Sunday, February 23, 2020

Best of both worlds – NonStop has you covered!

It hasn’t been hard to catch a sunset or two in California; for the NonStop community, it’s time to look again at twin stars (as covered in a post more than a decade ago) that is even more relevant today!

Looking towards the far-off horizon especially when it has to do with watching the sun set over the ocean has always been a sight that has grabbed my attention. Of late, Margo and I have had the opportunity to drive up and down on California’s coastal highway where there was more than one occasion to enjoy brilliant sunsets. Margo and I now live in northern Colorado where it is not the sea but rather the mountains that frame the suns last rays but, all the same, it is a reminder that no matter what took place during the day, there is a finality to it all; the sun has set and night will prevail.

Paging through older posts to this blog I came across the post of October 20, 2007, The pull from twin stars ... published just after the European ITUG event in Brighton, England. It began with references to the very first Star Wars film (Episode IV). Given the topical nature of all things Star Wars of late, you may not recall that in that first installment of the Star Wars saga, Luke Skywalker was depicted living on a planet that orbited two suns where the double sunsets were a spectacular sight.

Two suns or better still, twin stars, present in the real universe exhibit some pretty interesting gravitational effects – pulling very large bodies into their orbits while, over millions of years, kicking many heavenly bodies into the depths of deep space. Bright as they are they are turning up pretty much everywhere astronomers look. And yet, this image of competing forces got me thinking once again about this new decade for NonStop. It’s hard to ignore that change is taking place, rapidly, to the point where vendors like HPE are wrestling with solution priorities as no vendor can address it all!

Furthermore, when you think of twin stars, gravity and the inherent conflicts that arise from the presence of such twins, images of conflicted CIOs come to mind. In that post of 2007, I noted that when looking for the right solution (to today’s business problems), there is more often than not the question about “the dynamics of the pull and push effects on our data center, as we first distribute and then centralize. We empower our department users and then we pull it all back again. And over the years there have been very sound economic reasons in support for each directional change.” But is it really a question at all? Are we in fact on the receiving end of the best of both worlds where there really isn’t any wrong answer – just answers?

What is even more interesting to Margo and me is that as we scrolled back even further through the blog we came to a post just a few days beforehand. If you look at the comments that followed the October 6, 2007, post, Don’t change my toys! When it comes to further consideration of what answers will work for business today, it’s good to note that there is nothing new about such discussions as even after a decade, some observations still ring true today. For instance, with regards to the October 6, 2007, post -

Take a look at the first comment:

Shouldn’t we be spending our time addressing the requirements of our business more than re-working our code? Shouldn’t our NonStop servers be transparent to the graduates out of school wanting to develop solutions?

We are spending tremendous energy and money to make the systems (toys) we use make sense to more of us. Just further evidence to me that the hardware is reaching its limits and has far outstripped the soft side of IT.

And then the subsequent comment:

We are still "babes in the woods."

We are just beginning to feel the first waves of compressed time in a rapidly changing world. Platforms, environments, UI's cannot and will not remain the same... unless we want stagnation. Get used to it.

There is much that I could say about these separate comments even as they resonate as strongly with me today as they did all that time ago. And who could have guessed we would still be talking about how best to “educate” IT professionals about how easy it is to write solutions for NonStop even as we continue to think in terms of the world being software driven. 

But there is one more item that needs to be included here and that is that circling back to the issue of two stars, and the influence they exert, given that today we have the issue of where NonStop lives in a world dominated by conversations of the Core and the Edge. While there are some questions about the gravitational effects on orbiting satellites when it comes to whether or not this HPE strategy is having an effect on NonStop then the simple answer is, of course!

Analogies with heavenly bodies can only go so far and as the comments posted back in 2007 highlight, there are just as many questions as there are describable business scenarios. However, when it comes to NonStop systems today, we can safely say we have the best of both worlds – for support of databases and SQL at the core, NonStop performs well and for support of transaction processing at touch points with end users NonStop performs equally as well. Throw into the mix the option to deploy a traditional converged system or virtualized and companies now have an abundance of riches with NonStop.

