Monday, June 29, 2020

Changing our perspective; what develops will be good!

HPE Discover is always an occasion that the NonStop community looks forward to and with the event going virtual, HPE met our expectations …

One of the benefits of living in Colorado is that the weather is truly a hit or miss circumstance. For the past week we have ventured out into morning sunshine only to be pelted a few hours later by heavy rain and yes, hail. Whether it’s ducking back into stores that happen to be open or jumping into our vehicles it doesn’t really make a difference. Living in Colorado, alongside the Rocky Mountains, means making adjustments quickly in response to changing circumstances no matter what plans were in place. And yet, after checking with the locals, apparently Colorado enjoys more sunny days than just about any place else in USA.

Among the many changes of circumstance that the global pandemic has brought about is that for Information Technologists the big-tent marketing events put on by major vendors have undergone change that will likely live on well after any sense of normalcy returns. Nowhere was this more apparent than with HPE’s annual trek to Las Vegas for HPE Discover. It may be June and the weather may be openly hostile but every year for as long as Margo and I have been associated with HPE, there has been an event in Las Vegas. And we have travelled to each and every one of them beginning with HPTF 2008!

For 2020, with the global pandemic still in full swing, HPE Discover 2020 became a virtual event and I have to say the effort made by HPE to ensure a sense of community paid off handsomely. From the early press, analyst and influencer briefings that began early Monday on through to numerous entertaining sessions with HPE executives along with industry and sporting personalities were very well prepared and interesting – I even had the chance to ask questions of Susie Wolff and Felipe Massa of the Formula E Venturi team, of which HPE is one of the sponsors.

I have to admit I went into the week a little wary of how it would be received. I also have to admit that I wasn’t all that upbeat about this event’s prospects of attracting a crowd. And was I wrong. Numbers were clearly up across the board – if you hadn’t registered for the hands-on labs that were being held that week then you were plain out of luck. They were essentially oversubscribed even as I am still unsure what a virtual hands-on really means other than what I did hear back from those who managed to participate. There were dedicated systems set up for the purpose and these virtual attendees got real world experience with newly announced software.

To say I had a change in perspective sums up my own experience. Once again the guest of HPE as a member of its influencer program, HPE manager Laura Mackay and her team went to great lengths to keep us all engaged and throughout the event there were numerous occasions where Laura simply invited us to log onto Zoom for “Bloom Networking Events” where there was no agenda other than each of us updating the others on what we were doing and then joining in on a free flowing exchange about our experiences to date. And yes, these sessions were held in good spirits and were fun … and we all enjoyed a kind of informal social even as some of our European colleagues were participating at very unfriendly hours.

We each received SWAGs from Laura and as in former times we each ripped into the package as it landed on our doorstep. Sweat pants, coffee mugs, a HPE custom Rubix Cube, Apple earphones, and more … but again, it was the opportunity to hear directly from the HPE team that held our attention. It had only been a few days earlier that HPE CEO Antonio Neri advised the world that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and yet, here we were, logged into the HPE network, listening to Antonio early Monday morning as he held a press and analyst pre-briefing on the as-a-Service and HPE GreenLake news that HPE was releasing at Discover Virtual Experience.

All under NDA, of course, until early morning the next day when Antonio gave his keynote address. I have to admit there was more than one of us caught by surprise over the steps HPE was taking to truly differentiate itself from the competition. HPE is now one year into a three year program whereby it is focusing all of its energies on becoming the edge-to-cloud platform “as-a-Service” company. “Edge to Cloud, delivered as a service is the right solution for today,” said Antonio. “Furthermore, we are entering the age of insight; more informed doesn’t mean more intelligent. The edge is where we live and work (and now we are delivering) on the next wave – bringing the cloud experience deep inside the core; to the data center.”

In a separate presentation, Antonio said:

“I believe we are nearing the end of the information era, which focused on generating and collecting massive amounts of data—data that could not be brought together to create timely insights and actions to change our future.

“The next decade must be about insights and discoveries that are shared and elevate the greater well-being of every human being on this planet. 

