Wednesday, July 11, 2018

It was worth it! NonStop covers the bases with NonStop vendors …

It hasn’t been all that long since HPE began a program for NonStop vendors but it’s working; with its third symposium, HPE delivered the goods!

Heading out the door for a long drive to California always sees Margo and me leaving with mixed emotions. Yes, we enjoy our time together out on America’s highways even as we find the freedom that comes with being liberated from airport security lines along with the hours wasted hanging around airline gates a welcome break from previous routines. On the other hand, no matter how you look at it, a trip is a disruption to our daily routines and for a writer, it means toying with story lines while hunched over a laptop on a hotel room table. However, when the drive to California includes a day or more with the NonStop team in Palo Alto then we typically focus solely on the positives – our expectations for hearing nothing but good news about NonStop.

Two years ago, HPE held their first NonStop Partner Technology Symposium. The symposium that just wrapped up was the third time such a gathering of NonStop vendors occurred and with each event, the numbers of attendees grows. It is not surprising really as vendors always want to hear the inside scoop from the NonStop team ahead of any announcements made in front of their customers; it’s only natural for them to have had time to consider their options. Two years ago, following early shipments of NonStop X systems, some vendors elected not to do further development in support of NonStop preferring to simply support their customers who stayed with Itanium-based NonStop i systems. Believing that there would be further erosion of the NonStop marketplace, their short sightedness has proved costly.

NonStop usage hasn’t stalled and in fact, with the recent addition of the NS2 to the previously announced NS3 and NS7 systems, NonStop customers have a lot of options available to them as to how best to deploy their NonStop applications and this has turned the NonStop ship around. In the past I have written about “new logos” being added to the NonStop community and what this means for everyone, but it’s clear to Margo and me now that the more you look at NonStop usage the more surprised you will be to see how widespread the presence of the NonStop systems is across many more marketplaces than finance and telco.

For our time in Silicon Valley, we took advantage of the generosity of Margo’s niece who has a place on Half Moon Bay in a development that is part of the nearby Ritz Carlton hotel. Each night we went to the hotel to eat, to watch the sun go down and to listen to the sole Scottish bagpipe player piping in the evening. Normally surrounded in fog, the weather proved to be perfect and it only added to overall upbeat mood we were in as we talked with HPE and with the vendors who made it to the event. No fog here either – the plans for NonStop were clear. While each vendor signed a CDA that HPE reinforced with vigor at the start of the symposium, meaning that the specifics of what was covered cannot be talked about for a year, there are some general observations that I can make. Not the least being how thankful the NonStop vendor community is that HPE puts on such an event at all. A stark contrast to former times and yet one more reason why NonStop development’s approach to supporting partners differs so much from other HPE product lines and the relationship they have with their partners. 

A lot of ground was covered and when you think of hardware and how there continues to be support for traditional NonStop systems as well as virtualized NonStop and then you consider the growing diversity of the software, including the big bets made in support of SQL/MX and the push to have NonStop be the premier platform supporting Blockchain, there were many bases to cover. And yes, covering all the bases was what transpired – so much so that I have a half full notebook of material I can now only allude to but it will help me in all my dealings with those of my clients who were also present at the symposium. Perhaps most important of all, we met the new management line up who will be leading NonStop for the next couple of years – the new VP and GM of Mission Critical Systems, Jeff Kyle, and the new head of NonStop development in Palo Alto, Teresa Sorg.

Unfortunately, Margo and I will not be able to make the NonStop technical Boot Camp later this year where announcements of a more public nature will be made but let’s just say right now – every member of the NonStop community should be making plans to head to Burlingame for this big event in November. You will hear so much more about NonStop – its usage and its capabilities – than probably you have heard at previous Boot Camps. So much so that you should be already encouraging your management to join you at this event! This will most definitely prove to be material to any plans you have for NonStop deployment in the future. For some time now I have been quoting Randy Meyer, newly elevated to the position of VP and GM Compute Solutions, HPE (the value business of HPE versus its volume business), that “time and data are the new currency.” But what does this mean?

Listening to the presentations as the day’s program unfolded, it became clear to Margo and me that this was a good way to think about how HPE is positioning NonStop. When you view time and data as axis then you can see how the new Superdome Flex can be plotted somewhere way out there on the data axis. Yes, it’s all about scale up! On the other hand, the NonStop X can be plotted on the time axis such that where response times are more critical to the mission of the business, then that’s where NonStop X lives. And it’s all about scale out! In other words, until we see data living on new age systems that match the “timely performance” of OLTP systems like NonStop, we will see HPE building two distinct product lines. Yes, NonStop is the “money product” when it comes to OLTP. In an age where it’s all about the Edge and the Cloud, NonStop increasingly will see its role shift closer to the edge as that’s where data first hits the enterprise and that’s where customers require attention immediately!

There are probably more elegant if not more scientific ways to describe these two paths – in former times we talked about OLTP versus OLAP and operational data stores versus data warehouses but today, with the Edge and the Cloud, its more about amorphous data lakes versus highly structured data bases. And for Margo and me, we understand HPE get this and is addressing the business needs aggressively. General purpose computer systems may still have a role to play but increasingly, it’s about specialization and when it comes to processing transactions, reliably and in volume, NonStop has no peer – IDC recently reasserting how NonStop remains the only out-of-the-box AL4 “fault tolerant” system in the marketplace capable of meeting the demands of today’s enterprises.

One final observation from the symposium: For critics of the former HP who complained bitterly about how slow HP was to respond to partners and indeed the industry, the new HPE has a completely flattened organization. Randy is now only one manager removed from HPE CEO, Antonio Neri. The owner of Compute Solutions that includes NonStop means he has a dozen possible more direct reports and as challenging as this may look on paper it reflects the real world. A NonStop developer is only a few steps away from the CEO and increasingly, when Neri wants to know something, his coffee-table talks (so I have to imagine) include those closest to the technology – a circumstance rarely seen in former times at HP. As further evidence of this flattening of the organization and a desire to know more of NonStop and the role it plays in business, Bill Dunmire, Group Manager, Mission Critical Solutions Marketing, HPE, who is a new contact for all of us. Welcome Bill to the world of NonStop and to the ecosystem of NonStop centric vendors all pulling hard for an even more successful NonStop in the future. 

I haven’t touched on anything that was covered in the symposium but I will highlight how the requirements NonStop development is prioritizing happen to be coming from HPE IT – yes, a real “user” in every sense of the word and a user we have been following for many years now. They continue to invest in NonStop even as they continue to push the boundaries of compatibility with their former platforms. Active development projects, a flatter organization and a role for NonStop from the Edge to the Cloud – what more could we expect from HPE? All in, it was well worth the drive from Windsor to Palo Alto and well worth the time spent listening to those parties directly involved in bringing new products and solutions to market. Well done, Karen, the product management team and yes, HPE. It may have been just a day but for the remainder of the year, with as many bases covered as there now are, as a community, NonStop vendors and users alike will have lots to talk about! Now for the drive home with more posts to follow …

Sunday, June 24, 2018

HPE Discover delivers; it’s now all about execution!

This year’s HPE Discover included something missing from previous years events – execution. We know the vision and we know the strategy so HPE covered all that they were delivering and there were a number of surprises install for attendees …

It was a dawn departure from Windsor, Colorado, and as we loaded our bags into our car it was very much a case of opting for the backup. As any Tandem supporter knows all too well, things can go wrong and executing a takeover while you can is an optimal path to ensuring continuing operation. Our go-to hybrid car was scratched during the most recent trip to Dallas for the N2TUG Regional User Group (RUG) meeting and even though the damage was minor, not having a functioning gas refill receptacle meant the backup saw duty. Not everyone may be so fortunate as to have a backup car but this is the USA and it’s off to Las Vegas, so it should be expected!

