What does Sydney bring to the table …

My time in Sydney has taught me one very good lesson – systems we depend on (leisure, transportation, financial, etc.) just keep failing at a time when these applications could so easily be run on NonStop!
Very soon bags will be packed and that last trip from the hotel to the airport will be taken. It’s time to return to Colorado and to see our home, once again. After three months on the road there is no question whatsoever about us looking forward to returning to our “home office” and to, immerse ourselves in the issues of the day. We have a great group of clients representing a diverse mix of products and yes, expectations, but it’s good to see that their enthusiasm for NonStop has only increased over the past year. With more information on strategy and on where future investments will be made (think partnerships), it’s clear that the future for NonStop is rock solid going into 2019.

One of the most interesting aspects of spending an extended time in and around Sydney has been the realization that while I am from Sydney, I am no longer of Sydney. I can’t really consider myself a Sydneysider – it’s just been too long. Once familiar landmarks have gone as have many people I called friends and yes, even some family members, are gone. Sydney was the place of my birth but I can no longer pretend that it is my home. That has changed and the realization that it has all changed is perhaps the biggest takeaway for me from this trip down under. 

So now it is 2019! Yes, the famous Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks display is over and for those lucky enough to be out on the harbor for this annual spectacle as we were, it’s definitely a once in a lifetime “must!” Can we expect to see fireworks from HPE and can we expect to see the sky ablaze with announcements of new technologies, products and solutions? Are there still more stories to come from the NonStop team? Or will 2019 be a period of consolidation, with the focus on deployments and growing the NonStop user community? If you are a regular participant in HPE Discover events you will know that HPE can still deliver magic and have excelled of late when it comes to pulling rabbits out of the hat but for NonStop, with as much as has happened over the past five years, the sense within the NonStop community is that it’s now a time to take all the pieces and put them together in support of today’s mission critical applications.

I found time to watch a movie – Passengers. Indeed, despite the poor reviews, I watched it twice as I wanted to make sure I caught the dialogue. At one point, while contemplating waking up a second passenger, our main character reviews a video clip filmed before the craft left on a 120 year voyage through space. This second passenger, Aurora, said “My dad used to say, ‘If you live an ordinary life, all you'll have are ordinary stories. You have to live a life of adventure.’ So ... Here I am!”

While I will leave to other posts to cover the adventure side of this trip in more detail, at the very least I can acknowledge that I have enjoyed adventures and that I will be leaving with a lot of “developing” story lines. The central theme however, whether it’s story lines for this blog or simply comments posted to social media channels, has been the many failures of people, sporting teams, enterprises and technology. .

The banking system here in Australia is in a very messy condition. The essence of the mess that banks find themselves in has been the deterioration of trust – if you don’t trust your bank, then what? Bank leadership has been put under the microscope by a Royal Commission on banking. It began in February 2018 with the headlines that the “Australia royal commission inquiry into banking begins. A landmark inquiry into wrongdoing among Australia's banks and financial services has begun. The royal commission - the country's top form of public inquiry - will investigate alleged and established misconduct in the sector.” Yes, wrongdoing and misconduct – by banks. Yes, it’s a mess and no, it isn’t going to be cleaned up overnight!

Naturally, I have been interested as there is still a very strong presence of NonStop systems among the banks. Even as one bank is in the process of moving off the NonStop platform - yes, the same bank that tried to replace NonStop with a combination of Dell clusters and Microsoft Windows only to return to NonStop following the first attempts to deliver the new solution – it is still recognized by those I have talked to (and who are close to bank leadership), that NonStop wins out when it comes to running mission critical applications.

And why is this? It’s a well-known story by now but still worth repeating: History, together with the collective experience of a core group of technicians – they know how to deploy NonStop in a manner that ensures application availability unmatched by any other solution - tells us that NonStop has no peers when it comes to providing a fault tolerant platform.

Putting distance between what I am seeing and the “ordinary story” this represents I am reminded of just how impatient society has become with any hick-ups or outages in any of the services it depends upon. For the few short months I was here in Sydney Margo and I have witnessed firsthand an outage of major online betting systems the day of “the horse race that stops a nation” – the Melbourne Cup. 

A matter of a few days later, we boarded a transit bus only to note that our Opal Card, an electronic transportation payment card, showed no charge as the network was down. Sorry, but this bus trip will be free! Furthermore, as reported January 10, 2019, “Opal Card bosses admit they won't refund all incorrect fare charges ... made as a result of equipment error or outages.” Over the past year, while claiming 99.9% reliability, the government still had to deal with faulty card readers at an alarming rate – some 8,000 failed in the year – whereby Opal Card users were charged the maximum fare for the journey taken. Ouch …

And then payments networks of the big banks failed on one of the busiest shopping days of the year – Boxing Day. According to news headlines, “Furious customers stranded in shops are lashing out at Westpac and ANZ on social media saying they are unable to pay for their goods.” Westpac spokesman was reported as having said, “We want to sincerely apologize to customers,” she said. “It’s a terrible day for this to happen.” As one politician stated, “Australians expect and deserve better!”
And then, things got really bad …

Following the New Year’s Eve fireworks show the train system, taking everyone home after midnight, failed – a lightning storm earlier in the evening played havoc with the overhead power lines as well as the new digital signaling system. Apparently, no redundancy of systems and lines meant a lot of people clogged areas around railway stations for a very long time. It was a mess and this time, while there were apologies (but no refunds), once again there were no encouraging signs that anything was going to be done to prevent future disruption to Sydney’s transportation network.

Any one of these disruptions could be viewed as “life happens” as it is in today’s everything-connected, everything-on, digital world. But together, they represent anything but an ordinary story. Of all the attributes claimed to be of value when it comes to digital technology, you would think that availability would top the list. However, this is no longer the case. My PC stops so I re-boot, is the popular disclaimer. Not so easy when it’s a betting, transportation, or banking network with national and indeed global reach. And yet, this continues to be the primary attribute of NonStop systems today – they truly run, non-stop.

What my time in Sydney has brought into focus is that little has changed with respect to improving uptime through conventional means – it takes a NonStop to provide non-stop support of any consumer interaction. Surely, with the fireworks over and the crowds dispersed, it’s time this year to tell the world; yes, there is a lot of mess surrounding industries and yes, it isn’t going to be an easy task to clean it up.

However, when it comes to supporting our customers, NonStop continues to provide the goods – 24 X 7. Furthermore, with as many options when it comes to deploying NonStop now being provided by the NonStop team, there are few excuses as to why we cannot deploy NonStop today. Outages of any kind can be avoided - there's no reason to accept anything less than permanent availability. Call it consolidation, if you like. Call it an opportunity to expand the presence of NonStop in your enterprise. Any way you want it, you can deploy NonStop and any uptime requirement you might have, NonStop can meet it! And that’s the message I am coming away from Sydney with for 2019!


Craig Lawrance said…
Nicely written article Richard. I particularly like your view on "going home". As one who has also lived abroad a while, I can experienced it's very difficult to go home. Your experiences change you, and the mother country moves on too. Often in very different directions.

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