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Monday, November 28, 2022

Further observations following the success of NonStop TBC 22

Events tend to develop their own momentum as their programs unfold. Whether it is just a one day roadshow or a more elaborate gathering, the energy created through the almost constant interaction of the attendees is enough to stimulate side conversations that explore topics that may arise following keynote sessions and major platform and solutions updates. This was definitely the case with NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2022 (NonStopTBC22) where the NonStop community came together for its annual conference.

There are other HPE conferences held throughout the year that call on us to commit time and money for an opportunity to hear the latest news on all things related to HPE and to the IT industry, however, for the NonStop community to have the opportunity to participate in a conference solely focused on NonStop continues to elevate NonStopTBC22 to a position of being the premier event of the year. With a program created to touch on almost every aspect of interest to the NonStop community it once again succeeded in offering something for everyone.

In achieving this success the effort exerted by the Connect organization working with the HPE NonStop team was hard to ignore once again. Any casual glance of the program highlighted just how important it was to the NonStop team and how much effort the team gave to this conference. Throughout the event HPE team’s fingerprints could be seen on an agenda filled with HPE NonStop employees participants. For the NonStop product management team this was not just the premier event of the year for the NonStop community but for the product management organization itself. This was an event to shine and Product Management certainly did this year.

If you missed attending NonStopTBC22 this year then you missed out on an occasion that celebrated a return to in-person events. From the outset it was clear that this conference attracted a worldwide audience with as many new faces making an appearance as there were long term supporters – a surprise to all present.

There was an expectation that with the passing of the worst of the global pandemic there would be an uptick in interest in live events, but even so, looking out at the audience that gathered for the first day’s keynotes, it certainly proved once again that holding an event for just the NonStop community would still draw a crowd.

“For me, this year’s TBC was very much a ‘rebound’ event after
the pandemic and despite customer numbers being lighter
than expected, it was a successful event.

“Many of the customer delegates are comforte customers
and we took the opportunity to rekindle the relationships at TBC.

“The event was well organized and run (a big thank you to
the Connect team) and we’re very much looking forward to
next year’s TBC in Denver (and in Edinburgh).”

Thomas Gloerfeld
Director Partner Development & Marketing NonStop Solutions
comforte

As those present were often heard repeating throughout the conference, this rebound was indeed a special occasion that they were pleased not to have missed. When it came time for a key contributor to the event’s agenda of sessions, Mark Pollans, Senior Worldwide Product Manager, HPE NonStop, stepped onto the stage to launch NonStopTBC22, he too was pleasantly surprised by the number of attendees and the presence of those attending a NonStop TBC for their first time. 

“When I stepped onto the stage as the event began, I asked the audience two questions, answers to both confirmed for me that we were overdue for a global face to face event.  ‘How many of you have travelled from outside the US to be here with us this week?  When it appeared as though a third of the audience raised their hands, I let out an audible, ‘Wow!’

“I then followed this with another question, ‘How many are attending a NonStopTBC22 for your very first time? Again I was pleasantly surprised to see about a third of the participants were raising their hands.”

Myself, having had the opportunity to be the ITUG Summit chair on three occasions during the transition from Tandem Computers to the days of Compaq and then attending as the ITUG Chairman during the merger of Compaq with HP, I am well aware of the demands that are placed on those tasked with creating the program agenda for the annual gathering of the NonStop community.

On the occasion of NonStopTBC22 Mark was helped out by the support of Wendy Bartlett, an independent consultant, with a lengthy tenure within NonStop development. Together Mark and Wendy were instrumental in walking that fine line between scheduling NonStop sessions with minimal conflict among NonStop presenters and with those from the NonStop vendor community. 

At the previous in-person event there had been a Hackathon held for those software developers receptive as to what more they might learn about NonStop. Reviews following this somewhat competitive gathering of a small cross section of the NonStop software developers were mixed. While planning for NonStopTBC22, NonStop Product Management elected to take a different approach. Mark Pollans commented:

“Back in 2019, the previous pre-event hands-on challenge was a great addition to the TBC although the turn out wasn’t as high as we had hoped. For NonStopTBC22, we decided to see what could be done to make it a more inviting pre-event activity.

“No longer branded as a ‘Hackathon’ but instead as the ‘NonStop  Design Challenge,’ the room was full of participants and the problem statement given to participating groups proved more than challenging.

“If you were unable to attend NonStopTBC22 Design Challenge, then you missed out on a fun time - educational and challenging for sure, and still a fun time that celebrated NonStop. With a successful activity completed, it sets the bar higher for next year’s event where we look forward to even more participants.”

Mark wasn't alone with his comments as Wendy went on to say, how she "was pleased to see the range of possible solutions from the four teams and that judging wasn't easy especially given the potential real-life tradeoffs that would have to be made about time and effort required for initial development versus ongoing maintainability and adaptability. There will be an article about the challenge in the next issue of The Connection."  

Perhaps the most intriguing one of keynote presentations was that given by VP and Lab Director, HPE Systems Architecture Lab, Cullen Bash. With a title of The Tech Side of Sustainability, his presentation opened with observations of how compute was not keeping up and that the days of silicon were definitely numbered.

“Exponentially increasing (volume of) data multiplied by exploding data sources multiplied further by shrinking time to action (is giving rise to) massive advances in computing power NEEDED EVERYWHERE,” was perhaps the most startling slide of his presentation. This was creating a dilemma when it came to power and cooling that was driving the sustainability open question as to how best improve energy efficiency from edge to supercomputer to cloud.

What many attendees caught onto quickly was that the insights provided by Cullen Bash were indicative of what would likely trickle down to the NonStop community. With the days of silicon numbered NonStop, along with other platforms dependent on compute, would likely become beneficiary of research into the use of photonics.