This year’s HPE Discover saw Margo and me as guests of HPE, with me being part of the independent blogging / influencer community. A small cadre of folks who even now have formed working relationships so much so that after several years while we don’t fully anticipate what each of us may say next, it’s getting awfully close. HPE does a great job of gathering bloggers from specific areas of technology including storage, wireless and solutions like manufacturing with me doing double duty representing mission critical systems and finance / retail. It’s always a full program that oftentimes extends well into the night but the group certainly had the team of Becca and Laura to thank for ensuring the plan was followed and the group was able to hear directly from HPE’s senior managers and thought leaders.

Being welcomed with the biggest selection of candy with a couple of drinks thrown in for good measure I have ever been given was hilarious but I was thankful and it certainly looked good sitting in the room.  Just one more instance of HPE going the extra yard for us to ensure we would be caffeinated and on sugar highs late into the night, happily tweeting about all that we saw. And yes, we saw a lot and that was probably the biggest take away for me from this year’s event. In the past we had been subject to messaging with focus on visions and strategies and our expectations over what will transpire in the future grabbing much of the limelight.

Not this year, however. It was all about execution. With so much talk about simplifying the transformation to hybrid IT in the past, it was good to hear of solutions being demoed that all made a real contribution to the simplification program. There were references to some familiar products along with more than a few I didn’t recognize: Synergy, OneView, SimpliVity, OneSphere, Infosight, Greenlake, and much more (about which we will be hearing even more in the coming year) dominated the proceedings as did the tangible presence of The Machine in a very meaningful way!

When it was first unveiled as a project being undertaken within HPE Labs, The Machine seemed fanciful at best and borderline outrageous and indeed confusing at worse, even as the industry were quick to pick up on possible absurdities it represented. But no more! Memory Drive Computing as supported by the new memory-centric paradigm for system construction is becoming mandatory in today’s data driven world. The market has definitely come to HPE and what they HPE has done with Superdome Flex and its support for massive amounts of addressable memory (and with no need to shuffle data in and out of hierarchies) is impressive to say the least. Processors are now simply elements you plug directly into memory and HPE now has an array of elements in the pipeline – possible even something labelled QANTUM that has raised more than a few eyebrows!

As for the picture above, would you love to have been able to overhear that conversation as HPE Senior Fellow Ray Beausoliel, leading the team researching “beyond transistors” and yes, even “beyond qubits” who has been working with Quantum Computing, is talking things over with Kirk Bresnicker, another HPE Fellow who is the VP and HPE Labs Chief Architect. I never did get to understand the sizable display of Lego bricks but it had something to do with demonstrating optics I came to understand although there were many independent bloggers simply counting up how many individual Lego products had gone into building the display.

The presentation by Beausoliel was among the most intriguing of all sessions as it took the form of an interview with fellow independent blogger (specializing in virtualization), Alistair Cooke, being the moderator. The presentation, Do we have to wait for  Quantum Computers was held just for the press, bloggers and analysts and covered a lot of territory before concluding that as Quantum Computing influenced new ways to process information it wouldn’t be used on current applications but rather, it “would teach us something we didn’t already know,” said Beausoleil.

In other words, apart from “quantum computers being really good at modelling other quantum systems,” and if we want to know more about what’s next after silicon should we want to extend Moore’s Law, then “quantum is good for figuring out what’s next; consider a petabyte being stored on 10 qubits!” When it comes to the current state of quantum, it is now known that roughly speaking you need to build 1,000 qubits in order to have just one reliable qubit so we are far from seeing any potential light at the end of this tunnel. And yet – the discussions continue and seeing Bresnicker and Beausoleil deep in thought I find intriguing. 

However, this was definitely HPE CEO Antoni Neri’s conference. When he walked onto the stage for his keynote address the first thing he did was to turn to the front row where his family was seated to introduce them to the packed house of attendees present. A human touch that has been missing in the past and a reminder to all present that HPE now has a different style of CEO than has been in evidence in previous years. And yes, a very much appreciated welcome change according to everyone I talked to following the conclusion of the keynote. As for what Neri emphasized throughout his presentation, it came down to just four key points – the new frontier of the intelligent edge; clouds – your data will live everywhere and so will your clouds; data will force greater consideration of memory driven computing and finally, delivering economic value from your data.

Notice all the references to data? And the focus on data has led HPE to focus more intently on software – “we are building a software defined platform and today, HPE has the most complete software-defined product portfolio.” There is still the challenge with manageability but already HPE is making the right moves both organically and with acquisitions. The references to OneSphere, Insight and even Greenlake are all part of addressing how best to make it easier and more manageable when transforming to hybrid IT. However, having said that hybrid IT is just a step towards a world made up of edge – cloud – core, a reference to how the pieces are beginning to fit together. As for the edge, Neri was quick to explain that the edge is “anywhere technology is put into action!”

We have heard on numerous occasions how time and data are the new currency so when it comes to NonStop, where does it fit into execution under way at HPE? The Machine and its influence on Superdome Flex may be one path for HPE but it’s the data driving that solution. When it comes to time – and by time the inference here is real-time – then Superdome Flex isn’t a candidate. No, we still will see investments continue in “racks of racks and racks of blades,” as Randy Meyer, HPE VP & GM, Mission Critical Systems, made it very clear to one of the audiences. Think of the potential role of Synergy, for instance, as it’s only a matter of time before a customer asks HPE for Synergy support of NonStop and that’s a distinct possibility given all that I saw at HPE Discover.

And what about the latest initiative supported by NonStop – blockchain? There were demos too of blockchain on NonStop as part of NonStop support of financial institutions. Clearly there will be blockchain on other platforms and already HPE was displaying manufacturing processes using a different blockchain to the R3 Corda (and a blockchain optimized for supply chain) implemented on EdgeLine products, but the role of NonStop in racks of racks and racks of blades with the potential support from Synergy and all supporting meaningful applications like Know Your Customer (KYC) certainly provides argument enough that HPE is behind NonStop and in a very big way!   

The nights proved to be long but then again, no attendee anticipates that HPE Discover will be a sprint and all are well prepared for the marathon that follows. With only one exception, I spent the whole time on the exhibition floor and was very appreciative of the many theatrette set up for targeted presentations as it kept the distance between a good presentation and the blogging lounge to a time manageable exercise. More importantly, HPE Discover continues with being the premier communications vehicle for the whole of HPE where in a few short days you can hear and see the progress being made to better support enterprises everywhere. The NonStop Technical Boot Camp will continue to be the place to hear and see the latest news on NonStop, but for the big picture, there will always be HPE Discover and when this event rolls around again in 2019, it will be the place to be and I will be there! 

Friday, June 15, 2018

It’s showtime! Heading once again to Vegas …

HPE Discover 2018 is about to happen and we are all buckled-in for the drive to Vegas. What can we expect to see and hear - well, that’s for another post but for now, Margo and I look forward to seeing many of you once the  conference gets under way!

Time to wash the car, check that the bags all fit and in general, make sure nothing is taken for granted or left behind. This is Vegas week and it’s always highlighted on our calendar with bright red circles inked around the week. From the time when we participated in ITUG events to when the different user groups talked of merging to when Connect came into being – we have looked forward to making the trip to Las Vegas in summer when every instinct we have is to head the other way. To the ocean, or the lake! Why can’t we find a venue big enough in San Diego, for instance, far removed from the desert heat? And yet, as we contemplate the trip to come, it really doesn’t matter where HPE pitches its big tent, ultimately it’s the content that is important and an opportunity to hear HPE executives first hand is all the motivation required to wash the car and load the bags.

