Monday, December 14, 2020

When buying computers, like buying cars, it’s the DNA!

How much does a computer have in common with a car? Not much, until you want to purchase: For NonStop customers getting from A to B is not a good enough reason to buy!       


Ever wondered what finally tips the scales when it comes to buying a new computer? Thought about what transpires behind the scenes when key pieces of software are acquired? Was it the price a choice of features or comprehensive packaging providing an all-in-one solution? There are many factors contributing to an outcome and of late, within the NonStop community, there couldn’t be more options to choose from what is being sold today. 

While Margo and I aren’t involved in the major decisions influencing the technical direction at any major enterprise, it’s something we run into on a regular basis. Whether it’s buying the latest Apple iPhone or iPad or a really big smart TV, sometimes it comes down to the intangibles. Can I buy it online and can it be delivered soon? Do we like the folks we are interacting with? Do we like the color being offered? Having said that, one consideration we view important is product or service performance, as no consumer ever boasted about how slow his device happened to be or how little capabilities it provided. And of course, no one boasts proudly that they waited in line for three hours for a basic service to be provided. 

Just recently and in truth, rather serendipitously, we proceeded down a path that ultimately led to us putting down a deposit on a new car. Yes, the owner of the dealership just happened to be our next door neighbor who built a relationship with us based on trust. We needed a pickup to move some furniture and he left the keys to one of his pickups “under the mat.” While putting up Christmas lights he asked me if I would like to drop by to view a model I was interested in that he knew was proving difficult to find. A week or so later he gave us the keys to drive the model of interest when no other dealer was even talking about letting anyone to seat in a car, much less providing a test drive option!

When it comes to NonStop systems we have all been made aware of the imminent shipment of models of the fourth generation of NonStop X. Have you been given a set of keys yet? Taken it for a spin? If you happen to have missed the announcement then you can replay the presentation by visiting the Connect web site and going to the On Demand library where you will be able to listen to Mark Pollans as he walks us all through NonStop Next Generation Systems. Very soon HPE will begin shipping the NonStop NS8 X4 (and it’s entry level sibling, the NonStop NS4 X4) and while promised performance levels will be similar to the previous generation, the Intel x86 chipsets themselves will be coming with Intel vulnerability mitigations in place for NonStop systems.

After so many decades of investment in NonStop it is encouraging to see these investments continue as today, more than ever, transaction volumes are increasing rapidly even as the data being created on NonStop reaches new heights. But NonStop continues to do something very special even as it is the premier transaction and database processor meeting the requirements of the most demanding of mission critical applications of enterprises everywhere. What is that something special? Well it didn’t just happen overnight but has come about through experience, rigorous testing and a disciplined approach to development. 

The sense of serendipity that arose as we progressed towards the purchase of a new car was also in evidence when I turned to magazines looking for product reviews. Don’t we all, these days? In this case it was the advertisement for Honda that caught my eye. In the first paragraph or so a couple of expressions jumped right off the page to where I was substituting HPE and NonStop in numerous places.

Try this: 

The average computer has 30,000 parts. Each one is linked to every other one through a complex web of mechanical and electrical connections – the fabric. If you are someone who gives little thought to what these parts actually do then you are probably content with a computer that gets you from desktop to server with no cause for excitement.

Follow? See where this is going? If you are familiar with the many generations of NonStop you will already know that NonStop is not for everyone. We do care that the sum of the parts together with the fabric that ties it together will perform as required around the clock.

There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking, but it should be known that HPE NonStop was not founded on any such philosophy of computing utilitarianism. While HPE never neglect the A- to B-ers and their quest for reliability and efficiency, we always make sure to add a little extra zest to our NonStop computers so that in the event of complexity and change, the systems does not fail to deliver the requisite number of smiles.

Yes, if you missed the short video by HPE Steve Kubick on the Special Sauce that is only present within NonStop then you may want to revisit that video now on YouTube. When it comes to the quest for reliability and efficiency together with the pursuit of something that goes well beyond utilitarianism, then you can look no further than at NonStop.

This is the result of a long history of NonStop that dates back before fault tolerant computers ever rolled off the assembly line … knowing all this makes it easy to see that availability, scalability, security, data integrity (and more) is part of our DNA.

It may be too simplistic to view computers the same way we view cars but then again, it all depends upon your perspective. In these times, as we see so many strategies unfolding as to the ways we can consume compute, the lines between cars and computers have become somewhat blurred. Cars have become computers even as computers are as mobile as cars. In case you haven’t given it much thought availability, scalability and more are truly integral parts of NonStop’s DNA.

We are hearing HPE routinely talk about its plans to become the leading edge to cloud, everything-as-a-service, platform provider. We are hearing too about HPE being partner driven and for the NonStop community all of this is resonating in ways that are being reflected in an uptick in sales of NonStop. When it comes to strategy, our NonStop DNA is on show and is ensuring interest in NonStop remains high. The markets NonStop serves continues to be diverse even as the move to virtual, the move to database, the move to hybrid is generating the kind of interest in NonStop many of us recall from decades past. 

According to Michael Porter, an American academic known for his theories on economics, business strategy, social causes, and is referenced widely as was the case when an article in Harvard Business Review appeared in 2015. “At a fundamental level, all strategies boil down to two very broad options: Do what everyone else is doing (but spend less money doing it),” said Porter, “or do something no one else can do.”  Then again, this same HBR article adds the possibility of a third option that might resonate well with the NonStop community. “It’s tempting to think the third camp — reacting opportunistically to emerging possibilities — represents the field’s most recent thinking,” said the author of the HBR article.

When we talk about NonStop’s DNA it’s hard to ignore that NonStop was an extraordinary innovator as it tackled a marketplace that didn’t exist. Fault Tolerant computers were an opportunistic reaction to the emerging possibility that devices with which consumers would interact needed to be online, 24 x 7. This at a time, for instance, when few anticipated the future global ubiquitous presence of the humble ATM. Not only was this an opportunistic reaction to a business that was emerging but in pursuing fault tolerance, NonStop was doing something no one else could do. Four decades on and NonStop still processes mission critical transactions. NonStop still supports an always-on database. And now, NonStop runs virtual and can live inside a cloud!

The average NonStop computer has probably more than 30,000 parts connected by a fabric that together ensures continuous availability, 24 x 7. In so doing NonStop has added a little zest, a kind of special sauce, that few other vendors have been able to replicate to the same degree and the DNA of NonStop is evident with every NonStop system, traditional or virtual, that has ever been deployed – isn’t this the material of legendary application of strategic thinking where the results speak for themselves?

Next time you see a post or a tweet promoting NonStop as being able to do a lot more than simply connecting A to B remember that NonStop is the mission critical system that is best positioned to capitalize on today’s massive growth in transaction volume. Honda proved it many times over and continues to dominate auto sports worldwide. HPE, with NonStop, likewise has proved it too - reacting opportunistically to emerging possibilities while doing something no one else can do – dominating the world of mission critical computing!      

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