Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Where do we turn for news? For the NonStop community, it’s all in blog posts!

Blog posts may very well have replaced any need for post-it notes but the goals are similar – simplified newsworthy communications targeting interested parties; for the NonStop community today’s many blogs are where much of what’s interesting about NonStop is disseminated!

Where do we get our information today? Where do we turn for the news that matters most? It wasn’t all that long ago that we took real photos and dragged them out only occasionally to remind ourselves of past experiences and as to our friends, well, they were grateful when we kept the evidence of past adventures well and truly hid away. But today? With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – we can see it all and blog posts keep the storyline moving along, no matter the audience. The question today is what did we do before social media exploded onto the scene as vibrantly as it has of late?

In an episode of the now defunct sitcom, Sex and the City, the central character, Carrie Bradshaw, complained bitterly to her friends about her boyfriend announcing the break-up of their relationship via a simple message on a post-it note stuck to her refrigerator. In a surprising update to this mode of communication it would appear that a blog post is having a similar effect for many in business – is reading about a change in responsibilities or worse, being let go, in a company blog on par with how Bradshaw reacted to that infamous post-it note?

Companies, technologies and indeed products, are all subject today of blog posts. Should you need to know what’s happening to your favorite tool, utility, product or solution – there is bound to be a post published somewhere! The press as well as business and financial analysts all have blogs and they have taken over as the principle source for news on current developments. No working hour goes by for me without checking a couple of blog sites to see if anything surprising has taken place, and of course it would be hard for me to ignore all that is transpiring at HPE! If you haven’t been keeping up with the steady flow of posts then for the past two years at least, they have provided me with many of the story lines you will have seen in posts to this and other blogs where I contribute.

All of this came back to me as I pulled up announcements concerning not only Martin Fink’s retirement from the post of CTO but also the recent elevation of Ric Lewis to oversee the new group, Software-Defined & Cloud Group, where previously Lewis had been the senior vice president and general manager of converged data center infrastructure.  Both Fink and Lewis had strong connections with the NonStop community and yet, according to the press coverage I turned to, the news apparently was announced in a company blog.

HPE is putting its Helion OpenStack and Helion CloudSystem businesses into a new “Software-Defined & Cloud Group (SDCG),” to be headed by Ric Lewis, formerly senior vice president and general manager of converged data center infrastructure. It was in a web update from Fortune Magazine where I read, and I quote, from the blog: “By bringing these assets together, we create a single organization tasked with a common mission—to provide best-in-class solutions that enable developers and operators to deploy their applications across traditional and cloud infrastructures, simply and effortlessly. Mark Interrante will lead this team.” And yes, “Interrante will report to Lewis.”

For everyone in the NonStop community sympathy with the folks at Fortune Magazine is highly likely, as even among this venerable institutions’ journalists, it was hard to ignore how “Change is the norm at HPE, especially in cloud.” Now, I am not one to criticize the decisions coming from HPE of late nor will I be the one who raises an eyebrow over how much is happening within the companies executive suites, but I am just so glad that the NonStop products within the Mission Critical Systems group are doing as well as they are these days.

From every indication that I have, following HPE Discover 2016, I am now reasonably certain that sales revenues from NonStop have pushed past other product offerings in the Mission Critical Systems product portfolio, but then again, this is just an opinion I have formed so don’t hold me to this too stringently. And yet, this is probably the real situation within HPE’s Enterprise Group and if it is, rarely do vendors the size of HPE go around pulling the plug on such success. More importantly for the NonStop community is the sheer size of the recent investments in NonStop as it first moved to support the x86 architecture, then OpenStack as NonStop became free of not just the hardware but the infrastructure as well.

But post-it notes and blog postings may not tell the whole story or indeed, through omission, simply divert attention to matters less important. Follow the link on the HPE web site to the Mission Critical Computing Blog and it will take you to a page with the heading, Servers and Operating Systems – a little confusing I have to admit. But scroll down and there are numerous blog posts but find one on NonStop? After almost an hour of trolling through pages and checking the archives, I found only two posts for 2016 (and just six for all of 2015) with one of the two 2016 posts being  a summary of all sessions involving Mission Critical Systems at HPE Discover 2016.

Contrarians among us would argue that the only posts being featured on the HPE web site are from those systems and servers struggling to maintain market share – for NonStop, no “break-up of a relationship” messages is perhaps a good thing and more a reflection on the continued strong demand for NonStop systems in the marketplaces they serve.

It is my expectation that we are living in times where shipments of the Itanium-based NonStop i family will show significant growth, enough to surprise even the pundits proclaiming the demise of this family of NonStop systems. I just had the opportunity to spend time with a customer who has just ratcheted up their investment in NonStop i and for good reason – it’s stable and it’s a known quantity and for the community NonStop serves these remain important considerations. However, knowing there are new NonStop systems coming to market is a reassuring and seriously, highly newsworthy, development – you can’t see NonStop losing its sheen within HPE with even more options becoming available to run NonStop.

It is also my expectation that we are moving to a time when complementing Itanium-based NonStop with x86-based NonStop will accelerate many enterprises consideration of hybrid solutions made up of traditional systems working in combination with private clouds deployed right alongside x86-based NonStop on the very same servers – the label of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware is now inclusive of NonStop with the work being done on providing a virtual NonStop (vNonStop), and that too is a message that resonates well with me. A vendor the size of HPE simply wouldn’t go down this path if there were plans to move in a different direction and having executives familiar with NonStop now spread throughout HPE upper management is refreshing news to all who belong to the NonStop community.

Remember Sean Mansubi? Mansubi preceded Andy Bergholz as head of NonStop R&D and is VP, R&D - Converged Platform Software & Infrastructure at HPE. Like Lewis, he has considerable knowledge of all things NonStop and even as his current product line responsibilities will fit nicely with Lewis’s SDCG plans, I can’t help wondering whether at some point (particularly with vNonStop on the horizon), we will hear more about NonStop making a contribution in a world that is converging.

Of course, while on the topic of NonStop knowledge permeating the ranks of NonStop, it would be remiss of me to leave out references to Randy Meyer who is now Vice President & General Manager, Mission Critical Systems, HPE. For those in the NonStop community unfamiliar with conventions and protocols at HPE, whenever you run across an executive who has in his title General Manager then you have met an individual who has direct Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibilities. Meyer now looks after the complete product portfolio for all mission critical systems and with his background deeply anchored in NonStop, the success NonStop is enjoying just has to be an ongoing source of pride for Meyer, I would have to think!

I am sure there are other former NonStop managers now in executive positions within HPE and I would not be surprised to hear from them following this post. But that in itself is part of the story – just like me many of them wouldn’t let an hour go by without checking select blogs and according to the stats I review, it’s clear that many of my readers just happen to be located in Palo Alto. We no longer resort to post-it notes, although I still have plenty of them in my desk drawers. Transformation to a hybrid infrastructure, software-defined everything, including clouds, converged platform software and so forth all reflect the changes happening deep inside IT (and yes, not just for HPE has change become the norm)!

While there’s no publicity as yet about the presence of NonStop I am of the opinion that should the current efforts to integrate a virtual NonStop into HPE’s own IT organization prove successful, then it will be hard to keep that information from seeing the light of day in the marketplace. And should that likely event happen any time soon then yes, look to the blogs for the first news to break as for sure, as a blogger, I wouldn’t miss such an opportunity to post about it the instant I see announcements being made – post-it notes be damned!

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