Monday, September 16, 2019

All that was revealed at NonStop Partner Symposium!

When the HPE NonStop team gets together with the NonStop vendor community, as it now does each year, it becomes clear that there are no limits to what can be achieved …

Any trip to the West Coast is a trip we look forward to taking and this latest trip proved to be no different; as always, it proved to be a great time to be out and about on America’s highways! This year has seen a record number of flights taken by Margo and me but despite the time spent in the air, there has still been a lot of time spent behind the wheel of our car. On this occasion, we chose the relatively new BMW M4 that we leased only last year. Turns out that yes, you can turn a track-focused car into a grand tourer!

If you have not been keeping up with posts to our social blog, Buckle-Up, you may have missed all the excitement surrounding our exit from the RV lifestyle along with our retirement from track-day outings. Everything has gone – the RV, the car-hauler, and yes, even the venerable Corvette track car. Scaled down and with the downsizing a realization that we are now free to travel anywhere without constraints or limitations. Those ubiquitous highways that glue the country together are now ours to enjoy without us having to plan ahead and find locations where we could pull in 60+ feet of rig. Ahhh – the luxury of simply choosing any hotel for the night!

Flexibility, choice and yes, even opportunities to try something different; it’s all refreshingly new for us after a decade of pulling our house behind us everywhere we went. Fair enough, it provided us with many memorable times out on the highways of America otherwise we wouldn’t have maintained the gypsy lifestyle as long as we did, but then again, there is a realization that a burden has been lifted from our shoulders and we couldn’t be happier. And yes, here’s the thing; for NonStop users, we are just entering a time of flexibility, choice and yes, the opportunity to try something different – virtual NonStop!

While much was revealed at the 2019 NonStop Partner Symposium there is very little that I can share at this time. HPE tied up the vendor community, appropriately enough given the nature of the symposium, in CDAs and you will just have to get yourselves to the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp to hear more about material covered last week, but what I can share without breaking any terms in the CDA is that when it comes to NonStop, talk of R & D isn’t solely about the D even among the NonStop team! If you missed reading the September issue of NonStop Insider you would have missed reading the very first article,
HPE HQ hosts NonStop Partner Symposium where you would also have missed reading that:

“When you consider just how far NonStop has come in such a short time – from custom to industry standard and from proprietary to open and yes, from NonStop as traditional systems to NonStop as a collection of virtual machines - the one take away that can be reveled is that the big bets HPE continues to place on the future success of NonStop continue to be made.”

In short, HPE isn’t easing of on its long term commitments to the NonStop community as investments in NonStop are being made all the time and the results of these investments can be seen in recent announcements and updates.  What is becoming better understood is that among the NonStop vendors there is a renewed sense of camaraderie. In the past it may have not been all that common to come across vendors in similar markets sharing an adult beverage, but on this occasion, as can be seen in the photo above, there was a particularly friendly gathering of vendors seated together at the bar. Then again, this is a huge differentiator when it comes to the NonStop community – everyone just wants to see a win for NonStop!

Big bets on NonStop? What does that really mean for the NonStop community? Stated as simply as I can then is that visible evidence of the type of bets the NonStop team is placing on NonStop and just as importantly, the bets that they are placing on the NonStop vendor community. It’s more than tradition or a return to the halcyon days of the Tandem Alliance program as it’s now very evident (just check the NonStop price book, for instance) that for many NonStop projects select vendors are considered an extension of the development team. We shouldn’t be surprised to read this as so much talk exists today in support of all vendors building out ecosystems that pull together primary vendors, third party development shops and yes, even customers. The competitive nature of today’s ever changing IT landscape calls for a degree of creativity and indeed vision that left to just a single vendor with a single outlook on IT would likely not be successful.

I am often asked at major HPE events like HPE Discover why I am continuing to follow NonStop? After all, surely the market for NonStop is in decline and just as surely, the need for true 24 x 7 x forever levels of availability are possible using redundancy up and down the stack? More to the point, isn’t good enough well, good enough? When every interaction is triggered by a swipe on a smartphone or tablet where connectivity is still an issue, dealing with a service that goes away is no big deal. We will click on something else, right? As for the cloud, doesn’t everyone save their most precious valuables – pictures of family, pets and vacations – in the cloud and it’s always available, isn’t it? Well, not exactly … I have been down this path so many times of late with my peers at these big tent marketing events that it’s getting boring. Even as I write this I have lost count of just how many times I have gone down this path with every reader of posts to this blog.

But at the most recent NonStop Partner Symposium I picked up on something refreshingly new and it’s something that falls well outside the stringent requirements of the CDAs everyone signed. It’s a sense that old dogs are indeed learning new tricks. At a time when the discussions turned to how best to appeal to a younger generation of developers with their demands for support of new-age tools, utilities and languages, one after the other, seasoned hands at developing for NonStop revealed that they were already using these very same tools, utilities and languages. Yes, the new stuff is really good; for the most part it’s portable and better still, productivity gets a solid shot in the arm. So why would we be surprised to find so few TAL programmers among these seasoned practitioners?

Not for one moment am I suggesting we lessen our plans to attract younger aspiring developers to NonStop, but rather, let’s realize that it’s not the hoodie a developer may be wearing or the headsets they may be wearing that defines a modern programmer, but it is yes, attitude! So often we look down on the younger generation and chastise them for the attitude they project and yet, when it comes to developers every one of them needs an attitude and it was clearly on display at the NonStop Partner Symposium. Age was no indicator of the way developers tackled the tasks of writing and testing code and it is about time that we acknowledge that good developers are a breed apart and come in all sizes, genders, nationalities and yes, age groups!

The HPE NonStop team certainly understands this even as they also understand that there really aren’t any limits to what can be achieved when HPE and a vendor community with attitude cooperate. Looking around at who was present at the lobby bar that first night of the NonStop Partner Symposium I could easily recognize nearly four decades of “experience” on display. We talk of a younger generation taking over the business their parents started and yes, it’s true and on display as well. But just as importantly, not all of the experience gained through the decades is leaving the community just as it’s not true to say we need to cater to the needs of younger programmers. There is most definitely a science behind programming, but then again, I will argue there is an art as well and it’s not limited in any way to any specific demographic. On the other hand, it would seem that even the most gifted of those who are attracted to the NonStop platform do like the occasional beer from time to time.

Let this be an open invitation to join all of us at the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp to be held November 3 – 6, 2019 in Burlingame, California. There will be some coverage of material shown to the NonStop vendor community I have to believe – some, but not all mind you and in saying even this I need to be careful - but be assured, developer or simply end-user, there is a lot going on with NonStop. It’s not standing still and it’s certainly not gathering dust on warehouse shelves; NonStop is as vibrant and as relevant today as it was four plus decades ago and this is something not lost on any generation of developers we might encounter. See you in November! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Heading to the West Coast – NonStop to shine!

Bags are packed and we are well on our way to San Jose for the annual NonStop Partner Symposium; expectations are running high that virtualized NonStop becomes the topic of the show …

There are times when all you can think about is what is going to come next! Over the course of the last week or so, we sold the company command center – our much-loved RV – along with our trailer and track car – yes, our equally much-loved Corvette. We have trimmed down to where we no longer have motorcycles, track toys and the “second home.” Not surprisingly, it’s allowed us to focus on what comes next and while we still have more cars than we have garages, we are making progress. After a fashion, that is. 