When describing the conflicts faced by CIOs it’s hard to ignore too that they are being tugged back and forth. The comment made all those years ago that asked “
Shouldn’t our NonStop servers be transparent to the graduates out of school wanting to develop solutions?” is right on the money. While other vendors are promoting the programs they are supporting at universities around the planet, the real answer lies in ensuring the tools we use today to develop solutions for systems can readily be used with NonStop. In other words, use the tools you have – no training required! In a world where it’s all about DevOps, deployment on NonStop shouldn’t be a problem.

Given the work done of late to ensure NonStop can participate as easily as any other system in a DevOps world, there is little chance that the ill effects of gravity hurling orbiting bodies deep into outer space will apply to NonStop. And this is indeed good news. As a community we now know that we can leverage the attributes of NonStop – availability, security, scalability – easily and readily just as we now know we can deploy NonStop at the Core or the Edge. Perhaps the heavens can continue to educate us after all; the models that hold the universe together seem to be working quite satisfactorily since time immemorially.

Looking at sunsets as we often do on our travels, particularly when it involves travel to the west coast where sunsets involve watching the sun disappear over the horizon, is a time-honored custom for Margo and me. But then again, so too is ruminating on the positive aspects of NonStop and the benefits NonStop continues to bring to companies whose business cannot be interrupted for any reason. 

Gravity indeed may influence the decisions we make but isn’t it good to know, we are maintaining a stable orbit around the mission critical needs of those businesses. There will indeed be challenges ahead in this new decade but taking a positive stance over NonStop will not be one of those challenges and as a community, this is perhaps the bright spot of the year for us all!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

It’s time for three more wishes for NonStop!

Three years have come around rather quickly this time but it’s still worth thinking further ahead when it comes to our wishes for NonStop in 2023!

Celebrating each New Year comes with a lot of obligations. It’s not just a case of staying up late to enjoy the fireworks, although, I have to say, I haven’t managed to do that very often – my trip to Sydney to see its firework display being the most memorable exception. Then there is the mandatory popping of champagne corks and celebratory hugs, and more, and it was only a few years ago when Margo and I took to the streets of Key West to witness its approach to welcoming the New Year, where we were quickly educated about crowd control. However, perhaps entering each New Year is even more memorable because of the tradition of making a wish. Whether it’s embracing a new diet, spending more time at the gym or simply deciding to spend more time outdoors, each of us makes a wish / resolution of one kind or another.

Having written this, it seems only appropriate that I segue into the focus of this post – it’s a post I always approach with enthusiasm. I write it only once every three years, but even now, with the rate of change accelerating perhaps I need to consider providing an updated list of wishes at the start of each year. Imagine for a moment, as some pundits are declaring, what IT might look like in the future if the cost of computing does indeed go to zero. How far would you like to see computing go in terms of interacting with everything we do? On the other hand, what if it meant that NonStop could run everywhere and anchor all applications we would then be relying on round the clock, every week, every month, every year?

However, before taking a deeper dive into my next three wishes, it struck me that with the beginning of a new decade and as we move deeper into the twenty-first century, what predictions others had been making that were more general in nature. As a CNN Business report published, Nanobots, ape chauffeurs and flights to Pluto. The predictions for 2020 we got horribly wrong that weren’t shy about reporting on the shortcomings of some predictions. “According to various experts, scientists and futurologists, we would have landed on Pluto and robots should be doing our laundry by now. Oh, and we'd all be living to 150. ‘Futurists and technology experts say robots and artificial intelligence of various sorts will become an accepted part of daily life by the year 2020 and will almost completely take over physical work,’ Elon University noted in 2006.”

Furthermore, and just a little closer to home and to reality, it was also reported by CNN that “in 2000 (futurist Ray) Kurzweil also predicted that computers would be ‘largely invisible’ and ‘embedded everywhere - in walls, tables, chairs, desks, clothing, jewelry, and bodies,’ by 2020.” What doesn’t escape our imagination is that indeed, we are close to entering an era where robots can do many of the tasks we do today and much of the information we gather and the transactions we execute will be guided by AI somewhere in the background. If only we could get rid of those dreaded chatbots, we might be able to see better uses of data and ML / AL becoming beneficial to us all. One last prediction as reported by CNN: “In 2000, Eric Haseltine wrote in Discover magazine that written signatures would be ‘considered quaint’ by 2020, replaced by biometric IDs, including iris, fingerprint and voice-recognition systems.”

