Monday, October 30, 2017

NonStop – a time to mentor!

At times of change you can be helped by the advice from a mentor. As we’re headed to Boot Camp, let’s take stock of what more we might like to do with NonStop!

This summer we have used our company command center – our home away from home – to attend many of the NonStop user events not to mention to host the many impromptu meetings with colleagues – the RV though was not the only vehicle that needed tender loving care. Our SUV had to get new tires all round and now, the CHECK ENGINE light appeared on our around-town Mini, together with the BRAKE light so yes, new tires have been put on the SUV and rear rotors and brake pads have just been ordered for the Mini. Things just wear out and only this morning, barely three months since we moved into our new home, the handle on the door leading to the master bedroom simply fell off. These days I find myself worrying a little too much about what next will disrupt our routine. From the picture above, however, taken last year and with a pile of chips in my hand, worrying about anything at all wasn’t on my mind.

Yes, if the door handle is made of metal and is subject to movement it will fail oftentimes leaving you in a predicament that has you worrying about what to do next. No worries, YouTube to the rescue and we managed to fix it even as we lost a couple of hours because we weren’t familiar with the its internals. But here’s the thing with worry: in a post to LinkedIn (or was it on Facebook), someone stated how “Worry is a bully; it takes and never gives!” How true and for the NonStop community, in the midst of everything that is happening inside the data center, have we become immune to worry these days? Or conversely, are we worrying all the time about the future of NonStop? More importantly perhaps – are we helping those who may be worried?

As a young man, as I was just starting out in what was called EDP back in the day – yes, Electronic Data Processing – there were no online networks per se nor were there any CRT terminals. We had readers for punch tape that arrived by courier and were considered part of our online system and we had keyboards too that were wired directly into the mainframe and would only accept numbers but all the while, my family worried about when I was going to chuck it all in and return to university. “There is no future in EDP – it’s just another clerical role that will prove to be poorly compensated,” I recall my mother telling me. But no, I never worried about the choice in careers that I had made back then in the Australian summer of ’69!

Networking, and the importance networking plays in our business lives, can never be discounted and while we only mention it in passing, with the 2017 NonStop Technical Boot Camp (Boot Camp, or TBC) almost upon us, networking is an important aspect of why we head to such evets. However, networking is only part of the story as it is the opportunity to seek out coaches and to foster a mentoring relationship that is particularly important for everyone, no matter how old we are. As I take calls from colleagues and friends, there is clearly a very thin line between those telling me success stories and those who just cannot figure out why they have to leave their chosen careers to pursue something different. That’s the beauty of change – it’s happening all the time and without someone by our side, it can prove to be an extremely anxious time.

What separates these two groups is their willingness and indeed enthusiasm to embrace change. We all have heard the stories – if only I had learnt Java, or OSI protocols and services. If only I had left Tandem Computers and joined Cisco - a couple of my colleagues did exactly that and would you believe, never looked back! And yes, if only Tandem Computers had bought Apple Computers in the early 90s’ when the asking price for Apple was only slightly more that $300million but, at the time, a price the board of Tandem Computers thought was a tad too high as I recall.

All of us encounter mentors throughout our careers and during my own career there were a couple of standouts. John Fox, Managing Director of Computer Resources, a third-party mainframe leasing company was one such individual. As was Dieter Monch, Managing Director of Nixdorf Computers (Australia). Later in life, it was in the years before we were married and at a time when she was briefly my manager, that Margo helped steer my career to where today, I am doing exactly what I love doing – writing about tech, whether it is NonStop or payments or even networking.

Within the NonStop community there is clearly a thriving Under 40 SIG that has come together at times of the major events in Europe and the US and TBC always includes some enticement for the next generation to gather to talk and in general, provide each other encouragement. Wouldn’t it be good if the next step was a mentoring program for individuals within the Under 40 SIG – or has this already started and I am just behind the times?

