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!

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