It’s been quite an eventful time during these last couple of weeks. A trip to Leipzig, Germany, for GTUG and the European NonStop HotSpot 2018/IT-Symposium 2018 - Conference & Exhibition followed by a headlong dash down to Dallas, Texas, for N2TUG before returning to Windsor, Colorado, to post about it all and then hitting the road once again for HPE Discover 2018, Las Vegas. What is a little unusual that this far into the year and it’s our first trip to Vegas? If you are a regular reader of posts to Real Time View, more often than not by the time HPE Discover rolls around, it’s usually our forth or even fifth trip of the year to Vegas, but not this time. Our business engagements have climbed to where time on the road isn’t treated lightly and priorities have to be reckoned with – in the lead up to our trip to Leipzig, we did manage to squeeze in a quick trip back to Palo Alto, but there was no time for side trips or planning a more circuitous route that might have led us to Vegas.

In the past we have always taken the company command center with us and then used the Vegas event to kick-on to other events and shows along the California coast. We have even combined the trip to Vegas for a weekend at either the road course at Willow Springs or Button Willow, but not this year as we have only a brief period back in the office before we do have to return to Palo Alto where NonStop product management is hosting a NonStop Partner Symposium and the timing couldn’t be better – what more meaningful exchange could there be with NonStop product management then after HPE has talked up the big picture of where it was headed? It’s always important to have strategically important announcements out in the open before drilling on down into NonStop and the contribution it is making in support of HPE’s strategy.

However, returning to Vegas and HPE Discover, once again I have to be thankful to HPE for extending to me an invite to be their guest and a part of the independent blogging community. Based on previous experiences HPE really does a great job in supporting bloggers and the program that HPE creates just for us always proves to be entertaining as it is enlightening. If my time with HPE in Madrid for last winter’s HPE Discover event is any indication of what to expect then I am really looking forward to catching up with colleagues I shared a meeting room with for almost a week.

This time, fortunately, I will be joined by Margo so the two of us are going to have a whole lot of fun even as there is so much serious content to absorb. HPE independent bloggers organizers, Becca and Laura, treat us royally so it should be fun for sure even as it most certainly will be intense. Looking forward, too, to catching up to with my kiwi mate, Alistair, who I only ever get to see at HPE Discover!

Clearly, the highlights for the NonStop community will center on virtualized NonStop running atop of VMware virtual machines. While running atop OpenStack with Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) caught our attention initially, support for a more commercially focused VM, as is the case with VMware, should grab a lot more mindshare – which enterprise doesn’t run VMware these days? And just as clearly, the highlight too should be about consuming NonStop any which way we like should be of interest to all attendees, whether running NonStop today or planning to in the near future. Yes, you read that right. There are enterprises that used to run NonStop that are looking to return to NonStop even as there are enterprise users that are looking at NonStop for the very first time.

The news of Microsoft buying GitHub is also a potential game changer for some enterprises who may not have considered NonStop in the past. “The impact to the NonStop customer community is that many of your approved technology lists include all of the Microsoft development product suite, which should now include GitHub Enterprise, and because it depends on it, git too,” wrote Randall Becker of Nexbridge in an article for the June issue of NonStop Insider. “This is a pretty big deal because git already runs on most platforms, including your NonStop.”

Don’t forget too that there will be even more coverage of progress that’s been made towards delivering The Machine. One panel session I don’t want to miss out on is The Machine project and Memory-Driven Computing: Powering tomorrow’s AI-driven enterprise. It is scheduled to be held in the Innovation Theater on June 20 between 1:30pm and 2:30pm and it’s going to be a panel session. Billed as an opportunity to hear from experts across HPE of their plans to power the hypercompetitive future, the list of participating HPE executives is impressive and includes some familiar faces - Kirk Bresniker, Hewlett Packard Labs Chief Architect and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Fellow, Vice President, HPE; Eng Lim Goh, PhD, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, HPC & AI, HPE; Randy Meyer, Vice President & General Manager, Mission-critical Servers, HPE.

Once I saw Randy was part of the panel then of course my interest was piqued but I have been talking to Kirk Bresniker for some time and I just know that what they will cover will be of interest for the NonStop community. There are always surprises at HPE Discover – will this panel session prove to be yet another one of HPE Discover’s famous surprises? What will not be a surprise is that HPE continues to pursue foundation technologies that will definitely put distance between what HPE Labs produces versus competing vendors who simply copy what others do and this is a byproduct of the new leadership within HPE that started several years ago and continues to ensure the future of HPE and along with it, the future of NonStop. Should be a great show and one well worth finding the time to attend!

There is still the ongoing stream of updates that continue to hit the news services concerning HPE’s pursuit of Mission Critical Distributed Ledger Technology (MCDLT) where the first platform supporting MCDLT – OK, blockchain – is NonStop. There will be demos and updates and that too is a priority for me. Attending the event will be OmniPayments’ Yash Kapadia and we plan to get together as OmniPayments is working with HPE’s MCDLT in support of solutions addressing today’s concerns about conforming to regulations about Knowing Your Customer (KYC). But I am certain that HPE will be addressing even more markets with MCDLT at HPE Discover and I am hopeful there will be more news on MCDLT in support of Supply Chain Management.

Driving out of the garage and onto the highway with our GPS directing us to Vegas isn’t anything unusual for us as its pretty much programmed in and ready any time we need it. Looking at upmarket stores for the latest in Dior, Prada and Louboutin will probably be a distraction as will one evening spent at Mastro’s steakhouse. But as distracting as these have proved in the past Margo and my focus will remain very much centered on HPE Discover and so this road trip, even with all its familiarity, will be something we enjoy.

Yes, shortly we will be on our way and we hope to see you and should you be on the floor of the exhibition hall then look for the booth housing the independent bloggers and stop by to say Hi! I will be only too happy to take time out to chat and even with everything covered above, one of the most important aspects of HPE Discover is networking so – let’s network! Safe travels! And see you soon!  

Monday, June 11, 2018

What was said in Texas – N2TUG delivers excitement once again!

With a morning devoted to news of HPE and its deep port of R3 Corda to NonStop, it was hard to miss the bigger message concerning NonStop – HPE continues to place big bets on the future of NonStop for IT everywhere!

Margo and I have lost count of the number of times we have driven to Dallas, Texas. There have been years where we didn’t make it, but that has been only when there were other priorities. We have elected to drive different vehicles and over the years we have been seen driving our company command center (with the Corvette or Mini in tow), the Maserati GT-S, the Jeep SRT and most recently, our latest acquisition - the environmentally-friendly BMW hybrid, the i8. Of course, we see great potential in hybrid cars and their contribution to transportation so the i8 is just a step along the green path for both of us. 

Accompanying posts to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, are other posts to our social blog, Buckle-Up, and if you want to know more about the vehicles, there are plenty of posts featuring one or the other. Yes, you guessed it; we are a car family and for us, driving represents the ultimate opportunity to discuss business and of course, this year, the conversations were lively.

NonStop is evolving and there is no end in sight as to where it will go and to what it will accomplish.

Many years ago, we stopped flying. Sad but true, we could no longer rationalize what we were experiencing at airports and onboard planes as somethingpleasurable. We no longer look forward to flights although as readers may remember from a previous post, we had no option other than to fly when we joined fellow NonStop community members in Leipzig for GTUG. But that’s about it; if we need to leave America’s shores it is with a growing sense of reluctance borne out of experiences that left us wanting. Of course, this is not news to anyone who knows us.