If you have as yet not read the latest post to our social blog, Buckle-Up, you may want to follow this link to read the full story -
The song remains the same … In the previous post to this blog, I wrote of simplification and in so doing, skipped any reference to what was actually taking place a lot closer to home. The reason for that had more to do with parts of the transaction not being fully executed and I didn’t want to preempt an eventuality of none of it  taking place. Defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory, was very much on my mind at the time.

One of the most iconic photos from any sporting event of the past couple of years was that of the sheer exuberance of Australian Indy Car driver, Will Power. As he crossed the finish line he let loose with an almost primeval scream knowing he was not only the first Australian racer to seize car racing’s most prized trophy but that after winning championships, many individual events and a huge number of pole positions, he had finally clinched the prize he had sought after for so long. And yes, Wil won the most recent event in Portland, Oregon, yet again.

No matter the sporting event, expectations among the participants run high that yes, after what may be as little as a few seconds, they will come out as winners. Going into the event there will always be those favored to win – the frontrunners as they are often labelled. But then again, there are upsets – if you follow Cricket how could the Australian team possibly lose the third test match against England? As one sports commentator remarked before a Super Bowl game, “we just have to play it out for the full 60 minutes!” Or as we often like to say in motor racing, “to finish first you first must finish!”

Gridiron, cricket, motor racing and much more all crown winners at some point. When it comes to technology, time in the spotlight can be fleeting indeed as change overtakes change! It’s as if we are just warming to one new technology that is being introduced to the IT community when something else arrives that makes further exploration a moot point. It’s as if we simply put away the manual we were reading in order to clear space for the new arrival. However, this has been a part of every IT professional’s life since the first punch card and paper tape arrived on the scene.

For the NonStop community, we understand that sporting references can only go so far. Not for the NonStop community are primeval screams of excitement being uttered as we watch something completely new being unveiled. When it comes to excitement, the NonStop community holds a lot back and for good reason. Restraint is simply a reflection of how critical a role NonStop plays in enterprise strategies. For good reason they call applications running on NonStop “mission critical” as outages are not part of the game plan of these enterprises. Mission critical is often considered business critical as outages disrupting business can be catastrophic for all stakeholders.

On the other hand, going into the major event season for the NonStop community with the NonStop Partner Symposium followed by the NonStop Technical Boot Camp add clarity to product roadmaps for the coming year and perhaps longer. It was only a few years ago that HPE funded the expensive exercise to port NonStop to the Intel x86 architecture. ServerNet was replaced by InfiniBand which in turn was complemented by Converged Ethernet as NonStop added support for virtual machines alongside of traditional machines. Who would have guessed that any of this would be taking place? As for NonStop SQL, who could have imagined it being optimized to support virtual machines with functionality to support DBaaS?

NonStop has had to run the race; it first has had to finish! And as we head to the NonStop Partner Symposium, what new things will be discussed? Of course, for those vendors attending this NonStop sponsored event, the presence of signed Confidentiality Agreements means we will be all waiting for the NonStop Technical Boot Camp before we know more and yet, as I recently wrote in the September issue of NonStop Insider, the smiles and indeed the level of enthusiasm for NonStop exhibited by vendors will tell a story we will all understand!

As for what I am anticipating hearing more of then my list is quite small. Clearly, the biggest issue facing the NonStop team is communicating exactly what consumption pricing will mean in a virtual world. We all want to have the option to consume NonStop any way we want and at any time when we need it, but at what cost? Suffice to say, the NonStop vendor community shares a common interest in this topic as for many of these vendors their very livelihood will be determined by just how balanced these pricing models truly become. But I am expecting the NonStop team is across this and have developed a number of scenarios that will benefit all members of the NonStop community.

It’s hard to ignore HPE CEO Antonio Neri who began his presentation of HPE’s Q3, 2019, financial results with, “These results reflect our momentum as we take deliberate steps to shift our portfolio to higher-value, software-defined offering delivered as a service.” It was only a few months earlier at HPE Discover 2019 that in his opening keynote address, Neri also said, “by 2022, everything on offer by HPE will be available as a service; this is our vision and now we are working on executing as we pivot to ‘a-a-S’ for all of our products!” Last time I checked, NonStop was still a participant in HPE’s mission critical systems product portfolio so it will be a participant in this vision.

The NonStop vendor community is watching this development very carefully as they will be impacted. Drop the price too low and it will be hard to fund future development; hold a price too high and there will be no market for NonStop-as-a-Service (NSaaS). We are all hopeful to hear of a “Goldilocks price” whereby everyone is happy with prices that aren’t too low or too high, but just right! And that’s the challenge that has befallen the NonStop team about which we hope to hear more.

I expect to hear even more about NonStop SQL – I suspect that there is still more to come from the database team. The Data Base Services (DBS) I suspect isn’t a done deal and what has been revealed to date is just a starting point. When the conversations among the vendors become really animated then it’s usually because the conversation has turned to applications – where are the new applications coming from? Who is investing in NonStop? What really makes the porting of applications easy is when there is compatibility at the database level and I suspect that we will hear more than just enhancements to NS SQL but of applications leveraging what’s new with NS SQL.

And then of course, there’s virtualized NonStop itself – while its early days it’s my belief that successfully transitioning NonStop to the virtual world and have it support multiple hypervisors is key to the longer term participation within the HPE product portfolio. By 2022 “everything on offer by HPE will be available as a service” means that NonStop will be a participant. No excuses. No exceptions. We have only seen the start of this effort and now we have to simply cheer from the sidelines as this is a race that NonStop first must finish. And finish, competitively. As for me, I have high hopes that indeed NonStop will succeed in this undertaking and we will see NonStop deployed in ways unimaginable only a short time ago.

News on pricing; news on SQL and yes, news on virtualized NonStop! No small feat to pull off major updates in all three areas but I am anticipating hearing much more on all of the above, plus more on topics I have as yet not really thought long and hard about. And that’s the real message of NonStop Partner Symposium – not only is change overtaking change but the unexpected is to be expected! And with that, it’s back out onto the highway as we continue our drive to HPE HQ – and yes, we certainly do know our way to San Jose!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Simplicity; understood by many but rarely achieved!

Sailing a modern racing yacht can be complicated and yet, for many years this too it’s been the same for IT. However, CIOs all want to see IT simplified and HPE has now stepped up to address this …

When I first started sailing I had to learn the ropes. Actually, and figuratively! In terms of actually I had to be able to translate what I had to do into tying an appropriate knot and as for figuratively, just a few outings before I really did have to know how to tie a bowline knot. No excuses! Yes, and pretty much blindfolded. So much for learning, “the rabbit comes out of the hole” and yes, “around the tree and back down the hole!” Never did visualize that but one seasoned sailor taught me a short-hand way of achieving exactly the same goal. Simple, right? Well not exactly; seems like everyone with whom I sailed had a different way of tying a bowline knot.

