Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Check out the view … we didn’t miss a thing!


The view ahead often is only at its best following difficult times and for the NonStop community there is only upside ahead with views to match!

With all the talk that followed the recent very severe and somewhat unusual “bomb cyclone” hitting the front ranges in the northern part of the state of Colorado, what is sometimes overlooked is the view you are given once the clouds lift and the sky turns blue. It is as if someone tipped out all the vanilla cream and draped it over the jagged mountain landscape. As chilly as this Saturday morning scene appears turned out to be rather pleasant, with almost no wind whirling through the trees. As for the view, it’s what you see once you crest Highway 36 on your way into Estes Park with views all the way round to Long’s Peak. Being this far back from the mountains and taking in the long view, it was breathtaking to say the least.

The photo was captured by our guests for the weekend, Jan and Brian Kenny, who were driving the car behind us and I cannot recall ever having been part of a photo while behind the wheel. It now seems more than appropriate to be driving a white car trimmed out in black with a splash of blue. As much as I would have liked seeing a little more Tandem red being utilized I have to resolve myself to the fact that the trim in the Kenny’s car was red. Fortune had smiled on Margo and me this past week as we had been in Munich, Germany, mostly on business and just happened to fly into Denver the day after the bomb cyclone burst, but from what we could see in our neighborhood there is no denying just how severe it was as we counted car after car buried in snow, left abandoned alongside the interstate highway.

A dropping barometer, blinding snow propelled by hurricane-force winds, no visible landmarks to be discerned and temperatures plummeting below freezing – it all sounded so horrible. And yet, for the NonStop community, there could be arguments made suggesting that something similar has taken place with NonStop this past decade. On the other hand, it’s clear that we too have all crested the highway and can now take in the long view. NonStop is painting a picture today few of us could have predicted earlier this century and yet, in having crested the highway and seeing the vista laid out before us, it’s hard to ignore the challenges now facing NonStop. Are we the driver in the sleek sports car or the lad on the cycle? Are we warm and cozy or are we bundled up dealing with the cold air being blown our way by the cars that pass us by?

The good news here is that I wouldn’t be writing this post if I didn’t think we were now nicely seated behind the wheel of a fine sports car. Yes, we are very much different from everything else we happen upon while on the highway and yes, we are capable of heading in any direction we care to imagine. HPE has done a tremendous job in pushing ahead with sizable investments in NonStop even as the NonStop team has embraced the NonStop vendor community in ways unseen in decades dating all the way back to the previous century and the message is very clear.

When it comes to the Mission Critical Systems product portfolio, depending upon who is presenting the PowerPoint slides, NonStop stands apart from the other products – a system with a very pronounced future (unlike the bundle of systems we see depicted at the end of the slide that includes the legacy platforms that were once so dominant in the marketplace.)

The good news here too is that as we read about enterprises pushing ahead with other platforms, one by one they are failing. Ouch … yes, a cloud here, a server farm there and a complete data center on top of all that. Gone! Maybe briefly and perhaps just a loss of say a decade of photos and memories and perhaps even the loss of a couple of transactions as well, but there is always loss; there is always an emotional loss suffered by one party or another. Outages aren’t ever without a price being paid. It wasn’t so much that the recent outage of Facebook caught out a lot of folks as it was the news that broke that there were global enterprises relying on Facebook for internal communications.

Jason Wong picked the wrong day to restock his false eyelash line. Yesterday, in the midst of a nearly day-long Instagram and Facebook outage, Wong and his company, Wonghaus Ventures, planned to run a Facebook and Instagram ad campaign to promote the restock, and to have influencers post sponsored content about it. The posts went up, but few people saw them. Wong estimates the outage cost his company around $10,000 in revenue.

According to CNBC update on March 13, 2019, Facebook said its services were coming back online. "Yesterday, we made a server configuration change that triggered a cascading series of issues," said a Facebook spokesperson. "As a result, many people had difficulty accessing our apps and services. We have resolved the issues, and our systems have been recovering over the last few hours."

Facebook and similar social media channels are today’s newspapers and television channels deriving revenues the old fashioned way; through advertising and while this may not be viewed by all NonStop stakeholders as anything close to mission critical, increasingly these information delivery vehicles are playing an increasingly mission critical role in our lives. Outages hurt and information is lost!

As the old maxim suggests – if the picture / video didn’t appear did the event even happen?  Today’s enterprises are using sites like Facebook to grow their customer / prospect lists and they do so in clever ways although most savvy technical folks are seeing through those specials suggesting we “join 150,000 of our peers in being given advanced headlines of upcoming events – just sign in here, please!” But surely not banking or manufacturing or travel would build their business around such technologies? Well, yes they do and therein lies the rub – we aren’t just seeing the commoditization of hardware and the standardization of software but the utility-ization of your data center. 

I'm not a big fan of the term "cloud." I'm even less of a fan of "private cloud," mainly because it's a made-up phrase meaning "your normal datacenter with some different management practices in place, and tools to support those practices." OK, it's shorter than that, but it's still made up.
The word I prefer is "utility." At the end of the day, utility is what's going to matter in IT.

Our consumers want us to be invisible, reliable and forgettable. That takes a lot of work. There are obviously some services we can never outsource - line-of-business apps are an easy example.

This appeared in a trade publication all the way back in June, 2013, but here you already see the lines being drawn. Some services we can never outsource – line-of-business apps are an easy example. Is advertising (for a small company) “line of business?” Well, yes, so it turns out … And line of business apps aren’t part of your normal datacenter either – ever wondered why the move to APIs across some industries (to foster greater cooperation) is going ahead as slowly as it is. There are just some apps that the business depends on so deeply that they are part of what differentiates their business from that of their competitors. It’s just too valuable to start opening up to one and all.

Applications running on NonStop are just too valuable to be replaced by utility-ization. Commodity hardware? Well, check – done that! Standard software? Again, check that as well. All good and all part of the new NonStop being sold today with the added value that we can let HPE deliver the latest NonStop system to our loading dock or we can deploy it as a virtualized system. It’s as though NonStop has become the “layer of sensibility” for all those enterprises wanting to jump on the cloud platform. Done right, even the most fragile of private cloud implementations can be given the NonStop seal of approval and become ready for prime time. Even for advertisers!

Our view to the horizon may not be as clear as what we saw on our most recent trip into the mountains. The weather in the days before the trip was atrocious, but then again, isn’t that familiar for many of us? Faced with challenges to turn IT into a utility, how many members of the NonStop community are standing up and admitting that well, that’s OK but we have NonStop today to ensure critical line-of-business apps keep running no matter what?

Like many of you I am often asked “what is the business case for running NonStop?” and I have to say, it’s pretty clear: Do you want to stay in business? Are you looking for your business to become an overnight basket case without NonStop? Perhaps the further we see the more we begin to appreciate NonStop being better after all, NonStop isn’t missing a thing; it just makes sense to run NonStop!



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