Then again, when Texas calls and N2TUG is firmly fixed in our calendars, the only decision to be made is which car to drive! Throw into the mix the presence of Jimmy Treybig and taking the drive down a well-worn route becomes a given!

This year is proving to be an exceptional year for the NonStop community and it too has more to choose from than ever before. As a community we have heard from HPE senior managers that we are on the verge of being able to consume NonStop any way we want and this includes many options as to where and what we run NonStop on – traditional versus virtualized!

When it comes to the progress HPE has made with NonStop today, we should all be excited with having options and after talking to NonStop users and NonStop vendors alike, there’s not so much head-scratching going on, but rather, serious conversations taking place about how best to move forward with NonStop.

Nothing holds greater potential for NonStop today than Blockchain support available on NonStop. I have been writing about Blockchain ever since I first encountered Blockchain with the first post to this blog appearing Tuesday, November 22, 2016
vNonStop – coming to a desktop near you! The post came about following the 2016 NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) and included the reference, “Comeback? Seriously, NonStop re-energizing marketplaces? NonStop going virtual! NonStop inside the clouds! NonStop on the Edge! NonStop supporting Blockchain!”

Since then I have written numerous posts on Blockchain but now, real solutions are on the horizon. There was more than one conversation with a NonStop vendor where Blockchain became the center of the discussion and where many times, there was a comment made about finding out more about Blockchain on NonStop! When HPE made the first announcement about Blockchain and the work being done on the deep port of the R3 Corda to NonStop where it also was embracing NonStop SQL, many of my fellow independent bloggers within the HPE community were caught by surprise.

NonStop? Again, seriously? When you consider the diversity of the HPE product portfolio, at face value, NonStop seems an unusual choice. Only this past week I was referred to as the blogger focused on legacy NonStop; ouch! However, NonStop distanced itself from legacy when it embraced the Intel x86 architecture and when it launched itself into the world of virtual machines.

All the same, when you look back at the HPE press release of November 10, 2017,
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Introduces Blockchain as-a-Service Solution for Enterprises it included the bullet point, “The solution is offered on HPE Integrity NonStop platforms, which process two out of every three credit card transactions in the world.” And yes, it is the first product in the HPE Mission Critical Blockchain family. Mission Critical Distributed Ledger Technology (MCDLT) on NonStop is just the beginning. According to HPE, “HPE Mission Critical DLT is expected to be commercially available in early 2018. Customers also will be able to purchase access to this solution in a ‘DLT as a Service’ environment for serious trials and production use later in the year.”

At N2TUG we heard presentations from the new HPE Worldwide Head of Blockchain Sales, Jeff Skinner, as well as from R3 Director, Cristina Buendia, and their enthusiasm for NonStop being the first platform selected was easy to see. A lot of that decision making in favor of NonStop, I suspect, was done for them as NonStop field folks were definitely ahead of the game when it came to a deep-port of Blockchain.

We also heard about OmniPayments working with HPE’s MCDLT in support of Know Your Customer / Anti Money Laundering (KYC / AML) from OmniPayments’ VP, Jessica Nieves, immediately following Jeff and Cristina. I had numerous conversations with other vendors surprised to see progress being made this quickly but in the case of OmniPayments, being a solutions’ vendor counting big financial institutions as clients, it would be more of a surprise to read of OmniPayments not pursuing Blockchain and the HPE MCDLT offering. Given its NonStop-centric nature it clearly helps pursue “A Road to Success” as described by Jessica in her presentation. A new post on this N2TUG presentation on OmniPayments and Blockchain has just been published to the OmniPayments’ blog. Check out

How confident indeed excited am I about the prospects for NonStop with Blockchain? I am keeping my fingers crossed, naturally, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised with what transpires. On the other hand, as I noted in my latest Social Media Round Up column to be published in the June issue of NonStop Insider, I came across a remark made in a popular auto magazine by a not-so-well-known car collector. “Of course, the one thing about being a pundit about anything is that you are virtually condemned to be wrong. The one thing I know about the future is that it’s certainly going to surprise us.” 

What hasn’t been lost on the NonStop community is that all the excitement surrounding NonStop grabbing the spotlight is coming at a time when you can no longer ignore how important NonStop is for HPE. Given the big investment HPE made in migrating NonStop to x86 (and ServerNet to InfiniBand and them to RoCE), it has been clear to many pundits that there was going to be a positive future for NonStop after all. Looking around the planet, there have been numerous “new logos” added to the NonStop installed base and any conversation you may have with Randy Meyer, VP & GM, Mission Critical Systems, it takes but a moment or two before Randy begins describing the deployment of NonStop in support of solutions we have heard little about in recent times. 

Jimmy Treybig was famous for his use of the word, ‘xcitin! Listening to Jimmy presenting to an audience of NonStop supporters the excitement was still there – “listen to your customers,” Jimmy admonished us all with a twinkle. “That’s all I did when we started Tandem Computers.” Now excitement is building over the use-case scenarios HPE is covering in presentations on NonStop and the arrival of Blockchain support is going to see even more “new logos” as the product enters the mainstream marketplace. Yes, the road to Dallas was one we had to take even as Jessica was talking about the road to success. NonStop is evolving and it’s leading us into bigger marketplaces where the only question remaining is – will y’all be part of these ‘xcitin times, again? 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Summer is a-comin' – ready for HPE Discover!

Summertime and the number or RUG events heats up as we look ahead to HPE Discover; will we see you there?

Having recently downsized our home and moved further north, we had to find somewhere safe to park our vehicles. We have moved out of Boulder and now live just outside Ft Collins, really close to the Ft Collins HPE offices on E. Harmony Rd – just one freeway exit north of us. Margo’s reaction in the photo is one of surprise mixed with a little disbelief that we could indeed fit everything into our new 20’ X 50’ heated and secured storage garage. Yes, the RV, our trailer and Corvette along with our remaining motorcycle cruiser have it good and it means that on sunny January days, when the temperature along Colorado’s front ranges can climb as high as 70 degrees, we can go camping!

But forget winter, summer is now just a matter of a few weeks away and with summer almost on us, events, symposiums and conferences take center stage for the NonStop community. Shortly we will be getting in the car and driving to Dallas for N2TUG. I have already posted about this event back on May 10, 2018,
Road Trip – old or new it doesn’t matter; it’s the journey! However, in case you missed that update, I am anticipating a number of surprises not the least being an opportunity to catch up with Jimmy Treybig, the founder and creator of Tandem Computers.

While we are often reluctant to recognize our past, IT should always be cognizant of its pioneering leaders, especially when their influence can still be felt four decades later. Mind you, not every technology breakthrough left an indelible mark on IT – can you recall the excitement IBM created when it unveiled its breakthrough with Josephson Junctions? While these devices were going to exploit superconductivity, quantum tunneling and Josephson effects they operated at temperatures about 4 degrees above absolute zero – “temperatures that are very challenging to achieve in operation.” A computer that just didn’t fail seemed to be a pipedream to many all those years ago even if it didn’t need anything quite as exotic as IBM’s proposed new technology.

What is more important with the arrival of fault tolerant computing is that it opened the door wide to transaction processing that was both reliable and easy to program. Overnight an ecosystem of solutions vendors rushed to exploit its capabilities in many markets – from healthcare to newspapers to supply chains to banking. The former Tandem Computers built an Alliance Program around this ecosystem and published a guide to applications that at one point was more than an inch thick. The number of vertical markets served by today’s NonStop systems may be down on the numbers of the past but the value is certainly back to where it was in the heydays of Tandem Computers.