Back in posts to this blog in 2008 I managed to squeeze in two separate quotes by legendary baseball manager Yogi Berra. In the March 2008 post The path well-trodden – to Mandalay Bay! , where I wrote hesitantly about which NonStop products will gain traction with the community, I wrote that when making predictions we might do well to remember Berra when he said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” It was only a matter of a few months later in the June 2008 post It's still the same, just different! where I wrote about strategy and setting directions, I again referenced Berra noting how he once said, “If you don't know where you're going, chances are you will end up somewhere else.” When it comes to NonStop it is indeed tough to make predictions about the future of NonStop even as it’s perhaps even tougher to state categorically where NonStop is headed.

Putting all of this aside for one moment, there is still value in taking the information the NonStop team has provided in presentations given to the NonStop community in 2019 and extrapolating a couple of highlights that in turn can be used to anchor further conversations about what might happen over the course of the next three years. Naturally enough, in the preview post of July 30, 2019, Three more wishes coming soon – the path ahead for NonStop I dropped a few clues as to what I might be covering in this post. But then again, in the short time that has passed since that post was published, events have intervened to the point where the direction has changed and the predictions taken on a different meaning.

If we are looking to start then it is useful to look back at what three wishes were documented on February 13, 2019, Three new wishes for NonStop that address the next three years! To summarize, these included predictions that NonStop users would be buying more NonStop X systems and in migrating to L-Series OS, begin looking at virtualized NonStop. As for NonStop vendors, it was an admonishment to them to lift their game not so much because they were slipping behind as much as it was an encouragement to keep up with NonStop development. When it came to the NonStop development team, the predictions here would be that we would see more education, training, mentoring and promotion and this was to be driven by a need to better educate the industry (including the press and industry analysts) about the new NonStop! So, how did we do?

Sales of NonStop X really took off in 2019 and new services in support of modernization and migration were introduced. Virtualized NonStop has come through some serious PoCs and contracts have been signed. Virtualized NonStop too has been the subject of a HPE video that is now live and can be viewed at -

Or, if you prefer to view this video on Youtube, that too is now an option

Furthermore, HPE Mission Critical Systems (MCS) marketing has published a new post on the subject of virtualization and Virtualized NonStop that can be found at -

This uptick by MCS marketing is refreshing to see in that it is a tangible sign that NonStop is very much a part of HPE’s modernization program. When you think about it this is one aspect of my wishes for NonStop through the years, that are coming to fruition, even as it has been an area of interest for most of us – well done HPE and the MCS team!

As for NonStop vendors, they did indeed step up their game and the NonStop community now sees more vendor products included in the NonStop price book than ever before. As for NonStop development, including the Mission Critical Systems (MCS) marketing team, we have seen three videos produced promoting NonStop even as at major events, symposiums and boot camps, we have seen presentations being given that were designed to educate and challenge. The changes that I wished for in that post of three years ago have mostly come true even if looking back, they weren’t all that aggressive in terms of measurable deliverables.

However, this all changes with this post as, once again, we go out on a limb. Predicting the future may indeed be hard but then again, it’s also an opportunity to begin a whole new conversation on NonStop. To put headings or titles to these latest three wishes, then perhaps these will prove helpful: Three Platforms, One Channel and yes, Transparency. HPE has laid out its vision and is executing a strategy that targets June 2022 – their own three year plan if you like, that was launched last June at HPE Discover 2019. When it comes to transforming the enterprise and delivering Hybrid IT based on a model that calls out Data, the Core and the Intelligent Edge, everything available today at the Core will become available for the Edge and everything in the product portfolio that is software will become available as a service.

And now for the wishes that I have for the next three years!

