Monday, February 13, 2017

Three new wishes for NonStop that address the next three years!

Since 2008, every third year I have posted "my three wishes for NonStop." It’s now 2017 – what can we expect to read in this latest post and why is it important for the NonStop community? 

When an opportunity presented itself to add yet another vanity plate, it seemed like a good time to add PYALLA3 to the list and to mount it on the Mini. Although, being 3, there was some thought given to mounting it on the BMW, given its engine had only three cylinders, but after further consideration Margo and I decided that this may be a little too cryptic. On the other hand, Mini notwithstanding, three has become a significant number when it comes to the posts to this NonStop community blog – every three years I have written about the three wishes I have for NonStop and here we are, three more years have passed by since my last update.

To read all of the predictions I have made in the past, check out the label to the right of this post, Wishes, for more of what I had to say through the years as there are patterns that developed over time. Most important, the push for standardization, open software and yes virtualization. It all started back in February 2008, and even then I was lobbying for virtualization and for NonStop to be able to run as well on virtual machines as it did on physical systems. If you have as yet not read the article just published in the Jan – Feb, 2017, issue of the Connection (and you are a Connect community member) you may want to check it out as it covers much of this earlier material: Virtual World beckons - vNonStop is the only ticket we need!

For the better part of a year I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to a number of Regional User Group (RUG) events to give my speculative take on where NonStop is headed. For some time there has been uncertainty about the future of NonStop. There were other CIOs who considered NonStop to be little more than special-purpose computers while still others began to view NonStop as a legacy platform. However, the good news for the NonStop community is that NonStop development didn’t buy into any of those arguments and in no time at all, so it seemed, have turned NonStop on its head.

Today we see the NonStop X family of physical systems shipping to customers with vNonStop undergoing early testing offering support of NonStop on virtual machines. And all thanks to the work done by NonStop development in support of the Intel x86 architecture together with support of industry standard InfiniBand. We now see a revitalized NonStop as modern as any system and it has transformed the way these CIOs look at NonStop – there’s been so much chaos as airlines have been grounded because of computer glitches even as stock exchanges have experienced their own outages as well (see A short history of stock market glitches published last year by CNBC) that a truly fault tolerant offering is once again under consideration by enterprises that simply have little patience for outages of any kind.

Furthermore, we now see HPE IT deploying NonStop X and working towards deploying vNonStop with NS SQL/MX accessible via DataBase-as-a-Service (DBaaS). And this is great news for the NonStop community and we all are watching at every RUG event where HPE updates the NonStop roadmap for more news on how this project is progressing. So what next then for NonStop – if many of the above wishes are working
their way into what NonStop development is pursuing these days is there more dramatic news awaiting the NonStop community? Will NonStop make a return to the airline marketplace or to stock exchanges? Perhaps healthcare? And will NonStop find even greater success in its traditional markets of finance and telecommunications?

While there may be few within HPE willing to speak up about the return of NonStop to all of these markets, I am willing to bet that at some point NonStop may indeed play a part in the future of all solutions qualified as mission critical. But then what can we reasonably believe lies ahead for NonStop over the course of the next three years? It was a little over a year ago that I posted a preview of what might underpin my next three wishes. In the July 19, 2016
Yes, once again, I ask – are our wishes truly important? I broached the topic of my next three wishes for NonStop however I only posted about what I was wishing for in very general terms:

Transparency? I do have to say I admire the steps that HPE NonStop Product Management have taken of late to be more transparent with the vendor community and I want to see this develop further … how about letting us all know just how many NonStop customers exist today and just how many NonStop systems are deployed.

Cooperation? Surely it is getting much better! There is so much to do and HPE R&D cannot do it all … develop a program that is more comprehensive and don’t push back each time with observations that well, yes we have something already in the works. Don’t do that – it just doesn’t win you any friends and quite frankly you don’t have the breadth any longer to be competitive on every front.

Engagement? For the most part, the NonStop vendor community doesn’t want to be lumped into a generic all-encompassing partner program. I know; I have been there! More than once! The needs of the NonStop vendor community vary significantly from those of your typical Unix or Linux or even Windows development shop. So, where do we go from here? Have we seen enough about NonStop that we know the path it is taking? Is the NonStop product roadmap telling the full story?

Well what can I say – I want and indeed expect a lot more! And now it is time for a little “tough love” as there is a lot more to NonStop than just the path being taken by NonStop development. All of the stakeholders within the NonStop community have parts to play and as there are three main stakeholders – NonStop users, NonStop vendors and yes, HPE NonStop – all need to participate to ensure the future I see for NonStop coming to fruition over the next three years.

My first wish then is for the NonStop user to buy more NonStop systems – migrate to NonStop X and begin evaluating the potential to capitalize on vNonStop. However, in buying more NonStop systems, it will become very important to keep demanding more from HPE – as we all know it is the voice of the NonStop user community that still motivates NonStop development to pursue new initiatives. You want to run a vNonStop on an edge product and have real time analytics support – then make your demands known. Never for one moment assume that NonStop will not so something and turn to an alternative before giving NonStop development a chance to respond. It’s a new day for NonStop development but they need to hear your voice. So yes, it all begins with the NonStop user community buying more NonStop systems.

My second wish is for NonStop vendors to lift their game. Many of them look like the abandoned puppies we all see on late night television that are looking for new homes – beaten so many times that they can barely lift their heads. Yes, it’s been a tough decade for NonStop vendors but all vendors need to heed NonStop development’s aggressive plans as spelt out in their roadmap for NonStop. Vendors have taken a beating but that is no excuse not to have clearly articulated roadmaps for all their products!

My third wish focuses on NonStop development. Educate! Train! Mentor! Promote! There is a lot that NonStop users and vendors can do but ultimately all stakeholder will benefit from a more vocal NonStop development! We all appreciate the issues – understaffed, underfunded, underappreciated. But get after industry analysts and get after the press – there is a terrific story developing around NonStop and all of IT needs to know that they don’t have to put up with failure. Affordable, industry-standard, fault tolerant computers have returned – and yes, with a vengeance.

Tough love? Only so far as to say we have so much to do as a community if we really want to see NonStop shine. And after all these years I cannot hold back my enthusiasm for NonStop as markets are frustrated by outages with poor reliability and concerns about integrity are fueling many discussions among CIOs – do they really understand the story of NonStop today? And yes, the messages of transparency, cooperation and engagement remain as pertinent today as they were a year and a half ago; in 2020, when I write my next three wishes for NonStop, all I want to see topping the list of priorities is how big a hotel we will need to hold the NonStop Technical Boot Camp of that year.

Finally, let’s just take one last look at the barriers still standing in the way of success for NonStop. Oftentimes conversations turn to who is teaching the next generation of NonStop system managers and programmers. Well, guess what; that’s not where NonStop is headed! It’s a message that is often lost among the NonStop stakeholders. Where NonStop is heading is becoming a lot clearer; you won’t need to know anything at all about NonStop. Your favorite tools, frameworks, languages and utilities will all simply run on NonStop – for the most part you won’t even know NonStop exists. All you will know is that, when you ask IT to provision resources and you checked the box “24 x 7,” your application will simply run fault tolerant.

Cool? Yes – and it’s bringing NonStop to the world and not the other way around. It will not be dependent on dragging the world to NonStop! Here’s to the prosperity that will come for all NonStop stakeholders over the course of the next three years and I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can as I return to the RUG circuit with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. We may all have been badly beaten up over the past decade but there’s still a lot of fight left in this puppy!

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