“Today’s data-intensive applications have an insatiable demand for data movement, consuming too much bandwidth and energy for electrons,” said Cullen Bash. This isn’t the first time photonics have been mentioned by those from HPE labs, but in the context of sustainability, the likelihood that this research would apply to HPE’s products seemed just as inevitable as was the lessening of enthusiasm to keep stacking chips one atop the other.

Getting the glimpse into where HPE Labs was headed? Priceless! It often takes an exposure to where IT as an industry is headed to generate as many conversations as it provided immediate answers. Nowhere could the NonStop community go to hear a more illuminating presentation – no photon puns intended – that at this year’s NonStopTBC22.

If you missed attending this year then planning for next year might be advantageous, as I have to believe there will be others from HPE Labs invited to participate in future NonStop events. 

As for my own personal drivers for attending NonStopTBC22 then I can look no further than the inaugural gathering of the Tech Forum, Business Integration and Analysis. Given how this starts with data movement and how the understanding of the NonStop community is that analysis will be off-platform and where HPE Apollo servers are likely candidates to help out, starting a conversation on how to map this to real world solutions seemed an obvious start to this journey.

While this Tech Forum was up against major NonStop product updates and even as the hotel provided ample refreshments, including numerous adult beverages, it was pleasing to see the participation by Roland Lemoine of NonStop product management together with a number of vendors actively engaged in supporting the NonStop community with data movement solutions.

This is a Tech Forum that I will continue to promote and to update you on how and what the NonStop vendor community is doing to support what are next steps to further elicit support from the NonStop user community. We hope to see users joining this connect group through registering via the Connect web site – look for references to the Tech Forum Business Integration and Analysis under the web site’s Community tab.

I only reference this as the NonStop community has a long standing tradition of supporting SIGs and Birds of a Feather and now, with Business Integration and Analysis being a continuation of this tradition (with Connect championing such gatherings), it represents  a positive development for everyone.

The work that continues with NonStop Product Management already looking ahead as is the Connect organization – will we see you in Denver next year? Will you be in Edinburgh next May for the European-centric eBITUG? I have committed to participating even as I have already penciled in NonStopTBC23.  

There is a lot of time to consider whether you will participate in either or both events, perhaps going so far as to consider giving a presentation – NonStop users are always welcomed with open arms according to Mark Pollans. Is what took place this year encouragement enough to fuel even more enthusiasm about events to come?

As Mark Pollans told me, “where else can you go to get as much information on what’s happening in the world of NonStop than at an international NonStop Technical Boot Camp; you just have to be there to hear and see for yourself!” If you missed out on this years’ conference in part or in full then don’t miss out on what will take place in 2023. Take this as your open invitation - we all look forward to seeing you! 

Monday, November 14, 2022

NonStop TBC 22 has wrapped up. See what you’ve missed!

With his opening words, “It’s not where we are headed but how fast we will get there,” the boss of all things NonStop, Jeff Kyle, set the tone for the latest NonStop Technical Boot Camp (NonStop TBC 22). “We are a platform and not a server; the platform we are perfecting for mission critical applications. We create the data and we transact the data!”

Jeff referenced the ongoing expansion into new markets, including manufacturing, retail and transportation but equally as important for the NonStop community Jeff referenced digital transformation and highlighted how we are all going through this digital transformation on our way to modernization and yes, it’s truly all about the data. “NonStop as a platform is a critical component of digital transformation and the innovation we are bringing to NonStop (is a further illustration) of how NonStop is now a platform.”

Among Jeff’s opening slides happened to be one titled, “The Data Realities of Digital Transformation” where the business objectives couldn’t be misunderstood: “Unlock the value of data; Accelerate decision velocity; Deliver innovation with agility.” If you were among those who were not present for this event then see what you’ve missed!

As the first in-person event post pandemic it had it all and about the only thing we can add at this point is that whatever it might take, make sure you plan on attending this event when it comes around next year. It will be on my home turf in Denver, Colorado, and considering it will be held in September it will not just be a Colorful Colorado you will witness but a Colorful Connect that cannot be missed. 

As we return to in person events at a time when recession fears are mounting it was good to see as big a turnout as we all witnessed. The opening keynotes attracted a standing room only crowd and that was perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the year and the NonStop vendor community was quick to tune into the quality of the presentations that followed.

“The disappointment of a low user turnout for NonStop TBC 2022 was countered by our delight in connecting with the NonStop community in person again,” said TIC Software President, Phil Ly. “We took the opportunity to embrace more quality time with users, customers and partners to catch up on ideas and challenges.”

This sentiment was echoed by the observation that came from former ITUG Board Member and today, the Manager -  NonStop Systems Programming at Navy Federal Credit Union who said, “As always, it’s great seeing colleagues in person and catching up with vendors on the latest NonStop technologies, the event had good content around the topic of security and resiliency from both users and vendors.” 

With decades of experience participating in community events, Kelvin then said, “Although the user attendance was light, this event felt like a rebuilding year, and I’m hopeful that next year will bring more users to the conference. I look forward to seeing folks at next years’ NonStop Technical Boot Camp.”

Further encouragement for the NonStop community followed as Phil then added how he sees “the need for more new ideas and closer collaboration coming from the NonStop community in order to make the next TBC a more well participated event. Let's start the dialog and the planning now!”

This was a common theme among executives of those NonStop vendors who supported the event. Much the same was heard from ETI-NET and TANDsoft principals. “’After two years of the pandemic, it was nice to meet again in person and have a chance to chat with customers, HPE, and partners,” said ETI-NET COO, Sylvain Tétreault.

“It quickly became clear to us that the dynamism and enthusiasm are still very much there across the NonStop community and you can feel the excitement about the future of NonStop; it was palpable as it was real. Like our colleagues among the NonStop vendor community, we are certainly looking forward to the next NonStop TBC in Denver where again, we will see the continued progress of our customers and yes, of HPE NonStop as well.’’