As for me I just happened to be appointed Managing Director of a US software company, The Computer Software Company (TCSC) out of Richmond Virginia and, at the time of my appointment, I happened to be the youngest Managing Director of a US software company in Australia. I also happened to be the only person in the company. And yes, I needed help – a circumstance recognized by my management back in Richmond. So a young “hot shoe,” Brian Fitzgibbon, arrived, lived in my house and coached me – yes, I knew data base and I knew TP monitors but, the operating system? And how about hiring a team!

Again, fortune smiled on me as my first hire, Kevin McCormack, worked with Fitzgibbon and between them helped me through the transition from simply being a techie to being a manger and both remain good friends to this day (and I hope still read my blog posts)! As with everything in life, we need to be open to coaches that may be anywhere in the organization chart – we just have to open up to those willing to provide us with sound advice, both technical and business.

In a June 29, 2017, post
CTO Mentoring: A swipe right for first-time tech leaders to CTO Craft, coach Andy Skipper wrote of how, “The mentor / mentee relationship is a powerful one and something that arguably no one in the tech world should be without. The reality however, can be quite differentespecially for first-time tech leaders and those in executive-level positions.” Skipper then went on to say how, “First time CTOs and tech leaders face new challenges: some can be addressed through common sense and transferable skills; others can’t. Management, strategic and hiring decisions will fall to them and, without the firsthand knowledge and experience to deal with them mistakes can be made.”

In wrapping up the post, Skipper then closed with the remark and indeed an implied admonishment to all of us, “So, if you haven’t already, consider mentorship, just imagine where Mark Zuckerberg would be today if Steve Jobs hadn’t taken him under his wing.” However, for the NonStop community it’s a little more complicated and by this, I mean we are all witnessing a sea change with NonStop and it has more than a few of us becoming worried yet again.

However, we are being presented with opportunities unlike at any time in the past – want to keep running NonStop on traditional systems? How about looking at running NonStop on virtual machines? Want to move NonStop SQL/MX to the cloud and offer access on the basis of DBaaS? Is it time for a career change – do we want to become more involved in the technology itself? Want to try your hand at selling software? Why not?  Prefer to try your hand with selling solutions rather than middleware? Of course!

Want to get into AI and Machine Learning – well, you had better hurry as everyone wants to do that and as for becoming a data scientist already the shine is fading from that role. In a matter of days, we will begin the big event for everyone associated with NonStop –TBC. On hand will be some of the most experienced and indeed highly skilled individuals – is the time right to sit down and have a chat? Find a coach? Find a mentor? We talk about the opportunities to network on occasions like this but they are also a great place to find just the mentor you may have been looking for to guide you to what you do next.

Walking among your peers at TBC, as we all will do at some point, take a moment to look around. Then ask yourself, do you want to continue with NonStop and if the response is a resounding yes, a tad worried or not, explore your options. And here is the thing with mentoring – the relationships we develop may wax and wane in importance but over the long run, they will not wear out. And no, don’t worry, there will be no bullying as best as I can tell at TBC, only opportunities and for that, we really do have NonStop to thank – see you in Burlingame and let’s have a great event as we close out the year!  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

NonStop future – not all what it seems!

A week spent interacting with folks far-removed from NonStop and yet well-informed on all things IT; as time wound down, there was little to argue about – NonStop continues to reward those who step back to look at the big picture!

If you have been following Margo and me on Facebook you will know that we have spent the past ten days on the road. This time, the plans we put in place earlier this year didn’t take into account the dates for NonStop regional user group events so no, our travels didn’t include participating in events back on the east coast. Instead, we were off to the southwest where our destination was Albuquerque, New Mexico. We had wanted to catch up with some ex-Tandem folks we knew as well as find time for talks with other professionals and with prospective new clients. Always a fun thing to do for Margo and me!

While I am focused very much on all things NonStop, from time to time it is good to get the perspective of others not quite as close to HPE and NonStop as we are. To this end, a couple of items that came up proved consistent no matter who we talked to – there is a very big disconnect between the industry, the press and even analysts with what is actually happening within enterprise data centers. Ignoring for the moment a small number of enterprises attracting headlines with their pursuits, for almost every other data center it remains “business as usual” with nearly all of them continuing to upgrade their traditional systems even as they are being told about the financial benefits that come with deploying hybrid configurations that include clouds.

