Right spot; right time!

Call it good planning or call it serendipitous but whatever the call, sometimes it just pays to be in the right place when news breaks. And this was the case as HPE Discover Virtual Experience reached out to us all!

It was late 1984 and I was returning to Sydney from a trip to Australia’s capital, Canberra. At that time I was working for Nixdorf Computers where I was managing the organization responsible for the introduction of Nixdorf’s Plug Compatible Mainframe (PCM) – the 8890. Having checked in early for my return flight I ventured into the Ansett Golden Wings lounge to relax. Ansett Airlines was the second national carrier alongside Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) and whereas Ansett eventually failed as an ongoing airline, in the early 1990s, TAA was gobbled up by that flying red rat, QANTAS.

For many of my friends in America, what then happened may hold little meaning but it so happened that I was in the right spot at the right time to meet the most gracious cricketer of the twentieth century, Clive Lloyd. Having been knighted since that time, Sir Clive Lloyd captained the West Indies cricket team during their most dominant period of all times and all through the 1983-1984 series in Australia, proceeded to crush the locals.

We chatted for a while and as we both rose to catch our flights, I asked Sir Clive to autograph the back of my business card. As we then began to walk to our flights he was joined by another famous WI cricketer, all-rounder Roger Harper, but I had no more business cards and so missed getting his autograph. Then again, I really didn’t want to push my luck as my good fortune was more than just a signature as I had that unique privilege of talking to one of the greatest cricketers of all time.

Being in the right place at the right time is something we are all acutely aware of, whether it’s business, our private lives or simply alone time in an airport or train station. This past week, it’s been about alone time working from my home office but I have to say, that’s not unusual for me nor is it a result of the global pandemic. It’s just the way I work these days where email and phone calls dominate the daily calendar. However, last week HPE held its annual HPE Discover event, but in a manner that none of us who regularly attended the event expected to witness. Yes, it was rebranded the HPE Discover Technical Experience with registration open to everyone at no charge. Free, and with the ability to continue the “experience” long after the event itself had run its course.

While there were no autographs involved, back in November 2017 attending the HPE Discover 2017 Madrid event, I managed to join with other HPE bloggers and HPE Influencers for a photo shoot with Antonio Neri just a few months before he took over from Meg Whitman to become the CEO of HPE. Did he already know something? By the size of his grin in this picture along with his willingness to talk to us lowly folks slumped over keyboards for most of the show, posting and tweeting, I dare say that he was indeed aware of what the future held for him.

As much as I have totally enjoyed the real events where there was plenty of time for face-to-face networking and where the exhibition hall, or what HPE referred to as the Transformation Zone, was the place to hang out should you want to button hole any of the executives. For me, it was always good to catch up with Kirk Bresniker, HPE Labs Chief Architect and HPE Fellow, who always was up for a chat and who knew exactly where “the big stuff” was headed – supercomputers, quantum computers and even The Machine.

Being in the right spot last week, seated by my laptop and screens, the world of HPE came to me! I was free to get up and have a coffee, grab a cookie and in some of the ZOOM sessions, raise my hand and enjoy a conversation. It wasn’t so much a case of talking about cricket but when the session brought us together with Formula E team principal, Susie Wolff, and he driver Felipe Massa, then simply having Susie state, “good question, Richard!” had to be one of the highlights for me. Imagine being introduced by the moderator as “Richard, who also racers cars, Susie, has a question …”

I know I posted of this last time writing to this blog but I still chuffed to say we kind of had a conversation going there, but again, no possibility of an autograph on this occasion. Virtual events can only go so far and provide only so much of an atmosphere – the “occasion” is truly mitigated by the fact that I am in the basement. But here’s the thing, when it comes to events real and virtual, it comes back to content and presentation and if you are given an opportunity to hear directly from charismatic personalities (yes, F1 driver Lewis Hamilton participated in one of the sessions) where the content is interesting and where you have an image of them and their slides right in front of you, virtual is not a bad alternative to the real thing.

Prior to HPE Discover Virtual Experience kicking off in earnest, as a blogger I had an opportunity to sit in on a press, analyst, influencer and blogger pre-event update. Joining the 140 attendees online for this pre-event briefing were John Shultz, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer and Head of HPE's Transformation Office,Keith White, head of the new GreenLake Cloud Services business group and Kumar Sreekanti, CTO and head of HPE software. The NDA expired mid-morning Tuesday following Antonio’s keynote but what these executives covered was enough to get the press that were present pretty excited and willing to publish articles promoting HPE as returning to a leadership position.

For me, it was a few of the data points that I found of interest. From John Shultz, “The trend is towards smaller data centers, everywhere (placing) intelligence closer to the source. Clouds still don’t address 70% of enterprise’s applications and data; it’s still residing on-prem. Software is now a huge focus for us.” From Keith White we heard, “Public clouds simply weren’t built to handle everything; (as for) Hybrid Program progress, HPE has 1,000 customers, a 90% retention rate and $4Billion contracted business.” And from Kumar, it was all about “Software is a huge and critical part of HPE; Software both stand-alone and as part of GreenLake.”

These executives were then followed by Antonio who presided over a Q & A session with the same group. His central message and one repeated throughout the event was how HPE was becoming the leader in Edge-to-Core delivered as a Service, and where Software and Services dominated the product roadmaps. With GreenLake and then with Ezmeral, “we are leveraging our software portfolio (creating) a software defined stack in Ezmeral.” HPE GreenLake cloud services would now become the benefactors of taking the cloud experience into the data center where it would be operationally seamless to move some of that 70% of applications still present in the data center to the cloud, as appropriate.

Leveraging the company’s software portfolio isn’t an exclusive response to industry trends. The message from HPE generally is that after one year of a three years program, HPE was making available all of their products “as-a-Service.” If your preference was for traditional purchase options, then these were still a vital part of HPE’s business plan. Yes, you can still buy from HPE but with GreenLake you now have an additional option. You can for what you use and pay as you go. You can forget about capital expenditures and enjoy the taxation benefits that come from chronicling operational expenses.

It’s now all about selecting the right option and this is important news for the NonStop community. With options and with the benefits that come from choosing, NonStop is now affordable to even the most fragile of enterprise IT organizations. After a fashion you can forget about everything other than deploying a fault tolerant system that won’t let you down no matter what might be happening around you. It’s the business equivalent of piping utilities directly into you premises. Pick up your phone and there’s a network; flip a light switch and you have illumination; turn a tap and you have water. Initiate a transaction and it completes. NonStop as traditional systems and NonStop as virtual machines – it’s just up to you.

As a community we are truly in the right spot at the right time. Never before have we been able to sit back and explore the best fit for our business needs. Do we need NonStop at the core supporting SQL or do we need NonStop at the edge processing transactions?

Events will continue to be held and, for the foreseeable future, they will be virtual. Having sat through HPE Discover Virtual Experience 2020, I have to say I could see no downside to participating. Don’t ignore them or think of them as being second class or even less than meaningful. HPE is moving very quickly and NonStop is aligning ever more closely with the vision – it would be a shame if you let something important to your business pass you by. It’s now so easy to find yourself in the right spot at exactly the right time!      

Editor’s note: If you are a cricket fan and would like to have the Sir Clive Lloyd autograph, send Richard a check for US$10K and I am sure he will now part with it!


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