No matter; the ends justify the means, right? On the other hand a yacht is a vessel where everything can go horribly wrong in a split second as was often the case during my times racing aboard yachts. For all of that time racing other yachts it was on Sydney harbor; I never truly became a sailor – just a competent deckhand and due to my size this meant I spent almost all of my time at the pointy end of the yacht dancing atop sails, halyards, sheets and braces. No, there aren’t any ropes up front, just oddly named items that eventually you get the hang of, more or less. Bigger yachts? Well they have lazy sheets and lazy braces but that’s a whole different story!

There is a reason why seasoned sailors talk about the creeping sophistication that is changing the way sailors interact with their craft. If you have had the opportunity to watch the latest Americas’ Cup racing series or simply seen pictures taken at this regatta, they are no more yachts than a Formula One racer is a car we can take out for a Sunday drive. I have looked at these pinnacle racers and simply scratched my head – apart from being extremely dangerous to sail, they have very few components that I recognize. No sails, no real keel and almost nothing in the water. Sophisticated? Why then am I reminded of one definition of sophisticated as being “overly complicated!”

When it comes to technology there is a lot of talk about transforming to hybrid IT. Almost every product vendor has their own ideas as to what this really means. Likewise, those in the services industry put different spins on hybrid IT as well. What they all have in common is that with just a little wordsmithing, vendors of products and services keep on doing what they have been doing for years – selling products and services; if it was only that simple!

Whereas some advocates argue very strongly that hybrid IT is centered on cloud services others argue just as strongly that it is a mix of traditional systems and cloud services. Others still would prefer to have you believe it is a combination of everything already described and now, with the intelligent edge, there is even talk of mini clouds leading, I have to assume, to discussions on edge hybrid OT/IT!

For HPE customers, up until now it’s still been a hit-and-miss affair. As Phil Davis, HPE’s Chief Sales Officer & President, Hybrid IT, said in a post to LinkedIn, “Users have learned that public cloud is all about capacity. There’s a role for that, especially with non-critical data. But when vital applications are stored in the public cloud alongside those from hundreds of other companies, that shared infrastructure can lead to latency and other performance issues.”

However, Davis also said that, “Nevertheless, public cloud has helped usher in an attractive payment model – pay-as-you go consumption.” This cuts to the very heart of the cloud issue even as it adds significant weight to the argument for the need for hybrid IT.

As with everything else that has transpired in IT there are very big upsides to what’s deemed as being new even as there are oftentimes serious downsides. When it comes to public clouds the downside just happens to be predictability tied to performance. Like that famous box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. On the other hand, the upside continues to entice enterprises, as clouds are all about unlimited capacity together with consumption based pricing. Elasticity of provisioning, as we have heard talked about for some time, together with only paying for what you use, when you use it!

But talk of hybrid IT equally has its upside and downside. In this case, the upside is that an enterprises important mission critical applications can still run on-prem while other applications (more often than not, related to data lakes and data analytics) can run on private clouds also on-prem. There are even opportunities to choose to run some applications on public clouds where enterprises can leverage the many tools and utilities provided by the public cloud service providers.

However, the downside can best be summed up in one word – complexity. Yes, it takes a sophisticated enterprise to tackle the overly complicated results of engaging all three models. In some respects it’s mind-blowing when you start conjuring up images of applications being able to run on-prem, off-prem and on traditional as well as on virtualized. Provisioning it all correctly and ensuring all required resources are accessible is stuff of operational nightmares. You want to run it where? So yes, it’s complicated.

At least it was none other than Einstein who said “Everything should be made as simple as possible. But no simpler.” When it comes to hybrid IT what is central to nearly every enterprises plans is some sort of way to hide the complexity. It was not through happenstance that HPE updated it’s key message for HPE Discover a few years ago to “Simplifying the transformation to Hybrid IT” as I am sure that they caught on that this wasn’t going to be an easy assignment for any enterprise. But then again, giving data center managers the flexibility to select where applications run based on availability of resources, the optimum cost (for running the application) and the overall transparency of any shift of platform well, they bought into this idea of true hybrid IT.

This past week at VMworld Conference, HPE took the wraps off it’s latest initiative. As the headlines explained, “
HPE brings hybrid cloud-as-a-service to VMware customers - HPE is offering its GreenLake, its pay-per-use managed service, to VMware Cloud Foundation customers.” For some time now we have been watching the GreenLake program storm into the market – some 600 customers and over $2.8 Billion in total contract value – is the key program when it comes to everything-as-a-service together with consumption pricing supporting the HPE pay-as-you-go (and no-hardware-required) model. Forget images of stagnant lakes in Florida awash in slime. This is the real deal and it’s the focus of HPE’s drive to simplify the task of embracing hybrid IT.

In a post to LinkedIn, Phil Davis posted that, “For years, HPE has stood by our belief that we are moving toward a hybrid world. Now, nearly everyone is adopting a similar vision - including the same public cloud vendors that claimed private clouds would eventually become a thing of the past … As we reaffirmed at HPE Discover Las Vegas just last month and at Discover More in Singapore this week, there are many pathways to take us there, with cloud being one of the options.”

All well and good as we all know that many paths lead to clouds. However, it was Davis who then added, “At HPE, we believe that your cloud experience should be open and seamless across all clouds, and should be powered by a partner who offers customer choice as their first sales priority.”

Open and seamless; but how? According to CRN journalist, Steven Burke who follows HPE for CRN, “The new GreenLake as a service offering, which runs on HPE’s fast-growing Synergy composable cloud platform, allows partners for the first time to provide VMware virtual machines (VMs) on a pay-per-use basis with the full VMware Cloud Foundation stack on GreenLake.”

Quoting Paul Miller, HPE Vice President of Global Marketing, who Burke interviewed for CRN, HPE thinks that they “have a better VMware solution with Synergy that enables speed, agility, a lower cost point and more flexibility over Dell with metering at the VM level. … Dell meters at the server level. We are the only ones that meter at the VM level and enable customers to bill at that level.”

The way another publication, ZDNet, saw the announcement was, “
The integration effectively creates a hybrid cloud-as-a-service offering for customers using HPE appliances and VMware software.” And yet again, this publication quotes Miller, "We're enabling [customers] to get the cloud economics, the cloud speed and agility in their own data center."

Expressed another way, Davis also said in his LinkedIn post, “
HPE is focused on providing customers with the right mix of hybrid IT, one that is tailored just for them. Our goal is to solve, not simply sell. Furthermore, our portfolio was developed to guide customers along any point of their cloud journeys by helping them integrate new components in legacy environments, and helping them connect to next-generation cloud native apps.”

While I have not discussed the ramifications of this announcement with the HPE NonStop team two thoughts come to mind that I believe we may all want to consider. Firstly, HPE IT is running NonStop-as-a-Service where the application just happens to be the NonStop SQL data base. HPE talks about this as DBaaS supported by NSaaS. For now, its on-prem, but it’s also got many of the attributes / expectations you would typically associate with private cloud deployments. Secondly, there is the reference to HPE Synergy.

I cannot speak for HPE, but it should be clear to anyone who has attended any of my recent presentations or read previous posts, that I am very bullish about HPE Synergy and of the potential to be able to interact with Synergy to provision NonStop. It’s not too hard for me to imagine hearing news at some point that this will become yet another way to consume NonStop – again, nothing official and I cannot point at anyone who has confirmed any of this but it does have me wondering. What’s driving my interest in such an end game? Well its simplicity of course – it has to become very easy to deploy NonStop any which way I want without slaving over a console to correctly provision all the required resources.