Firstly, NonStop will be an option on all primary systems from HPE: Three Platforms - from ProLiant, to Synergy, to Apollo! In some instance this will result in NonStop “morphing” into just a feature of these product lines whereas there will be other instances where NonStop as software will be present on a co-processor plugged into massive amounts of shared data. Virtualized NonStop will hold the key and in so doing, proves that there will be no limits as to where NonStop can be deployed; consider this as a key deliverable within the framework of everything running at the Core will become available at the Edge. Within the Core or out on the Edge, enterprises will have options and it is only reasonable to expect NonStop to gravitate closer to where the action takes place – the Edge. 

Secondly, NonStop will find its place (and role) within HPE Greenlake: One channel!  The recent announcement of Greenlake Central is setting the stage for delivering on the promise of everything as a service. If all goes to plan, this will make NonStop available through major channel partners and combined with the new gateway / console model, almost any business manager will be able to choose to run mission-critical applications on NonStop. HPE will retain a dedicated sales force in support of NonStop but in time, as HPE gains experience with NonStop participation in Greenlake, the emphasis will likely shift to this sales force becoming more integrated within Greenlake.

Thirdly, there is still a lot taking place within the data center where you will see progressively greater usage of private clouds: Transparency in that you may not know where NonStop is running and it won’t matter. We are still seeing the majority of NonStop users deploying NonStop on traditional converged systems, but very quickly and because of the cost savings from reliance on standardized automation, orchestration and provisioning and yes, management and monitoring, NonStop on private clouds will prove popular and in three years’ time, begin overtaking the presence of NonStop on traditional systems. We will see a clearer understanding of how enterprises can benefit from infrastructure and middleware running on NonStop such that DevOps will be able to include NonStop deployments complete transparently – and hasn’t this always been an ultimate goal for NonStop?

When it comes to starting a new conversation on NonStop, perhaps it should begin with the new mantra being repeated in all high level presentations on NonStop: Industry Standard, Software Defined, Cloud Optimized. Yes, NonStop? Won’t Stop! That too conveys a lot in just a few simple words. So, to really put it out there, I see a future for NonStop that even the newest member of the IT organization can assemble new services using Java or Python or Ruby together with tools that are being widely deployed today across the IT organization including the likes of Puppet, Chef, Jenkins, Salt, Ansible, Kubernetes, Docker, Nagios, Cloud Computing and storage platform, and Infrastructure as a Code.  Yes, the barriers have come down to where today GIT and Jenkins run on NonStop just as NonStop can interface with Ansible.

NonStop on all systems! NonStop in all channels! And yes, NonStop becoming transparent, disappearing as it were, into the cloud. All that is then left to ask: Are you ready? 

Monday, February 3, 2020

For NonStop users, feeling all at sea - RUG events are a must!

Where do we really learn about what’s new with NonStop? Who do we turn to for the real skinny on all things NonStop? It’s when the NonStop community comes together at RUG meetings where it all happens!

Many of the miles Margo and I accumulate on our cars, in any one year, have to do with driving to Regional User Group (RUG) meetings. For us both, it’s an integral part of the culture that is NonStop. We wouldn’t miss an event held anywhere in North America if we can attend and oftentimes memories of past meetings are only triggered when we remember which car we drove to the event. There were even times where we elected to drive our former Company Command Center clear across country. Maneuvering the RV in and around Virginia proved a daunting task I have to admit!

But then again, we like to drive. This past month it’s been all about the drive, once again. If you come up short on the specifics of those recent trips, you may want to just check back through recent posts to this blog as well as to the January post to our social blog, Buckle-Up. All up, driving is a time to decompress and to simply take solace from a little downtime. How many times have we started our day looking forward to pursuing a task only to have the day’s plans turned upside down with an email or a phone call? For the NonStop community, particularly the NonStop user community, so much is taking place within our companies that simply staying atop of change is proving particularly challenging.

Long gone are the days sitting in a classroom setting listening to knowledgeable instructors talking about how best to leverage our investment in NonStop. It is perhaps a sad commentary on the times when we no longer have budget approval to upgrade our skills – remember those times when we would happily participate in a three-week course on data base, especially when the fundamentals of a relational data base  management system (and SQL) were being covered? Or when there was an in-depth tutorial on how best to capitalize on the features of a transaction monitor like Pathway? Point is, if we cannot find a Youtube clip walking us through a process then we are left bereft of knowledge and that’s never good in our world of IT.

