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Celebrating Fifty Years – NonStop becomes legendary

NonStop Insider


They say fifty years is a very long time. Whether it is the reign of a ruler or simply the duration of a relationship, it represents a milestone worth celebrating. Royalty may parade through the streets even as families gather around a table, but the end result is the same. Folks are just happy to see such celebrations play out and are only too keen to join in the festivities.

When it comes to technology, as fast-paced and change-addicted as it happens to be, there isn’t quite the same degree of excitement. It is an unfortunate reflection on the times given how many in IT view anything older than the new application they are working on as being legacy. A holdover from a time long ago. The residual of a long-ago important business function where knowledge of its operation no longer exists. Such applications are retained out of fear that their removal might lead to unintended consequences.

For the NonStop community, thriving as it has for fifty years has come as a surprise to some in the industry. Of all the systems that had their time in the sun (mind the pun), NonStop wasn’t among the systems expected to thrive. There is a long list of “whatever happened to …” including Prime, Wang, Four Phase, Data General and even the BUNCH – Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data, Honeywell where there were high expectations that they would be among the vendors enjoying significant longevity.

When it comes to NonStop, a quick check of the Tandem Computers and then NonStop logos shows the many transitions NonStop went through. Even as the red logo turned to blue and black and then back to red followed by more blue before green – what hasn’t changed is the decisive attributes that make NonStop the survivor it has become. Availability, scalability, data integrity, security and more. As they advertising community often restates, it’s what makes NonStop a NonStop! The recent introduction of the phrase, “Can’t stop; won’t stop; NonStop” is just the latest iteration describing these attributes with a more modern, recognizable, twist and one the NonStop community has endorsed rather rapidly.

Celebrations almost by definition represent times when we look back across the years. And for a 50-year anniversary, this means that there are many years to look back on. However, as the world of technology continues to be fast-paced and change-addicted, as much as nostalgia will overtake many of us as we reflect on so many good times we enjoyed, perhaps time should be spent considering what comes next. What will the next 25 years even the next 50 years be like for NonStop?

Will the years be kind to NonStop? Will NonStop transform in ways that surprise us? Will we even have a technology industry that will be recognizable by those who have lived long enough to see the transitions. This has been the focus of my own work of late initiated as it was by a conversation that took place between myself, Margo Holen and Mark Pollans, Senior WW Product Manager, HPE NonStop. It also comes at a time where following NonStop TBC 2023, Denver, there have been messages exchanged with Kirk Bresniker, HPE Labs Chief Architect. There have even been interactions with former HPE CTO (and former boss of NonStop), Martin Fink, as well as a number of members of the NonStop community.

What followed is the recent posting of the results, an article entitled, “Fifty years on … HPE NonStop in 2074!” Moore’s Law is winding down; silicon isn’t a long term solution even as virtual machines capitalize on silicon, extending its life. Will it be replaced by something biological? Optical? Something else? By all indications, optic looks to be the best bet once techies solve how best to emulate a transistor.  But that is only one consideration when looking at NonStop fifty years from today and there is a lot more covered in this article.

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It’s still just as hard to predict the future as it has ever been but the one thing we can say with confidence, there will be much we simply won’t recognize or have even guessed that might occur. With the attributes NonStop continues to bring to the table, there is a distinct possibility that NonStop will be thriving in 2074 as it does today. It’s a long way off but then, other advances may also have taken place in adjacent fields begging the question – will I see you to celebrate NonStop as it passes its century milestone? I sure hope so.