Ignoring for a moment my earlier observation about sophistication being best described as overly complicated! According to Wiki, when it comes to sophistication, “Today it is common as a measure of refinement—displaying good taste, wisdom and subtlety rather than crudeness, stupidity and vulgarity.” All of the energy that HPE has exerted in making transformations to hybrid IT as simple as possible and perhaps, as fluid as enterprises would like, has a lot to do with diminishing the complexity involved. And with the most recent announcements by HPE, it may very well have hit the mark this time with combinations of GreenLake, Synergy and its partnership with VMware. Arguably, brilliant! Or, as Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!” 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Another milestone – and yes, milestones are coming along all too often!

For Pyalla Technologies, LLC major business milestones are being passed more often of late – hopefully, there are many more still to appear! 

On Monday, August 20, 2007 I posted for the first time to this blog. It was an introduction, naturally enough, and something that had started as a suggestion by the ITUG board of directors. There had been an ITUG board meeting in Chicago and as I was just hanging around at the time; being a former Chairman the board kind of tolerated me. To this day I think their suggestion was to give me something to do and as an encouragement for me to return to my hotel room.

At that time of that first post I introduced myself as RT Writer, a reference to the presence of a column in The Connection of the same name as this blog – Real Time View – and of how this was going to be RT Writer’s blog. But so much has happened in the intervening years that my use of the handle RT Writer has for all sakes and purposes, disappeared. A relic, if you like, of former times when the NonStop community operated differently to how it functions today.

The picture above was the one I used with that very first post and in a way, proved to be an indication of a topic that worked its way into many of the story lines. Taken of me while seated, waiting for the start of the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix, wearing a rather unique cap – supporting Australia’s Mark Weber as he raced for the Jaguar F1 team – it would come as no surprise that for almost a decade I not only became a fan of open wheel racing, but that together, Margo and I found our way onto race tracks in the US behind the wheel of a number of different vehicles.

But this really was never the main story line, as so much has happened across the past 12 years that it’s impossible to highlight all of them. From the time immediately following the acquisition of Tandem Computers by Compaq through to the “merger” with HP to the slit into HPE and HP Inc. to what can now only be referenced as the offloading of non-core products, to compare it with being on a rollercoaster ride is simply overrating such rides.

Starting my thirteenth year well, all I can say is that as I hung on to that rollercoaster that today is HPE, the storylines materialized right before my eyes and there was no lessening in the many twists and turns that HPE executed that gave me something to post about. One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from the book (and now a film) The Art of Racing in the Rain, by
Garth Stein:

“That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”

I cannot recall a single month where something didn’t occur that was worth posting to this blog. And yes, as many were written out of ignorance as were written with intent – and intention to always ensure the spotlight shone brightly on NonStop. For good reason there have been stories to write featuring NonStop as it has demonstrated an amazing ability to keep on transforming with each new architecture and to embrace wholeheartedly each new technology. NonStop thrives to this day as it meets a fundamental need of business – don’t fail me when I most depend on you! Simple and yet, the hoops through which other solutions jump only add complexity to where the solution becomes fragile – just ask any business who has tried to scale Oracle RAC!

Looking back at the first post in 2007, by way of introduction I covered some of my early work and in so doing, I referenced a number of colleagues from my earliest days with Tandem Computers. As I said back then,
most of you know me - I have been involved with the NonStop server since my early days at Netlink Inc. out of North Carolina. The company's R&D center was in Sydney - but as we looked for additional funding we ran across Tandem Computers and eventually, Tandem made an investment. I was so impressed with the folks I met (folks like Andy Hall, Jeff Tonkel, Suri Harish, Chris Russell, Bob Marshall, and so on) that I returned briefly to Australia so that I could join Tandem. Yes, we truly are the creators of our own destiny!

When I started writing these posts, having a social media presence and posting to blogs was very much in its infancy. When I introduced myself to others in IT and told them I was blogging, the assumption was that I was simply chronicling life events. It came as quite a surprise to hear that I was blogging in support of a community and that I was covering products, technologies and architectures and yes, marketplaces.

Why would I be doing this and surely, this cannot be a real job, right? In fact it was back in 2007 when I was on stage at the ITUG event in Brighton that some of my colleagues bemusedly informed me that I had referenced this blog many, many times. It was only later that I heard from one of them of how, at that time, they hadn’t fully realized the impact blogging would have on a community.
You may recall that it was Mark Twain who encouraged others to:

 “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Today, the blogs I support and to which I regularly post anchor the business of Pyalla Technologies which shortly will be celebrating yet another anniversary. And it’s an important anniversary as in October, it will the completion of a decade of providing articles, commentaries and yes, blog posts for the NonStop community, the Payments industry and yes, even HPE.

I have only just recently been asked if I had plans to revisit my paper on the true cost of ownership of today’s modern NonStop systems to add a section or two featuring virtualized NonStop. This would be something I would like to address and hopefully, I will find support within HPE to pursue this as honestly, the paper I wrote back in 2012 can still be found on the HPE web site -
NonStop offers the lowest TCO in its class for complex mission-critical applications Up until very recently, some data points in this paper were still appearing on HPE NonStop PowerPoint slides.

There are times where I struggle to fully comprehend some decisions taken by HPE, but the good news is that HPE has created a community for bloggers and social media influencers so there are now colleagues I can turn to for additional insights even as this group has a HPE management team supporting them so I can dig even deeper into the background. Having this channel means that I am less likely to speculate too far outside the lines even as some of my posts may have puzzled some readers!

At all times I have tried my best to prepare the community for what I truly believe is about to happen. There have been times, I must now confess, when HPE has asked me to shut down a discussion as my speculation has touched on a topic HPE was not prepared to let develop within the community – if you have ever known about the
Osborne Effect then you know why HPE becomes concerned whenever this happens.

Overall, it’s been a fun time creating these posts for this NonStop community blog. NonStop survived the spin-merge of a few years ago when non-core products were offloaded to Micro Focus – clearly, evident of the high esteem with which NonStop was held inside of HPE. NonStop then thrived when support of Intel x86 architecture was delivered and yes, took another giant step forward when it was announced that NonStop would be a collection of virtual machines.

And now, we are preparing for NonStop being made available on the basis of “as-a-Service” even as it will be available for deployment on the core and the edge. “Exciting times,” as Jimmy T was fond of saying? Yes it is and even now, with this post, I have no intention of letting up on my coverage of HPE, Mission Critical Systems and NonStop! And why should I? After all, business continues to find value in systems that simply don’t fail when they are most needed.   

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sunrise often signals the unexpected; NonStop in ascendance!

Recent travels created memories; for HPE NonStop, the coming of dawn bodes well for a spectacular and bright future for the new NonStop!

Memories of travelling the rivers and canals of Europe remain fresh. It wasn’t all that long ago and every time I reach for the phone there is a picture being displayed that does a very good job of opening the floodgates to these memories and they just come flooding in. I guess it would be unrealistic to expect that they will last forever, but all the same, one of the reasons any of us ventures far from home is to create new and lasting memories. On the occasion when this photo was taken, I had just strolled to the top of the boat and onto its “sun deck” to check on how far we had travelled overnight when I was greeted with this spectacular sight. I hadn’t expected to see this red a sky emerging with the dawn but it was hard to ignore!

