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!” 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Data, data, everywhere; information? Who do we turn to?


I have been a story teller for a very long time. I continue to tell stories, it is something I like to do. When it comes to IT and the ever-changing IT landscape there really is no end to the stories that can be told. While I am not up to the standard of ancient Greeks who wove a moral into nearly all their stories, all the same, I have never been at a loss to highlight something positive about NonStop and in particular, the strong bonds that continue to bind together the many participants that make up today’s NonStop community.

If as yet you haven’t read the September – October 2021 issue of The Connection you may have missed reading my article, Data; it lives and it grows – with NonStop SQL, data truly has found a home. In that case you have missed my opening observations on IT and data -

In the Information Technology (IT) world where the majority of us within NonStop community work, our reliance on data cannot be underestimated. Whether it’s a simple request, “Show me the data” or perhaps something more compelling with “What does the analysis of the data tell me” business has come to rely on data unlike in any other era. Without data, we couldn’t possibly plot a course to the International Space Station or, perhaps more commonly accessed by us, navigate our way home. Simply put processing, without data, might be viewed as just marching in place.

This could be viewed as the long way around to just stating the obvious; we call it IT but we are all in this together – data processing. As much as I write about data there is still that sense that whatever steps we take to turning data into the information, the need for faster and better business insights just isn’t satisfied as fast we create the data. Moreover, for the NonStop community there is still an understanding that it’s not good to connect NonStop to the outside world where something happening out there degrades the fault tolerance of NonStop.

“The M3 Competition already proved itself a bit of a bummer,” wrote journalist Conner Golden in the November 2021 issue of Motor Trend. Of course, being an owner of the previous generation of an M4 Competition, this caught my attention. Golden was quoting feature editor Scott Evans who added, “its infotainment system Kafkaesque.” It’s amazing what you can pick up on when you step outside the field of IT, although I have to admit, cars and IT are on an intersect not just because of the potential for V2V communications and driverless engagement but as a result of modern cars being highly dependent upon software.

But is it Kafkaesque? Now Kafka was best described as a Bohemian writer back at the turn of the twentieth century. When it comes to describing something as Kafkaesque you may be surprised to read that Kafkaesque is characterized by nightmarish qualities, absurd bureaucracy, and unnecessary and illogical circular reasoning. And yet, despite this, Kafka has now entered our language in a very positive manner. While it is now an open source project overseen by Apache this wasn’t always the case.

It may further surprise you to read that it all started with LinkedIn – 

Yes, Kafka wasn’t branded as such because of the chaos that so often appeared in the writings of Kafka as it was about the writer himself. Seems as though the art of storytelling continues to resonate with all developers and embracing “a system optimized for writing” certainly resonates well with me. What brought Kafka to our attention is the many promotional posts and tweets promoting many NonStop vendors solutions that embrace Kafka, a fully distributed event streaming platform. It is as if every major NonStop vendor has a solution, even if their approaches differ wildly.

It was at this point that I just happened to be listening to the radio – yes, remember the humble radio? – when the words of the song by former Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, just happened to be broadcast - 

I don't ask for much, I only want your trust,
And you know it don't come easy.

That pretty much sums up the dilemma facing many NonStop users. That’s right, they don’t ask for much even as they exhibit concerns about how difficult it is integrating NonStop into a modern, open source, data streaming world. And yet, at its core the better implementations all rely on a proven methodology, Change Data Capture (CDC). If the solution under consideration is leveraging CDC then you are almost "home and hosed" [Ed: that is, for Aussies, Kiwis and Brits, "achieving victory or success, or certain to achieve it" particularly when it pertains to assessing performance of cricket teams] and given the strength of the vendors, trust becomes a given.

One such vendor is Striim, providing Scalable Low-Impact Real-Time Integration for Kafka. The way Striim sees the opportunity to integrate with Kafka –

The Striim platform enables you to integrate, process, analyze, visualize, and deliver high-volumes of streaming data for your Kafka environments with an intuitive UI and SQL-based language for easy and fast development.” And there you have it – supporting easy and fast development; the goal today of everyone in IT development.

Striim has been a longtime proponent of CDC just as before them so too was GoldenGate. But dating back even further it was NTI that pioneered CDC on NonStop and with the just announced DRNet®/Unified for HPE Customers, NonStop users can rely on a solution that takes data replication to new heights. If you have already deployed DRNet® you have the pieces in place to integrate with Kafka. In case you missed the most recent product updates featuring DRNet®/Vision and DRNet®/Open, you may have missed reading of how -

DRNet®/Vision integrates with any JDBC compliant database as delivered with DRNet®/Open but includes support for integration with any JSON data consumer including Kafka, Splunk>, ELK and many more. Whereas DRNet®/Open supports integration on a record to record basis, DRNet®/Vision ensures enterprises have visibility to all actions taken on data. In so doing, the history of data created on NonStop can be fully leveraged by any of these JSON data consuming product offerings.