 When it came to the observations made by TANDSoft Principal, Jack Di Giacomo, “Connect got it right; organizing very nice meeting venues, stocked with delicious food and drinks, allowing the customers, vendors and HPE a perfect forum to meet new NonStop people and rekindle old friendships.”

As we heard from other executives present at the event, Jack reiterated the sentiment of many when he said he was “looking forward to meeting, learning and exchanging ideas with all of our amazing NonStop friends while admiring the majestic views of ‘The Rockies,’ next year in Denver.”

For the majority of vendors there was a steady stream of interested parties prepared to stop by the vendor tables for a conversation. The traffic ebbed and flowed as it normally does at these events but even so, the quality was once again, greatly appreciated and the Connect team needs to be congratulated for ensuring all breaks in the agenda led to attendee traffic passing by the vendor displays.

“Had TBC 2022 only satisfied one objective among many, restoring the sense of community absent this past year or so,” said Tim Dunne, NTI’s Global Director Worldwide Sales, “then NonStop TBC 2022 delivered and then some!" Yes, you guessed it; if you weren’t in attendance you sure did miss the audible buzz that arose every time the event’s attendees moved onto the exhibition floor. But of course, there is next year and

"With TBC 2022 done and dusted and with expectations vastly exceeded,” added Tim, “NTI now turns its attention to 2023 where customer satisfaction, growth of the NTI community and preparations for TBC 2023 in Denver take center stage. And of course, we need to add that none of this would be possible without the continued dedication of the Connect team that clearly demonstrates their commitment to the NonStop community.” 

Perhaps the best comment that came from the exhibition floor was that from CSP General Manager, Henry Fonseca. “It was great to come back to TBC this year. We always look forward to greeting old friends, meeting new people, and building new relationships. We know that many others could not attend due to external factors, but you should start planning for TBC 23 in Denver, CO. You won't want to miss it.”

If you have missed the common thread coming from all those who provided feedback as the event unfolded then it can be summed up in just two phrases; those who missed this year’s event truly did miss an opportunity to hear the story of NonStop as it is unfolding and yes, it was good to be back to in person events after a very long time of little more than tuning into sessions beamed to our workstations. As we all know there remains no substitute to in person gatherings of the NonStop community.

“It was always going to be a challenge to get the first real large-scale international event off the ground, and the Connect team did a superb job. It really proved there is still a strong appetite for in-person events and gives us all faith that we will see such events becoming a normal part of life again,” said TCM Managing Director, Daniel Craig. “Also, I have to say, the quality of the sessions this year was very high which no doubt contributed to the turnout. TCM is very much looking forward to NonStop TBC ’23 in Colorado, and of course the eBITUG before that in May of next year.”

It is in closing that I have left it to TCM Technical Director Collin Yates to sum up much of what others have been relating in this post. “For me personally, I just liked the fact we could meet people face to face again. Not only did it give us a chance to catch up with people whom we had not seen for a long time in person, but also to put a face to name to a number of contacts (especially HPE) that we had only met over Zoom/Teams in former times,” said Collin.

“I think it shows that while yes, you can technically run a virtual event, it is simply not the same – the face to face networking is vital for business and to the development of better relationships. And as we all heard first hand, you don’t get or are able to judge someone’s body language for instance over a Zoom call! And with the next major event to be held nearby, TCM is really looking forward to a successful Edinburgh event, May 15-17, 2023.” 

As for Margo and me, work has already commenced on plans for 2023 with events in Edinburgh and Denver and from all that we experienced this year in Burlingame, these are going to be events that simply can’t be missed. NonStop TBC 22 is firmly behind us but as to the future, it will be all about the continued journey to modernization and data that contributes to our digital transformation, and the expansion in living in a world that is increasingly virtual. 

See you all there! 


Sunday, October 9, 2022

It’s all a matter of passion …

When I was in high school there were the usual visits to the career guidance center. Actually, not so much a center as it was a room where a counselor would entertain students, listen to their likes and dislikes and offer some measure of guidance as to what should be considered as a possible future career path. When it came my turn it was more of a case of throwing a dart at the board. I was clueless.

However, it was during my time at Normanhurst Boys High School in suburban Sydney Australia that the first inklings of where my career might take me surfaced. Inklings, but at the time not passions, began when family friend took me to an insurance company as its first computer was being deployed. The year was 1963 and the IBM mainframe being installed was an IBM 650 - sold in the 1953-1962 period – as the IBM 360 product line really didn’t get rolling until a year or so later. I took a souvenir from that visit back to school; a white paper tape full of holes.

I kept hold of that simple roll of paper tape for a very long time. Curious about what information was contained in those rows of punched holes but I never did figure it out. Two years later, as a more mature student in Form 3 (or year 10 by US count), my father left for Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, to learn all about a new computerized typesetting system called the Mergenthaler’s Linofilm. It was a revolutionary system for setting type, not in lead ingots, but on film that could be transferred to aluminum plates for enabling offset printing. From a handful of newspapers to being able to support twenty six local and regional newspapers, it was the first such system deployed in Australia.

Translation? There was no support in-country apart from my father so every weekend I tagged along while he performed routine maintenance. But there it was again, rolls of paper tape but this time they were much wider form factors. The process was simple. Fonts and size were represented by those which when processed moved lenses and a carousel (of fonts) aligning them before a camera that shot them onto film. Little did I know at the time that the first seeds of passion were being sown!

Finishing high school I went to Sydney University to study engineering. Every one of my mother’s brothers was an engineer, civil or mechanical. However, it wasn’t to my taste and after a brief introduction to architecture, I was done. At the time, computing of any sort wasn’t considered an academic pursuit. By happenstance, I checked in to a computer aptitude test IBM was conducting at the University and as the New Year began, I was the sole candidate selected by IBM. That first seed of passion that had taken root a couple of years earlier now blossomed.

