Thursday, November 12, 2020

Time to clean house and embrace what’s new from NonStop!

There will be numerous highlights during the upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp; perhaps time is right to retire older NonStop systems!

A short time ago I was assisted by one of the local parcel delivery company’s driver to move some unwanted office furniture to the curb to be picked up by our trash collectors. This has been a fairly regular routine over the three years we have been in residence in Windsor, Colorado. A small tip was all that was needed to encourage the driver to shift focus away from carting new furniture to the house to help us dump the old stuff.

It is very true to say these days that furniture, like many other household items, lose value very quickly and as much as we might like the quality and the comfort, there is no residual value to talk about. We have been fortunate more than once to find new homes for some items, but furniture purchased almost two decades ago no matter how stylish it might be, is like fish and needs to be disposed without agonizing over the decision for too long.

In the world of IT there are companies who like to trail technology’s continuous evolution. There are companies who deliberately search for systems a couple of years old knowing full well that the initial owners see now residual value in the metal, wires and fabric. On the other hand, there are other companies where mandates exist such that for no other reason than that mandate, with each introduction of something new they simply have to acquire it, install and migrate, no matter what.

For the NonStop community there are adherents in both camps. Walking into one US federal agency a while back was like walking into a technology museum. They pretty much kept running on systems that dated back to the mid-1970s. It looked like a herder’s basement rather than an agency tasked with looking after commuters safety. My brother Greg once walked me through an Australian’s banks brand new data center with false flooring ten or more feet deep simply to cater for regular updates to the processors.

The structure was massive covering three floors and all it was doing was processing the bank’s day-to-day functioning.  It was modern for the time, but it was only a decade or so later that I read of this bank deserting the premises. Planning for a future in IT can be fraught with missteps and poor anticipation and when it comes to the NonStop community its members are not immune to this syndrome. The purchase of the last computer they will ever need may sound promising, but in reality there is no place for old computers. Just as with furniture, there comes a time when marching orders need to be issued and foot soldiers retained to dispose of the system.

In a few days’ time the NonStop community will be participating in the annual NonStop Technical Boot Camp. Not in the traditional way of past events, but virtually this time. As a collective, these attendees will huddle around their monitors to hear presentations by HPE, the NonStop team, NonStop vendors and NonStop users. It will be a new experience for many but for those who participated in the June HPE Discover event that likewise was virtual, the format will look familiar.

Among the many highlights of this All-Digital Experience as this year’s event has been branded, will be the update on NonStop X systems as provided by HPE Senior WW Product Manager for NonStop, Mark Pollans. Look for the session TBC20-001 - HPE NonStop - Next Generation Servers on Monday. It follows immediately after the keynote presentations by HPE HPC and MCS head, Peter Ungaro, and HPE MCS leader, Jeff Kyle. While very little information has been provided in the agenda, I expect there will be some surprises install.

Ever since the decision was taken by HPE to fund the modernization of NonStop, including the transition to the Intel x86 architecture it has been the assumption that in so doing, HPE would be able to readily ride on the coattails of the x86 roadmaps. If you have had an opportunity to hear Mark presenting over the past year, you will realize that the Next Generation Servers Mark references in his title can only mean something new is coming from the NonStop team. And of course, who wants to miss any presentation by Mark who has a natural ability to fire up the community and have them leave his presentation excited for the future.

This is one presentation not to miss. And in case you haven’t heard the latest news from the organizers, looks like we have reached a major milestone! 2,000 NonStop community members have registered as event attendees and as such, this virtual event is “sold out!” By all means continue registering as a waiting list will be created, so I am sure for some sessions there may be opportunities to sneak in under the wire, as it were!

What will happen to the existing NonStop systems? If you are still running on blade systems – the NB5x00x or similar – then perhaps it is time to have some serious conversations? Traditional NonStop systems will continue to be available and can be delivered to your data center dock as in times past, but is it time to tip the delivery company’s drivers to have them cart away the old systems? In former times, calculating the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for computer systems always included the subtraction of the residual value (on the understanding that there was a thriving market for older systems) but this is now less important. I have to believe that the time to migrate will only become more pressing once you have heard Mark’s presentation!

There is also one other presentation that always attracts a crowd even as over the past couple of years it has courted a little controversy. I am talking about the presentation given by the Head of WW Advanced Technology
Center, Franz König. Scheduled for Tuesday morning (early), TBC20-013 - HPE NonStop - The Art of the Possible – 2020, Franz will provide an updated presentation with focus clearly on making the development (of NonStop solutions) “work more efficiently for the NonStop system by using DevOps products and tools.”

Together, Mark’s presentation on new NonStop X systems combined with Franz’s insights into how NonStop fits in today’s modern IT environments will only further add to any conversations you may have started within your enterprise over the future of NonStop. Perhaps the most startling realization that might be made is that well, we continue to talk about NonStop. After the passage of time since NonStop was first introduced – as a Tandem Computers T-16 – the contribution NonStop continues to provide business worldwide, is in recognition that at it’s very core, looking at the building blocks that make a NonStop run non-stop, it has become the premier product offering in support of mission critical applications.

The upcoming NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2020 with its 2,000 attendees will be an occasion not to be missed. The message from the HPE NonStop team will be very clear. It may not be a call to toss whatever you have today to the curb but it most definitely will prove incentive enough to have you taking a second look at what is at the heart of your mission critical operations. 

What will be new from NonStop will more than certainly have you looking at what you will do next and as I helped lift that last piece of furniture to the curb and turned back towards the house, the walk back had me excited by what I knew was to be installed. Will you be walking away from this major NonStop event with similar emotions? And with that, I am looking forward to giving presentations next week and hope to see you all in one or more of them; this All-Digital Experience has all the hallmarks of being one of the best events of all times!      

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