What DRNet®/Unified for HPE Customers represents is that NonStop users can turn to NTI for one model, one technology, one product providing unified single source solution that includes support for Kafka and my own personal favorite, Splunk>. To read more about the level of integration now possible when utilizing all of the features included in DRNet®/Unified for HPE Customers, follow this link -

If you have not had an opportunity to visit the NTI web site then coinciding with the commencement of NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2021 and to more comprehensively describe NTI the company and DRNet® the product, you should familiarize yourself with the latest updates. You may find more than a few surprises in so doing!

Whether you turn to Striim, NTI or even XYPRO or Infrasoft, among others, the story line here is that with time, almost all major NonStop vendors will offer a feature that supports integration with Kafka and just how easy it becomes will depend upon the choices made. Having written this, the bigger picture here is that when covering the topic of today’s modern NonStop so much is taking place that it is very important the community stays current with what is being delivered.

We have all seen tremendous inroads into modernization from a developers perspective with DevOps support and to hear NonStop team members talking of AI/ML, Swarm Learning and yes, Kubernetes (make sure you tune in next week to the presentation on this topic by HPE Master Technologist Justin Simonds), there is little holding back NonStop systems from enjoying greater participation in your enterprises’ IT infrastructure.

In telling this story I am not ending with a moral as the Greeks tended to do. The mere fact that so many vendors are providing support that is as current in technology terms as they are doing and yes, Kafka is simply one example, should be encouraging news for all NonStop users. And if you want to hear the breadth of coverage then absolutely make sure you participate in the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2021 (#NonStopTBC21). I will be in attendance and maybe we can catch up virtually or after the event should you have any questions. You know, with all that is on offer today, all aspects of modernization just has to be easy; easier than you may have otherwise thought possible!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Are you depending on social media posts? NonStop users gain insights from NonStop community members!


Over a morning cup of coffee I read an article promoted on Facebook. Or, was it Twitter or perhaps LinkedIn? Can’t quite recall right now, but it matters little although at a guess it must have been an article related to the cloud experience or perhaps even platform-as-a-service (Paas). The article took me to yet another web site and while the story itself and the attraction it held for me are not all that important what struck me was just how reliant we have become on social media to help us navigate the news – technology or otherwise.

For the past few days Margo and I have been heads down finalizing the September issue of NonStop Insider. With this issue going live we have successfully completed five years of publication and the sixty issues that can be accessed online contain a wealth of information on all things NonStop. Naturally enough, over that five years period there have been numerous changes to NonStop and these can all be seen as the editorial direction evolved right alongside NonStop.

Even so, as we worked through the submissions the number of references direct or oblique to social media were too numerous to recount. Every vendor wants to influence us with some stunning disclosure in a social media exchange. The path ahead may indeed be one of many changes of direction and getting to where you want to go may prove difficult all by yourself. Coming across references to colleagues on social media that have successfully accomplishing what you intend to pursue can easily straighten any twisting path.

Put it down to the global pandemic perhaps as we stroll across a crosswalk deeply immersed in content on our smartphone. Or perhaps over a latte or something stronger but nevertheless, our eyes firmly fixed on out smartphone. Then again, put it down to the immense impact that the cloud is having on the story lines of almost every article published on social media even as the cloud experience dominates much of what we see in posts or tweets.

The only traditional magazines still able to attract a crowd are hobby and sports related. Whether your tastes take you to the boating publication, the lifestyles of the very rich or simply to car magazines there remains a variety of such publications that you can still enjoy turning the page if you so desire. While reading one of the car magazines one columnist stopped me in my tracks. Seriously, Car Software-as-a-Service (CSaaS)! Surely not! But there it was -

“In 2019, BMW announced that it would begin charging owners of its vehicles $80 per year for the privilege of using Apple CarPlay … BMW next decided that it would return to a subscription model for features such as smartphone-based virtual key, remote start, and even heated seats.

“Porsche offers a range-optimization feature and lane-keeping assist on its Taycan electric models for a monthly charge.

“Cadillac does the same with its hands-free Super Cruise drive assistance and Audi with its immersive WiFi-enabled navigation system.

“Of course, Tesla now asks customers to plunk down $200 per month for its always-a-day-away misnomered Full Self-Driving.

“Welcome to the digital automotive buffet where you can pick and choose what you want – then pay for it every month.”

Maybe an overkill of quotes but you get the story. We could reference similar developments in media where streaming services have exploded of late. I am not sure how many streaming channels I have subscribed to but it has to be a lot. Subscription has become synonymous with IT so much so that the options afforded enterprises today caters to almost all their needs. Be it a decision to pay once on presentation of just one invoice or a need to deploy more technology than they previously could afford, major vendors have all come to understand that having options that suit their customers helps them better compete in the marketplace.