Apparently the only way a cloud finds an audience within enterprise IT is when a solution under consideration comes with an option to be configured within a cloud, either as a private cloud on-premise or a vendor’s managed cloud. One such example that is becoming better known among the NonStop community is the work that OmniPayments has done with its product offering OmniCloudX, but apart from that ambitious program and yes, with the success it is already achieving, not much else is happening that involves NonStop. Seriously? Quite to the contrary, as we continue to see NonStop rack up new wins for NonStop X systems even as some of the biggest NonStop users on the planet are electing now to bring in NonStop X systems to meet their future transaction processing needs.

I have always marveled at those artists painting extremely large works of art, even sculptors, as they too tackle a giant piece that is destined for public display, but even they have to step back sometimes just to take a look at the progress they have made and to keep track of proportions as well as ensure minor details haven’t been omitted. Perhaps the most famous statue here in the US is the Statue of Liberty even though for those who have made the journey to black hills of South Dakota, Mt Rushmore is equally as impressive. However, while the work is under way on any major art project should you stop and take a look, the early stages can prove very misleading.

Point is, there is always a need to take a step back from what is the task at hand to ensure it is coming together as conceived and for many IT professionals it appears that this has become a lost art and the repercussions are continuing to be felt to this day. Just think security, for instance, and the doors we simply leave open. Don’t bother me I know what I am doing and I will get to that option / issue / routine shortly … And when it comes to NonStop we are truly blessed to have as many places to turn for help should we elect to take a couple of steps back to take in the vista no matter it’s progress towards completion.

More recently, I have been marveling at just how many sources exist today that carry information about NonStop. Almost every vendor operating in the NonStop marketplace has a web site where you can find a blog that is current and informative. Sometimes even provocative, but all in a good cause – to get us thinking. Indeed, many of my own posts on vendor sites through the years are phrased to essentially “tweak your nose” as one commentator reminded my audience. Not to be taken literally, of course, but rather to get us all thinking about alternate perspectives on well-known issues. A reminder too, if you like, to take a step back from the products and features for a much wider view of the role NonStop plays in your enterprise.

In addition to the many blog sites there are numerous newsletters that vendors write designed to throw the best light possible on their own activities, be that an upcoming event or the latest data sheet. And then, there are the publications – traditional and more recently, digital, that have developed followings of their own. There is no lack of places to turn to for current information on NonStop with the only remaining challenge being just how widely we distribute the many articles and commentaries about NonStop and how much energy we put into keeping our IT brethren as well informed as we are. NonStop isn’t all that it might seem – it is a lot more. And its purpose remains unchanged – to provide enterprises with the most available platform in the marketplace and the only truly, out of the box, Availability Level 4 (AL4) option, according to IDC.

Of course, the publication dearest to our hearts is NonStop Insider – an ambitious project we started a year ago. We have just published the anniversary issue as we kick off the start of year two and what an issue it turned out to be, celebrating a couple of firsts. It proved to be our biggest issue to date with some twenty contributions. It also included a first from Micro Focus (by our good friend Ron who is part of Micro Focus) as well as a first from HEP NonStop (by another good friend, Frans). Their focus was on security and NS SQL/MX – so yes, check it out.

We also received and published words of encouragement. Frans opened his contribution, SQL/MX Update – Frans Jongma (HPE), with the very warm, “Let me start with congratulating NonStop Insider with their first anniversary. I think this format is great to provide information at a regular – i.e. monthly- basis.” And of course, our good friends at TCM opened their contribution, Happy Anniversary NSI and Roll on TBC ’17, noting how NonStop Insider, “had a clean and simple mission: to reach out to the NonStop community and provide a platform to share and learn about every facet of NonStop, from every corner of NonStop.”