That passion has sustained me for the past five decades – yes I was still a teenager when IBM advised that I was going to join several other successful candidates from across Australia as a computing apprentice. A trade, no less! Imagine that happening in this century! For two years, I was taught everything from how to write an operating system, how to program a computer channel connecting disks, tape drives, card readers and printers. And for me the charm was learning how to store information in files and then, what passed as the beginnings of the database era as it was in 1971.


However, the passion that was to sustain me through the years fully blossomed with my time at Tandem Computers. A unique system coupled to a unique community was all that it took for me to become totally aware of decisions previously made leading me to what I am doing today. With this post I am jointly celebrating with Margo the completion of twelve years of our company, Pyalla Technologies, LLC. Yes, twelve years! Hard to believe and yet, nothing could have happened without the support from this very unique NonStop community.

Margo and I do not have a monopoly on passion when it comes to Tandem. As we continue to be active in the HPE NonStop community, we remain as passionate as ever but the same can be said for much of the community. If you need any more evidence of the community’s passion it was only a week ago that a reunion held in Silicon Valley drew a crowd from all parts of the America and beyond. Our schedule didn’t allow us to attend but photos from that reunion have begun to show up on Facebook. If you aren’t already following the group, Tandem Computers then you many want to take a second look.

As for the photos included in this post they both come courtesy of Chris Russell – can you spot familiar faces? It really does look like they have got the band back together!

My passion for computing in general was not a singular occurrence. If you missed reading my latest post to our social blog, Real Time View, you will have missed reading about the role my heritage has played in leading me to the work I now do. Just look for the post, An anniversary that has come around all too quickly. Turns out that it wasn’t just a case of my father embracing computers back in the mid-1960s but rather the fact that this made me a third generation newspaperman. Yes, I am the eldest son of the eldest son whatever that might imply. Storytelling apparently runs in the family so there really wasn’t any escaping my eventual destiny. Passion, heritage and destiny – it’s as if I can hear the opening overture to an autobiographical movie. Fortunately, that’s not going to happen. I guess you can put down to passion kicking in once again.

When it comes to IT and to NonStop there are many members of the community who are passionate about the technology into which they have immersed themselves. It would be sad to read that passion has left our industry. In the coming month all of our passions will be on display when next NonStop Technical Boot Camp (NonStopTBC22) convenes in Burlingame, California. NonStopTBC22 is sure to cover a variety of topics but perhaps this year we will witness a sea-change under way. We have written about NonStop becoming a software solution on numerous occasions but I am anticipating to see this becoming even more relevant. How about NonStop in a virtual machine that is containerized and accessible from anywhere.

In his presentation to the CTUG community last month, HPE hinted at something like this might be on the agenda. For those in IT who view today’s NonStop system as the epitome of modern servers – servers, mind you, with the industry’s best level of availability via a fault tolerance implementation that remains unmatched to this day – it could be a revelation. I can continue to speculate about what this all might mean, but like everyone else, I will just have to wait till November.

Paper tapes both narrow and wide form factors are long gone. Any desire to decode the holes punched into roles of paper tapes having truly subsided. The passing of such tangible evidence that data was present and could be touched relegated to the trash can. But the seed that was sown was not to be ignored and today, celebrating the twelfth anniversary of Pyalla Technologies and the work that together Margo and I have done and the degree to which we served the NonStop community, that is as tangible evidence of passion that can be shared.

Looking forward to seeing you all at NonStopTBC22 and if as yet you haven’t registered for this free event, make sure you take the time to do so. Sure would be a shame to miss out on seeing you – there’s still yet one more story to be told and don’t you want to be a part of that?


Monday, September 26, 2022

Call them Chapters, RUGs or simply TUGs - they always pull a crowd

Margo and I have tried to attend as many gatherings of the NonStop community as possible. This has meant a lot of driving was involved even as we did resort to flying sometimes. How else can you get to London other than perhaps by boat? You might even say that it is the whole package we find so attractive; the travel, the dining, the conversations the events themselves. There have been times where we have considered scaling back our participation, but then again, as we unpack from one trip or the other we immediately start debating the pros and cons of solutions presented at such events.

This month it was Canadians’ turn to hold a regional event. CTUG, or to call it by its full name, the Canadian Tandem User Group, is an ever present reminder of times past and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for them to do. The NonStop community enjoys a history few other mainstream vendors can possible duplicate. Maybe, SHARE, the IBM mainframe groups enjoy a similar heritage and as I have a first-hand experience as a board member serving SHARE o, I can attest that the enthusiasm of both groups is very similar.

However, what truly differentiates the NonStop community from any other group I have been a part of is the willingness to embrace each other and to provide encouragement wherever it is needed. NonStop users are a tightly knit group, but they aren’t alone in this regard as so too is the NonStop vendor community. Together they ensure that the NonStop product portfolio continues to expand and clearly, embracing modernization contributed strongly to NonStop remaining as relevant today as it has ever been. 

Perhaps the biggest question is whether the future of NonStop lies with NonStop becoming a database machine. Forget previous references to database appliances but rather consider how appropriate for the times NonStop SQL/MX has become. One of the biggest pros for cloud computing is the elasticity of provisioning but with NonStop SQL there is almost no limit to how wide it can scale out. The initial design of NonStop SQL was influenced by it never needing to be taken offline for any reason and the byproduct was the capability of NonStop SQL to scale out.

The HPE NonStop team led the CTUG’s sessions with both Justin Simonds (HPE Master Technologist) and Keith Moore (HPE Distinguished Technologist) providing further insights into roadmaps as well as potential areas for investment. Keith provided a grand tour of all that was happening with NonStop SQL as well as an update on virtualization. Justin on the other hand took us deep into the unsavory world of human trafficking and how yet again, to sort out the villains, it was a case of following the money. Not account by account so much as looking into relationships. No doubt that this caught the attention of some in the audience, especially those vendors looking to expand the profile and indeed stickiness of their current NonStop product offerings.