For the NonStop community, it doesn’t take too many glances at social media sites to know that NonStop is on track to support such subscription models as are today offered by HPE. If by now you haven’t seen a post from HPE promoting the benefits of GreenLake then perhaps you aren’t logging into the right social media channels. These promotions by HPE are simply too hard to miss and they continue to come thick and fast with an upcoming webinar or podcast about to happen every other day of the week. Yes, for HPE GreenLake has become its most important initiative and is the centerpiece in HPE CEO Antonio Neri’s stated objective of having everything in the HPE product portfolio available on the basis of as-a-service.

Navigating all these updates can take a serious bite out of our daily routines. Even as they can really help in keeping us on a tried-and-true straight path, it’s all so easy to get sidetracked and perhaps today the biggest of these is the thought that HPE would be offering only GreenLake. With all the images and supporting bullet points many members of the NonStop user community have been left with the impression that they had better start planning to move to GreenLake or be left behind. Likewise members of the NonStop vendor community have drawn the same conclusion. Better be participating alongside NonStop itself to support GreenLake.

It’s at this point we need to revisit the words of HPE’s Neri. Having everything available as-a-service isn’t binary. In case you misread or perhaps misheard HPE’s marketing team, it’s all about giving enterprises the option to lease the whole package rather than financing a purchase. To return to the car image once again, leasing has always been popular as you can get more car for your dollar. You can still buy the car outright, pay for it over time with a loan or yes, lease it. The same is now applicable for how we elect to acquire our technology.

So who is the target market for GreenLake? Clearly, from the outset, it has been the really big users of HPE products. For an enterprise committed to HPE getting that one invoice has it’s upside but for those enterprises with NonStop systems deployed in support of a single application maybe it continues to be one of many invoices – IBM, Oracle, MS Azure, SAP will all be sending you their monthly invoices as well. 

For the majority of NonStop users the idea of as-a-service is good to know but perhaps not yet. Perhaps there is still consideration to buying outright your NonStop system and leave the challenges to their accounting department to sort out to the best advantage for the enterprise. At the very least, when you turn to social media, make sure you follow what your NonStop peers are doing as there is going to be many more updates coming from the NonStop community in this regard.

Independent NonStop vendors will continue to enjoy a market that is substantial and that continues to upgrade in line with their own plans. Social media channels may be overwhelmed with promotions for all things as-a-service even as they extoll the virtue of the cloud experience but that’s just one story. Albeit the latest story and as enticing and seductive as it may appear, its simply that. One more story, one more option to explore, one more way to fund IT.

For the NonStop community it will continue to be good news that going down the path to as-a-service will not leave behind NonStop systems as indeed HPE is committed to being all-inclusive and the NonStop team has literally moved mountains to ensure NonStop becomes an active participant in GreenLake, but that’s not the complete story. 

If you want to stay the course on a path that is straight and you tap into the social media channels that support your course of action then yes, keep on running NonStop as you do today. As they say, all vendors no matter their product plans or marketing campaigns know only too well; it’ you, the NonStop user, that continues to occupy the driver’s seat and the course you set is entirely driven by your own business needs.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

NonStop community pursues virtual networking; reality sets in!

Travel provides considerable insight. It never ceases to amaze me how many unexpected events occur on any given trip out into the wild blue yonder. Travel has provided the stimulus for many posts to this blog and to other blogs I support, but in reality, the connection between travel and inspiration is not only tangible, it is something every blogger simply has to do. Forget looking at the tea leaves, take the time to find the best tea house and absorb everything around you.

Fair enough; travel is pretty much off the table for now. Not surprisingly, the concerns over the continuing presence of highly contagious strains of COVID have made it almost certain that this global pandemic is going to be with us for some time. And yet for many Americans, depending on which state you live in, there is a growing sense that almost normal has returned.

Last night Margo and I were kept awake by a thunderstorm that lit up the sky. Rain finally fell closer to midnight but what it reminded us both of is just how unsettling this global pandemic has become. For technologists, it is a constant reminder that planning for two to three years out may not be the wisest move. Horizons this distant may never be reached. If you cannot implement a solution in a couple of months who’s to say it would hold any relevance a year or so later? Big projects are on hold for many enterprises and it’s not just an issue of the supply chain. Parts aren’t the gating factor, but accessing experienced staff has become the bigger concern.

When it comes to the NonStop community we are fast approaching a tipping point. Keep mission critical applications running on-prem and along traditional lines, participate in a cloud experience even as applications stick to being on-prem or go full-tilt into cloud deployments? Is mission critical still sacrosanct to the point where yes, it would be sacrilegious to throw caution to the wind and abandon all further thoughts of retaining an IT organization? Sure seems like the popular move right now, but there it is; could you even plan on doing that in say three to six months?