It is indeed a rare occurrence for a technology to remain influential for as long as Tandem / NonStop continue to be to this very day. Ownership has changed through the years to where it is now part of HPE’s Mission Critical Systems business. This is an appropriate landing place for NonStop within HPE as there isn’t a better technology to support mission critical transaction processing than NonStop systems. This is borne out by just how many of HPE’s competitors target the NonStop marketplace. From mainframes to Linux clusters to hybrid clouds, it’s all possible to get close to fault tolerance but not out-of-the box and definitely not at the price point of NonStop systems. The industry is being put on notice of NonStop’s continued longevity with the announcement of NonStop as software – fully virtualized NonStop workloads can run practically anywhere!

N2TUG will certainly be entertaining – the Dallas team always ensures there is plenty to cheer – and the NonStop community in Dallas and the surrounding cities remain NonStop stalwarts with decades of experience with NonStop. Even so, summer is coming and with it major events as well as the phased introduction to the new virtualized NonStop and the SQL that is compatible with Oracle along with support for Blockchain / Distributed Ledger Technology. And if you want to see real-world demos and talk to those closest to the technology then there is another event you need to plan for – HPE Discover 2018, Las Vegas.

Returning from the drive to Dallas for N2TUG Margo and I will have only a week back home before repacking and heading for Las Vegas. Running from Monday afternoon through to Thursday morning, June 18 – 21, this is the place to go to hear HPE senior executive spell out the programs for the coming year. Last year we heard for the first time from outgoing HPE CEO, Meg Whitman, but this year and two quarters into his first year at the helm of the company, we will hear from the new HPE CEO, Antonio Neri. I had the opportunity to be present for HPE Discover 2017, Madrid, where Neri made his first appearance as a CEO and I can assure you, as a technologist guiding the fortunes of HPE, it is well worth taking time away from your regular business routines to hear him speak.

I have had an opportunity to address a number of communities both in person and via webinars. In fact, while in Dallas for N2TUG I will be providing a brief update on DataExpress, one of my valued clients, following a webinar with them in which I participated. I spoke to at GTUG on behalf of NTI and have provided updates on NonStop in a webinar with Striim folks. In all of them I made it a point to stress how thankful the NonStop community should be that HPE has a clearly articulated vision, is executing to a strategy that is extremely relevant in today’s business world and yes, most important of all, NonStop is a fully funded participant in the programs being driven by that strategy. And you will hear all about it at HPE Discover!

For too many years the NonStop community was left to wonder about the future of NonStop. There was more than one occasion when trying to find any presence of NonStop on the exhibition floor of HPE Discover was an exercise akin to treasure hunting, but even armed with a floor layout it was still hard to find, but no longer. If HPE Discover, Madrid, was a model for what to expect, you will find NonStop presence in multiple locations – there will always be somewhere to see NonStop converged systems but now, you will see NonStop anchoring demonstrations of blockchain following the deep port of R3: Corda to NonStop and NonStop SQL and yes, expect to see virtualized NonStop on display as well now that VMware supports virtualized NonStop workloads.

Once again, I will be a guest of HPE and as such, am extremely thankful for HPE’s generosity and support. I will be part of the independent blogging community and as such, be part of a small group HPE calls influencers. HPE will be providing us with our own meeting room where HPE managers will be coming to us to update us on their products and solutions. If previous occasions are any guide, we will even get to hear from real HPE users as well and this is always a fun time – bloggers are by nature inquisitive and since HPE opens the floor to questions there is no reticence on the part of any of those seated at the table to be forthcoming with questions of interest to them – as a heads up, watch this blog site during the week of HPE Discover for updates direct from the exhibition floor!
There is a very strong sense of anticipation whenever spring gives way to summer. Storage locker doors are flung wide open and stuff we put to one side for winter sees the light of day. In the coming days there will be a lot of miles covered and many HPE and NonStop stakeholders will be approached. But to think of NonStop and the people so intimately involved with NonStop from its earliest days still generates the excitement it did all those years ago and as I wrap this post, all I can think of are the lyrics to
an old Nat "King" Cole
What is so rare
As June in the air?
Summer is a-comin' in!
  Safe travels and see you in Dallas and yes, see you too in Las Vegas!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Changes of approach; changes of storylines! And NonStop anchors it all!

NonStop vendors are not only capitalizing on changes taking place with NonStop they are becoming more prolific with their marketing outreach …

I am a stickler for clean windscreens. I have to admit I like to see where I am going and I just cannot stand smudges and blurs impeding my sight lines. I am also a focused driver on our highways, being one of those unusual drivers these days who simply lock away their mobile phone – no, you cannot talk to me. “Just leave a message, maybe I'll call,” sang the Eagle’s Joe Walsh many years ago. Right now I have a Jeep that is in dire need of having its windscreen cleaned, but as it’s our go-to vehicle I just keep putting it off. Maybe this weekend the car gets a thorough cleaning?

On the other hand, vision is something that has been the subject of a lot of talk of late among the members of the NonStop community – yes, there have been lots of RUG meetings each providing ample opportunity to talk to NonStop enthusiasts on topics ranging from the mundane Java issues to what’s happening with virtualized NonStop and even Blockchain.

The consensus view among these NonStop enthusiasts is that we are seeing a vastly different NonStop product line unfolding and it’s really going to be offering NonStop users a variety of options. It’s going to be a lot more about choice than ever before! Talking of choice and of clear vision and yes cars, it was a whole lot of fun touring the Porsche factory at Leipzig with GTUG. Walking the factory floor was one thing, but then capitalizing on a “taxi ride” around their FIA-approved race track was even more fun.

Hybrid IT is a reflection on transitions under way within the data center. It’s becoming easy to see the new being introduced even as we continue to depend on the old. Traditional computing has to stay the course even as cloud computing makes its presence felt. It is clear to every IT professional that there are major changes of direction and approach under way and where computing is being served-up on a pay-as-you-use basis. As a matter of fact, this is a new dynamic that the industry is only just coming to terms with– there’s no place for big iron if it’s only occasionally used.

At this time of year many of the vendors we know are releasing their quarterly financial results. There are always updates on organization structure and on changes to product lines. There is also a predisposition to paint a rosy picture of the future as each vendor sees it. In the latest financial results from HPE published a few days ago, HPE CEO Antonio Nero told financial analysts that

“… HPE Next is our company-wide initiative to re-architect HPE to deliver on our strategy and drive new wave of shareholder value. It is all about simplification, execution and innovation … The changes we are making through HPE Next will not only improve our cost structure. It will also give us a significant long-term competitive advantage.”

Yes, HPE has a very clear vision of the future and by all accounts has translated its vision into a strategy against which it is successfully executing.

But the topic of having a clear vision has other implications when it comes to a solutions vendor such as OmniPayments and it shouldn’t come as
a surprise to any member of the NonStop community when I say that there has been a very distinct uptick in visibility of OmniPayments of late. This year, OmniPayments has been everywhere; RUG meetings and industry events have seen plenty of orange banners promoting OmniPayments. And for good reason; as I see it, the company is on a roll – it is winning new business in both the banking and the retail markets and is possibly the most unabashed fan of NonStop. What’s not to like about this?

While some of the choices on offer today for consuming NonStop are very much in their infancy, this hasn’t slowed down the OmniPayments development team as it has brought to market support for all three major NonStop options – traditional, virtualized and as-a-Service. Surprised? For one, I am not surprised at all as Yash made the commitment to NonStop a long time ago and has almost single handedly turned the marketplace for payments solutions on its head as he is delivering possibly the best price/performance configurations of all.