“Today, more than 65% of payment card transactions worldwide run
on HPE mission-critical technology,” said Justin. “Do 65% of human trafficking transactions run through NonStop?” More than just the rallying call for the NonStop community to consider greater engagement with those looking to tackle the problem but rather, an eye-opening reminder that perhaps the NonStop community needs to do a lot more than just to consider the problem. Moving from an account model to a relationship model means bringing in a level of AI and in so doing, truly addresses the problem a lot better when there are multiple financial institutions involved which is where previous work on Swarm model management may play a role.

What truly struck me as Keith and Justin provided updates is the extent to which NonStop SQL has achieved compatibility with other third party SQL offerings. There is very little today that separates NonStop SQL from Oracle, for instance. When you hear numbers like 99% compatible then you do need to take notice. Throw into this mix how far NonStop has come with its Java offerings and it is looking a lot more attractive for solutions vendors to embrace NonStop. Just being able to say that yes, their solution runs on open platforms including NonStop goes a long way to reinforcing how modern NonStop has become.

It is only at gatherings like this one in Canada that you get the inside skinny as to just how innovative NonStop has become. Whether you are looking to develop on NonStop, deploy on NonStop, embrace a hybrid NonStop and Linux solution or blend with cloud offerings, it’s all now possible for any NonStop users. And this has been the true essence of community gatherings. Chapters, RUGs, TUGs and yes, even NUGs is that whatever we call them, there remains global enthusiasm to participate. You can even say that for some members of the NonStop community there is an attraction afforded the HPE Discover events that makes it equally as attractive. 

What was a little different about this CTUG event was that it unfolded as a hybrid event. The offices of HPE in Mississauga, Ontario, played host to CTUG but it presented the community with a challenge. Major sessions spanned a primary room with the adjacent two satellite rooms linked via video. As one participant commented, it’s like having the option to participate in-person along with the ability to participate via TEAMs or ZOOM. A clear case of win-win for all no matter where their preferences might lie. With a few exceptions it all worked well even though for a brief period when I was presenting in one room and TANDsoft in another, our slide decks showed up on the others screen.

It is situations like that where humor was present that tells its own story. The CTUG audience, as we have seen with the events held by other NonStop groups are just glad to be back in person. The sterile nature of virtual experiences is clearly in the past and for many quickly forgotten. What did we learn from NonStop that we could have otherwise learnt from a virtual experience? It was clear to all – the secondary exchanges that took place that gave rise to some serious conversations that proved illuminating to those present would simply have been missed in the virtual world.

On a lesser note however even as it too told a story. Many of the attendees did stay around for the CTUG closing session where gifts were handed out. Receiving an iPad, which was the case for the NonStop user chosen at random, from NTI’s Tim Dunne was certainly worth the wait. As for the cheese and wine tasting that followed, well clearly, there were many conversations still under way as the CTUG attendees ascended a staircase to a well laid out reception. As I recently posted, adult beverages certainly give any conversation additional momentum as “no great story ever started with someone eating a salad! 

Chapters, RUGs or simply TUGs will forever remain a force within the NonStop community. Providing a litmus test as to the state of NonStop even as these gathering ensure everyone becomes fully aware of the huge investment HPE continues to make in NonStop. The driving may be an extreme example of the lengths some NonStop enthusiasts might go so as not to miss out, but even so, for Margo and me it means a lot more. The drive back home is not just a pleasant distraction but a time for analysis. And at no time have we ever been disappointed by what we have heard. I am sure there will be a lot more surprises in stall given the upcoming event calendar as the 

NonStop team continues to pursue new market opportunities at every corner. Now, it’s onward to NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2022 – will we see you there?       


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

We’ve got a lot to talk about …

As we get deeper into the last month of the quarter, which for some may also be the last month of their financial year, it is inevitable that we look back at what happened in 2022. It’s a time when measures are taken to finish the year on a high note even as there will be those reviewing their product mix against changing market conditions. There is never a good time to change course and yet, staying the distance can be every bit as detrimental. But perhaps as we look back at the year, there will be conversations started that will need to be revisited as scattered among the many stories we hear are surprisingly numerous gems to be uncovered.

For Margo and me these last couple of months means we will be toiling for long hours at the tasks at hand. Not so much on keyboards as on steering wheels. With the return to in-person events we have a desire to attend as many as we can even if we do succumb to the long-haul flight every now and then. But as story tellers, there is a constant need for stimuli as it is an almost impossible task to dream up meaningful story lines when restricted to the four walls of your office.

For those who have dropped by our offices in Windsor Colorado – a small township adjacent to Ft Collins and just one highway exit before you come across the HPE campus on E. Harmony Rd. – there would be no mistaking the portion of our bar as depicted above. But the symbolism never escapes me as it’s not just the derogatory remarks about the contribution a salad has made to a great story but rather, the image of time within a plane and the reminder that yes, time flies!

There will be some within the NonStop community who may recall that this month represents the passing of an even greater milestone for Pyalla Technologies, LLC. This month ends fifteen years of posting to this NonStop community blog! Come October and Margo and I begin our sixteenth year of commentaries, opinions and yes, storytelling. To think, all those years ago, I was still gainfully employed at GoldenGate Software where my colleagues, amused as they were as I began to post, considered it a temporary pursuit at best. There were even those who thought I was a little crazy to commit to a blog featuring little else apart from NonStop.

However, clearly with what we have come through in the past couple of years we have a lot to talk about. For those who recall the lyrics of one of Jimmy Buffett’s songs, particularly those penned back in the days of the Global Financial Crises, then these lines should make you smile:

Well the family devalues
And little children plan their net worth
And the truth wherever it's hiding,
Can be found on Google Earth.

I can't take another doomsday minute
We got a lot to drink, a lot to think,
A lot to drink about.