Where we see a lot of discussion taking place is yet again how best to make such a transformation in an organized, cautious fashion. What baby-steps could be taken that might mitigate the obvious risks that surely would arise from throwing caution to the wind? When you google HPE to read of its vision and mission statement together with the strategy it is pursuing, you come across this:

“Our purpose is to advance the way people live and work: From being a leader in sustainability to driving the ethical adoption of AI, HPE is committed to be a force for good and an agent of positive change in our communities around the world.”

“President and CEO Antonio Neri has set out a very clear strategy for HPE to be the global edge-to-cloud platform-as-a-service company. In order to achieve this, all of the portfolio will be made available as a service by 2022. Our focus will be on the execution of that strategy.”

As far as vision, mission and strategy goes, it’s pretty straight forward. It’s also recognition of the significant impact the cloud has made on IT and of how many within IT would like to have the cloud experience as an option within their data centers. Even as the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) 2021 has gone virtual, once again, it’s clear from a perusal of the agenda that cloud and with cloud, GreenLake – the cornerstone supporting the strategy – makes its presence felt. For the NonStop community this is not such a bad thing as it is of itself a clear baby-step the NonStop team is making to better support the strategy of HPE being the edge-to-cloud platform-as-a-service company.

A quick and very informal poll of the NonStop community, particularly the NonStop vendor community suggests that virtual events don’t provide them with the kind of networking exposure that they crave. Loosing that line of sight between themselves and those using their products has always been a concern for any party prepared to spend money on such events. But the reality is that virtual events are here to stay and as much as Margo and I like to travel, the story lines will require a little extra digging on our side before the content we are looking for is unearthed.

Truthfully, I miss the drama of the big-tent marketing events. All the amazing light shows that precede the commencement of keynote sessions along with a growing sense of excitement that perhaps this time, something really special will take place. Perhaps not quite the thunderstorm of last night but pretty close! You cannot match any of that with a virtual event and perhaps I am of that age group that does want to be entertained. I need to be able to read an audience to better determine whether HPE is connecting with its audience.

But again, the reality is that we have to make do with ZOOM, TEAMs, whatever. More important still is the reality that NonStop is evolving. There will be conversations featuring Swarm Learning, Containers and yes, Kubernetes, GreenLake enablement and much more. NonStop is as modern today as any other platform and the surprise here is not so much about how this has all come about as it is a story of our own collective abdication of promoting these capabilities more broadly within our own enterprise. Let’s not forget too just how much is going on with NonStop SQL these days – like many of you I have always thought of NonStop SQL as being the biggest of the crown jewels within NonStop and it now seems these jewels are getting to shine more brightly than ever before.

Virtual networking in the real world? It has its downside but let’s not forget that this is essentially the way forward for the foreseeable future. If you view events as the best opportunity to network then yes, you will be disappointed to see how much the world has changed as a consequence of the global pandemic. But don’t give up just yet. Maybe invest in a better home office with bigger screens and better audio. Whatever moves you make it’s worth remembering, it’s not just projects that are subject to shorter timeframes, but the time we need to spend on a virtual event. After all (and in all seriousness) who wants to travel these days? With that, I will head to the coffee station I have nearby even as I look forward to participating with you all at the virtual TBC 2021.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Have you read NonStop posts to the HPE Community blog of late?

 The NonStop community is truly blessed with multiple blog sites and digital publications all focused on NonStop systems; have you visited the HPE Community blog and checked out the posts focused on NonStop?

Whenever I need information and Margo throws a question my way to which I have no answer, I go to multiple web sites. Whether I start with a simply Google search or go directly to a vendor’s web page, it turns out there is very little I cannot find once I begin the search. However, there is so much information being posted to the web that sometimes we may miss an important post, or two, simply because promotion of the post slides on by.

It has only been in the last year and a half that I have become fully aware of the HPE Community blog. In case you were unaware of this resource close to your typing fingers, it’s gradually building a library of posts in support of NonStop. At times, they may not be easy to find but typing in the names of product managers and marketing managers associated with the NonStop team, will reveal numerous posts.

Simply put, if you are looking for corroboration on a NonStop feature or an update on a subsystem or even context within which to describe a key NonStop fundamental or attribute, it’s all there and updated for this decade. What follows here is a summation of the posts that I have found most useful and should be bookmarked by all members of the NonStop community. There’s no telling when you might be called upon to support NonStop in front of an audience that isn’t at all familiar with NonStop.

Let’s start by looking at the fundamentals, these being availability scalability and more often of late, database. We will close with looking at an update on the modernizing of development. Would you also want to know more about AI/ML and even Swarm Learning? That’s all covered by the NonStop team as well.   

