Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the good fortune to sit down and chat with a number of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) executives and managers. I have also talked and exchanged emails with the CEOs of a number of vendors within the NonStop community.
The message that comes through each and every time is one about change, and when you consider all that has happened with NonStop of late, it’s hard to ignore what the NonStop development team has achieved.
If there’s a subplot to the message about change, then it has to be consistency, as HPE is making very clear to all who will listen: NonStop is an integral part of the roadmap for mission-critical systems. The R&D money for NonStop isn’t likely to lessen anytime soon.
With a diverse mix of enterprises relying on NonStop systems today, and this includes industries apart from financial services and telco, HPE wants to ensure NonStop returns to some market segments where it once had considerable influence. From manufacturing to healthcare to stock exchanges and even to information sharing in the digital age, HPE sales folks relish the opportunity to open dialogues within each market segment, capitalizing, as they surely will do, on the lower-priced, industry-standard, off-the-shelf hardware.
Important cultural changes paving the way
In the January 21, 2016 post to the comForte Lounge blog, Change Continues for NonStop as It Aligns with HPE Goals, I wrote of how the changes run much deeper than just a cosmetic refresh to a chassis or processor. As recent presentations by HPE executives have highlighted, these changes are quickly finding their way into the marketplace. In that post, I also noted that at 2015 HP Discover, held last December in London, HPE’s Mike Nefkens, Executive Vice President and GM of Enterprise Services, told the audience, “We have to change business models and change culture. We’re changing the way we sell and way we deliver.”
That same month, in an interview HPE CEO Meg Whitman gave the CNBC news channel while attending the January 2016 Davos Economic Forum, she told viewers, “You have to remember, we have invested a lot in R&D (and) we have reshaped our salesforce.”
Yes, HPE has changed its business models, its culture, its funding of R&D, and perhaps most importantly for the NonStop community, its salesforce. Evidence of this, in addition to what we have seen with the rapid introduction of new NonStop systems as a result of stepped-up funding for NonStop R&D, has been the addition of sales folks charged solely with targeting new business opportunities for NonStop.
NonStop moving deeper into the data center
However, when it comes to what we should expect to see next from NonStop R&D, following NonStop X and its participation in hybrid systems, it will likely have more to do with where HPE sees the data center heading.
In the past year and a half, Gartner has been discussing trends within the data center. In particular, Gartner has focused on the “personalities” of the data center as they address different business needs. According to Gartner, it comes down to just three distinct data center personalities: agility and innovation; intelligence and integration; and risk and availability.
It’s not inconceivable that HPE, too, has seen these data center personalities described in detail, as the recommendation from Gartner is that when it comes to the risk and availability personality, “The data center structure, as the hub of all data and information, must assume a particular emphasis in managing and mitigating risk. Hence, this personality must focus on risk mitigation and availability in a new and broader sense.”
With perhaps an even closer connection to what the NonStop community is most sensitive to, Gartner then adds, “In this case, traditional build/private cloud, leasing and managed services/cloud are the strongest options. These data centers are frequently designed to a high level of availability with multiple power sources, resilient backup capabilities and state-of-the-art physical security attributes.” Yes, when it comes to the risk and availability personality, “Despite having high security accredited systems, public cloud providers do not give the control necessary to run an efficient risk profile.”
Gazing into the new product horizon
HPE views future NonStop R&D in the context of building on its current strengths in security, manageability, and scale up and scale out properties, not forgetting, of course, the industry’s highest level of availability.
I am fully anticipating additional models in the NonStop X family coming to market as a result. The current NonStop X NS3 X1 has the entry-level marketplace well covered, and with the NonStop X NS7 X1, HPE has a really powerful system. Introducing a midrange NonStop X NS5 X1 seems to be a probable option for NonStop R&D, even as I see a need for something a little stronger than the entry level NS3, but not as powerful as the NS7.
But for me, the conversations of late have been more about the timetable for delivering NonStop as Software (NSaS), running on a virtual machine, as well as NonStop as a Service (NSaaS). While I am holding firm to a timeframe for NSaaS becoming available sometime in mid to late 2019, circumstances of late have led me to bring forward the timeframe for NSaS, free of all infrastructure, becoming available sometime early 2017. In all likelihood, we will hear of early adopters running NSaS at this year’s 2016 NonStop Technical Boot Camp in November.
Irrespective of whether NonStop R&D holds to dates like these, the important news is that HPE continues to funnel considerable R&D dollars into NonStop, and that’s perhaps the biggest news of all for all enterprises dependent upon NonStop today.
One certainty: options will increase
What cannot be overlooked in any consideration of what comes next for NonStop is the broadening of options.
Already we have seen the first cloud based solely on NonStop X systems being marketed by one payments solutions provider, and I am sure other vendors will follow shortly.
Furthermore, the work being done in support of virtualization isn’t limited only to virtual machines, but is embracing the interconnect fabric as well, making future application development even easier on hybrid systems.
Look to the possibility of NonStop R&D announcing a form of enterprise server bus (ESB), either developed in house or in partnership with a major partner, as this seems the logical next step in any transformation to a hybrid infrastructure. However, for more on this, I expect we will have to wait until Boot Camp.
Freedom to choose the type of NonStop X system most appropriate to the business needs, along with the option to choose a hybrid made up of traditional IT systems together with Linux server farms and even private clouds, is the big news for NonStop.
As I look deeper into the data center at what NonStop will become, all I can see are more and more options. And this just has to be the best news of all for everyone in the NonStop community. For more about how new options for NonStop users might benefit your organization, reach out.