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! 

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