And to begin, let’s look at the posts by Karen Copeland, Manager, Worldwide HPE NonStop Product Management:

Posted: 05-01-2020

Unplanned downtime and outages can happen. But not with HPE NonStop.

The hardware and software that make up an HPE NonStop system have been designed to work together so that no single point of failure can cause an outage. 

The HPE NonStop development team continues to build on these attributes that separate NonStop from any other server offering, running today on industry-standard hardware and software, private cloud and open languages, middleware and utilities.

Posted: 06-23-2021

HPE NonStop: Delivering seamless scale-up and scale-out for years

For the NonStop community we have understood for many years that availability is what attracts IT professionals to NonStop systems today, but it is the scalability that ensures NonStop keeps meeting performance goals set by the enterprise.

There is no denying the influence that hybrid IT and the cloud experience are having on enterprise data centers, but knowing that part of the hybrid will continue to be NonStop, it is perhaps more newsworthy that at the physical level, the cloud experience already lives and thrives with NonStop. 

 Posted: 03-09-2020

Modernizing the development world of NonStop applications

What may also surprise CIOs is how DevOps tools like Git and Jenkins can be used to develop applications even as NonStop developers directly interface with products like Ansible. What may surprise IT management even more is that NonStop engineers actively use GitHUB, Jenkins, Ansible and other open source tools for DevOps to deliver many new offerings for the NonStop platform.

And there is more to come. 

Posted: 8-13-2021

Applying swarm learning to challenges created by data at the edge

Swarm behavior may not be the target of discussions today but then again, where insights, models and data intersect, perhaps there are opportunities when it comes to providing a reliable, robust and indeed fault-tolerant server for edge intelligence to register for initial models.

This will be a topic covered in the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) October 5-7, 2021 in Denver. HPE Master Technologist Justin Simonds will be providing the NonStop community with further insights into swarm learning and it will surely attract an audience. He says: "The ability to share models without having to share actual information will be a real game changer. Swarm learning will allow companies to benefit from each other without sharing customer or internal information. No risk sharing! Swarm learning is parallel processing for AI."

Karen has been supported in her blogging by Vikas Kapoor, MCS Marketing Manager: 

Posted: 01-29-2020

Virtual: For HPE NonStop it’s a reality

When running Virtualized NonStop, anything associating with the backplane and the fabric is replaced by the hypervisor.

Should there ever be a failure of a hypervisor when running Virtualized NonStop, the system treats this as no different to a failure of a physical server with converged NonStop.

“Due to Virtualized NonStop’s availability architecture, the backup VMs take over and provide continuous availability preventing any outage of the system as a whole,” advised Prashanth Kamath, Senior Product Manager for HPE Virtualized NonStop in the NonStop Enterprise Division.

‎Posted: 12-16-2020 

Answering the modern database challenge: Introducing HPE NonStop SQL Cloud Edition

HPE NonStop SQL Cloud Edition leverages the SQL/MX Database Services (DBS) one click API that allows you to deploy a new database without any specific NonStop knowledge required, just as you would experience in a public cloud. It leverages SQL/MX DBS multi-tenancy which allows you to deploy a database in a matter of minutes.

The end goal is for customers to use an application without the burden of keeping the database lights on and be charged according to their usage of the service. In return they expect a public cloud-like experience (global, elastic, secure, available). 

‎When it comes to database, SQL/MX and the cloud, Vikas post was just the beginning as he was supported by a more recent post from Roland Lemoine, HPE NonStop Product Manager:

Posted: 04-15-2021 

Welcome to the cloud experience with HPE NonStop SQL

It is the goal of NonStop SQL Cloud Edition to negate any requirement of those enterprises electing to deploy the database to learn the inner workings of the NonStop system.

With HPE NonStop SQL Cloud Edition, the NonStop team is delivering a turnkey database software bundle that brings the simplicity and agility of the public cloud experience on your premises. It completely abstracts clustering and distributed SQL complexity while combining the highest levels of availability, scalability, data integrity, and performance out of the box. 

You may not have time to read all these posts, and I hear that there are more on the way that will follow upcoming revelations promised for the NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) 2021, but there are sure to be some that arouse just a bit of curiosity even for the most seasoned NonStop professional. Or have you already been reading them all as they were posted?

It is a credit to the NonStop team that they have now found a way to promote NonStop on regular HPE social media channels and all that we can do to encourage them to continue is to go to the HPE Community blog and start reading. Are you and if not, shouldn’t you be doing something similar?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Disappearing horizons?

A brief encounter with an IT legend of the 1970s changed the course of my professional life. It marked my departure from the user community with a move to the vendor side and much more …

Are we still enjoying working from home? Is our home office looking more like it’s permanent? Are we in any hurry to return to the normalcy we once knew? Do we truly miss social interactions around the water cooler or coffee pot? Have the changes we have experienced firsthand become our new normal?