TCM then added that, “Over the last year we’ve been delighted to see this mission realized. We’ve heard from the Vendors; companies just like TCM who provide much of NonStop’s supportive backbone including services, applications and tools. TCM has enjoyed both contributing and consuming NSI for the last year and wishes it well for the years to come. We are proud to have been a part of this magazine’s journey as it grows into a respected and valued member of the NonStop community.”

If as yet you haven’t checked out this bumper issue of NonStop Insider then check out Volume 2, Issue 1 at the NonStop Insider web site:
And make sure you read Margo’s editorial page before checking out each of the contributions and while on the web site, consider becoming a subscriber as we sure do appreciate all your support. And so the work on the next issue begins which you will see published just as you head to this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp, being held for the first time just outside San Francisco.

Shortly Margo and I will be back behind our desks in our new offices in Windsor, Colorado. Just down the road from HPE’s major campus in Ft Collins, a place we often drive past on our way to the mountains. HPE focus on NonStop continues to be very real and we see a very bright future for NonStop X systems as they seem to still find their way into data centers worldwide. We also see a future for virtualized NonStop (vNS) as it develops traction with telcos worldwide. As for a bigger future for NonStop – X and V – well, we may have to step back a little to grasp the full scope of its potential, but it is there. Already beginning to take shape.

As additional paint is added to the canvas I expect to see a much different form begin to appear but that is a picture I will happily discuss when we next meet at TBC! In the meantime, don’t let up with communicating the value proposition of NonStop to you peers and don’t stop reading the really good supporting material now out on the web. NonStop may not be what it seems; quite the contrary, when you give it serious consideration, it is a whole lot more!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

It’s all happening and it’s happening, non-stop!

Choices need to be made and I have chosen NonStop. HPE now faces some pretty big decisions and it’s become clear that, driving future NonStop sales will be done with partners!

There are times when many of us are left wondering about the choices we make. There are currently advertisements where actors are left wondering about their own choices and it led me to consider how we managed to arrive at this point of time developing, testing, operating and indeed promoting, all-things NonStop! Once again, I find myself scrolling through the photos on Facebook that were taken during the recent reunion of Tandem alumni and if you are interested in all things NonStop and have as yet not joined the Facebook group, Tandem Computers, perhaps you may want to consider joining. As we head into another round of user events in the run-up to the big one, the NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC), and apart from everything that may be covered, it is THE gathering for all those IT folks who have made the choice to continue with NonStop.

Before we go too much further, I am one of those who have made the choice to support and indeed promote NonStop, non-stop! As we all know, HPE loves the technical side of IT but when it comes to marketing well, let’s just say anyone grading HPE’s performance over the past decade would have to note that there is “room for improvement!” Furthermore, it’s tough to get HPE relying solely on selling to the business the merits of working with HPE. For as many years as I can recall, it’s always been about the cool technology. Cool city? I toured cool city in Singapore and there was sure a lot of cool stuff being showcased, but again, no real tangible contribution highlighting how business can produce better outcomes as a result. No, it was all about just how technically innovative HPE continued to be at the expense of all else.

For many years I was on the road almost constantly meeting with NonStop customers and prospects, giving presentations on products as a product manager, even as I championed the cause of regional user groups in my capacity of the ITUG Chairman. As he picture above clearly conveys, my enthusiasm for being on the road, standing in front of a screen and telling a story, never waned through the years and I have to thank my good friend Rick Ploen for sending me this particular picture. The memories certainly came flooding back as I recalled the occasion which I think could have been the offices of Insession Technologies somewhere in Europe. Yes, my hair was darker and there was more of it. And so it goes…

As bleak as I sometimes paint the picture of HPE lately and despite the cautionary tales I tell my clients, there is still much that is happening that is positive and warrants further discussion. After all, HPE has embarked on perhaps the most ambitious course of action any major vendor has ever attempted – not for the faint of heart taking a $130+Billion enterprise to just $20+Billion and yet, once you look past the shareholder value unlocked in the process, there is now a new streamlined corporation with an increasingly flatter organization emerging, an organization that is totally focused on platforms and infrastructure, with the goal of simplifying the adoption of hybrid IT.

