Thursday, October 14, 2021

Coming down from the heights of NonStop TBC 21

From Photos posted on Whova

For as long as I can remember participation in NonStop focused events has been the highlight of the year! I have had the good fortune to travel to events worldwide, from Europe to Asia and even to Australia. The opportunity to simply catch up with former colleagues and newfound friends has made any inconvenience experienced on the day a moot point. Then again, my enthusiasm for customer-focused events can be traced back to 1979 when I attended my first global gathering of the EDOS community.

As an Australian working in the early days of IT, making plans for any overseas trip was always a mixture of angst and longing, given how the price of the airline ticket to almost anywhere on the planet was exorbitant. The companies I worked for wanted to maximize any perceived value on offer, so at the time before I joined Tandem Computers in 1988, these trips to international events seemed to always total something like six weeks.

Many telexes and faxes were involved as itineraries were developed. As for the paper tickets that finally arrived at the office, they were books more than they were a couple of tear out coupons. Direct flights were a rarity and somehow, I always managed a stopover in Asia or New Zealand in order to step back from my daily routines to organize my thoughts for what layed ahead. Before airline loyalty programs took off in the US, I had already accumulated more than a million miles across the combination of QANTAS, Ansett, British Air and a host of the smaller airlines that crisscrossed North America. Who remembers flying on Hughes Air West with the bright yellow bananas?

All of which it to say, with the new abnormal we are getting used to, being able to attend an event while seated at my home office desk has become more appealing with each virtual event I attend. Certainly, I miss the driving out on America’s interstate highways but then again, no amount of enthusiasm truly can mask the discomfort such travels entail. Even taking the motor coach we enjoyed driving didn’t help all that much. Remember? Many conferences were held in the warmer months and who wanted to camp out in Las Vegas during the heat of June?


From Photos posted on Whova

When it comes to this year’s NonStop TBC 21, with the passage of just a few days and having come down from the highs generated during the event, it’s time to take a look back at this event. To begin with, the first murmurings that the event would transition from an in-person event to a virtual event certainly brought the naysayers out of the woodwork. And I have to admit, with the plans for this year’s event centered on a Denver location I was looking forward to the drive down our local interstate. Surely, having already attended one in-person event in Las Vegas just a few months earlier, there couldn’t be any arguments given that substantiated the switch? Then again, it all happened on short notice and Connect and the NonStop team have to be congratulated on their pivot to virtual with only a month notice.

One thing I learnt from my attendance at other events around the world is that content is king. Get your content right and you attract a crowd and in this case, the mere reference to GreenLake had an impact on attendance, I have to believe. GreenLake is not a panacea nor will it appeal to every NonStop customer but for those for whom contracting with the GreenLake team does make sense, it holds the tantalizing potential of reducing costs, sizing systems to what is needed right now and yes, tapping into expertise that may otherwise be out of reach.

As the NonStop community ages – and that is happening in technologies, platforms and solutions of other major enterprise vendors as well – and as education is becoming less general and more focused, IT departments are beginning to see gaps in their knowledge open up. Going with HPE for help across the systems deployed will be an important consideration for many enterprises depending upon NonStop systems. There is no good way to sugarcoat this but attracting new applications to NonStop may have faltered if HPE didn’t get its head around simplifying the NonStop operation.

Attracting new applications was part of a number of presentations. From the outset it was Jeff Kyle, the head of the NonStop organization within Mission Critical Solutions who, in his opening keynote presentation, identified four key markets NonStop was going to address. Two are well known – Financial Services and Retail – but as for the other two? More than a few attendees may have been surprised to hear Jeff talk about addressing Healthcare and Manufacturing as the other two markets. Markets need applications and as part of the GreenLake update, Lusis Payments was positioned as the GreenLake solution addressing the needs of Financial Services.

As for manufacturing it was good to hear from abat+ CEO and Cofounder, Peter Grendel. Providing support for almost every aspect of automobile manufacturing, including interfacing with robots such as those that we see painting automobiles and also moving all the way through the plant to the back office was impressive to hear. Talking about delivering content the community wanted to hear, Grendel had me fascinated throughout his company’s presentation. No surprises here really as I think by now the NonStop community knows a lot about my affinity for motor vehicles!

If you missed any of the presentations by Justin Simonds and Keith Moore either delivered separately or together by them both you might have missed the surprise duo of the event. The on-topic banter that passed between them was the stuff that kept you glued to you monitor. Where they took attendees was into the world of Kubernetes (K8s), containers and Pathway as well as into AI in the Finance World – did I mention that the topic for abat+ was Smart Manufacturing? Also let us not forget a really interesting presentation on Swarm Learning delivered by Justin Simonds! If you missed an earlier post to this blog promoting that session then you may want to revisit the post by Karen Copeland to the HPE Community blog - Applying swarm learning to challenges created by data at the edge

Naturally enough there was the packed agenda of vendor presentations about which we are bound to read a lot more in the coming months. Suffice to say, with up to five presentations being held simultaneously, thank goodness those who registered for the event can go back and replay many of the presentations from the Video Gallery under the sidebar heading of Resources. And take another look at the photos when you next visit Whova, some of them have a truly historical meaning!  

As Jeff Kyle continued with his opening keynote presentation he provided an update on new and increased partnerships where he listed Striim, Nexbridge, 4tech software and NuWave Technologies as well as ETI-NET and XYPRO. We should be hearing a lot more about these in the near term even as I suspect the NonStop product team will be revealing even more vendors participating in partnership programs.  

This year’s NonStop TBC 21 once again attracted a crowd; did someone say 1000+ attendees registered for this year’s event? This is a number that certainly cannot be trivialized even as it takes us deeper into the conversation about future events. I am already adjusting to the potential that HPE’s big tent marketing event, HPE Discover, will likely continue as a virtual event for some time. Will we ever see NonStop TBC return to in-person? The numbers do speak for themselves and I have to admit, attracting 1000+ registered attendees takes me back to some of the largest ITUG events of the past. On the other hand, I am thinking that augmenting larger virtual event with in person regional gatherings may be the ultimate balanced solution.

Then again, just as the days of sending telexes and faxes around the world to confirm attendance at one event or another and to organize meetings among peers is long gone no potential attendee is ever going to set aside four or even six weeks just to participate in their favorite event. Virtual is here to stay I suspect and the lingering image I have is of us all joining end-of-day networking celebrations happily joining together for a rousing rendition of “It’s a virtual world after all … it’s a virtuuuual, virtuuuuual world!” 

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Coming down from the heights of NonStop TBC 21

From Photos posted on Whova For as long as I can remember participation in NonStop focused events has been the highlight of the year! I have...