I have posted about this more than once over the course of the past year and a half. Or is that more like two years? It is strange to look back and recall the times when the pace of life was fast, almost thrilling for some, but now that the wheels have well and truly fallen off, do we want to return to that ride? Do we really look forward to changing our ways yet again?

When it comes to technology, if you don’t like change then perhaps you should have chosen a different calling. IT is all about change. IT is not a constant but rather the one industry that is rewarded handsomely for branching off into areas others may view as irrelevant.

For those who may not know me all that well, I began my career programming channels on an IBM mainframe. That’s right, access to storage including disk, tape, paper tape even punched cards all had to be programmed. A long time ago I came across a sign in an IT manager’s office suggesting that it’s not a real computer unless you can walk through its channel (processors)! Selector channels, byte and block multiplexor channels – they all had their purpose depending upon device speed.

When I consider change I like to think of it in terms of mileage and equate mileage with experience. On the other hand, I also consider change as beneficial and perhaps even exhilarating. When it comes to HPE NonStop systems who among us recalls the very first sighting of a NonStop system, perhaps in the guise of a Tandem Computer? It’s a matter of record that my first sighting was at the 1983 (or 1984) Hannover Fair (before the split that gave us CeBIT) where a Tandem Computer was being assembled on a stand directly opposite the Nixdorf Computer stand on which I happened to be.

When I take a moment to reflect on the NonStop community, I am left to wonder how enthusiastically we embrace change? You can put this down to reading and editing the articles that have been submitted for inclusion in the upcoming August 2021 issue of NonStop Insider. Put it down too to the snippets of dialogue I have had with the NonStop team where interest IT in general is expanding.

Want to know about NonStop and IoT? About Data Mesh deployments? And what about Swarm Learning? Needing to know more about Analytics and ML / AI? In other words, it’s not so much a matter of a few waves being out there beyond the horizon but more like a serious tsunami. Who read the pinnacle IT industry book Waves of Change by Charles Lecht, founder of Advanced Computer Techniques, published back in 1979? Who saw the two paragraphs I contributed on the topic of how an IBM 370/148 chewed up cycles doing absolutely nothing apart from simply checking lists, managing pages, etc.

The connection to ACT and to Lecht runs deeper. You can still read about it in wiki:

Lecht was a colorful and flamboyant character with an idiosyncratic sense of style, who went around on a motorcycle and was described as a "showman" by colleagues, customers, and competitors alike. At one point his office and desk were completely covered by silver square tiles. ACT (Advanced Computer Techniques) benefited from his flair for publicity: He, together with the company, was profiled in The New Yorker in 1967 and later in industry publications such as Datamation, which once referred to him as "One of computerdom's most flashy characters".

Beyond the flash there was substance and this became visible when the ACT went public:

ACT became a publicly owned company in May 1968. The initial public offering was handled by boutique technology underwriter Faulkner, Dawkins & Sullivan, and the stock value increased almost four-fold during the first day of trading, ending with a three-fold gain that The New York Times termed "spectacular".

Ahh – those were the days; ACT was one of 40–50 software companies started in the early 1960s, many of which would go on to be forgotten. Charlie was also a kind of mentor as he invited me to join the team in New York and to become the company’s database consultant / promoter in the IBM mainframe marketplace – maybe more of an influence than I care to admit.  Remember too, this was back in 1977, mind you:

Lecht's book The Waves of Change, which attempted to foretell changes in the computer industry, was serialized in Computerworld magazine in 1977 (a first for a trade publication) and published by McGraw-Hill in 1979. The foreword was written by Gideon I. Gartner, who would soon found the influential information technology research and advisory firm the Gartner Group.

If you are wondering about my connection to ACT and to Charlie, then you may recall how I worked for the Alberta, Canada, and a distributor of Caterpillar Tractors for some time. The company had invested so much in IBM that they chose to establish a separate service bureau business:

The most important diversification was into service bureaus, which by 1979 accounted for some 40 percent of the company's revenue. These bureaus, which provided their own equipment to handle the data processing needs of clients, were located in New York, Phoenix, Tucson, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Milan, Italy, and each tended to specialize in a particular area, such as the Edmonton one reporting on inventory and financial status for the Canadian oil and construction industry.

What drove Charlie was change and the acceleration in change that was taking place during his lifetime. IT wasn’t like other disciplines in that change evolved slowly with time and followed considerable and lengthy peer review. In its infancy, you could promote almost anything to do with IT as being new and fresh and an industry breakthrough. And that’s what most of us did during the late 1970s through early 1980s. It was exactly the same thing we all witnessed at Tandem Computers.