While the passage of time seems to accelerate through the years, as I looked to the horizon from the boats sun deck all was peaceful and yet I knew that as we traveled deeper into the countryside there was a possibility for afternoon storms to develop. All the same, it was a scene that stopped you in your tracks even as it suggested a moment to pause and admire. To simply take it all in and yes, relax! It was only a short time later that the morning’s red colors faded and the clouds dropped out of sight leaving behind a radiant, bright blue sky!

When it comes to IT today, there are moments of brilliance that are oftentimes missed. Perhaps not to the extent of lighting up the morning sky, but definitely bright enough to catch the eye of those who may be close by. HPE has been very busy this year filling in many of the pieces first described in its vision and strategy statements and there is much the HPE community applauds. Clearly, just being the first to place as much emphasis as it did on Hybrid IT HPE placed itself ahead of the mainstream – yes, according to HPE CEO, Antonio Neri, HPE had been the “first to say world will be Hybrid.” However, it turns out that this was merely the first glimpse of what was to shine even more brightly with the passage of time.

Identifying and then labeling the world of IT as being a Hybrid world seems so obvious now, so much so that many IT professionals may have missed its significance. However, by 2015 HPE was already talking about Hybrid IT and when the company announced HPE Synergy, it was left to Neri to say:

“Market data clearly shows that a hybrid combination of traditional IT and private clouds will dominate the market over the next five years,” said Antonio Neri, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Enterprise Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Organizations are looking to capitalize on the speed and agility of the cloud but want the reliability and security of running business critical applications in their own datacenters.” 

My earliest references to Hybrid Computing came in a post of June 8, 2015, when I described my impressions following the then-HP Discover 2015 event. However, going back to 2014 I wrote of how then-HP was introducing Converged Systems that were coming from “different development groups and delivering hybrids all nicely tested, configured and with a common operational interface.” However, a lot has changed during the intervening years, so much so that barely a press release is published without some reference to data processing being carried out on one form of Hybrid IT or another.

For the NonStop community, this is really good news as the coupling of a traditional NonStop system to clouds or the other way around, having a cloud, populated by virtualized NonStop, coupled to traditional servers is the realization of aspirations formed inside of Tandem Computers a long time ago! Whether you want to view NonStop as perhaps the first true programmable networking front-end processor or perhaps as an early entrant into the world of database servers, there really isn’t hiding the fact that NonStop was always deployed alongside something else. Such hybrid configurations helped prioritize software development, whether it was support for file transfer products like NDM (now known as Connect:Direct), SNAX CDF – the first and only implementation of IBM’s SNA PU4) – and monitoring software, like NonStop NET/MASTER.

Not every program in support of better integrating NonStop with what was beside it fulfilled the initial ambitions of the program, but as time progressed NonStop embraced open software and industry standards. In so doing, it became easier to program and operate NonStop and so it is today that under the oversight of HPE, NonStop plays a critical role in HPE’s Mission Critical Systems organization. Offering the ultimate in uptime, NonStop finds itself without peers when it comes to availability for true 24 X 7 operations. However, this is where the storyline diverges from the initial goals set for the original Tandem Computer. NonStop, the system, is becoming NonStop, the service.

As HPE’s Neri explained at HPE Discover 2019, when it comes to infrastructure available today from HPE then this is all about to change. “Everything-as-a-Service; any workload, anywhere!” Giving this a little more clarity, Neri said, “I am committing to you that in the next three years, HPE will be a consumption driven company and everything we deliver to you will be available as a service.” Even as we are adjusting to the new reality that NonStop is nothing more than a collection of virtual machines, exposure to those virtual machines will disappear behind infrastructure increasingly cloud-like in terms of “elasticity of provisioning”, or as we refer to it these days, composability. Infrastructure as software and as
manipulable as anything we interact with today – easily becoming just another set of selectable icons on a laptop or smartphone. Yes, I want the option to run 24 x 7!

For the NonStop vendor community this is both a likely attractive godsend even as for others it may prove to be unattractive. On the one hand, mess up the pricing and a vendor could end up simply migrating its customer base to a much lower priced alternative. On the other hand, suddenly demonstrating, testing and performing PoCs / Pilots can be undertaken by prospects without any need for expensive hardware purchases or software licenses. It’s safe to say that there are many wise heads now playing with the numbers to determine the optimal pricing for NonStop-as-a-Service, but for now, it hasn’t yet been established and I can’t take too seriously the pricing for NonStop on NS2 (virtualized NonStop (vNS) on HPE sourced ProLiants) all that seriously as it surely is just a one-off in order to bring the virtual NonStop to market.

There is a temptation however for NonStop vendors to explore building their own global “solution-specific” private clouds based on vNS. By now we have all read of OmniPayments building out such an environment as part of its deployment of OmniCloudX. “This has been a boon to OmniPayments as it has allowed us to support prospects introduction to OmniPayments including running PoCs and Pilots but also, during any period where they are without a NonStop platform, traditional or virtual,” said OmniPayments, LLC., CEO, Yash Kapadia. Some features of OmniPayments can coexist with other vendors payments solutions – OmniPayments  Preauthorization Engine / Fraud Blocker for example has been deployed alongside BASE24. “Having the option to capitalize on our approach to OmniPayments-as-a-Service in this manner,” said Yash, “goes a long way to endearing us with our prospects; no cash up front is always attractive for potential customers!”

Returning to Neri’s unambiguous statement, “HPE will be a consumption driven company and everything we deliver to you will be available as a service,” there is something else the NonStop community needs to consider. From every conversation that I have had since HPE Discover 2019 it is clear to me that the execution of this directive will involve HPE’s partners. Greenlake, and it’s portfolio of partners are at the fore in this regard even as Greenlake itself will be stepping into the business of supporting the edge and other infrastructure as a service. “We are at an inflection point in the market,” said Neri in a press release. “Everyone recognizes that customers want technology delivered as service, but they also want it on their terms. HPE’s unique approach to as a service, which empowers customers with choice, flexibility, and control, is driving HPE Greenlake’s tremendous success.”

Given Greenlake’s penchant for being able to point to a growing number of enterprises that it supports, the only question remaining for the NoNStop community is when Greenlake will point to HPE’s own IT organization to say, “HPE IT runs NonStop and supports the NonStop SQL/MX on the basis of DBaaS!” This scenario was covered during a discussion between the Greenlake team and a group of HPE Influencers at HPE Discover 2019, so fingers crossed that it will develop traction and indeed momentum inside of HPE as after all, every potential customer of NSaaS would want to know that HPE is “eating its own dogfood!” And in a way, you couldn’t point to a better reference considering how many support / maintenance contracts for Oracle were retired.

Cloud-watchers and early risers who look at sunrises all know that over the span of just a few minutes, the sky will change. What was once just a foretaste of the day that lay ahead will be replaced by the sun itself. What may have been in the shadows comes into full view and more often than not, is a spectacle all unto itself. For the NonStop community, for now we can only see the sun’s corona – it’s outermost layer – but we all know the substance that will follow. However, just as we know what will transpire with the sun each morning, NonStop is ascending and for that, it has to be said that HPE was not only first with Hybrid IT, first with Converged (and later, Hyperconverged) and first with Composable but it must also be said, first with delivering fault tolerance to the cloud!    

