Sunday, September 22, 2019

By HPE’s account, we at NonStop, create data!

There is one certainty coming out of NonStop Regional User Group (RUG) meetings, you will hear something new about NonStop and ATUG, Atlanta didn’t disappoint …

It has been another extended period on the road. A drive to California for a major HPE NonStop event – the NonStop Partner Symposium followed up by several days in Atlanta for the ATUG Regional User Group (RUG) meeting. Enough travel to say it’s time to call it quits and head for home meaning we will miss the annual big event outside Toronto, Canada – the CTUG RUG meeting. It’s always a busy time of year as fall arrives but even so, it always seems to prove to be a worthwhile program to pursue as information about NonStop continues to arrive and it’s taking a lot of effort to understand it all. Let alone respond.

And this past week too followed the production of the September issue of NonStop Insider – have you read it yet? If not, you may want to check it out as it was another 20 submission issue: NonStop Insider Issue 3.12 This was a special issue as it celebrated three years of issues and next month, we will begin year  four. A lot of work has been done to ensure the success of this publication and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our good friends at TCM, Scotland. At this point it’s worth noting too that the upcoming Sep – Oct, 2019 issue of The Connection will feature multiple articles, commentaries and opinions by your team at Pyalla Technologies, LLC so look for the promotion of this issue as it is only a matter of days from being published online.

One thing has always intrigued me with RUG events – the numbers of NonStop users attending each event may be in the low double digits but with as many as there are held each year, it soon adds up to a sizable number. And this doesn’t include the major regional events held each year including the NonStop Technical Boot Camp that will be held in a couple of weeks’ time or even the past European TBC held a few months ago in Edinburgh, Scotland. There was a time when just one customer showed up for a RUG event then five or six and now oftentimes, a dozen or so. My experience is that each RUG event represents an opportunity to tell a lot more of the NonStop story at a time when there is a lot more to tell. In case you missed it perhaps the biggest story is that NonStop X is being deployed at a faster rate than the upgrade to Itanium which in turn saw upgrades to NonStop I taking place fast than the upgrades to the S-Series.

This was according to HPE VP, Mission Critical Systems, Jeff Kyle who was present for ATUG and provided invaluable insight into not only the NonStop product but the NonStop business as well. Jeff, pictured above gave one of the better presentations I have seen him give and it was encouraging to see an HPE executive of his statute take the time to fill us all in on the progress HPE is making with NonStop. And yes, one again, it was Jeff who reiterated that NonStop wasn’t offloaded to Micro Focus as just one more non-core products but rather, was kept and showcased in numerous ways as being core to HPE’s future. Showcased? It’s hard to ignore the investment of the past five or so years HPE has made in NonStop even as it’s hard to ignore the substantial investment HPE’s own IT has been making in NonStop – you want another option rather than Oracle and you are finding Oracle RAC both expensive in not scalable? Well with NonStop you have a worthwhile and viable alternative – just ask HPE IT!

However, it was just two statements by Jeff that really caught my attention and drove a number of conversations among the NonStop community that was present. What triggered my attention began when Jeff reminded us all of statements made by HPE CEO Antonio Neri at this year’s HPE Discover 2019, Las Vegas. “BY 2022, everything as a service,” was by now a well-known declaration but Jeff added to this by saying that a few years later, we will see “everything in memory!” I have written about this in briefing papers to my clients but it’s worth dwelling on for just a minute or two. Has development of storage progressed to the point where there is little difference between cache, main memory and storage? Are we seeing the possibility of flash storage available in vast quantities and yes, even optic memory having an impact to where we can consider memory as being universally unlimited? Does this make as think again about analytics and the intersection between analytics and transaction processing?

Consider this one way to segue into the first statement that intrigued us all. According to Jeff, “We, at NonStop, create data!” Simple enough to say but how often do we overlook this important consideration? After all, with all the talk about analytics and the value of data – yes, for business today, data is the new currency – data has to originate somewhere and with NonStop occupying the front lines with respect to end user engagement, of course NonStop is where data is created. So, having said that, data has to be moved! But how far? In an increasingly virtualized world, perhaps that movement now is just a matter of nanometers as the analytics is performed in an adjacent virtual machines possibly even running on the same x86 server as NonStop. Yes, the world of analytics and transaction processing – the world where OLTP meets OLAP and more – is colliding and perhaps a lot faster than we may have imagined.

As for the second statement coming from Jeff, having just about the same level of impact on the attendees was when he said that “technology will be embedded, everywhere.” Not merely a cliché or yet one more example of perhaps AI but rather, when you consider the cost of CPUs as predicted by VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz,  going to zero then expect to find CPUs in everything. Or at least this is the current thought of industry watchers and if you would like to read more on this, check out this latest issue of NonStop Insider and read the
CTO Advisor newsletter by Keith Townsend.

As if to confirm what Jeff stated, Townsend adds that he expects “I to see more of this model where services companies give away the hardware because of the non-existent cost of CPU. It also means that Intel and AMD will push into adjacent areas where they now partner. Intel’s push into AI, Networking, and Storage are examples of this trend.” For the NonStop community the implication is pretty straight forward – expect to see NonStop embedded right along with the CPUs. While it hasn’t been confirmed as a product as yet, just the sight of NonStop running on HPE’s own Edgeline systems designed for deployment at the edge and a likely candidate for embedding, reinforces the premise that technology will be embedded, everywhere!

So there you have it. You would have only heard about this and been a participant in the discussions that followed over coffee if you were actually present for the RUG event. Simple enough – it you missed the event, you missed the discussions. And of late with as much that is happening with NonStop as is being reported, do you really believe in the status quo? Do you really think you know everything about NonStop? More importantly, if you want to be in a position to help your enterprise, you need to know the full story and be able to paint a picture of NonStop that is both relevant for your enterprise as it is an opportunity to expand its responsibilities. NonStop has one key attribute that diminishes little in the current world of IT – availability. This is something we can never leave out of the conversation.

Over the next couple of months, Margo and I will be heading out on the road again this time travelling from the east coast to the west coast. From Washington D.C. to San Francisco. And we will be gathering further insights on how enterprises are embracing NonStop but to hear more about this, you will not only need to follow these blog posts but you will have to be present at TBC. Will we see you there? Sure hope you make it and remember, it really is very true, it’s on NonStop where data is created!

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!

Looks can be deceiving! HPE NonStop; when being the best still matters!

For the NonStop community, we know what looks good may not only be deceptive but borderline dangerous; mission critical applications are bes...