Yes, we have a lot to talk about too, but in the coming months as we all head back to in-person events, dare I add that as Jimmy notes only too well, we got a lot to drink about. But which way do we go? Where do we steer pertinent conversations?

Fortunately, those responsible for organizing the upcoming in-person events are taking to heart one of the signature components that have contributed to the success of Tandem Computers that being, the regular celebratory beer busts. While the keynote and vendor sessions provide value over the course of the event, the real heavy lifting that occurs between NonStop community members more often than not takes place while standing up with an adult beverage in hand.

From the many conversations I have had this past year, three items jump right off the page – the price book, virtualization and yes, GreenLake. From the early days of Tandem Computers, the presence of an energized independent vendor community proved to be key to the success of NonStop. Looking not so far back, NonStop systems were tangible boxes that reinforced the notion that investments had been made in state of the art computers. But now, NonStop is software and with virtualization, can be deployed almost anywhere the Intel x86 architecture has a presence (along with fabrics that NonStop supports) and then everything as a service with GreenLake looming large for all NonStop users.

So, the price book: The project going by the name of Showcase. How did that all happen and what are the implications for the NonStop community? Despite the early attempts to provide a win-win for all involved, there are numerous unintended consequences we can sit down and discuss. From the outset, there were thoughts given to duplicating what existed in from Tandem days with the alliance program – a catalogue of every product offering supporting Tandem.

However to revisit the alliance program and to take it many steps further by including every product and service on the NonStop price book was unrealistic as it was unfair. Unrealistic when it came to expecting the limited resources that exist today across NonStop product management to then evaluate every product to ensure that all these products did what they were supposed to do and that the vendors were viable over the long term was not possible. Unfair when it came to discounting all the efforts put into lobbying and nurturing relationships, by numerous vendors, with the NonStop team spanning decades.

This will likely be a topic to be discussed over more than one adult beverage and I encourage the community to become involved. As for unintended consequences, as much as I am a proponent of unity and of presenting a unified face to the world at large, Showcase has the potential to be divisive in ways not fully anticipated. Given how today the NonStop sales team is being remunerated only for products and services sold from the NonStop price book, don’t expect any enthusiasm on the part of HPE NonStop Sales when it comes to presenting non price book solutions. Yes, much ground to cover on this topic.

However, when it comes to topics up for discussion we cannot ignore the giant steps that the NonStop team is taking with NonStop. Virtualization took many of us by surprise when it was first announced that NonStop as software was becoming a reality and furthermore, the umbilical cord tying it to HPE hardware was being severed. Run on your favorite x86 with access to fabrics and there you have it, NonStop running seamlessly anywhere you care to locate it.  

What shouldn’t surprise anyone is that this move to NonStop as software is nowhere near complete. Being able to run NonStop in your on-prem private cloud is now the realm of possibility. And why consider doing that? Perhaps giving NonStop SQL/MX the opportunity to enjoy its own cloud experience is one possibility, but so too is giving developers their own NonStop environment. And the data never leaves the premises. So, what’s to discuss? Inevitably such conversations turn to public clouds and while there is nothing appearing on the whiteboard or on bar coasters as yet, this is definitely worth a discussion and it’s one I would like to be a part of come NonStop TBC 22. Bottom line? The support by NonStop of virtualization is goodness for the community.  

Finally, GreenLake! Like many of you I am hoping to hear a lot more about the realities of GreenLake when it comes to NonStop. The GreenLake Server, Console and API are all significant areas where NonStop is likely looking to support as indeed early steps have been taken. But the bigger question is twofold. Has the NonStop vendor community stepped up to support; are they embracing the GreenLake API for instance. In addition, are NonStop customers looking to GreenLake and the cloud experience when it comes to running mission critical applications 24 x 7; are there real benefits to be gained?

Again, just one more discussion I am sure will take place as we return to in-person events. There is much that is positive happening with NonStop and for that I for one am extremely thankful. And I don’t see any value in bringing negativity to such discussions, apart from the occasional “if only” or “I wish for this” as that’s all goodness. A healthy NonStop community prepared to discuss the finer points of the technology, the products and yes the business is a positive outcome for all involved with NonStop. The mere fact that HPE through Connect are giving us such an opportunity has to be recognized for what it is – trust. That is, trust that the NonStop community still views a future for NonStop that continues to meet the unique business requirements of those enterprises needing true fault tolerant operations around the clock.

To finish up I will leave it to the lyrics of yet one more Jimmy Buffet’s song. Not to be taken too seriously, naturally, but something we can all respond to even when we think we know the path we need to tread in the coming year:

Now I'm having a big problem
With my present day career
My ship she has a rudder
But I don't know where to steer

Life is complicated with its
Ifs and ands and buts
It's alright to be crazy,
Just don't let it drive you nuts


 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Rules? Consider them more or less guidelines.

The many times that Margo and I have driven across the Great Divide there have been occasions when the rules of the road needed to be stretched. On a number of occasions it was late winter - early spring and Mother Nature hadn’t relinquished her hold on the environment. Yes, when the snow falls you cannot argue with it; water may always win but snow comes a close second. Say what you may but oftentimes the prudent move to make is to turn around.

In the April 24, 2022 post No risk! No win! With many other chances taken! to our social blog, Buckle-Up, we recalled how you can never count on favors from Mother Nature. As it so happened she began showing her indifference to our plans the moment dawn broke over our Cedar City Utah hotel with just the mountain crossing to cover before reaching home in Colorado. No sooner had we begun the climb to Vail Pass then all lanes of traffic came to a halt. 

Between the concrete separation-barriers there were small openings so first responders could break into the oncoming lanes but state troopers were making U-turns problematic. However, once these troopers left and before another moment passed we whipped around through the barriers and headed back to Vail.