“The age of insight requires new principles and priorities for digital transformation. The focus is to build an edge to cloud platform that connects, protects, analyzes and acts on all of your data and brings agility to your apps to unlock your enterprise’s full potential.”

Pointnext; GreenLake, Ezmeral – what do they all mean? And what exactly is the Edge? As HPE provided more information about its vision it was clear that the Edge was much more than a sensor or terminal. For many enterprises, the trend was towards populating mini data centers as it was becoming more important to process data as it was being created. The Edge is the manifestation of intelligence being moved closer to the source. When announced, Pointnext was billed as being the HPE technology services organization in support of Hybrid IT but as of May 2020 its leader, Pradeep Kumar, reports directly to Neri. As HPE accelerates it’s move to as-a-Service, it is Pointnext where the skillsets needed to oversee as-a-Serivce deployment reside.

GreenLake? It too can be viewed as a service that brings with it products heavily oriented towards software. If you want to run your IT as-a-Service, who is tracking your usage? GreenLake Central is a hub (supporting a dashboard) where the data is located and where HPE looks for updates on usage – think Pointnext as financing your IT resources and GreenLake as collecting data on how those resources are being used. All under the general heading of only having to pay for what you use …

Ezmeral is a branding exercise that brings together all the HPE software needed to ensure that you not only can deploy your IT as-a-Service but where you can bring the cloud experience you see today on offer by the major cloud service providers, in-house. One set of tools and utilities with the added flexibility that from a dashboard you can assess the cost benefits of running an application in-house or in a cloud. Flexibility in ways unimagined only a short time ago and yet, with only 30% of applications and data running in clouds today, this will help modernize and indeed integrate what remains in-house. The easy applications were moved quickly to the cloud, but now those hard to move applications can benefit from cloud-like oversight.

CRN reporter Steven Burke saw it and following HPE CTO Kumar Sreekani covering the introduction of GreenLake and introducing the new HPE software brand, Ezmeral, Steven concluded that as of now, HPE Ezmeral Is ‘Undisputed Leader’ In AI Battle With AWS, VMware, Red Hat: Kumar Sreekanti If you read just one article published following HPE Discover 2020 then this might be the one you want to choose – just follow the hyperlink above.

Of importance for the NonStop community came much later statements by Antonio with none more important than the following: 

“It is not just about GreenLake because we have a transactional business which is very large and we are pivoting to as-a-service, which is the long-term future. We need to be able to do both and be able to give partners the flexibility to come along.”

Delivering Edge to Cloud as a service is the vision but it’s also complementary to what HPE delivers today to its enterprise users. The subtle twist however is that even with its transactional business HPE will not be excluding NonStop from GreenLake. It may not seem apparent at the moment even as there is work to be done by the NonStop team to complete the journey to “as-a-Service,” but it’s safe to say that this journey for NonStop is being investigated even now.

Perhaps it was in the explanation of the goal for Ezmeral given by CTO Kumar that clarifies at least one future for NonStop:

“While transactional (business) remains popular, we have to change customer experience and engagement as it really is all about the end-to-end experience.”

If you aren’t sure about what this implies then it should become clear in the coming months – NonStop will be as easy to configure, deploy and operate as any other cloud service offering today with enterprises able to readily glide between platforms without any loss of the cloud experience. Not today, as there’s much to do. This may take a while to sink in but NonStop is a part of this journey and as such, will be subject to additional development work that brings it into this new age of insight. After all, NonStop creates data and it is fresh data created in real time that has the most to offer enterprises poised on making insightful decisions.  

Circumstances just like the weather can change rapidly and for vendors like HPE the future is changing rapidly. Very soon HPE will become more like a software and services vendor, with hardware lessening in priority. NonStop customers will still be able to purchase traditional NonStop systems but looming large on the horizon is a completely new way to view NonStop. And the good news that continues to develop? Whether you deploy NonStop out at the edge, close to the source of transactions or integrate at the core supporting database services, there are always benefits to be had with a solution that never fails. 

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