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Three more wishes coming soon – the path ahead for NonStop.

So, another three years have passed by and I find myself writing a preview of what I will likely focus on in eighteen months’ time – my next three wishes for NonStop!

It wouldn’t be fair on my family if I said 2019 had been a routine year for Pyalla Technologies. It started with the return flight from Sydney, Australia, and continued with three separate trips to Europe plus a lengthy road trip to Las Vegas for HPE Discover 2019 combined with stops in southern California and participation in N2TUG back in Texas. The miles have added up but all the while even as the adventurous life continued to unfold, there was so much news coming out of HPE that scarcely a day passed without a discussion or two over what it all means.

Margo and I have our roots firmly anchored in NonStop, dating back to Tandem Computers where Margo had risen through the development organization all the way to the COO role under the stewardship of Bill Heil when Bill headed the NonStop Software BU. As for me, I sampled Tandem from inside almost every group within the company, starting with roles in sales and marketing in a country outpost, followed by a program management role in development, a short stint in product marketing all followed with a management position in product management. All of which is to say, between Margo and me, we have seen an awful lot happening with NonStop over the many decades we have worked with the platform.

Then again, according to my family, whereas Margo knew exactly where she was headed I was always on the lookout for the next fork in the road.  However, being part of the original S-Series program team, representing networking, I was privy to the major pivot away from traditional packaging of systems to where we introduced ServerNet, externalized WAN connections while integrating LAN connections and yes, switching from custom chipsets to MIPS Risc processors. Listening to Bob Horst explaining “worm hole routing” was an experience all of itself and in case you ever wonder about it, the introduction of ServerNet led to InfiniBand.

I recently came across an interesting explanation in a Linux focused Gentoo Wiki article:

“InfiniBand is a high-speed serial computer bus, intended for both internal and external connections. It is the result of merging two competing designs, Future I/O, developed by Compaq, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, with Next Generation I/O (ngio), developed by Intel, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems. From the Compaq side, the roots were derived from Tandem's ServerNet. For a short time before the group came up with a new name, InfiniBand was called System I/O.” 
I only reference this explanation over the origins of InfiniBand as I have been asked about it many times ever since NonStop X was announced, but the story continues as today NonStop also supports RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) which is proving to be very important for the future of NonStop. When it comes to predictions and wishes it’s good to know about the underlying mechanics. After all, as this is important when it comes to breaking down barriers and giving NonStop the new label I have really warmed to, NonStop: No Limits!

With this reference to predictions and wishes, I am not entirely sure when the idea came to me to speculate on the future of NonStop but it was back in February 12, 2008, with the simple post, "My Wish" for NS Blades. In that post I wrote of the three wishes I had for the NonStop of the day and every three years since that post, I have provided an update under the general heading My Three Wishes (for NonStop) and you can click on the label Wishes (right-side of blog and all the way to the end) to see them all. However, predicting the direction in which HPE will point NonStop every three years left a whole lot of time without any further updates so it was only in the July 19, 2013, post Are our wishes still important? that I started previewing what to expect in the next update, eighteen months later. To see those prior previews, just click on the label Wishes - Preview.

With this introduction complemented with a little background information, what then will I be wishing for in February, 2020?  In my previous post of July 25, 2019, to this blog, Working on my rewrite; NonStop evolving its endgame (for now)! I let slip a couple of ideas that I had, not the least being the complete morphing of NonStop into a feature accessible by everyone needing solutions that run 24 x 7, forever. I referred to this as one possible goal for NonStop labeling it, NonStop: Endgame a play, obviously of the success of the film, Avengers: Endgame. But before providing more details about what my three wishes for NonStop will likely be when they are addressed in February 2020, let me be very clear.

In this previous post already referenced above, I do add the words, “for now!” And that’s important too as there will be many more endgames to follow. For now, however, focusing on the immediate future makes a little more sense as we should be able to see how any outcomes covered here could come to pass. Wishes are only of interest if the connections to them are real and the leaps of faith required are anchored in believable technology. Although, when I wrote that first post,
"My Wish" for NS Blades I predicted that when it comes to wishes:

“…my first wish is to see HP BCS deliver on the slideware Martin Fink first unveiled as the “Shared Infrastructure Blades” package. This is where any mix of NonStop, HP-UX, Linux, and Windows Server OS’s will be supported.

“…my second wish is to see a hypervisor introduced where NonStop can be configured as a “guest OS” in much the same way z/VM is used on the IBM mainframe. The trick here is to see this introduced without marginalizing the traditional association between NonStop and the hardware with respect to being fault tolerant.

“… my last wish … then wouldn’t it be advantageous to users if interrogation of the incoming transactions would direct mission critical transactions to NonStop, important informational but not quite mission-critical to a Unix or Linux, and voluminous inquiries to Windows? A variation on today’s workload balancing products, but supporting a transaction profiling capability that once set up, learns about the overall mix of transactions, and automatically adjusts the OS configurations on the fly?”

Remember, I posted this back in February 2008 following the announcement that NonStop would be running in HPE Blades. This was at least half a dozen years before the announcement of NonStop X and well before there was any discussion about the potential for virtualized NonStop (vNS).  So, where is NonStop headed? In general, the die has been cast. In my opinion then we have passed the stage where NonStop as software any longer surprises. That horse has definitely left the barn and you can barely see the dust it kicked up in the process. However, here is where it gets very interesting – the go to market plans and the sales channels. HPE has done a good job with the architecture and the technology but the shift in focus is going to be on selling NonStop far and wide. As HPE CEO Antonio Neri is telling us at every opportunity of how HPE is pursuing high-value opportunities for HPE products and is no longer building for the high-volume market place. Nothing in the HPE portfolio provides greater value to IT and the business than NonStop. 

Here’s the scoop – HPE is transforming technology, people and processes and economics. This in the eyes of HPE executives is a sustainable journey and as such, brings focus on data, the edge and cloud. Three families of systems – ProLiant, Synergy and Apollo provide the building blocks and address what’s needed on this journey. Anticipate therefore, that the NonStop: Endgame (for now) will see NonStop on ProLiant, Synergy and yes, Apollo – all driven naturally enough by customer demand. We still have the topic of memory-driven computing that leverages The Machine and that too will see potential for NonStop but that is a technology that will find its way into the Apollo platform. SGI, Cray and maybe more will all have access to The Machine and it will push specialty processes including GPUs and perhaps Quantum to the perimeter of massive amounts of memory. But even here, when you study the details of the graphics provided by HPE to date, there is a space to plugin NonStop where situations call for 24 x 7 message handling (and yes, data).

In other words, if your sales models are leaning heavily on channel sales then those vendors already in relationships with HPE for specific products are all going to have the option to check the box, as it were, to have NonStop enabled for a solution. Any solution; it’s an always-on, always-connected world that is only becoming even more connected! So, just a finite number of systems families with an infinite number of channels – a model that will only prove successful when NonStop isn’t complex. In closing then, look to see NonStop become more deeply integrated with the hypervisors and metal and see the APIs simplified to where NonStop: Without Limits is only a click away! Stay tuned for all the skinny on this coming to you in February, 2020! 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Working on my rewrite; NonStop evolving its endgame (for now)!

