, being able to attend an event while seated at my home office desk has become more appealing with each virtual event I attend. Certainly, I miss the driving out on America’s interstate highways but then again, no amount of enthusiasm truly can mask the discomfort such travels entail. Even taking the motor coach we enjoyed driving didn’t help all that much. Remember? Many conferences were held in the warmer months and who wanted to camp out in Las Vegas during the heat of June?


From Photos posted on Whova

When it comes to this year’s NonStop TBC 21, with the passage of just a few days and having come down from the highs generated during the event, it’s time to take a look back at this event. To begin with, the first murmurings that the event would transition from an in-person event to a virtual event certainly brought the naysayers out of the woodwork. And I have to admit, with the plans for this year’s event centered on a Denver location I was looking forward to the drive down our local interstate. Surely, having already attended one in-person event in Las Vegas just a few months earlier, there couldn’t be any arguments given that substantiated the switch? Then again, it all happened on short notice and Connect and the NonStop team have to be congratulated on their pivot to virtual with only a month notice.

One thing I learnt from my attendance at other events around the world is that content is king. Get your content right and you attract a crowd and in this case, the mere reference to GreenLake had an impact on attendance, I have to believe. GreenLake is not a panacea nor will it appeal to every NonStop customer but for those for whom contracting with the GreenLake team does make sense, it holds the tantalizing potential of reducing costs, sizing systems to what is needed right now and yes, tapping into expertise that may otherwise be out of reach.

As the NonStop community ages – and that is happening in technologies, platforms and solutions of other major enterprise vendors as well – and as education is becoming less general and more focused, IT departments are beginning to see gaps in their knowledge open up. Going with HPE for help across the systems deployed will be an important consideration for many enterprises depending upon NonStop systems. There is no good way to sugarcoat this but attracting new applications to NonStop may have faltered if HPE didn’t get its head around simplifying the NonStop operation.

Attracting new applications was part of a number of presentations. From the outset it was Jeff Kyle, the head of the NonStop organization within Mission Critical Solutions who, in his opening keynote presentation, identified four key markets NonStop was going to address. Two are well known – Financial Services and Retail – but as for the other two? More than a few attendees may have been surprised to hear Jeff talk about addressing Healthcare and Manufacturing as the other two markets. Markets need applications and as part of the GreenLake update, Lusis Payments was positioned as the GreenLake solution addressing the needs of Financial Services.

As for manufacturing it was good to hear from abat+ CEO and Cofounder, Peter Grendel. Providing support for almost every aspect of automobile manufacturing, including interfacing with robots such as those that we see painting automobiles and also moving all the way through the plant to the back office was impressive to hear. Talking about delivering content the community wanted to hear, Grendel had me fascinated throughout his company’s presentation. No surprises here really as I think by now the NonStop community knows a lot about my affinity for motor vehicles!

If you missed any of the presentations by Justin Simonds and Keith Moore either delivered separately or together by them both you might have missed the surprise duo of the event. The on-topic banter that passed between them was the stuff that kept you glued to you monitor. Where they took attendees was into the world of Kubernetes (K8s), containers and Pathway as well as into AI in the Finance World – did I mention that the topic for abat+ was Smart Manufacturing? Also let us not forget a really interesting presentation on Swarm Learning delivered by Justin Simonds! If you missed an earlier post to this blog promoting that session then you may want to revisit the post by Karen Copeland to the HPE Community blog - Applying swarm learning to challenges created by data at the edge

Naturally enough there was the packed agenda of vendor presentations about which we are bound to read a lot more in the coming months. Suffice to say, with up to five presentations being held simultaneously, thank goodness those who registered for the event can go back and replay many of the presentations from the Video Gallery under the sidebar heading of Resources. And take another look at the photos when you next visit Whova, some of them have a truly historical meaning!  

As Jeff Kyle continued with his opening keynote presentation he provided an update on new and increased partnerships where he listed Striim, Nexbridge, 4tech software and NuWave Technologies as well as ETI-NET and XYPRO. We should be hearing a lot more about these in the near term even as I suspect the NonStop product team will be revealing even more vendors participating in partnership programs.  

This year’s NonStop TBC 21 once again attracted a crowd; did someone say 1000+ attendees registered for this year’s event? This is a number that certainly cannot be trivialized even as it takes us deeper into the conversation about future events. I am already adjusting to the potential that HPE’s big tent marketing event, HPE Discover, will likely continue as a virtual event for some time. Will we ever see NonStop TBC return to in-person? The numbers do speak for themselves and I have to admit, attracting 1000+ registered attendees takes me back to some of the largest ITUG events of the past. On the other hand, I am thinking that augmenting larger virtual event with in person regional gatherings may be the ultimate balanced solution.

Then again, just as the days of sending telexes and faxes around the world to confirm attendance at one event or another and to organize meetings among peers is long gone no potential attendee is ever going to set aside four or even six weeks just to participate in their favorite event. Virtual is here to stay I suspect and the lingering image I have is of us all joining end-of-day networking celebrations happily joining together for a rousing rendition of “It’s a virtual world after all … it’s a virtuuuual, virtuuuuual world!” 

Can’t let it go!

                 “I’ve got a feeling and I just can’t let it go!” This is a line from a haunting song by Los Angeles indie electro-soul band...