And yet, how many members of the NonStop community have kept up with what OmniPayments has been doing of late? Starting with the basics, if you have your own NonStop hardware already deployed on-premise, then you can license the OmniPayments solution in a number of different ways. Yes, OmniPayments continues as a software solution for that section of the NonStop community. If you do not have the requisite NonStop hardware available then you can purchase NonStop from your HPE sales team, or alternatively OmniPayments can put the whole package together for you – OmniPayments is the only HPE appointed NonStop VAR for all of South America.

But wait; there’s even more! Ever since NonStop X began shipping, OmniPayments set up a series of data centers around the world in support of OmniPayments served up as Software-as-a-Service. OmniCloudX gives you immediate support of this option even as it lays the foundation for running atop virtualized NonStop. OmniPayments is already working on this latest option for NonStop from HPE and I think that this is a really good move on the part of OmniPayments.

Yes, just as HPE is advocating today for NonStop in general – payments processing can be consumed on-premise and on your hardware but also as SaaS from off-premise on OmniPayments NonStop X systems not to mention from out of a cloud deployed by OmniPayments. And there’s even more news about to break. For anyone who has noticed the uptick in visibility of OmniPayments and is following them on LinkedIn, watching the promotions being made for upcoming participation at RUG meetings, you will have seen one more very important development.

Yash isn’t just talking about Blockchain, or trying to educate the NonStop community about its potential benefits for NonStop users. Quite the opposite – he is doing something with Blockchain. There is work under way to integrate the Mission Critical Distributed Ledger Technology (MCDLT) on NonStop into OmniPayments. From the NYTUG RUG Meeting, came the following post to LinkedIn:

Blockchain is a very powerful technology. Keith Moore from HPE is kicking off #NYTUG2018 and talking about how this technology fits into the NonStop world.

Stay tuned to learn more about OmniPayments’ Blockchain implementation!

Missed it? Well, there is a lot more to come shortly about the actual application being developed but suffice to say, while other vendors are talking up possibilities and potentials, Yash has directed his team to capitalize on all the hard work the NonStop team has been doing to bring R3: Corda to NonStop and NonStop SQL/MX. I have my own ideas about these new products and the value they will provide, but I will await confirmation from Yash before I write anything more. Although it you know something about KYC and AML and what these acronyms mean and yes, all that it currently entails (and the heavy costs financial institutions are currently incurring to pursue), then you may have an early idea about where Yash is headed.

For as long as I have been covering HPE and NonStop I cannot recall a time when so much has been created by NonStop development – yes, “new logos” are being added to the NonStop community and some of the biggest traditional NonStop users are reconsidering their usage of NonStop – we went to Linux but we didn’t quite get the availability or indeed the simplicity (of development and operations) we thought we would – is it easy to get back to NonStop? Well, it sure is …

And perhaps it is this very serious uptick in NonStop product development that is part of the reason why NonStop vendors like OmniPayments have become more visible in the marketplace of late. There is a potential to penetrate new markets with solutions on NonStop able to be consumed any way you need it and isn’t this a good thing for every stakeholder in the NonStop ecosystem? Isn’t encouraging for us to see competitive product utilizing the latest technology being supported by NonStop?

I read a lot. It goes with the territory as a blogger. Probably more accurate would be to say I read everything – whatever comes in the mail and yes, if it’s prefaced by “Richard, this is a good read” I even click on links sent to me. In the introduction to a popular column in a car magazine, its author wrote:

“The joke goes that we live in the future. You know, that cliché we trot out for anything amazing and tech-related – mind-blowing gifts, something ahead of schedule.”

Followed a little later with:

“The novelist Warren Ellis once noted that the future sneaks up on us, in the fringes of daily life … it suggest keeping a weather eye open for reasons to be stoked, wary, or both.”

And it kind of reminds me that to some extent, over these past couple of years, NonStop has crept up on us. HPE has invested in NonStop to where they have trotted out something amazing – NonStop consumed any way we want. More than that, what HPE NonStop has developed is probably more closely aligned with customer requirements than at any other time in its history. Yes, NonStop too is on a roll!  

Perhaps it’s time for many more of us to clean away the grime that has collected on our “IT windscreens” and to take a really good long look at the new NonStop and the many ways NonStop can now be consumed. But you may want to be wearing sunglasses as what you see could be a lot brighter than you expected. And if this is all a bit much to take in then make sure you head to HPE Discover. I will be there and I will be on the exhibition floor so look for me and perhaps we can have coffee and if you need to, let’s just check out your eyesight to see if you share the same vision for NonStop as I now do.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It’s a journey for NonStop across an ever-changing landscape!

A flight to Germany continues to be a rare occurrence for me and yet, GTUG held promise of more good news on NonStop so I simply had to go! 

It might appear that road trips have been a consistent theme of mine over the past couple of weeks. True, the topic of road trips always is close to my heart as I like getting out onto the highway to simply drive towards the horizon. And yet, it is also highly relevant in today’s technology environment – as much as I enjoy a changing landscape and a changing vista, every now and then the destination is important. Even if the neon sign flashing far out in the distance might only be that of a motel offering overnight accommodation, there is always the distinct possibility that something far more meaningful is being communicated.

Margo and I have just gotten back from a brief trip to Leipzig, Germany. Yes, as much as we bemoan air travel we simply had no other option than to head to the airport a couple of weekends ago and traverse a considerable part of the planet in order to make the GTUG supported
European NonStop HotSpot 2018/IT-Symposium 2018 - Conference & Exhibition! Big name but fortunately, same agenda as in past years, although this year we did enjoy the company of VP & GM Mission Critical Systems, Randy Meyer. And yes, a note of thanks to another big name, NTI, for making this trip happen for Margo and me!

It isn’t every day that I can throw into a current post references to former HPE CTO, Martin Fink, and it’s been a long time between drinks hearing references to Martin coming from senior HPE managers. But just this past week, on more than one occasion Randy did reference Martin and that was pleasing to hear. One of those references really resonated with me and I thought its inclusion was both timely and a reminder that some really smart minds are still focused on NonStop. “Listening is tactical; observing is strategic,” said Randy referring to an earlier comment made by Martin. I have heard Martin say this before and it’s still as relevant today as it was a decade or so ago.

One of the motivations for me to embark on road trips is to observe. I am fascinated by what is transpiring across the transportation industry – yes, we know the economy is picking up when all the big-rigs on the interstate look new and yes, the number of temporary tags on passenger cars are more plentiful than previously observed. Walk into any Starbucks bordering the interstate and see how long it is before they serve you coffee as the hustle to accommodate the drive through lanes snaking back out through the parking lot. Randy and Martin are right in saying observation is strategic.

When you hear members of the NonStop community refer to themselves as being customer-driven and that they are always listening to the business needs of their customers, don’t be surprised to see them changing direction often. It’s an old saying that being close to the customer means being close to closure! Seriously, listening to the immediate needs of someone sitting across the table from you more often than not triggers a kneejerk reaction about which we later confess as being inconsistent with what the industry may be telling us. Or our own people!

So, what is it that HPE has been observing of late and what is happening that is relevant for the NonStop community? In a nutshell, it’s hard to miss the signs of hesitancy on the part of entrenched NonStop users even as the companies those NonStop users work for look to tackle the twin issues of hybrids and clouds. “We are transforming to address a changing landscape,” said Randy. “The world is hybrid and when it comes to NonStop, we don’t want to be constrained by the tools (at hand) or the environment (that arises),” was the argument coming from the boss of all Mission Critical Systems.

“How does NonStop fit into this transformation,” asked Randy of the audience. Bringing it back to what is happening within his own organization, Randy then answered his own question with his team having observed that “evolving Mission Critical Systems to be cloud-ready and where NonStop is consumed as a service” has become the priority for the NonStop development team. That’s right, cloud computing moves by companies led to virtualized NonStop even as hybrid IT has generated an opportunity to provide “new ways to consume NonStop!” 

