When a major home or business appliance or even a car manufacturer rolls out a new product the manufacturer makes sure everyone knows about it. News releases, guest spots, interviews with the television networks and early product evaluations are carried out by numerous consumer agencies. For a brief period, there is practically no escape from the advertising blitz that follows as the manufacturer tries to capture the imagination and then the wallets of everyone in its target market. Vigorous promotion of such new appliances or cars today is important for their success and many a good product has simply withered as a result of poor or misdirected market promotion. For the NonStop community there has been barely a letup in the flow of information coming from HPE about the new NonStop X, following its introduction at the NonStop Technical Boot Camp in 2014. It was just a year later that HPE informed us that there was more good news – NonStop was going to be a significant contributor to hybrid infrastructure as HPE moved to ensure current NonStop users could readily tap Linux and Windows servers even as this opened the door to potential tighter integration between NonStop systems present in the data center with private clouds beginning to be deployed right alongside them.
Considering just how much emphasis the press has been giving to the inroads cloud computing is making into the data center, it’s not happening quite as fast as may have been expected. Indeed, among the NonStop community, it’s likely few will progress much beyond the deployment of private clouds, particularly when it is the key business requirement to process financial transactions, 24 X 7, without any breaks. For others, the prospect of deploying hybrid infrastructure may just be a reference to mixing NonStop i and NonStop X systems as a first step in a transition to NonStop X. However, it is vital for everyone in the NonStop ecosystem to maintain the dialogue and be aware of who’s doing what, as ultimately it will be the NonStop users who dictate the rate of adoption of hybrid infrastructures and software vendors in the NonStop space need to be aware of the rates of adoption of this new paradigm.
In the July 2016 issue of Tandemworld we wrote of the awareness by NonStop users of the NonStop X performance and price, and we said that indeed the promotion from HPE is really having an impact on NonStop customers which we see as we have begun our own discussions with NonStop users about deploying NonStop X systems in their environment. For many of these users, references to hybrid may just be a reference to hybrids of NonStop i and NonStop X systems, and for good reason (this is what they will be dealing with for many years to come) but for others the path to NonStop and private cloud integration cannot be ignored. In an economy which, despite what Wall Street is telling us, is still under stress, and flooded with software vendors trying to catch a break, we have no choice but to be customer driven.
Returning to the here and now, we are observing two unmistakable shifts in HPE strategy concerning NonStop. The first observation is that with NonStop embracing the x86 architecture, HPE is ensuring that all the tools are in place to make applications migrate smoothly to NonStop X. However, given that HPE is only one of many vendors NonStop customers depend upon, it’s been the partners who have had to do just as much work in getting their products ready for NonStop X. The second observation is that NonStop is becoming a software offering and as such, is consuming considerable HPE development funds. But in becoming a “software offering,” HPE once again cannot do it all and is making that message very clear – HPE will be relying on its partners more so than at any time in the past to ensure NonStop customers migrations run smoothly.
In rolling out NonStop X, DataExpress was extremely grateful to HPE for providing assistance to its partners as it opened up access to NonStop X systems before they became generally available. We are thankful for HPE’s Advanced Technical Center and the availability of the staff that support this facility as they were vital in helping so many vendors validate their products. But nothing is free and the effort expounded by vendors, including DataExpress, was non-trivial. To each NonStop customer the message from HPE about the ease of migration is proving true but only with sizable investments being made on the part of all partners active in the NonStop ecosystem.
In moving on to NonStop as software and with that, the introduction of a virtual NonStop (vNonStop), once again it will be necessary for the NonStop vendors to make yet another sizable investment in NonStop. As we have heard from HPE IT at user events, switching from real NonStop running on NonStop X systems to a vNonStop running on commercial, off-the-shelf, hardware was as easy as performing a configuration change. However, for any vendor involved be it security, monitoring or data and file movement as is the case for DataExpress, there is no automatic upgrade. There’s no free ride – considerable work has to be expounded once again to validate that the DataExpress product is performing under these new conditions – making the phrase “it just works” come to life.
Given that HPE wants to see a sizeable ecosystem surrounding NonStop thrive for years to come and knowing full well just how big an investment is being made by that ecosystem in support of HPE’s initiatives (as we have observed above), then there is further promotion by HPE we would like to see happen. There truly has been no free ride for any vendors even as there are no free handouts for NonStop users – these are really expensive undertakings and one HPE absolutely depends on the NonStop vendor community making an investment in.
And as the messages for this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp are being formulated, we are hopeful that the extent of the vendors commitment to make all migrations happen seamlessly and painlessly are communicated and that an understanding of the value proposition coming from each and every NonStop vendor actively engaged in supporting both NonStop X and vNonStop becomes well understood.
In our post of last month, we blogged of how we remained excited by what we are seeing. We also commented in that post about whether or not, as a NonStop vendor we are stressed, or even panicky, by all the changes we are seeing coming from HPE and by the speed with which HPE is moving. In response to questions like these, we said that we were somewhat relaxed from all we see – it’s going to take time to fully flesh-out, as viable products from HPE, before much of what HPE is promoting finds its way into DataExpress customer data centers. But it has started, it will pick up momentum and the expectation that NonStop vendors will need to do even more is inescapable.
Yes, Data Express is committed and is doing the work today and hopefully HPE will more openly communicate the value proposition made by all vendors as part of its promotion of both NonStop X and vNonStop. Users need to be provided with a clear message of benefits from not only the hardware but also the software that form part of their solution offering as the systems are enhanced and migrated, to justify the support from both communities in the HPE NonStop infrastructure as well as HPE’s own staff. It would be highly unfortunate for all striving to build an even stronger ecosystem around NonStop should this message fail to make the highlight reels. After all, as we wrote in our last post, communicating the many NonStop options coming to market will be so very important for every member of the NonStop vendor community!