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HPE Discover – Ah, the Memories!

Ron LaPedis


HP Technology Forum

In 2009, several years after my “retirement” from HP, I attended the HP Technology Forum in Las Vegas as an HP Partner. At that time, I wrote a blogon HP’s data-center-in-a-box(HP POD) along with Active Power’s power-supply-in-a-box (PowerHouse). The idea was that a data center could be built in an empty warehouse using modular shipping containers full of equipment and power supplies.

I thought this was a great idea for standing up data centers quickly, or for use in disaster recovery. While Google and Microsoft took the container route for several years and eventually decided against it, IBMand Schneider Electricare still going strong with their prefabricated modular data centers. And Sungard AS, Rentsys, and other recovery organizations are rolling mobile data centers in a box for disaster recovery. But everyone saw them here first!



The HP Technology Forum wasn’t my first rodeo. Sometime in the mid-80’s I attended COMDEX in Las Vegas to baby-sit a NonStop server with the new communications chassis. Along with the NSK, we had a breadbox-sized 4800 baud modem to connect back to the Tandem network. Bonus points to anyone who can name the brand (paging Dave Foley)!

We ran out of outlets to connect it to power, but the comm chassis had several 3-prong outlets along its sides. We connected the modem, but that action released the magic smoke and it stopped working. After talking with Cupertino, we found out that the outlets were actually 220 volts and not 110 volts. Of course, that led to a discussion on future labelling and the pre-Fedex airlift of a replacement unit. This show was also notable for me because I just broke up with my Tandemite girlfriend and she was sent to the same show. Yeah, that was fun because I forgot that we had booked connecting rooms before we split – and she unlocked the door when I wasn’t looking so that she could make a midnight visit.



For over a dozen years, HP had one of the largest booths at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco. In 2016, HP was rebranded to HPE after the split between enterprise and PCs/printers and was again rebranded in 2018 to Micro Focus after the spin-merge of HPE Software.

The merger of HPE Software and Micro Focus is a great match for both organizations because our software truly complements each other. We got Atalla, but decided to sell it off since it didn’t fit within our software model – you can read that story elsewhere.

I can’t count the number of times I heard the phrase, “I wonder how they are doing that?” when the NSK kept running after we pulled multiple boards out of it or turned off a power supply while it was running. At that time it was really hard to convincingly demo something that people thought was impossible.


Nowadays everyone in the IT world understands how clusters work and can survive failures, but during Tandem’s early days, tradeshow attendees figured we were running the terminals from a hidden computer, and not the one that was losing boards and power supplies.

How many other system architectures have lasted this long in the same basic form? Yeah, we had some pretty cool tech back in the day – and today!


Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Institute
Global Enablement | San Francisco Bay Area