More than a decade earlier we had executed exactly the same escape, that time it was in the Sierras as we passed Truckee, California. In the April 8, 2011 post, Follow or spin! By the time we had reached the summit, we were in the middle of a full-scale blizzard that had caught the weather forecasters, as well as the California Highway Patrol, by surprise. Even with its very capable AWD system, the Skyline was still shod with summer tires and the conditions created some very tense moments.

The lanes were blocked as tractor-trailer rigs had spun passing each other leaving us no other option than to capitalize on the break in barriers (created as it turned out so that California Highway Patrol vehicles could turn into their station), and execute another U-turn.

With as much discussion as is taking place within IT about changes in direction, pivoting and yes, transforming and transitioning, even as there are no rules per se it would seem that IT professionals are caught in a dilemma. Where to turn? Who to turn to? And yes, will it even work for us?

On the other hand it was Henry Ford who was reputed to have said, “If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.” Or as Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. But if there aren’t any rules governing changes and pivots, are there at least some guidelines?

For the HPE NonStop community there is no getting away from the almost constant bombardment of recommendations to move on from NonStop. The prospect of heading down a path of modernization and application transformation with NonStop is perceived as a daunting task.

An almost no-win situation for IT! Let it go, or so the pundits suggest. NonStop has seen its day and looking ahead, the potential value of NonStop is narrowing by the day. The core attributes of NonStop are no longer as important as they once were for IT and for the enterprise as other manufacturers of computer systems and the creators of software achieved a high level of availability.

As the old shell game trick has taught us the pea is never where you think it should be as the sleight-of-hand trickster has moved the pea as he shuffles the shells. For NonStop it isn’t so much a case that we have lost sight of what the value proposition is today as it is a case of taking our eye off the product roadmaps and the engineering deliverables that result. 

For many IT professionals in a leadership capacity, there never was the equivalent of that pea within a NonStop system. Almost five decades on, these IT professionals continue to claim that they just don’t get it; NonStop is just another system after all.

Talk to almost any marketer who has more than passing knowledge of NonStop and you will hear of suggestions for NonStop to reinvent itself: To make that U-turn and to become a specialty processor. An appliance, perhaps, focused solely on the potential of its market-leading SQL implementation. To these advocates, such a U-turn could be done without any negativity with regards to dilution of function and lessening of relevance.

However, such discussions miss the point entirely. NonStop has put aside the box some time ago; that integrated software stack has been released into the open world and can run almost anywhere. There are still documented requirements to make this happen should IT wish to run on another vendors servers or even within a private cloud, but for many knowledgeable NonStop watchers, this is likely to be just the opening shots with much more yet to be announced.

So no, NonStop doesn’t need to do a U-turn as the challenge driving such a change in direction has already been accomplished with little fanfare and with very few industry analysts even being aware of the pivot to a software solution. Consider it rather as a change in direction and possibly as a course correction. To be clear, I am not advocating a return to when NonStop was an intimidating package of components targeting data centers; the era of the VLX and Cyclone systems.

For quite some time you will continue to be able to purchase the entire hardware and software offering outright but, increasingly, it is all about the software and where you can deploy your NonStop solutions. GreenLake happens to be only part of the story as the need for NonStop to support mission critical applications will see responses take many forms.

Payments-as-a-Service featuring NonStop. Manufacturing-as-a-Service on NonStop. These are just the opening shots as NonStop reveals its true capabilities. For all practical purposes, it will the unlimited scalability of NonStop that is likely to be as welcomed by IT as has been the world-class availability everyone takes for granted. 

If you listen to the whispers taking place behind closed doors, it will only take the arrival of three maybe four additional application as-a-Service offerings to see the spotlight once again being directed towards NonStop.

For Margo and me the execution of those unseen U-turns were necessary actions to be taken to better ensure our safety. But here’s the thing; if you missed it, NonStop has already made its move and it’s beginning to flourish as a result. Small gains are being reported. A couple of new logos have begun to appear.

The NonStop sales teams are becoming more aware of their winning hand and are beginning to be energized in ways we haven’t seen for quite some time. Organizationally, HPE seems to be bringing fresh eyes to the operation and that in itself is good news.

NonStop isn’t going along with a continuation of what it has always done. It has changed. And if you missed the signs then take this as a prompt to go take another look at NonStop and to re-engage with the NonStop sales team.

When it comes to guidelines, while we were dealing with the abnormal of the global pandemic, NonStop didn’t stand still and while no laws were infringed upon, while many of us weren’t looking, NonStop didn’t just evolve as much as it shed its skin. With that, IT professionals have been put on notice; yes, you can have it all and yes, today’s NonStop will show up everywhere you turn without so much as a pivot or a reinvention. It’s happened!  

Have you ever wondered why NonStop has enjoyed the longevity it has surpassing the presence of all but one computer architecture and that here it is, 2022, and we continue to write about NonStop? Could it be that with almost five decades of experience, NonStop got it all right after all and is becoming the solution for the ages?  And with that, Margo and I will be heading back out onto the highways again this fall to join you to hear the news directly from HPE itself.   


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Three more wishes – coming soon! What can we expect for NonStop?


With summer in full swing and with temperatures climbing higher than we have seen in quite some time, it’s hard to imagine that seasons will be again in transition in oh, say three months’ time. Living alongside the Rocky Mountains we have come to expect anything and, each day we step outside, we can be at a loss as to what the will weather do; clear skies aren’t all that helpful.

It’s not all that often that I start with a weather commentary but this year, it’s getting harder to ignore. Floods in Australia and fires in Portugal! Tornados in the US and more fires even as there are swarms of jellyfish in the eastern Mediterranean! Predicting the weather so it seems remains as much a hit and miss exercise as it has always been; here in Colorado the story goes that “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.”  

At the end of August I will wrap up fifteen years of posting to this blog, Real Time View. Shortly I will begin my sixteenth year and you will find me still writing posts about NonStop. As I look back upon this journey, one thing strikes me more than anything else. We continue to have a thriving NonStop community even as there are so many more media channels within which you will find a constant stream of updates and predictions on all things NonStop! On the other hand, it has never been about waiting five minutes to see if the NonStop journey will change.