An opportunity to enjoy a “BizCation Voyage” through the heart of Europe gave us the chance to interact with communities and in so doing, gave us pause to consider one possible NonStop: Endgame as of right now!

For the past two weeks Margo and I have been crisscrossing the industrial heartland of central Europe. It’s been a fortnight of canals, locks, bridges and yes, you guessed it; Europe’s major rivers. Starting out in Amsterdam, we travelled down the Rhine River for a couple of days before entering the Main River. From there it was a simple case of entering the Main to Danube canal with its impressive locks that lifted our craft over the continental divide, as it was called, but at less than 1,000 feet high unimpressive to us Coloradans, our travels ended with a couple of days of floating on the blue Danube.

Our time in Europe saw us interacting with clients at both ends of the journey both of which contributed to us better understanding the current political climate of this part of Europe even as it added another chapter to the adventure that has Margo and me thoroughly engaged in for quite some time now. And did I mention climate? If you missed the news flashes of the past week or so, Europe is hot! Even the political and commercial interests can’t match the heat of the day as the weather has been brutal of late. However, afloat on major rivers as we were meant that there was always some relief from the heat blowing across our vessel.

The picture above was of Margo and me atop a peak looking down on the Danube and the Buda side of Budapest. The last time we were both in this city was back in 2003 when we attended what was then called an ACE customer conference that was put on by ACI Worldwide for its European BASE24 customers.  As part of the Insession Technologies team, we participated as ICE and WebGate were making a very real contribution to the BASE24 product line. However, two major world events coincided with this conference, the first being the chaotic scenes in Baghdad’s Firdos Square during the Iraq War as we all watched the television coverage of the fall of the statue of Saddam Hussein (April 9, 2003). The second was far more upbeat as on April 12, 2003, Hungary held a referendum on joining the European Union where the proposal was approved by a huge majority of voters – over 80%.

It takes very little by way of inputs to get Margo and me reliving the past, rethinking the events of long ago even as there is always a time to simply stop and look around at what is happening today. Naturally enough, it takes even less time before we look at the prospects for the future and when it comes to HPE, the company and its products and services, it was an awful long time ago that I traveled to Los Angeles to hear then HP CEO, Carly Fiorina, talk at HP World, 2002 (after the Compaq acquisition) to hear that HP was “focusing its energy on reducing the cost and complexity of infrastructure. HP is going to aim its collective resources and talent at reinventing the IT value proposition for its customers and will stake its claim on being the company that offers the best return on IT.” As for today and yes, the future, well HPE is shaking things up and if you have missed the news flashes, reinventing the IT value proposition has taken on a whole new meaning as we get closer to 2020.

Twenty-twenty! And we aren’t just talking about our eyesight either. Although we very well could be talking about it but no, looking back at 2002 who would have thought that two decades later HPE would be working on its rewrite. For anyone who has been to HPE events to hear HPE CEO, Antonio Neri, talk about HPE it’s always about the people, the team and the culture that is front and center of a Neri presentation. And as a starting point, it sets the scene for why HPE believes it can execute on its vision and strategy and why the industry should in turn have confidence that HPE will deliver. There’s a lot being rewritten and fortunately for the NonStop, in the new script there is a whole chapter devoted to NonStop!

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t throw in a few lines from the song by Paul Simon, Rewrite:

I'm workin' on my rewrite, that's right
Gonna change the ending
Throw away the title
And toss it in the trash

Fortunately, for those who have been following HPE for as long as I have and I have participated in almost every event HPE has held between 2002 and yes, 2020, then it’s fortunate for us all that the script Fiorina developed was tossed in the trash! Well, most of it anyway. Why? The world is no longer focused on general purpose computing and the need for one vendor to build out the entire solution for IT has lessened. The slowing of Moore’s Law (the end is nigh!), the rise of multiple viable platforms and yes, the massive shift of focus from hardware to software means that any desire to become a leading IT vendor means that decisions need to be made and the path HPE is taking is one where its focus is even tighter than ever before on the IT value proposition.

There comes a time when all parties recognize that a major sea-change is under way. There is considerable talk among industry watchers about pivot points and disruptive technology. However, there is a reason why such phrases are being used just as there is a reason IT vendors are becoming more selective in the technology investments they are making. The smartphone and the advent of the cloud have both proved to be extremely disruptive and yes, the need to address today and tomorrow in a financially responsible manner has IT pivoting towards Hybrid IT РIT has to embrace the new even as it continues to run today. You may be tempted to dismiss this as marketing hyperbole or even clich̩ but for the NonStop community, we are all witnessing a time when we have to rethink what NonStop really is all about Рwhat is a NonStop solution going to look like in 2020?

While there has been much excitement in the movie industry over the global success of the latest superhero movie Avengers: Endgame, it is a reminder that in all things there is an endgame that has to play out before everyone lives happily ever after, but in IT, this isn’t quite the case. Endgames come and go as the cyclical nature of technology sees the underlying tectonic plates fracture and disappear. But it is clear to many members of the NonStop community that an endgame is in sight for NonStop. In time, the traditional hardware offering will lessen in significance as NonStop itself becomes an attribute of something much bigger. You may even think of it as a new beginning for NonStop – certainly, the “rewrite” has still to define the special role NonStop will play in a world where everything runs 24 x 7.

On this note, if I was to speculate then in my opinion, NonStop support of applications running 24 x 7 remains its biggest feature. Forget about the hardware redundancies, the dual paths, the electrical separation / isolation and yes, the underlying infrastructure as a whole. Reliability of the systems, whether packaged as a private or public cloud or simply a server, will reach a point where building these systems is well understood across the industry but the software? Enabling your Java or Perl or C/C++ code to run fault tolerantly (and there will be faults as after all, hypervisors are software, you know), still has tremendous advantaged not the least being that your data center manager can sleep at night. Yes, here’s the new script – click the icon that says 24 x 7 and you call up an underlying process that is fault tolerant, courtesy of NonStop! That’s it – as a developer you no longer are aware of NonStop and need no special training to leverage. Wow! Or better still, cool!

There is an ending for NonStop as we know it, but there is also the coming of a NonStop that we will all understand but is one where the special magic has been hidden behind the veil. There is a script emerging too and it’s positive. The smartphone and the cloud may have proved to be disruptive but think of NonStop as your “antacid” solution! Suddenly, the costs we associate with NonStop disappear – everyone can exploit the reinvented IT value proposition and isn’t that what we all want to see. About the cost attribute, much will be written between now and 2020 but already, the consumption pricing models under consideration are beginning to have an impact on the NonStop community. The sea change is taking place – do you see it and have you trimmed your sails? Perhaps it really was the influence of the time we spent in Europe, but as we thought more about NonStop then imagine it, NonStop for Everyman!     

Monday, July 15, 2019

Gliding up the river; pushing deeper into the landscape

Infrastructure has dominated the conversations of late and for a very good reason – NonStop continues to contribute!

