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 Reporting from the year’s biggest event: The NonStop All-Digital Experience 2020

There was only one event for the NonStop community this month, and it was the big one: Our annual get together for the NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2020.

Bigger than a RUG event and on par with ITUG Summits of year’s past, even with the event going virtual registrations were at historically high levels. Does the success of this major event establish a blueprint for future big-tent NonStop events? We will just have to wait and see …

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The interest in NonStop events has been a major ingredient contributing to the health of the NonStop community. It goes without saying that events have pulled together a variety of viewpoints that ultimately have led to the NonStop community always wanting more – the opportunities afforded NonStop are as numerous as they are compelling. However, today nothing says NonStop better than when an event goes global and participation leads to there being a Sold Out sign literally hung on the registration web site.

Perhaps it was a long time coming or perhaps it just reflected the ease with which the community could participate. Organizers went out of their way to make sure it was an inclusive event with multiple regions provided with content in their own time zone and often in their own language. The sheer scope of pulling this together cannot be overlooked but neither can the enthusiasm of the community can be ignored. There were numerous times when the counter of attendees rolled past 1,500. It’s been a long time coming but all indications suggest that the NonStop community is seeing a resurgence of interest in all things NonStop that compels them to dig deeper into the properties and capabilities of the premier real time mission critical product suite from HPE.

Before looking at the highlights of this event, the 2020 NonStop Technical Boot Camp (TBC), it must be stated that this year, given the nature of the global pandemic that has us all watching news networks’ headlines almost daily, the decision was made to diverge from the original plan to hold a traditional event and to embrace a virtual event – the NonStop All-Digital Experience. When news first broke that this was going to be the format for the most important NonStop event of the year, there was more than a handful of naysayers expressing real doubts that the community would buy into such a format. However, as already noted, once the count of registration reached 2,000 all doubts about the viability of having such an event were put to one side.

Three tracks for the Americas and then an additional four tracks for Asia-Pacific, Europe, Japan and India ensured there was no part of the planet unable to participate. When promoting the event to the NonStop partner community seeking sponsorship of different activities, the promotion included the following: “This year’s event expects to attract 800 members of the global HPE NonStop community for three days of networking and learning with NonStop engineers, executives, partners and customers.” Well, the organizers blew by that number early in the process and yet, going with an online experience met with few reservations on the part of the NonStop partner community. Safe to say, the general response has been positive and for good reason as well. Attendance for almost all partner presentations went way beyond the numbers experienced at traditional NonStop events.

When it comes to the highlights, it all started with the opening keynote presentation by Peter Ungaro, HPE Senior VP and GM, High Performance Computing / Mission Critical Systems. He was ably supported by a familiar face with the presence of Jeff Kyle, HPE VP and GM, Mission Critical Solutions. “AT HPE our primary goal is to be world-leading edge-to-cloud, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), company,” said Ungaro. Digital Transformation (DX) is “how you get to an ‘as-a-Service’ model,” said Kyle. “Fully twenty percent of everything we do with NonStop today is being delivered via GreenLake.” Kyle began with news about the upcoming launch of the NonStop NS8 X4 together with the NonStop NS4 X4 then touched on NonStop SQL/MX (NS SQL) as well as on DevOps. As for NS SQL it is “First time we are seeing our customers deploy on extremely available, distributed data environments that supports any application environment,” said Kyle. Clearly, with a focus on database it’s a great place to start your journey to NonStop!

During the course of the opening presentations provided by the NonStop development team we heard a lot more about all the upgraded hardware, the added features now a part of NS SQL and DevOps inroads that ensure you can develop for Nonstop just as you would develop for any other platform. More importantly and easily recognized by attendees is the growing duopoly of NonStop – as the transaction processor in support of mission critical applications as well as the database processor capable of supporting any Linux based application environments operational adjacent to NonStop.

When Ungaro opened with the message of HPE becoming a world-leading edge-to-cloud, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), company it was hard not to think about the implications of such a commitment from a major vendor such as HPE. NonStop is a world-leading, highest available and yes, massively scalable platform but how will that play out with this HPE goal in mind? Turns out that this was a highlight of the event as HPE presenter after HPE presenter talked of the inclusion of NonStop in major HPE programs. The key to this inclusion likely comes with the success HPE has had in adding support for virtual machines alongside its traditional converged systems offerings.

