Thursday, November 5, 2020

All-Digital Experience 2020 with more to follow!

As the countdown to 2020 NonStop Technical Boot Camp continues – this year, an all-digital experience – have you registered?

It was only two years ago that Margo and I arrived in Sydney, Australia, for what would be the start of a three months sojourn that took us to Tasmania and then to New Zealand. We were in Sydney for my daughter Lisa’s birthday and the grave site visit to where my mother had been laid to rest. It marked the fiftieth anniversary of my graduating high school class – all boys’ school, mind you – and we managed to hang around long enough to welcome the New Year from the deck of a boat anchored close by the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. Catching up with family, former business colleagues, and a number of friends even as Sydney was lashed by fierce thunderstorms that lasted for most of November and well into December. 

Perhaps the only real downside to the time spent in the antipodes was that Margo and I missed the 2018 NonStop Technical Boot Camp. Dating back to the time of my very first ITUG event in 1992, held in Nice, France, there have only been a handful of major NonStop events that I have missed. Probably as few as two, or three, that were held back in the latter half of the 1990s. I can’t point to what attracted me to these events, although being a Tandem Product Manager had its upside and working with Insession and later ACI also meant putting presentations together and working on my manners for booth duty. Then again, volunteering for the ITUG Board also meant attending any ITUG supported events held anywhere in the world.

During my time in Sydney I did manage to attend the big banking show – SIBOS Sydney 2018. I must have, as I still have the backpack and a nice one at that. It was a tough assignment as I was part of the FinTech Futures editorial team out of the UK and we had to create enough material to publish in a daily hardcopy multi-page event flyer.

Walking the aisles of the exhibition hall where banks of all sizes had their booths was quite an experience as there were all the users extolling the virtue of their solutions even as there wasn’t a NonStop representative to be seen. I did manage to catch up with IR’s Jamie Pearson, who as a good Product Manager was taking notes while he collected cards for his rolodex.

Events, a sense of community and opportunities for those responsible for maintaining product roadmaps, means time spent simply walking around and networking. It’s as if there was something magical piped through the A/C ducting that has us all being on our best behavior as we strike up conversations with complete strangers.

However, when it comes to the major NonStop events there are neither true strangers nor surprise product announcements as the NonStop community is singular in its understanding of where NonStop is headed. Or, it has been up until the last couple of years. Yes, the sense of community is still as strong as it ever been but product announcements? They seem to be coming thick and fast of late!

At this time of year I would normally be making hotel reservations in Utah and Nevada as Margo and I always drive to these events in California. Our most recent trip to California was in a sense making up for what we will not be doing this year as the event has gone virtual. On the other hand, at this time of year you can usually find me creating a PowerPoint presentation or two and that hasn’t changed for 2020.

If you have had time to check the agenda you might have seen how I will be giving an NTI-sponsored presentation on Monday, November 16, at 12:00pm, PST, followed by an HPE-sponsored presentation early Wednesday morning, November 18, at 7:30am, PST. At this time I encourage you to check them out and to add them to your own schedule of sessions as you continue to plan for this major NonStop event of the year.

So on that score, nothing has changed. I have to admit while spending time in Sydney I missed all the excitement of creating presentations but then again, who would seriously consider missing any opportunity to hang out in the most beautiful harbor side city in the world. Forget that city by the bay, Sydney still has its hold on me and I guess that hasn’t lessened in any way over the years.

This week it’s been all about putting the final tweaks to articles submitted for inclusion in the upcoming fiftieth issue of NonStop Insider. 50 issues? Almost 1,000 articles, all on NonStop! Who could have imagined as we put out that first issue as the NonStop Technical Boot Camp was about to kick off in Burlingame, California. It was 2016 and the idea had come to us following discussions with Tony and Daniel Craig of TCM.

Well, to be honest, it was really at the prodding of Tony and Daniel with Margo and me more or less rising to the challenge such a commitment represented. To this day, the team at TCM hasn’t let us down and a couple of days after we finalize the submissions, this digital publication goes live. Have you subscribed to NonStop Insider yet? You really should do so – and find the time to read the articles because the scope of the content you will find there covers a lot of ground.

Looking through the submissions and knowing what some of the entries from HPE are as detailed in the agenda, there will be a number of exciting product and service announcements. It’s tough for Margo and me to go into too much detail as Pyalla Technologies like many of the vendors, is under confidentiality agreement. Nevertheless, I suspect everyone knows that there will be new NonStop X systems announced as HPE continues to ride the Intel product roadmaps even as the push by HPE for “everything-as-a-service” or XaaS as its being labelled has implications for NonStop about which we will hear a lot more.

Hint? Check the agenda for presentations by NonStop Product Managers including those by Karen Copeland and Mark Pollans. If up until now you were sort of ambivalent about the color green, then you had better get used it this color; you will come across it more than once at this 2020 All-Digital Experience.

No gathering of the NonStop community would be viewed as complete without a parallel social program being offered. Not completely sure how this will work or exactly how it will contribute to further networking opportunities, but there it is on Monday night; at the end of Day 1 over ZOOM, there will be a “nerdy break – the event beer bust!”

Starting at 1:30pm PST, after which there will be opportunity for virtual tours of partner booths together with a number of developer chats apparently there will be plenty of opportunity to do what we always have done first afternoon of a major NonStop event – meet colleagues, network and in general discuss business as it relates to NonStop.

Apparently, as you dig through the agenda there are many more ZOOM fifteen minute opportunities set aside specifically to network with colleagues. Again, will be very interesting to see how we all make the adjustment to this kind of association with our peers.

The plans for next year are to hold the event a month earlier and to have it in Denver. Certainly, October brings with it late fall weather with opportunities to still see Colorful Colorado at its colorful best. But here’s the thing; already registrations are well past 1,000 and more like 1,500 even as we all know that for events of this type, there’s always a surge in registrations over the last couple of days. These are numbers more like the SIBOS Sydney 2018 event or even past ITUG Summits we may remember from the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Will there be a temptation to simply repeat this kind of virtual event even if the restrictions on travel are lifted and we are all safe to travel? Looking at the industry as a whole and following the success of the virtual HPE Discover 2020 event in June, it’s not out of the question that the big events of the past have passed the use-by date. What do you think? For Margo and me we aren’t dusting off our travel bags any time soon. Perhaps it is a good thing we don’t possess any large cars suited to cross country trips any longer.

Having made only two trips to California all year along with one Princess cruise in February (and no, not on any of those virus infected Princess cruise ships), Margo and I have made the adjustment to working out of our home offices rather smoothly. This is not to say we don’t miss the travel as much as it’s a recognition that yes, we can say it too, we have become more productive being this close to our work place than at any other time in our careers.

So there you have it; we may not be travelling any time soon, events will increasingly become virtual, for the long haul, and those beloved “BizCations” we have enjoyed for several years now well, they too have become a thing of the past. Sydney? You may just have to wait a long time before you see Margo and me again and with that, it’s back to business as we begin the countdown to this first time running of an All-Digital Experience featuring NonStop. See you there somewhere in the ether!

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