Fortunately, Tandem has gone on to do much bigger things. Not to be confused with any of those now forgotten 40 – 50 companies that formed during the previous decade. So, what’s driving change at NonStop today? What patterns have we witnessed over the course of the previous decade that continue to influence our decision making today? Is it the presence of a competitive chip landscape? Is it the maturing of database solutions? Is it the arrival of cloud computing and with it, the cloud experience?

The horizon may be getting further and further away from us but then again, if you are part of a changing industry like IT, you will come to understand that rather than being linear it is cyclical. For almost every promotion we read, there has been at least one previous occurrence. Did you know that back in 1978 Canada became upset over data being shipped to the US for processing thereby undercutting the competiveness of Canadian Companies? Would you have guessed that the newspaper of the day would carry stories that sound as though they were written today?

It is not that the NonStop community is unaware of change as it’s more appropriate to say that the NonStop community has consistently embraced change. Waves and even tsunamis no longer surprise us and to be in a position to seriously run NonStop from within a private cloud may be shocking to some in IT, but to others it’s just one more important transition for NonStop. A Data Base Server built entirely from NonStop SQL supporting multitenancy and delivering access on the basis of as-a-service? Wonderful! Overseeing the models needed to drive meaningful swarm learning? Possible! NonStop serving many more industries than finance and retail? You bet!

All of which is to say you just have to make sure you register for the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) 2021 as there will be surprises aplenty. New products and services, new partners and new solutions into expanding markets. Simply change at its best for NonStop. The horizon may indeed be out of sight but would the NonStop community serving IT want it any other way?

As ACT Charlie was keen to emphasize:

“If you buy what I’ve thus far offered – and I believe there is every reason that you should – we can move on to its meaning. It is no surprise that as time passes, the disposition of users is to buy more automation.

“At the low end we find an increasing flood of user-friendly devices that enhance data capture and dissemination … At the high end, we find processors of increasing power that let users tackle bigger jobs with their systems. Together, these micro and macro technologies may be envisioned as stretching total system power to encompass a wider data processing role.”

Whatever happened to ACT? According to EVP Oscar H. Schachter, “We just faded away. We never dissolved. We never declared bankruptcy ... we just kind of faded away.”

Change? It’s all new and it’s all happening for the first time. Edge to Cloud is coming and it’s new and fresh! Insights (into wider data processing roles)! Really? Wait a minute; not so fast. Are you kidding me? Take one more look at those story headlines of 1978 and then of how service bureaus flourished in that period and then tell me what really has happened of late!

Well then, come to TBC 2021 and perhaps you will have the edge over your colleagues on all things cloud! Perhaps just beyond he horizon is yet one more sweep of the IT pendulum. 

Just sayin’ …

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Crash? Not with NonStop and for good reason …

Clouds go offline; data centers are compromised; critical infrastructure is held to ransom. Thank goodness for today’s modern HPE NonStop systems that we can run any which way we like!

“Crash your car?”
“Would you like me to crash your car?”

You can imagine the look on my face as this dialogue continued. True, my hearing may not be as good as it once was and true, the cars I drive are low and working any sort of credit card reader through a car’s window can be problematic but seriously, crash my car? As it so happened to be on this occasion the attendant at the car wash was only asking me whether he could “cash my card?” He happily took my credit card, inserted it into the machine and we were on our way.

For any member of the NonStop community, the above exchange might arouse a wry smile or two but it continues to be crashes of another type that only create a shaking of the head. In this day and age, surely systems shouldn’t be crashing for any reason especially those we interact with on a regular basis. Credit and debit cards should be easy enough to process as should any perimeter device we interact with to complete a financial transaction. You would think that after four decades the concept of fault tolerance might have remained a priority for every business.

The sign on the window said it all. “Unfortunately we have had a system crash and we are unable to open for business at this time.” The store was in Ft Collins and catered to those looking for anything to do with their kitchen – appliances, storage containers, condiments, jams and even homemade chocolates. It was all available at least when they weren’t experiencing a system crash. 

Margo and I often visit this store with no particular goal in mind and just as often we come out with one purchase or another – it’s the only place where I can get legitimate Coleman’s Mustard that’s the equivalent in strength to what I relied on in Australia. Yes, I often get the powder and mix my own mustard to ensure the heat is elevated to the correct level for mustard.

On this occasion, our trip into Ft Collins was to no avail. And here’s the thing – not only did this store loose business but it disappointed loyal customers. I returned to my car wondering, how many other possible patrons they disappointed or worse have discouraged from returning. 

After all, there was Boulder’s famous “Peppercorn” establishment right on the Pearl Street Mall that provided the same products as did Ft Collins “The Cupboard.” Fault tolerance is not a religion or a philosophy it’s what HPE NonStop systems deliver and in a world that is increasingly being enticed to enjoy the cloud experience, have we become blasé about crashes?

