Monday, October 28, 2019

NonStop Technical Boot Camp – prosperous times ahead?

Road trips persist in 2019 but the next one, taking us to Boot Camp we expect will be the highlight of the year!

Having just returned from one road trip we are now prepping for another. A change in the weather; a change of clothes and yes, a change of vehicles! This is probably my second to last post on the NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC) as the event draws near. I am bound to have more thoughts about this event while driving the three days from Colorado to California. We drove to Washington in our AWD Jaguar F Type and as small as the car is, we managed to fit in all the clothes we needed for the ten days road trip. Perhaps the strongest indication of a bright future for NonStop manifesting itself came when we passed the sign suggesting we needed to make a turn in order to visit prosperity!

This post is also the last post I write from my trusty laptop that I have had since 2011. Amazing it’s lasted this long, but on this latest trip, the key board of my Sony Vaio packed it in and while the keyboard can be replaced it’s time for a new laptop anyway. Did I mention this Sony is heavy; coming soon is my new “2018 Newest HP Pavilion Business Flagship Laptop PC 15.6" HD Touchscreen Display 8th Gen Intel i5-8250U Quad-Core Processor 12GB DDR4 RAM 1TB HDD Backlit-Keyboard Bluetooth B&O Audio Windows 10-Gold” Now, that’s a branding situation that simply rolls off the tongue, but yes, after so many years working with the HPE community I am finally getting a HP Pavilion laptop.

There are probably many better options but, for me, weighing just 2.65 pounds (1.2 kilos) it’s a winner and since I already have a HP printer and a big desktop monitor, I am all set. However, during this process I was visiting many web sites for information and it struck me just how static many web sites have become. By this, I mean how little they change over time and yes, how little attention they are getting on a daily basis. 

The question I have been asking myself of late is whether or not web sites have outlived their purpose and whether they have become more of an artifact of a lost era. Have apps that direct us to communities and conversations replaced the need for web sites?

Having just written this let me reiterate that I am a writer, commentator, speaker, blogger where social media channels represent my line of sight to the NonStop community. As an IT analyst who continues to track HPE, Mission Critical Systems and NonStop web sites remain an important “encyclopedia” for me as they provide access to almost unlimited reference material. The sites that draw me back to them are those that continue to evolve and yet, I do not rely on them to develop a sense of community.  

Then there is the topic of white papers, customer case studies and yes, technical (and even marketing) briefs where objectivity is of paramount importance. As a writer working in an era where extracting anything specific from a client or customer is increasingly difficult due to many companies’ policies (together with recent company-directed legislation) restricting anything published that could be regarded as being a recommendation or endorsement, it’s difficult. Anyone attempting to publish an update on a product or service oftentimes has to resort to using generic descriptions. 

I am at the point where I simply don’t want to read anything more from that “large national bank” or even that “industrial behemoth”, particularly when the community at large can figure out who these anonymous entities are pretty quickly. It’s quirky, I know, but there are only so many auto manufacturers headquartered in Bavaria, or Stuttgart.

There is another factor at work when writing such white papers and that is the dreaded revue cycle. For the papers I have produced for vendors, some have been in review for as many as six months, by which time the “wow, or news,” factor has worn off. A number of papers I have written have not even made it out of the review cycle at all – one large UK payment processor was acquired twice during the process so the quotes attributed to execs made no sense! 

But the point is, we turned to web sites to find such information and traditionally depended upon them for references and indeed, in some situations, meaningful reviews. But no longer – any information available on a web site is dated at best, and yes, potentially misleading at worst.

On the other hand, when we talk of blogs we change gears and talk about opinions. Rather than being objective they are peppered with subjective information – it’s all about storytelling, isn’t it? All too often in our industry it’s important to know well your blogger before taking to heart the information provided.  When it comes to the NonStop community we are very fortunate to have as many social media channels as exist today. Even once traditional printed media has gone on line and it only takes keying in a couple of appropriate terms and search engines will return pages of posts and commentaries on the topic.

NonStop is being transformed even as the community is on the precipice of even greater transformation – by 2022 HPE will deliver every product it sells today on the basis of a service. It has introduced the term XaaS to cover this topic – everything as a service. Having noted this and the timetable against which HPE is executing, nevertheless having the option to run NonStop-as-a-Service may be a nice option to have but in the world of mission critical transaction processing, the bulk of NonStop deployments will remain traditional. That is, on NonStop X and at this upcoming TBC, NonStop X will continue to attract the brightest spotlight.

If as yet you aren’t aware of my own presentation at TBC let me just inform you that at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, November 5, in Regency Ballroom B I will be a guest speaker of NTI where I will be discussing NTI strategy; From Replication to distribution, integration and transformation; NTI is putting data first! Hear me talk about DRNet® support for replication, distribution, integration and transformation of data to meet whatever requirements that enterprises demand today of data generated on NonStop! “NTI has also announced DRNet® VISION – support for better NonStop integration with AI, BI, data lakes and warehouses - add to this, NTI is pleased to announce DRNet® supports JSON formats.” Again I very much thank the team at NTI for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to seeing you there immediately following lunch.

However, it would also be remiss of me not to mention two other events taking place during TBC. The first intrigues me a little as it’s the first time I recall ever seeing a Hackathon being advertised by the NonStop community. Jointly promoted by Connect and the NonStop Under 40 (NSU40) planning team it will be the first ever NonStop Hackathon and the challenge for participants will be to “build a web server that answers HTTP requests with a web page or REST API response.”

As for the goal, one key aim of the NSU40s organizers “is to encourage and celebrate a wider participation in NonStop from an emerging generation of IT professionals.” As for the event, it is directed at bringing together Women in Technology at a “Mixer- Sponsored by XYPRO.” This will be a networking event taking place at 5:00 pm Tuesday in Sandpebble C; Sandpebble D – and I know already that this will prove to be well attended. Will I be able to put my head through the door? We will just have to wait and see …

Where will social media be helpful at TBC? During the event and very likely in the weeks that follow, there will be many posts and commentaries provided by individuals and all of them will be worth checking out. That, of course, is the beauty of opinions – we all have them. However, when it comes to opinions, remember the subjective nature of them and make sure you know in advance the storyline being pursued. There will be numerous competing points of view and, by itself, competition is good. But here’s the thing we need to take stock of – as a product family, NonStop is a key member of the Mission Critical Portfolio and as such, it’s a product line that has prospered and now encourages numerous members of the NonStop community to write about it – isn’t that a good thing?

Web sites, white papers, social media channels – the pendulum continues to move through its arc and with each passing, popularity waxes and wanes. TBC will be a huge source for new material that will be readily snatched up by all those who continue to be storytellers looking for new, fresh material. To think, NonStop may soon be celebrating fifty years – yes, it’s a ways off but check the NonStop product roadmaps while you are at TBC and do the math – and even as attention is being directed towards the younger generation of which there will be many present at this year’s TBC, there will be many of us who will be present for that fiftieth birthday bash. 

How many architectures, technologies indeed product lines have flourished for this long? How many computer systems have enjoyed the prosperity of NonStop? Well, that’s another story for another time but for now, there are still presentations to be drafted, bags to be packed, weather forecasts checked and many miles to cover. See you all in Burlingame, California next week!   

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