Observing the ever-changing landscape, as you typically do when you drive any distance inside America, let’s you develop a deeper appreciation for what’s about to happen in the not too distant future. You certainly know that autonomous big-rigs make sense even as you realize that with everything communicating (in an always connected world), why on earth haven’t we seen even more elements in the supply chain being automated? As part of the visit to Leipzig for GTUG many of us elected to visit the Porsche factory to watch Porsche cars and SUVs being built and it was hard to miss just how much automation exists on the factory floor. And yet, there were still a thousand or more folks engaged in putting things together.

“When everything is connected,” said Randy, we will get to a point where we get “crazy new insights into how things work!” In fact, we will find ourselves seeking answers “about things when before we didn’t know we would even be asking such questions!” When the edge meets the cloud and everything that is connected begins communicating we will be hard pressed to miss changes in behavior unlike at any time in our history. My own favorite possible new customer recognition option – our gait! Yes, simply the way we walk up to any device will be all it takes for that device to know who we are and what we are looking for.

We will still be able to buy NonStop systems the way we always have bought them – dropped off at a dock all wrapped up nicely with a bow. Fortunately for many, these new converged systems will become one of many options available to the NonStop community. More popular, perhaps, will be the option to deploy virtualized NonStop in-store / on-premise on hardware already owned, be that a server farm or a private cloud. In the coming months we all may want to pay more attention to work being done for NonStop that leverages projects like Ansible – Ansible playbooks that will be able to interact with NonStop delivered as a container that is subsequently pulled apart by Ansible and deployed atop a virtual machine – cool! And then there is the option to simply run NonStop as a Service from out of a public cloud (although, initially it might be more like from providers like Rackspace than Amazon) and that would be even cooler for many NonStop users!

When you take a good long hard look at the changing landscape for NonStop you’d be excited by the possibilities. Furthermore, if the journey that NonStop has been on for the past four decades is anything to go by, then perhaps Randy should have added, “And you haven’t seen anything yet!” I guess the biggest takeaway from GTUG may in fact prove to be that the journey is a pathway to even greater innovation and while we applaud the deep port to the Intel x86 architecture, should we rule out any other architectures being supported? I don’t think so … and you know, it is as if NonStop has now been freed from design and implementation constraints which we never thought possible just a decade ago.

What this journey of NonStop reminds many of us are the words to a popular song and in more ways than one:

But he was back in business when they set him free again
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

And I suspect few members of the NonStop community would disagree with the idea that yes, NonStop is back in business and yes, as Randy reminded us many times this past week in Leipzig, NonStop has been set free! Yes, observation is strategic and yes, here’s to hoping that the road goes on forever.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Road Trip – old or new it doesn’t matter; it’s the journey!

Whenever opportunity presents itself for a road trip – then count us in! But with next month’s N2TUG event I will be retracing steps I first took back in 1976 that led to eventual move to the U.S.

Road trip! Road trip! Did someone say road trip? I have just wrapped up a post to our social blog about road trips, including ones prompted on short notice in small planes and yes, that counts. But more importantly for this audience, our next road trip will take us to Dallas for the N2TUG NonStop user event. There have not been too many user events that we have missed, but there is always something very special about Texan hospitality. And it’s no secret among the NonStop community that for this event, there will be even more that will be special – the founder of Tandem Computers himself, Jimmy T!

It’s a little known fact that my first ever residency in the US was in Dallas. I had been living in Edmonton, Alberta, where I had emigrated to from London, UK, – no, a London winter wasn’t cold enough so I’ve emigrated to the frozen north of Canada. As a database specialist no less and yes, I am talking about the mid-1970s, when DBMS products like Cullinane’s IDMS, Cincom’s TOTAL and Insyte Datacom’s Datacom/DB ruled the roost. It was a time when IBMers everywhere had grown tired of ISAM and had taken to the more fundamental BDAM to essentially build their own DBMS product from scratch. A whole year of programming? No worries!  

I am also talking about the mid-1970s when arriving in Edmonton I bought my first new BMW – back then it was the mighty six-cylinder 530i, complete with a stick shift. Mind you, this was a C$12,000 car when everyone else was buying Trans-Ams and Mustang IIs for about $3,000, so little has changed of late. What was new is that shortly after taking delivery of the Bimmer, I drove from Edmonton down to Dallas and then on to San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco before running the entire west cost to Seattle and then crossing back over the Canadian Rockies to Calgary and Edmonton.

I am not sure exactly of the mileage but to accomplish this drive in just three weeks taking in, naturally enough, the F1 event at Long Beach won by Mario Andretti. Little did I know where this all would lead to, but suffice to say a presentation I gave in Dallas to the Datacom User Group during that road trip led to a job offer in Dallas that I accepted immediately! Let me think about it – the freezing temps in Edmonton versus the perpetual sunshine in Dallas. OK, I have already given you a clue as yes, not only did I take the job but it was also a ticket back to Sydney where I would become a Datacom partner company’s new Managing Director.

I am not sure either how I had become a fan of Southfork Ranch and JR and the rest of the cast of the TV show, Dallas, but that’s another story for another time.

In the years that have passed since that first sojourn in the U.S. I have taken many road trips and have seen more of America than many of my American friends and colleagues. For the past decade many of these trips, if not all of them, were influenced one way or the other by a RUG event. Regional gatherings of the NonStop community have always been special times and I have attended gatherings in India, Helsinki, Toronto, Sydney – you name the city and there is a pretty good chance that I have showed up at some point. Of course, spending two years as the ITUG Chairman certainly helped in expanding that list of cities.

Today, NonStop has come so far in a relatively short period of time. When you look back at the work the NonStop development team has done to embrace industry standards and open systems by porting to the Intel Xeon x86 architecture and then providing the option to run virtualized, they have given us a lot of opportunity to grow the number of enterprises running NonStop. I am not saying this without giving even more thought to where NonStop will likely appear next as it’s still very much a solution-driven business these days, but I do have a sense that with the newly trimmed-down HPE, there is more opportunity to be heard above the noise than there was even a year ago!

When it comes to any journey we plan on taking, particularly when it involves a road trip as is often the case for me of late, reminiscing about previous trips has always been important. My wife and fellow cofounder of Pyalla Technologies and I recall what hotels we liked and perhaps more importantly, what sessions caught our attention. Who can forget when support for x86 was announced or the comment made in passing by one of the speakers that NonStop could run virtual. And what about the blockchain port? Of course, reminiscing on the past always brings us both back to the grand days of ITUG Summits and as much as we miss them they were for another time and we certainly see the passion for NonStop in the faces of everyone who turns up for a RUG event.  

We often discuss the journey that NonStop is on and about the need to take baby steps on occasion but here is the really big news. NonStop continues to provide an unmatched architecture that is affordable for any enterprise wanting to have the best uptime signature for its mission critical applications. And along with the affordable uptime properties, NonStop also provides scale-out capabilities out-of-the-box that NonStop’s competitors can only propose using PowerPoint slides. Not cool – and no, not without a lot of extra costs. Perhaps, most important of all? NonStop has found its home within the Mission Critical Systems organization whose leader, Randy Meyer, has very strong ties to NonStop and that is a circumstance we don’t take lightly.

This journey by NonStop has seen it reinvent itself numerous times over more than four decades since it took those first couple of baby steps. And now, in a matter of a couple of weeks, we will be in Dallas spending time with the man who first saw the value in building a truly fault tolerant system. History is still a very important part of this journey that every member of the NonStop community is part of and if the number of times old photos are posted to the Facebook group, Tandem Computers, it’s a reminder of just how passionate about all things Tandem and NonStop folks continue to be.