What we have seen rising in occurrences is applications that crash. In an April 9, 2021 post to the blog, Decode, Mario Žderić wrote of how, “It’s almost impossible to keep any customer satisfied if your app crashes regularly … Such experiences during financial transactions may also impact the buyer’s trust in your brand significantly.” Žderić then describes 11 reasons for applications to crash some of which apply to even the most robust of enterprise applications. Probably more so when those enterprise applications happen to be mission critical.

Among the reasons for applications to crash – Žderić writes mostly about mobile phone apps but the reasons for some crashes applies equally to enterprise applications:

Inadequate testing – “It’s impossible to deliver your users a stable and reliable app without thorough testing. To prevent or minimize your app’s risk of crashing, it’s important to test it continuously.” Really? Still doing it by hand, surely not!

Software development life cycle – “At each step of the way, there are stage-specific issues that could compromise the stability of your app.” Stages? Yes, from implementation through testing, maintenance and then subsequent planning for what comes next, gaps can open up and critical processes be missed!

Errors Due to Agile Methodology – “Agile’s underlying architecture focuses on delivering new product features and updates in small increments at regular intervals … this also comes with its disadvantages from a technical perspective: With incremental deliveries, you often have to deal with compatibility issues, poor resource planning, inadequate documentation, and indefinite improvement rounds.” 

Disadvantages? This is not a discouragement of Agile but a reminder that Agile is no excuse for poor management and indeed lax or overambitious perhaps borderline aggressive oversight!

Fast forward to today and to the cloud experience and the reasons for crashes have become far more sinister. Everything from a simple mischievous hack to a far more concerning orchestrated deployment of a virus associated with ransomware: Could NonStop prevent such intrusions? 

The reality is that it can – as more and more legislations are passed by governments concerning privacy and in truth, protection of sovereignty, cloud experiences may cloud the real issue. For the NonStop user, there are plenty of processes that may indeed be easier and more effective to run in clouds – backup (and restore), management and monitoring tools and utilities, analytics – but the applications themselves?

There is a reason why NonStop transcends all other approaches to running mission critical applications. The very architecture that underpins the fault tolerant nature of NonStop in and of itself ensures crashes do not occur. There is a message system and above it a file system that together ensure rogue code doesn’t suddenly appear nor can data suddenly be impacted by outside sources. You can put ropes around your NonStop system but those optics don’t tell the full story. There are ropes for sure but they are virtual, a function of the message and file systems and as such remain out of sight from the end user.

Perhaps what is also underestimated is the value provided by the integrated software stack that makes up a key portion of what NonStop is all about – there is a lot more to fault tolerance than just stringing together redundant processes and duplicated links. Applications built upon the NonStop middleware, be they written in TAL, C/C++, Perl, Java, and much more, are given an assurance of working once tested. 

The user can readily address deterministic bugs but NonStop easily sorts out those particularly tricky to repeat non-deterministic bugs. This was all fully disclosed back in the days when NonStop championed the NonStop Availability (NSA) initiative.

Systems continue to crash. Clouds can evaporate and increasingly, restrict access to mission critical data that lies beyond the reach of the user. Apps can become unreliable even as networks struggle to provide coverage as well as bandwidth. The point is that there are no absolutes with technology. 

There are no guarantees. NonStop can do so much to minimize much that ails today’s cloud computing; NonStop can run happily within a private cloud and when hybrid clouds become a consideration, there is a future coming where NonStop will treat the presence of clouds as they do virtual machines – cloud 0, cloud 1, etc. And why not?

If you want to make your cloud experience enjoyable, reliable and indeed, crash resistant there are already ways that you might want to consider to do just this and NonStop should be part of that discussion. The NonStop team is always responding to changing enterprise needs and when it comes to ways to eliminate downtime on traditional, virtual or hybrid systems, come up with a good reason for the need and they will listen. 

Just as they have been doing for four plus decades? Just ask yourself; is today’s NonStop resembling the NonStop of the 1970s/1980s? No, nothing like it and that’s because the changing enterprise requirements of IT have changed and NonStop has demonstrated an ability to evolve to meet those needs.

I didn’t give my car to someone who asked to crash it even as it was a reminder that I might need to have my hearing checked. On the other hand, when I was informed of a system that crashed, I couldn’t buy my favorite mustard. 

Crashes may not be a part of the NonStop vocabulary even as we are cognizant of what can cause the crash of an application. But the game is changing and the changes have become games ranging from mischievous to outright villainous. 

There’s no better time to include NonStop in the conversations even as there’s no better time to interact with your peers. Perhaps there will be answers provided at the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) – will we see you there? Most important of all however is the need for more NonStop champions as we have the experience; we have the knowledge and yes, we still have that level of enthusiasm that warrants others to dig deeper into what NonStop can do for them today. 

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...