The NonStop community, unlike the weather, is rather predictable. Change often seems to move at glacial speeds and yet, when you look back to August 2007 and to that first post to this blog, so much has changed with NonStop. We have seen it all; racks, blades, pizza boxes, dumb chassis, smart chassis, disks that were once solid state are now flash drives and yes, NonStop entered the world of virtual machines. In little over a decade! Amazing when you look at all the options we have today.

Early next year I will once again pen my three wished for NonStop. I have done this every three years following the first post back in February, 2008. It has always proved to be a fun project for Margo and me as we consider what might happen in the following three years. More often than not we like to stretch the goals we have for NonStop, but with the passage of time, many of what we wished for have indeed come to fruition. Put it down to the glacial speed perhaps and the fully visible path already trod, but no matter, the mere fact that we can openly discuss what might be ahead is testament enough to the future of NonStop remaining rosy.

While this isn’t about the three wishes that we will address next year it is a sneak preview into what we have listed as possibilities. If you want to revisit either the three wishes posts or simply look at the previews, just tab over to Labels and scroll down to the entries for Wishes and Wishes – Preview. But here’s a headline for you – the list of candidate possibilities for what will be included in our predictions as three wishes has never been longer and that too is an encouraging sign.

What has made the list to date (and I am sure between now and February 2023 new entries will appear) and what will we be prioritizing? For now we have five entries but with NonStop TBC 2022 upcoming as well as with what we are still digesting following HPE Discover, expect to see two and maybe three more entries added to the list. But what did we cover in the three wishes posted February 13, 2020? Would you now be surprised that we covered topics that included new systems options for NonStop (not just ProLiant but Synergy and Apollo), NonStop’s presence in GreenLake and yes, the gradual disappearance of NonStop within virtual machines.

What we did miss is the option for NonStop to run on EdgeLine systems (EL4000 and EL8000) which has us excited as well as appearance of NonStop applications on the basis of “as-a-Service.” Also missing from our observations was the organizational shifts that occurred, with NonStop an integral part of High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence. Headed by Justin Hotard and together with a new Senior VP and Chief Product Officer for the group, Trish Damkroger, where oversight of NonStop will reside, it leaves open the bigger question of what comes next for NonStop.

There is no better way to introduce the candidates that made the list than to say that organizational shifts present opportunities as much as they simply suggest change. As Tom Petty used to sing, “the sky was the limit” even as he added, “Into the great wide open; Under them skies of blue” the future for NonStop may be so bright, as another popular singer suggested, “I gotta wear shades.” With changes too in the sales organizations, “things are going great and they’re only getting better,” seems more than an appropriate line to add. With Neil Davis in EMEA, new arrival Karen Ramirez in North America and Suresh Menon in APAC, I have a sense that there will be additional logos added to the portfolio by the time we post next February.

Making the list? How about Partnerships. Neil has done a great job in bringing Manufacturing-as-a-Service through abat+ and Payments-as-a-Service through Lusis to market. The next year or so will be telling with respect to the traction developed by the presence of these applications. Seriously, though we need a lot more and in this regard, I am wishing for HPE to provide additional seed money to select vendors to bring them into partnership with the NonStop team. There has been considerable talk of late about doing something like this, but seriously, it is time for action and I am hoping we hear more on this topic at the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp, 2022.

The NonStop community itself is a candidate as we wish for a continuation of the unity that Connect provides through its publications, events and forums. Sharing knowledge is incredibly important and remains the sole voice for every member of the NonStop vendor community. Margo and I have been involved with user groups for decades and view them as a vital instrument in fostering shared experiences across all regions and within all market verticals.

GreenLake will remain a candidate even as I am looking for feedback from the community as to the level of interest in moving from CapEx to OpEx. Only paying for what you need is a message appearing everywhere you turn these days, but for those running mission critical applications requiring permanent availability there remains some doubt as to the advantages of re-implementing on this basis. Perhaps there are some financial services organizations enamored with running applications on private clouds where security might be better but even so, the move to GreenLake by existing NonStop users will probably take many years.

The path to being able to run anywhere and everywhere on virtual machines more or less at the touch of an icon is still a very long way off. However, the potential to add yet more layers of abstraction such that it matters little as to the fabric on hand with NonStop being able to leverage whatever technology is being provided quite transparently. This has been a goal of mine for some time as we moved from ServerNet to InfiniBand then Converged Ethernet/RoCE so why not support it all? There are still obstacles in the way of those wishing to be able to run NonStop in public clouds but adding this transparency couldn’t hurt. And there is still the issue with how fine grained you want your fault zones to be, but like fabrics, there are choices that can be made in this regard.

Finally, the name NonStop. Surprise you to read that I think it has served its purpose and we need to move on. While I am not suggesting a return or reintroduction of Tandem or of the image of the Tandem bicycle, but rather, NonStop is really an attribute and simply adding HPE doesn’t help a whole lot. Introduce the former Tandem chevron, but this time, in green? Call it the Green Machine (ohm, perhaps not)? HULK: NonStop – after all, he has never stopped and he is green for good measure! Whatever the branding folks consider new and fresh doesn’t bother me but isn’t it time to give NonStop a new coat of paint, re-launch, and set it on a new course?

These are all preliminary candidates to make my short list for the upcoming post on my three wishes. I am sure there will be work still left to do before finalizing that list and should you like to influence the direction in which I am headed just let me know. Until then, there is lot to think about and in simply thinking about NonStop means we all see a bright future for the product. So yes, can you spare a set of shades as it could become a lot brighter than any of us could imagine! 


Further observations following the success of NonStop TBC 22

Events tend to develop their own momentum as their programs unfold. Whether it is just a one day roadshow or a more elaborate gathering, the...