This success was clearly underscored when Dell Technologies gave a presentation on its move to virtual NonStop (vNS). In a presentation that will remain online and accessible for the coming year, Craig Geurin, Dell Enterprise Architecture Consultant, talks openly of the problems Dell faced with continued support of NonStop. Being aware of this, Dell still wanted to extend the life of NonStop applications even as it faced a reduced annual NonStop platform spend while at the same time, it could see the value that could be realized if it took steps to modernize the NonStop infrastructure. Turns out that the availability of vNS was the perfect answer to the problems Dell faced.

As a vendor of x86 servers and with access to Mellanox NICs together with the availability of VMware as its hypervisor, supporting the many virtual machines required of vNS proved no obstacle for Dell. It had all of those bases well covered and so it was simply a case of coming up with an appropriate configuration of NonStop that ensure the core competencies of NonStop’s availability and scalability were not compromised or degraded in any fashion. As a result, Dell experience a “near flawless / seamless cutover for our users,” said Geurin. “Reduced annual support costs for the NonStop platform; reduced footprint in our data centers (a 6:1 rack ration consolidation); standardized infrastructure for our NonStop applications,” were among the benefits achieved as a result of the migration to vNS by Dell Technologies.

There is no substitute for hearing directly from the NonStop customer base about its experiences with the latest iterations of NonStop. If you are looking for this presentation of Craig Gerurin, then go to Whova app, tab to Video Gallery and look for the presentation TBC20-053 -A Peek into How Dell Technologies Runs Virtualized NonStop for Critical Applications There continues to be considerable uncertainty about the true cost of ownership of NonStop and this was the subject matter of my own presentation TBC20-040 – The ABC’s of NonStop TCO which you can also replay from the video gallery. This covers material that appeared in the September – October, 2020, issue of The Connection. However, perhaps one of the more interesting presentations came late in the week and answered some of the questions raised earlier – how will NonStop as a world-leading, highest available platform participate in HPE’s goal to be a world leader in core-to-edge, PaaS?

In his presentation, TBC20-025 – Artificial Intelligence Driven Enterprise (AIDE), Justin Simonds, HPE NonStop Solutions Master Technologist, outlined a potential architecture that brings together both Mission Critical Systems in NonStop and High Performance Computing in Apollo. “When it comes to unlocking the value of all your data, edge-to-cloud,” said Simonds, it’s best to think in terms of adding AI to the combination of OLTP and OLAP that we have been calling HTAP. “With such a combination, HPE with NonStop and Apollo can respond to business demands for a new, agile, information driven management structure that’s AI driven.” But again, if this is a topic that excited you then simple tab to the video gallery in the Whova app and scroll down the list until you reach this presentation.

Of course, the NonStop product management team not only covered the introduction of the new NonStop X systems but also introduced the NonStop community to a completely new program, Showcase. There will be much written about this program in the coming months but suffice to say, the objective is to simplify the purchase of all your software, including that of NonStop partners, in a way that only requires the negotiation of a single PO. Also gaining considerable attention was the session about GreenLake and NonStop. As with Showcase it was Karen Copeland, HPE Manager NonStop Product Management that walked the community through the presentations and you will be able to find both of these presentations in the video gallery supported by the Whova app.

Ultimately, it comes down to the impression this event made on NonStop customers and already, there have been many positive responses received by the team that brought us this year’s NonStop All-Digital Experience:

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All that remains to be said is that this was a very successful event. The numbers do tell the true story, as the global NonStop community was present in strength for much of the week. The only consideration to be made now is whether or not this proves to be a template for future events of this nature – it’s hard to argue against 2,000 registered participants – but there is still a very strong case to be made for the networking opportunities that arise from traditional events. The jury is very much out on how best to leverage this most recent event but in its own way, its success may point to a new future that is a mix of both the traditional and the online, virtual event we all experienced this year. And that can’t be a bad thing to consider given just how well the 2020 NonStop Technical Boot Camp proved to be for all of the NonStop community it served!

Editor’s Note: All of the presentations from the 2020 NonStop TBC are available On-Demand at

This article first appeared in the November – December 2020 edition of
The Connection magazine and is republished here with permission from Connect.