Fortunately, the NonStop community has RUG events. For as long as I can recall, there has always been some form of education involved, whether directly through an optional half-day session or indirectly, where a NonStop engineer or product manager is presenting. When it comes to the bigger events that are held annually either here in the US or in Europe, there are frequently front-ended by full days’ worth of education and the value that participants derive from the guidance and information provided is well, priceless. It cannot be underestimated or downplayed in any way – gathering of the NonStop community always communicate something beneficial to the participants no matter the focus of the event or the agendas of the presenters.

Shortly, we will see SunTUG kick-off its much anticipated RUG event in Tampa, Florida. Anticipated, that is, by all those who continue to be knee-deep in snow. Any opportunity to embrace the “snowbird lifestyle” is welcome at this time of year. I have attended several SunTUG events through the years and the team that puts the program together always makes sure that there is a social day immediately following the formalities. Once again, it will be the SunTUG Golf Tournament. Living alongside a golf course in Northern Colorado these days is no substitute for being on a course in Florida and I am expecting a goodly crowd to show up for both the formal and social portions of the event.

Successful RUG events have traditionally been associated with opportunities to socialize. And this is an important aspect of RUG events as it’s always a time for informal discussions on matters raised at the event. Strategies can be fine-tuned and complex infrastructure options all sorted out. In days when there’s an absence of meaningful user case studies oftentimes, it is over networking opportunities where we jet the skinny on what really works and what’s still very much slideware. Who else should you be turning to other than to a colleague that is already a couple of steps further along the product deployment path than you are?

When it comes to NonStop RUG events in 2020 what may very well top the list of topics being covered will be virtualization. This is very much a topic near and dear to my heart having first tested the virtualization waters five decades ago (yes, I was a child prodigy as I keep reminding myself). Replacing traditional converged NonStop systems with virtual machines is well, different. After being inundated for decades with the message that Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) computing models were the way to go and that having many touchpoints to the metal was important, it’s as if we have left dry land and are all at sea – the seabed now hundreds if not thousands of feet beneath us. 

The novelty of Virtualized NonStop is beginning to wear off, fortunately. And yet that feeling of being out of our depth, with no lifeboat, to be seen is a reoccurring thought many of us are having – will NonStop lose its identity, for instance? If NonStop is out there, running atop hypervisors as a collection of virtual machines, does it even exist? Of course, any existential musings we may experience may only alleviate part of our angst that is, until we catch up with the experts at the very next RUG event! Want to know about lifeboats when all at sea? Just talk to a NonStop solutions architect or someone from product management as they pretty much have the seabed all mapped out for us.

This time last year I was all at sea, literally. On the Majestic Princess – a monstrously large vessel that is a city more than a mode of transportation. One of its features was a glass walkway that curved away from the ship all the better to view the sea below and yes, the lifeboats still in their derricks just a few decks above the waterline. Several times, late at night when it was all quiet on deck, I would walk out onto this glass deck just to watch the waters rushing by – for a big ship, the Majestic could ease any concerns you may have for your safety. It was a modern ship and as such, its propulsion system ensured that at that late hour, it could cut through the waters at a high rate of knots.

When it comes to RUG events, it’s unrealistic to view them as our life rafts. Yes, NonStop is moving forward very rapidly and yes, we no longer have our feet on dry land. And yet, knowing we can turn to life rafts should situations develop is comforting. There is so much to be learnt from RUG events: Isn’t it good to know that, with the speed of change taking place with today’s modern NonStop, there’s no reason at all why we need to lack knowledge on any NonStop related topic. It’s all out there and it’s all accessible.

Perhaps the image of a life raft isn’t as much a comfort as it is a tangible reminder that we all need to be onboard the ship. Moving with the speed of the ship, well aware of where we are headed. As the year unfolds before us there will be plenty of opportunities to network and socialize even as we hear from HPE itself – will we see you at one of these events? Margo and I will certainly be attending as many as we can, so don’t hesitate in coming to us even if it’s just to say Hi! We would be only too happy to chat about the good ship, NonStop! 

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...