Over the past few weeks I have been involved in delivering a number of webinars and, hopefully, in the New Year, there will be further sessions developed. What I like about webinars is their intimacy with the audience – in this case, the well-informed NonStop community – and the questions that arise are always a good indicator of where lies the true interest of NonStop users. However, unlike in previous years, even in the short time between webinars, I was taken aback by just how much the strategy, vision and goals for NonStop have evolved.
The catalyst behind the reveal of the evolving product plans for the NonStop family of systems was the recent NonStop Technical Boot Camp, but it didn't stop there. No keynote presentation proved to be more jaw-dropping that that given by Martin Fink, EVP and CTO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. According to Martin, NonStop wasn't just the only platform in the Enterprise Group, Mission Critical Systems, to be ported from Itanium to x86 (not HP-UX or OpenVMS) but it had also taken over as the premier platform of Mission Critical Systems. Furthermore, coming from the highest placed executive within HPE, Martin reminded the attendees that NonStop was now a software.
In an upcoming post to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View, I wrote how, for many of us it was a wake-up call to truly reconsider the future of NonStop systems as HPE has clearly made a sizable investment in its future even as it turns up the heat on the value proposition of NonStop systems – there's little confusion or ambiguity about the intentions of HPE concerning NonStop. "NonStop X? It's the best software platform on the planet!" But wait, there's even more, as I wrote in that post. "Take NonStop to open source? Take a NonStop feature to open source," Fink suggested at one point, even as he posed the question of whether HPE could, "Enhance existing projects with NonStop?"
NonStop is truly being transformed. Today it's every bit as contemporary as any other operating system and should HPE deliver on the strategy described by Martin, its reach into other operating systems will be not only wide reaching but inevitable. And here's why. "Running on a virtual (environment) on a Linux?" Fink asked before adding, for those interested in the topic, "As an important proof point, we can absolutely get there." Furthermore, looking at it a little differently, "Wouldn't it be cool to bring the NonStop value proposition to Linux and bring to market (more) powerful hybrids – a powerful combination." If there were to be a future for NonStop in clouds, for instance, then there has to be a future for NonStop atop a virtualized world. Yes, NonStop not only as the best software platform on the planet but software that will not only be independent of hardware but of the infrastructure as well.
The importance of stepping away from dependence on any given infrastructure was the theme of a recent IDG report that has been published on the HPE web site. In IT in the Middle: Economics versus Transformation IDG analysts write of how, "Today's IT organizations find themselves in the middle of an expanding agenda in enterprise expectations. Over the past five years, the business mandate was cost reduction while simultaneously being asked to do more with less. Savings were gained through optimized infrastructures and one-size-fits all server models to survive new competitive and economic realities."
Perhaps just as importantly, says IDG, "While reducing costs never goes out of style, today's agenda extends well beyond, as a result of opportunities presented by Cloud, Mobility, and Big Data for new categories of innovation to drive growth and transformation." HPE has long championed four focus areas for the company as a whole that includes Security, Cloud, Mobility and Big Data and IDG seems to agree. However, to participate, business needs considerable transformation along with the recognition by IT that it too has to change. As IDG sees it, in its report, "The old metrics that IT organizations have used will not provide a clear picture to fine tune and realize the full benefits. It is now imperative to tie IT directly to the business outcomes that drive market share, operational efficiency, increased productivity, market expansion, greater customer satisfaction, and retention."
Not only do we need to acknowledge the transformation under way but, as HPE acknowledges, it's all being influenced by our acceptance of the need for companies to embrace an "Idea Economy" and it is HPE's strategy to focus on helping its customers to transform their "environment in which ubiquitous access to technology and digital connections provides the opportunity to turn ideas into business value faster than at any time in history." More about the Idea Economy can be found in the post of October 28, 2015, Mobility and the "idea economy"; for NonStop users monitoring is an even bigger idea! Any transformation that accommodates today's legacy systems with the contemporary systems required will see greater acceptance of hybrid computers and clouds and this is just one more consideration driving the need for applications to be infrastructure independent.
IDG agrees with HPE on this front even as it wrapped up its report with the actions required of business. "First, embrace infrastructure as an enabler to make IT strategic to the business. Secondly, begin the transformation of the infrastructure to help IT become more services oriented. Finally, develop the plan to transform the economics of the compute infrastructure, accelerate the delivery of services for traditional and cloud environments and boost the performance of high priority application workloads." Independence from infrastructure, just as independence from hardware is not just good storytelling but rather a mandate from business to help accelerate its transformation to an Idea Economy.
However, it will not be without its challenges, of course. In his post of November 18, 2015, Delivering Value for NonStop X Users Andre Cuenin, President of IR, Inc., observes that, "With the growing adoption of the NonStop X architecture we expect to see more integration of heterogeneous environments that will share workloads based on service levels and availability requirements. As much as this vision might sound enticing from a cost/value perspective, it will undoubtedly increase complexity, which in itself is a driver for operational challenges. The classic saying ‘the chain is only as strong is its weakest link' applies more than ever. Every piece of technology added is another link in the chain. Prognosis is perfectly positioned to manage these complex hybrid environments."
An "idea economy?" IT transformations? Hybrids and infrastructure independence? A new family of NonStop systems with NonStop X? Increasing complexity? The strategy, vision and goals for NonStop have evolved and are driven by business even as it's recognized by vendors too that there are opportunities for them any time such dramatic change happens. Hopefully we will pull together one more webinar in the New Year and when that is announced I encourage you all to join me as I add more to the storyline of NonStop.