2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
NonStop CEOs have their say –Michael Nee, CEO of NTI.
What is the business of your company?
We have been in business a very long time and our mission has evolved through the years. Initially, in the 1980s, we were simply a services group developing custom turnkey solutions based on data and the need customers had to protect data, but from there the company moved quickly, and in the 1990s, we stepped up to providing complete products rather than turnkey solutions. We quickly saw that data was the greatest resource any user has on NonStop and as such a great and important resource it needs to easily accessible by every authorized user in the enterprise.
Our product’s name, DRNet, is just an abbreviation for Data Resource Networking – a product name that oftentimes doesn’t convey all that we do, even as it has often been mistaken for Disaster Recovery Networking. We can participate in Disaster Recovery, but when you look at our product today, it is more about Disaster Avoidance, even as it is a tool developed to get at the most valuable resource in IT – the data!
NonStop systems have rarely been the sole system within the data center and for some time now we have added support for platforms apart from NonStop, most notably open platforms, including Linux, Unix and Windows. The importance of this has become more significant in light of the plans of HPE to support hybrid IT and clouds where we fully expect to see even more use-cases for DRNet arise – when it comes to the business of NTI, though, it is, and will continue to be, about the data!
And how do you work with the HPE NonStop team today? HPE is a partner? Or planned to be? Do you have other partnerships – how would you rate HPE today?
We have always been an alliance partner starting with the original Tandem. Currently we are a Silver partner of HPE.. As we have been in business for such a long time and are familiar with almost all the accounts running NonStop today, we enjoy the close relationship we have with the NonStop users and view the connection between us and these users as an important umbilical cord that gives us insight as to where these users are headed.
With so much being discussed about the most recent developments coming from the NonStop development team, this close relationship is very important as there is still a difference between the messages HPE is conveying to its user base and what is actually happening on the ground and this knowledge is very important to us as we prioritize our next moves.
What have you learnt about NonStop this year that has you excited for the future of NonStop? Will NonStop continue to play a dominant role when it comes to your product development at NTI?
It was hard to ignore the news concerning the deep port to the Intel x86 chipset, but it is only now that we are seeing NonStop users move to the new NonStop X systems. These are turning out to be powerful systems and that is a challenge of itself as the vendor community adjusts to new pricing models.
However, the biggest news of all has to be the arrival of virtualized NonStop (vNS) and we think that this will open the doors to new NonStop users and will take NonStop into new markets. Clearly, the L-Series operating system is the real deal and with the support for L-Series we now provide, it doesn’t matter whether our DRNetusers want to run on traditional NonStop systems or new virtualized NonStop systems – they can deploy DRNetany way they like and it is this ability to choose that will likely be the biggest news of call coming from NonStop development.
What is the status of your work with NonStop X – do you have customers now? Do you expect any in the near-term? And, do you anticipate seeing NonStop customers upgrading to NonStop X?
We completed the testing of our products on all HPE nonstop servers including vNonStop. DRNetwas deployed on one of the very first NonStop X systems sold by HPEwithout any difficulty. We currently have many customers using DRNet on NonStop X
Having said that we are seeing a marked increase in the interest in NonStop X systems so you have to say, HPE did it’s homework for NonStop and has timed the availability of NonStop X systems to coincide with the increased demand for open systems and standard components. InfiniBand is a definite improvement over the former ServerNet and it is also a surprise to us to see how quickly NonStop development added support for RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) – obviously a must for them as they stepped up to support virtual machines and yes, clouds.
How did you go about testing on NonStop X – have you installed NonStop X for your own usage? Do you have access? Have you used the Advanced Technology Center (ATC)?
We at NTI have always had multiple NonStop servers in house for development and support. Currently we own a S7600 a NS2100 and a NS7X. From time to time depending on where we are in our hardware purchase schedulle we use the great facilities at the ATC. Rod and his team are superb to work with. Since, at the time, we had not yet purchased our NS7X we used the ATC for X86 validation. We also used them for vNonStop validation.
What role do you anticipate seeing for the new Virtualized NonStop (vNS) within the traditional NonStop community? What about the new Converged Virtualized NonStop system “package” – is it a good thing for the NonStop user community? Do you anticipate virtualized offerings being deployed for testing and pilots or will they have an impact on production deployment? Will you be ready with your products or do you have concerns? Do you see it having the potential to open new markets for NonStop?
As best as we can tell what was called a Converged Virtualized NonStop system last year at Boot Camp is now the NS2 and supports the very same L-Series operating system as does the virtualized NonStop systems HPE is now selling – it definitely looks to us like a reasonably good “starter kit” for those NonStop users who may lack the skills to assemble their own virtualized NonStop system. We at NTI suspect its first use case will be with developers and testers and perhaps those involved in PoCs and Pilots of new products. So yes, NS2 is a good thing for the NonStop community.
As for having any concerns about what we are seeing NonStop development provide then no, we don’t. Indeed all the added attention being given to NonStop is a good thing for us here at NTI and when you add into this mix HPE’s decision to port Blockchain to NonStop (and NonStop SQL) with support just for the L Series then yes, we may even see more enterprises giving NonStop serious consideration and there’s nothing wrong with that occurring! New markets are something we expect will open up as a result – but it is early days and already we have begun thinking about the data this involves and we are all about data so there will likely be new features from NTI to address these new markets as they evolve.