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Opinion – NonStop, living on the Edge!
When HPE CEO Antonio Neri gave his keynote presentation the first day of HPE Discover 2019, among the statements he made was one that has intrigued many industry analysts:
“Through this new family of products and services we will enable you to run unmodified enterprise-class applications and services from the edge so you can make your hybrid IT simple.”
As for context, I recall this followed earlier remarks about the big investment HPE is making in Aruba and the Intelligent Edge as, at the previous even HPE Discover 2018, Neri had told attendees that HPE was placing a $4B bet on its edge-network portfolio:
“HPE plans to build out a computing architecture that spans the data center, the edge network and the cloud over the next 4 years.”
If my math still serves me well, this means we now have a little less than three years before HPE delivers on this commitment and by all accounts, this investment by HPE in Aruba doesn’t discount any participation by NonStop. After all, NonStop supports enterprise class applications within the data center, so why not out at the edge? Then there is the small matter of NonStop having been successfully deployed and demoed on the EdgeLine 4000 at HPE Discover 2019.
“What HPE is striving for, through AI and Infosight, is the autonomous or ‘self-driving’ datacenter,” said Justin Simonds, Master Technologist at HPE who gave a talk on AI and ML at this year’s NonStop Technical Boot Camp. “The datacenter at the edge or back in the brick and mortar datacenter becomes self-driving. The system over-seeing this autonomous datacenter would seem like a good candidate for NonStop.”
Bottom line? When HPE openly talks about taking IT to the edge and suggests that in a very short time, everything available today for the data center will become available for the edge the NonStop community needs to take notice. I have used the above slide in a number of presentations I have given of late (sponsored by NonStop partner, NTI) to great effect and there have always been questions raised as I left the podium. Nearly all of the questions centered on why would HPE support that? What would be the need for NonStop at the edge?
One avenue worth exploring when it comes to any discussion about NonStop and the Edge must include the ever-changing landscape of IoT, particularly as it applies to IIoT – the Industrial Internet of Things. IIoT is generally acknowledged as including:
“Interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked together with computers’ industrial applications, including manufacturing and energy management. This connectivity allows for data collection, exchange, and analysis, potentially facilitating improvements in productivity and efficiency as well as other economic benefits.”
However, there is a lot more going on than simply networking a bunch of devices – in the world of IIoT we are seeing the early stages of OT and IT convergence. Whereas in the past there was little dialogue between those engineers supporting Operational Technology, including industrial robots and the like and Information Technology, including data bases and clouds. This is all changing as the need to do much more – filtering, analysis, enriching, etc. – in support of OT suggests traditional IT capabilities are provided. In other words, applications designed to support touchpoints that are more likely to be machines than people. And what if those touchpoints were dynamically created?
There has been a lot of discussions too of late following rumors that Xerox would be making an offer for HP Inc. (or, as it is better known as HP Ink) – a rumor that will quite likely die in short order, I suspect. But in a November 9, 2019, article by Joel Dreyfuss that was published by CNBC, “How 3-D printing is transforming the $12 trillion manufacturing industry and fueling the 4th Industrial Revolution one observation was worthy of further discussion. According to Dreyfuss:
“Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney describes 3-D printing as a technology that is disrupting the $12 trillion manufacturing industry. ‘3-D printing, or additive manufacturing — will push the production of goods closer to the consumer, democratizing manufacturing on a global scale and allowing products to be cost-effectively customized to consumers’ needs,’ said the firm in a report that described the U.S. as the world leader but with Germany, South Korea and Italy among the countries working hard to catch up.”
Did you catch it? What fired my imagination was the reference to “push the production of goods closer to the consumer” given as how the smartphone and tablet revolution has educated us all about the benefits of delivering everything to the parties working the app! “The 3D printing in manufacturing takes away the biggest cost in the supply chain which is movement of the goods,” said Simonds. Adding a note of caution though, Simonds added “When low-cost 3-D printing becomes available manufacturing moves back onshore but without the subsequent uptick in jobs.”
There is more as partnerships are fueling the move to the edge and this wasn’t lost on the author of the above. When he wrote about future prospects of something like 3-D printing and knowing as I do our interest in all things related to HP, there is first a cautionary note followed by illustrations from the animal kingdom:
“There are two key obstacles to faster growth of the 3-D printer market, says Maikel van Verseveld, global production and operations lead at Accenture’s Industry X.O, which focuses on marrying smart technologies to traditional industries. ‘The majority of our clients are still hesitating,’ he says. One concern is the disparity in scale between suppliers and customers. Many manufacturers of 3-D printers are small start-ups, while users are often large corporations.
“‘Elephants in the enterprise want to do business with elephants,’ he said.
“However, two giants, Siemens and HP, have joined forces to encourage big companies to adopt 3-D printing. In March the two companies announced an alliance that would make Siemens manufacturing software and HP’s latest industrial 3-D printers work smoothly together.”
Again, the notion of “marrying smart technologies to traditional industries” can just as easily be applied to ATMs and POSs as it can to lines of robots manning an assembly line and with the move to embed technology everywhere, what’s to preclude NonStop running virtualized from being deployed close to the customer – out at the edge – and contribute to lifting edge products to be seen as intelligent edge offerings? The day of NonStop participation within the Intelligent Edge as HPE defines it is not that far off, with one obvious result needing very little explanation.
As HPE builds out this new architecture and as it delivers on the promise to support enterprise-class applications at the edge, how prepared are we as NonStop users and vendors to support such an initiative? Are we ready to deal with much larger populations of NonStop systems? Are we ready to capitalize on this presence of NonStop at the edge and to deliver applications beneficial to the enterprise? It’s early days of course, but the clock continues to count down – four years is now less than three. What are we all waiting for?
When it comes to speculation about where future growth of NonStop will come from it’s hard not to get excited by the prospect of NonStop at the edge and I have to admit, after listening to many presentations at TBC 2019 it struck me that the NonStop community may soon have to deal with one more reality – will we need one user group, or two? Speculating even further, will we see enterprise NonStop become “traditional” even as edge NonStop becomes “modern” – it could very well happen, but for now, there is still a little time to think it all through and aren’t you pleased to read that there are members of the NonStop community already hard at work looking at how best to leverage this new world of NonStop, living on the edge!