Traversing Europe via rivers and canals is always a cool thing to do and this time, we are actually getting to see the countryside in a little more detail than previously experienced. You see, way back in the early 2000s, we booked a river cruise to take us from Munich (Passau) to the Black Sea. Unfortunately, two days into the voyage we were advised upon arrival in Vienna that there would be no further movement of the vessel – the Danube had risen too high for the boat to fit under the bridges. Of course, we didn’t mind, as a week in Vienna was perhaps not too shabby a second prize! But it did remind us of the importance of infrastructure – don’t make the bridges high enough and your all-important tourist traffic stays put!

Business took us to Amsterdam and with a chance to check in on folks in Frankfurt and then spend some time in Budapest gave us the opportunity to play with the dates and to fit in a river cruise – we have visited these cities in the past but have never capitalized on yet another form of transportation. Already this year we have taken the train between Frankfurt and Munich and another train between London and Edinburgh. For the Trip to Las Vegas for HPE Discover, it was the company command center and then for the trip to Dallas and N2TUG, it was by plane.

All of which is to say that even as we all acknowledge the importance of infrastructure, it’s equally as important to know you have options. Choice is very important when it comes to optimizing data and processing and in this regard, the HPE NonStop community is particularly blessed given the investments of late by HPE in NonStop!

Have you visited the HPE web site recently? Have you looked at how HPE is bracketing its product lines with major topics of interest for IT?

Ignite – Innovation with Hybrid Cloud: Accelerate speed and agility with your right mix of Hybrid Cloud
Redefine – Experience at the Edge: From edge to cloud, securely connect users and things and seamlessly orchestrate apps and data
Unlock – Insights from all your Data: Turn data at rest into data in action. Extract the unseen value in your data with intelligent storage and AI
Proven Expertise – From HPE Pointnext services: Accelerate the transformation of you technology, people and economics

There you have it! In a couple of well thought-through phrases you have the focus on Hybrid IT (the Core / Cloud), the Intelligent Edge, Data and analytics and yes, Services. I have to say, though, the increased emphasis on Data (and Data Analytics) is coming at a time when we are coming to terms with the significance of the Core and the Edge, but it’s not surprising as HPE is putting a lot of energy into promoting storage. The only thing missing here is Security but as HPE is only too happy to acknowledge, security answers lie close to the metal and with the understanding that perimeters will be breached. It’s not surprising then to see it referenced as it is in HPE’s promotion of the edge.

Then again, the key words – Ignite, Redefine, Unlock and then Proven – are all emotive words. Passions truly do run high within IT whenever these subjects are raised and as a community it is good to see NonStop remains part of the conversation.  Ever tried talking to someone about security and suggest that perhaps it is all futile in the end and see what response you generate. I know of no other group within the NonStop vendor community as passionate about what they do than those NonStop vendors supplying security products. In a way, that’s good news for the NonStop community and yet, I come from the school that proposes making everything useless to the outside world – crack the safe and you will only find useless and incomprehensible dross!

However, even with these well thought-through phrases you cannot escape how it’s all about infrastructure and its ultimate success for HPE is dependent upon solutions vendors. For very good reasons HPE is not in the solutions business, although for a while, we all liked what HPE was doing for telcos with the solution that HPE was providing, but today, I can’t say I am aware of the status of this application. I have been told that before virtualization of NonStop was even announced the group responsible for this application has been busily porting to Linux and I am left to wonder yet again whether HPE’s teams are always on the same page. Nevertheless, I am a big fan of NonStop pushing deeper into new markets and have my fingers crossed for more news coming from manufacturing, distribution and yes, retail.

When it comes to infrastructure, I will leave it to former President of Insession Technologies, Tony Parkinson, for describing infrastructure best when he wrote to me recently suggesting, “You could build the most beautiful house in the neighborhood … BUT if it didn’t have the wiring and plumbing behind the walls, it would be uninhabitable.” Furthermore, according to Tony, “Tools, middleware and infrastructure technology are the lifeblood of any core banking system, payments platform, cash management project, FX Trading environment, etc. etc.” On this point, Tony is correct – tools, middleware and infrastructure are indeed the lifeblood giving sustenance to any application. In fact, major projects are initiated only when the infrastructure is in place to support them and HPE is perhaps wise to know that it’s time to “ignite” our innovation when it comes to Hybrid Cloud and a place where you find NonStop.

For me, ignition always goes with lift off – anyone who lived through the space race of the 1960s knows all about lift off and it’s more than appropriate for HPE to use such a keyword. It’s too easy to dismiss this as just more marketing hype but for the NonStop community the compelling story line here is that HPE ignited its own move to Hybrid Cloud when it elected to exploit the attributes of NonStop at the very center of its data center modernization program. For anyone that hasn’t figured it out already, Oracle and its approach to databases is pure legacy and the market is punishing Oracle for being slow to modernize. Its spending on companies has once again seen it taking large investment write-offs. If you missed it, check out Oracle shutting down the operations of its cloud applications subsidiary, Ravello Systems Inc.

I don’t want to call out Oracle specifically other than to say it fueled many new projects within HPE when it challenged the former HP over Itanium – a total misread of where the new HPE had planned to head all along. On the other hand, it is indicative of how brutal the infrastructure business has become where choice together with flexibility and speed-to-market command a premium today.  Did you read the July, 2019, issue of NonStop Insider where you would have come across interesting commentary from our own Randall Becker on infrastructure on NonStop and how easy the new NonStop is to embrace new development methodologies. Check out this latest issue -

Ignite! Redefine! Unlock! Who says HPE marketing isn’t doing a good job these days? Having spent a short time with both the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Communications Officer of HPE while at HPE Discover, it was certainly refreshing to hear firsthand of how they were focused on revamping marketing across the board. The real story here is that we have a new HPE focused on the needs of enterprises and there is no question that the issues of the day for these enterprises are complex, requiring a delicate balancing act that appreciates the need to preserve traditional systems while introducing clouds, virtualization, containers all in a highly composable environment that helps them reduce the cost of IT at a time when IT is the center of all that they are doing. Yes, it’s a digital world and yes, it’s a world where IT differentiates all enterprises products and services. There is a future coming where no CEO will rise to the top job without time spent in IT.

Europe’s rivers give us a great way of getting around and a viable alternative to taking the train or driving. Yes, it’s a little slower but work into your weekend plans some time on a boat and you can cover a lot of ground by water – eve as you can observe so much infrastructure pass you by. For the NonStop community, NonStop will always be about infrastructure even as will always be about providing a unique blend of tools, middleware, databases, languages and much more that are the true lifeblood of IT. It’s preservation of all that is truly NonStop – availability, scalability, data integrity / security – continue to this day as NonStop moves to being a collection of virtual machines (along with traditional machines where appropriate).

Its perseverance too in face of so many nay-sayers to emerge, modern and with options we had not thought possible just a short time ago, make it truly an impressive participant in HPE’s product portfolio. All of which is to say we can expect, as a community, to see NonStop pushing even deeper into the very heart of the IT landscape and of that, we should all be very proud of the ongoing commitment HPE is making to NonStop!   

All that was revealed at NonStop Partner Symposium!

When the HPE NonStop team gets together with the NonStop vendor community, as it now does each year, it becomes clear that there are no li...