The N2TUG team is among the most passionate of NonStop community folks and there is no doubt whatsoever that a Texas size greeting will be given to everyone who shows up when N2TUG presents ‘Protecting with Blockchain’ on Thursday, June 7, 2018. For those who may be curious, your Pyalla Technologies team will once again be hitting the road, in yet another BMW, but this time, a hybrid.  More importantly, should you be curious about how to register for N2TUG, of if you simply need more information, than send an email to with 

                Registration for N2TUG 2018 “Protecting with Blockchain”

Or just click here ...

Bill reminded us all just this week of how the N2TUG team is hoping  “to see you in Plano for our 2018 N2TUG event; as Jimmy always says, it’s excitin’” And yes, added Bill in a promotional email to us all, “Jimmy will be our final presenter.  He will stay for the evening cocktail party where we can all swap stories and reminisce about the past or make plans for the future.” Count us in Bill and we look forward to seeing many more of you this year at N2TUG!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Time to take a trip to Europe; NonStop RUGs kick off in earnest ...

Many of us will be heading off to Europe very soon as the RUG season kicks it up a gear or two with HPE execs on hand to fill us in on all that’s happening. But what we all want to hear is how virtualized NonStop will shake up the market!

I have always enjoyed the times when I had to make the trip across the Atlantic to Europe. I don’t know what it is exactly, but when circumstances present themselves where I need to show up for a meeting or event somewhere in the “old country” my heart skips a beat and I immediately begin counting down the days to departure. Before coming to America to join Tandem Computers, living in Australia meant trips to Europe had to be carefully weighed against the time away from regular activities as well as costs, and more often than not it also meant looking at combining a number of activities so as to maximize the time out of the country. 

With hindsight however, the travel I did in the early part of my career was truly educational. It was a time when so much change was happening in the industry that you just had to go out there and participate – imagine my surprise when on one occasion a stretch limo pulled up to take me to an event the only other passenger in the limo was Gene Amdahl! I am not sure what we discussed but it was lively and no, I didn’t remind him of the time only a few years previous where sitting in the front row of a conference hall, I fell asleep during his keynote. So soundly, in fact, that I began to snore and had to be nudged awake!

In the late 1970s through to the early 1980s there was one major conference I always managed to include as part of my European travels and that was the National Computer Conference (NCC) held in the US and I was fortunate enough to be in attendee at the NCC in Houston and Anaheim. This was at a time when IBM dominated the industry and all the discussions centered on the flourishing Plug Compatible Mainframe (PCM) business – yes, we had standards and they were all anchored in IBM products. On the one hand, it made life easy for IBMs competitors but on the other hand, as if industry technology stalled for a brief period of time. However, it was during this same period that I first encountered the world of Unix and it was in Europe that I ran into Unix evangelists almost everywhere I turned.

For all the years I confined myself to air travel, jetting from one venue to another (and racking up the miles in the days before frequent flyer programs), the education I received highlighted how trends could be quickly identified and then validated simply by walking the exhibition halls of a major event. Of course, the biggest event on the computer calendar back then wasn’t the NCC but the original Hannover Fair (before it split and CeBIT arose); if you liked toys and playing around in the mud, this was definitely the must-attend event as alongside computers there were elevator shafts and full size locomotives! It played such a prominent part in the industrialized world that many of the participants had committed themselves so strongly that they constructed their own pavilions out of bricks and mortar!

As I look back at those times, long before the arrival of the Internet, such a hands-on exposure to everything new in IT had no substitute and it was the only way to keep abreast of the changes continually at work reshaping IT.  And yes, change was happening with such regularity that you just had to show up the following year and the year after that and then, of course the next year – today, however, IT has become so fine-grained that we really have lost touch with the breadth of our industry and as much as I can google almost anything I want to know, it’s not the same as walking up to something completely foreign, touching it and wondering, what the heck does it do! To think, I walked onto the pavilion of Nixdorf Computers in the early 1980s to see Nixdorf’s first ATM complete with heated surfaces for a better customer experience in temperatures below -40C! And yes, destined for the Australian marketplace!

On the other hand, as I look forward to what is about to take place in just a few weeks’ time, the scale may not be what it used to be and the scope may be way smaller, but those planning on attending either or both BITUG and GTUG will be experiencing much the same level of anticipation as I had all those years ago. There may not be trucks, tractors and railway locomotives or anything else like that but to the keen observer stopping by the exhibitor desks, it will be clear that NonStop today is more than just a bunch of boxes with an OS; NonStop can be deployed any which way you would like and the NonStop vendor community is already catering to any configuration your enterprise requires. Most important of all – and visible at the RUG events already held this year – NonStop has truly become a line of software products with the option of having HPE throw in some hardware!

Too cavalier, perhaps? I don’t think so; there’s no value in going to RUG events today with preconceived ideas as to what NonStop is or how NonStop should be delivered. News flash – the days of simply mulling over an upgrade to the next NonStop model are over. Every enterprise with mission-critical applications needs to think very carefully about the optimum way to run these applications on NonStop and the focus is going to return to the human component. Does your company have access to the skilled personnel it needs to run NonStop in this new world of hybrid IT where clouds are well and truly entrenched in the mindset of CIOs. If clouds aren’t on your radar and your enterprise is holding steady on a tried and true course, then yes, take the next upgrade of NonStop from HPE. However, if you are seeing clouds being discussed and you want to ensure NonStop contributes to your business, go to these upcoming RUG events and interact with HPE and the rest of the NonStop community before making any firm decisions one way or the other.

With as much talk as there is about robotics and AI these days and with as much attention being given to analytics and deep learning, perhaps the more interesting question is how exposed might you become if you picked the wrong approach to running NonStop? What I am getting a sense of is that for the majority of NonStop users, the NonStop X family of systems is the way to go and that the time to stop feeding the NonStop i family of systems needs to be curtailed. I have only anecdotal support for now, but I have to believe the supply chain behind Itanium has to be thinning out not to mention how much energy is being expended on stockpiling ServerNet switches. Not much, by my count even as I am sure some NonStop i systems traded for new NonStop X systems are being cannibalized in support of some markets. Again, purely my own observation at this point in time!

However, as 2018 unfolds take a good look around at what your peers are doing. NonStop X systems for production; vNonStop on converged virtualized NonStop systems (NS 2) for development and test and yes, NonStop SQL/MX the engine behind DBaaS running from within a cloud and fully virtualized (supporting multitenancy). Not just one way to run NonStop but exploiting the flexibility (and indeed innovation) that today’s NonStop represents. Again, when was having choice ever a bad thing? And when has mixing it up been viewed negatively when the operational bottom line has so much potential upside – think of shared DR sites that are cloud based?

My love of travel hasn’t subsided over the years but it has taken on a different look – as the NonStop community is aware of these days if I cannot drive then it takes an awful lot of motivation to get me back on a plane. In a modern twist to that famous marketing message, “don’t leave home without it today,” I actually take home with me! On the other hand, the program content and the personalities that are present at major RUG events such as we see taking place shortly in Europe are enough to get me back on a plane and I am sure I am going to hear a lot that is new even as I know I am going to be caught out with something unexpected being announced or demonstrated.

But no matter what takes place the one thing I can absolutely guarantee is that with all that is taking place today with NonStop, I will not be falling asleep during any of the keynote presentations nor will my snoring be heard above the commentary of HPE participants.  Safe travels – and I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can in that fine German city, Leipzig!