“The growth of cloud and industrialized services and the decline of traditional data center outsourcing indicate a massive orientation toward hybrid infrastructure services. As the market becomes dominated by the demand for agility and flexibility, this will drive the shift toward more industrialized, less-tailored options,” comes the word from the folks at Gartner. As reported in numerous publications, Gartner then adds, “However, the growth of hybrid infrastructure services will increase the complexity of selecting the right toolset to deliver end-to-end services in a multisourced environment, especially in a fast-changing digital business environment.” Should we be surprised? As IT professionals are we taken aback by the news that as we lean on hybrid IT to meet the demand for agility and flexibility, resultant systems become even more complex? Yes, it is all happening and the only real question – who is HPE going to turn to for assistance?

But fret not. Of late we are seeing the early signs of how the new HPE plans to go to market for almost all of its products – with partners. You want to know more about SimpliVity? Well, here’s a partner you can talk to. And the message HPE is taking to potential partners? “Join our Partner Ready Program and we’ll team with you to help expand your opportunities and increase the portfolio of solutions you can deliver.” HPE isn’t hiding anything from the marketplace. If you need to access skilled personnel for your upcoming project then you will need to engage a partner that’s local to you and with whom HPE is prepared to funnel its technology to you in a manner that is enhanced by the partner whether through the addition of other products and features or simply services and know-how to make the technology being procured work a whole lot better. It’s all about partners.

If it wasn’t for a steady stream of Congrats on your work anniversary! filling my inbox and all originating out of LinkedIn, I wouldn’t have remembered that when I first chose to tell stories, give presentations, write blog posts and to build a business around all of these activities  that I would be still at it some eight years later. But here we are and the choices I made all those years ago do not look quite as foolish as at first they may have appeared. Recalling my first post of October 7, 2009 that was published so soon after launching Pyalla Technologies, Let's talk ... Back then, I reflected on my choice noting that it was the beginning of a new phase, a change of seasons, of adjustments better aligned with what I really like to do. Now there’s every chance, of course, that remaining independent may change as well – privatizing individuals is just as likely as privatizing companies in this economy.

At that time I also remarked on how for me, it’s a new world and I am having a lot of fun – fortunately, creativity and enthusiasm are still in great demand and I just love to talk (Pyalla?) technologies! Fortunately, the world of NonStop just kept on evolving and providing a lot to talk about for eight years. Partnerships come in all shapes and forms and for me and Pyalla Technologies it’s fortunate that HPE encourages the ecosystem of independent partner bloggers that now follow HPE. So not only is there opportunity to continue to work with NonStop outside of HPE, there are many choices we can make as to exactly how to make a contribution. What hasn’t changed in the eight years is the value NonStop brings to businesses everywhere – the most robust, reliable, available platform on the planet. Bar none!

Shortly we will be publishing the first issue of the second year of the digital publication, NonStop Insider. If as yet you haven’t had the chance to read an issue it is easy to find – There was a lot of cooperation involved in getting this publication up and running but it is just one more example we can point to when it comes to what’s happening with NonStop. NonStop Insider joins a number of other publications both traditional and digital and as such is just one more perspective on NonStop and given today’s questioning of NonStop role in hybrid IT and in simplifying transformation to a hybrid IT architecture well, nothing could be further from the truth. Vendors and users alike are already testing the waters with one vendor already up and running with NonStop X anchoring its clouds as it offers the solution on the basis of SaaS.

It’s all happening and it’s all happening for NonStop and with little additional fanfare, the number of NonStop users is just starting to edge upwards ever so slowly. “New Logos” are being added and among the NonStop vendors partnering with HPE, there is a sense of even more interest in NonStop to come – we are only just scratching the surface of possibilities with virtualized NonStop (vNS) that will make even bigger demands of partners should it all pan out the way I suspect it will. As for the choices we can make, I have already made my choice and it is NonStop for the foreseeable future. So, get ready, it’s all happening and now that HPE is streamlining its business and operational models, it’s all beginning to happen, non-stop!   

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