And now, for something completely different …

HPE NonStop team has certainly unveiled much that has surprised the NonStop community and as unexpected as it may have been, it’s positioning NonStop to play in an even bigger marketplace for 2019!

While this picture was taken during our recent trip to Sydney, this post will not be about Sydney, as even now memories are beginning to fade. Take a good look at this picture of a street – well a lane actually – that we ran across towards the end of our stay. It’s an artistic display, although at first it was difficult to actually make sense of it all and then it all fell into place! Underwood Street – it’s obvious, isn’t it?  As colorful as the streets of Sydney can be and in spite of all the creativity that is present even in the CBD (Central Business District), it’s still refreshing to see that someone with a “tongue in cheek” sense of humor would be allowed to put such an edifice in place in an otherwise out of sight lane. Yes, it’s different alright!

For much of my IT career I have been tilting at windmills, oftentimes electing to make a career change that has dumbfounded my colleagues. Twice I rose to take on Managing Director positions, the equivalent to today’s CEO position, and on both occasions after a reasonable amount of time I elected to jump ship to tackle something that interested me, rather than try to move up to an even bigger leadership challenge. Having said this, it wasn’t like I didn’t work with the occasional headhunter or two but even then, there was a surprise install for me. Returning to Australia for the last time, my cheerful headhunter with whom I had worked previously, rang me to advise me I had made the short list of candidates for Managing Director of a very well-known IT peripherals supplier. Wow, sure would be an impressive step up, career wise.

Unfortunately, the next meeting with him was to let me know that he liked the job prospects so much that he decided to take the job himself – bad news for me, but good news for him! As a point for later discussion, he was probably better suited than I was to fill this executive vacancy but all the same, it was surprising to say the least. My drive back home that night where I had to face the family left me less excited than when I had departed earlier in the day. Talk about something different alright and I can’t imagine describing anything better to illustrate the point. Whenever I talk to members of the NonStop community there are always stories about surprising career choices and all I can think of is the Monty Python Flying Circus television series that kicked off each week with the catchphrase, “And now, for something completely different!”

As we now look at the NonStop product roadmaps and begin to grasp more fully what it all means for the NonStop community in 2019, there is much that was completely unexpected. Even to the most jaded of NonStop watchers, it would appear that the multiple paths down which NonStop is travelling are bound to take NonStop into unchartered waters. By this I mean that NonStop is on the verge of tackling market verticals and global regions it has never before viewed as fertile ground for NonStop systems. We have heard at major NonStop events of NonStop systems deployed in bakeries as well as in baggage handling systems and much more, but now there really isn’t any limit to the type of applications NonStop will support as the whole world has become mission-critical. What was once a very finite marketplace is now way more common place to the point where simply saying you’re focused on mission critical applications is way too broad a generalization!

In an article by CAIL’s CEO, Ron Thompson, published in the January – February, 2019, issue of The Connection, he raised a pertinent point. For Ron, there may be merit in “changing ‘Mission Critical’ to ‘On-Line, Real-Time, All-the-Time.’ This identifies the market and applications where NonStop is clearly superior and has significant advantages to improve business outcomes. With Enterprise Business Executives focused on increasing relevance and revenue, expanding opportunities, having competitive advantage, etc., there is a need to highlight how NonStop delivers on these objectives, plus reduces business risk.”

Of course, there will be push back as to the exact language we might consider using if we were to ever move beyond Mission Critical – everyone has their own opinions, of course, but the mere fact that there are leaders among the NonStop vendor community willing to step outside the box to suggest something completely different shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The history of NonStop is liberally sprinkled with leaders who are only too willing to share their ideas and this is a part of the community’s culture that has helped create the camaraderie with which we are all well versed.

Diversification across the NonStop user base however is an important next-step in the history of NonStop. We have seen the fallout from consolidation among the big telcos and now we are seeing fresh moves to further consolidate banks. News is just out of BB&T and SunTrust merge, forming the 6th-largest bank in the U.S and, more than likely, this is just the beginning of another round of M&A actions. With more than 6,000 banks in the U.S. (or, is that more than 10,000 Financial Institutions), there is plenty of room for more deals to be cut, all of which will fuel further consolidation among NonStop users. As you consider what is next for NonStop then “growth verticals” need to be targeted and that will take the full commitment of HPE to properly execute. As Ron pointed out, we really do live in an on-line, real-time, all-the-time world where I would like to think NonStop begins fine-tuning its marketing efforts to target industries like e-commerce and transportation, including rail and shipping.

There are probably other much easier growth verticals to tackle but the important aspect to all of this is that the discussion needs to begin and it needs to involve every member of the NonStop community. On the other hand, what came as a surprise for many members of the NonStop community was the successful transition of traditional NonStop to virtual NonStop by the NonStop development team. Few among us ever thought that something this creative, this radically different would ever see the light of day and yet, here we are in 2019 looking at the many projects that have been announced where virtual NonStop will play a leading role – just look at how committed NTI is to virtual NonStop having placed orders for multiple copies as it goes about building out its own global virtualized NonStop presence. Surprised? And NTI is just the beginning as you can also count OmniPayments in the mix of NonStop vendors committing to greater usage of virtualized NonStop!

These are only the vendors that I know about and I have to believe that there are many others making similar commitments who no doubt will be quick to tell me that they too share the same level of enthusiasm over the potential that awaits greater virtual NonStop adoption as do these NonStop vendors. 2019 will be a watershed time where the true value of NonStop will be tested. Opportunities exist to really expand the business and we haven’t even talked about the potential for NonStop SQL as a true DBaaS offering. NonStop is truly delivering something unthinkable just a few years ago and as such is delivering something completely different to what any of us expected to see coming from the HPE NonStop team and it’s all for the betterment of the NonStop community – since when did having more choice ever hurt a product line?

The many twists and turns in my own IT
career have led to me undertaking a variety of roles, a number of which were completely unexpected. Yes, competing with my own headhunter wasn’t expected. However, when it comes to witnessing the completely unexpected, who knew how dramatically different NonStop would become and just how big a potential market for NonStop is now being created. Could NonStop be an option on offer from public cloud providers? Could NonStop be the chosen platform for trains planes and … well, ships? Could we see NonStop regionally deployed in support of autonomous vehicles? Could we see NonStop penetrate new markets originating out of IoT? All of this might happen given the commitment of those building today applications, but at this time, all I can add is that yes, it is time for something completely different!


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