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 …


Anonymous said...

I believe big organisations can not innovate any more. Too much bureaucracy and no way to be agile of which HPE being no different. The only ones that can are SMEs. For HPE NonStop it is their partner's licensed software.

But there are a problem with HPE partners, they do not have the ability to take HPE to the cleaners for example over software quality. They are too scared for partner competition reasons and therefore the need to suck up to HPE and not question them. HPE knows this and abuses this. The only ones with real power is the HPE customers. They are the only ones that drives things, but with so little customers on NonStop its a very marginal process.

This in my opinion which make the whole HPE partnership a big farce. Ask any partner in confidence and they will tell you which mostly need to pay HPE money for nothing in return.

Richard Buckle said...

Just came away from a very positive (third time) NonStop Partner Technical Symposium and I don't think your observations apply to NonStop partners and in case you missed it, HPE continues to add "new logos" that is, new customers, to it's list of enterprise users of NonStop. The NonStop partners aren't looking at HPE the same way as partners of other products in the HPE product portfolio may be looking to HPE - in fact, there are many instances where it's good to see HPE step aside as selling software isn't always their forte. Customer input will always remain important but for the NonStop community, NonStop vendors continue to play a very important role.

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