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    HPE’s The Machine: What It Means for NonStop

    HPE’s The Machine made an appearance in Paramount Pictures’ new Star Trek movie. What does it mean for the NonStop community? Here is some insight.

    HPE The Machine: What it means for NonStop

    Major movies with the potential to be blockbusters seem to arrive almost every week. Elevating the promotional tactics for each movie, in order to differentiate it from rivals, today takes budgets equivalent to entire movies only a decade ago. Unsurprisingly, we are seeing more movie tie-ins to major products and corporations - Bond with Aston Martins, Minority Report with futuristic use of Windows, and now, Star Trek Beyond with the use of HPE. These advertising tie-ins are beneficial for both sides - the studios and the vendors - costs can be shared, and to a degree, risks reduced.

    The association between HPE and Paramount Pictures is the commercial debut of HPE’s major project, “The Machine.” The project has shared news lately with the surprising announcement about HPE CTO Martin Fink’s imminent retirement. As the head of HPE Labs, Fink was the driving force behind and public face of The Machine.

    For many HPE customers, The Machine’s role in Star Trek Beyond was encouraging, even as it was also confusing at times. This was particularly the case for many within the NonStop community. Would The Machine replace NonStop systems? Would there be a new NonStop M family of systems? Would a virtual NonStop (vNonStop) run in The Machine? Would NonStop become Open Source or be integrated into The Machine’s new Linux-based OS?

    Star Trek Beyond Meets The Machine - and the Future of Technology Begins! ( )

    The advertisement, 'Star Trek Beyond Meets The Machine—and the Future of Technology Begins', represents a huge gamble for HPE, even as it represents a tantalizing look into its future - at least, where HPE believes it will be in a few years. The advertisement’s opening lines? “At the beginning of the 21st century, the earth needed to find a way to keep up with the data from over 30 billion connected devices, which changed the basic architecture of computing. …” The challenge for businesses everywhere is how to effectively process data, and to do so economically and rapidly so new opportunities aren’t missed. As HPE likes to remind us, “Tomorrow belongs to the fast!”

    Rollout of The Machine will occur over years, with components packaged within existing products to reach the market as early as late 2016. I don’t expect that NonStop will be replaced by The Machine. But what will it mean for applications likely to benefit from the radically different architecture of The Machine? One highly placed HPE executive told me last year to consider the prospect “…of there being an x86 container provided with The Machine, capable of supporting anything that today can run on x86.” Safe to say, this included NonStop.

    In conversations earlier this year with HPE’s Director of Engineering Andy Bergholz, he said, “NonStop is not just about being independent of the hardware. The goal for NonStop is to make it independent of the infrastructure.” Hand in glove with this came the acknowledgement from Bergholz that, “Part of the work being done by NonStop development is to come up with a reference architecture whereby obvious configuration requirements will be provided - don’t configure two NonStop processors on the same CPU, for instance.”  

    The Machine’s rollout will not only complement many current products from HPE, including NonStop. It will also be positioned as an integral part of the hybrid transformation that has become central to HPE’s messaging. To discount any potential for NonStop to be in league with The Machine in a hybrid configuration exploiting the already foreshadowed YUMA / NSADI over RDMA over Commercial Ethernet (RoCE) would be a mistake. Missing the message coming from vendors already working with HPE NonStop to provide solutions utilizing NSADI would be an even bigger mistake.

    The article, “To handle the big data deluge, HP plots a giant leap forward,” concludes with the observation that, “If HPE can deliver on these technologies - its timeline to do so reaches out through 2020 - the benefits will be enormous, with quantum leaps in performance and energy efficiency. The problems of having to build and find electricity for thousands of new data centers will effectively disappear. Computational tasks that today require government levels of funding and legions of data scientists will be within the reach of almost anyone.”

    Notably, it adds, “As with all innovations that come with great promise, The Machine will face its ultimate test once it’s in the field. Once it’s there, HPE hopes it will not only address critical business needs today, but, more importantly, the ones we will face tomorrow.”

    Both the early retirement of Fink and the tie-in between Star Trek Beyond and The Machine surprised many. But the forward progress of The Machine shouldn’t be a surprise, nor should it surprise anyone to see such a public unveiling of a much anticipated revolutionary computing system. Whether your business is thinking in terms of hybrids that include NonStop or simply thinking the best answer is to run NonStop directly on The Machine, the path forward is looking a lot easier today than it did just a year ago.

    To address the earlier questions: No, The Machine will not replace NonStop nor am I anticipating NonStop lessening in importance following the delivery of The Machine. In fact, with the early work already completed by vendors like comForte, it’s becoming clearer that there will be tremendous opportunities to open up access to new markets for NonStop, and that’s perhaps the best news of all.

    For a deeper discussion on what’s coming up from HPE, get in touch


    Copyright of Star Trek Image: Kobby Dagan /