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The HPE Corner

HPE has opened the doors to new ways of selling NonStop and this may be a glimpse into the future of NonStop itself!

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The SIBOS event held in Sydney at the end of October provided an opportunity for HPE to showcase blockchain. SIBOS is an event put on by SWIFT – the global provider
of secure financial messaging services. It is the organization that fundamentally underpins the world’s financial transactions and has for decades made it possible for the computers of the banking world to pass the transactions that result in the movement of money between the financial institutions. Membership in SWIFT (and no, membership is not cheap by any means) allows you to participate in this network and SIBOS is simply an annual gathering of its members.

HPE was present at this event and all the talk on the stand was about blockchain. Raphael Davison, HPE’s Worldwide Director of Blockchain, was highly visible throughout the week as were folks from R3: Corda. Of course, HPE talked about other things than Corda and blockchain, but the presentations given on the stand each time I passed the HPE booth seemed to be about blockchain and it may be getting more traction given how enterprises are coming to terms that there are three main contenders for blockchain implementations – Ethereum, Hyperledger and Corda.


HPE corner Nov 18 - 1


According to HPE’s Davison, whereas earlier responses from enterprises had been, “I didn’t think HPE had anything to say,” as well as “You’re not serious – when you join Ethereum, then let us know!” But no longer, as all three products possess strong credentials for being a part of the discussion and so, HPE is very much part of the conversation. News continues to trickle out about this bank or another running HPE’s Mission Critical Distributed Ledger (MCDLT) hosted by HPE, but for the NonStop community, there is a very interesting development taking place. Call it yet another unintended consequence, perhaps, even as I like to think of it is a glimpse into the future of NonStop, but with MCDLT, HPE’s is making the presence of NonStop very transparent – it’s not apparent that NonStop is underpinning the technology to anyone testing or piloting MCDLT particularly when it comes to running all of it on a virtual machine.

“VMware support of NonStop,” said Davison, “allows us to position NonStop as part of the application layer and hidden in this way, it is giving us an opportunity to hide the fact that a bank needs to step up and validate yet another OS stack.” This is extremely important in the banking world as there are all sorts of regulations governing participation in networks like SWIFT when it comes to the OS. What HPE is successfully arguing for is that the Virtual Machines is the primary OS and it’s hypervisor is where attention should be directed. Your systems and operations folks need to be fully aware of the presence of whichever VM has been installed which in most cases these days, means VMware.

“Applications people are dealing with all sorts of new products and interfaces all the time,” added Davison. “It matters little to the application groups that there is a bit more to this VM guest than a few lines of application code.” Could this be the begging of yet another way to introduce NonStop into the enterprise? It certainly didn’t hurt the story as best as I could tell – blockchain is very much in its infancy so keeping the focus on what MCDLT is capable of and building messages around its availability story, is one way to get under the radar of many enterprises now that it’s almost given that virtualization is part of the enterprise infrastructure.


HPE corner Nov 18 - 2

There was so much action on the HPE stand I couldn’t help myself so yes,
I snapped a selfie – but it was also a reminder for me that well,
longer hair styles are no longer in fashion in Sydney so it all came off a day later!


HPE attracted a constant flow of SIBOS attendees to their stand and it was clear that there was sustained interest in HPE’s entrance into the world of blockchain. As a community, NonStop users and vendors alike have always been looking at ways to grow the population of NonStop sites – since HPE took over responsibility for NonStop, it’s been a constant demand of the community for HPE to sell more NonStop systems. It’s a good enough product to compete in the open marketplace and its value proposition still resonates with many. But it has always looked and been different and, dare I add, proprietary! Yes, you can throw a browser interface in front of NonStop and yes, you can opt to run industry-standard utilities on NonStop but ultimately, it’s a system that just behaves a little differently to, say, regular Linux or even Windows.

What if then the NonStop OS and stack were to be hidden in such a fashion that nothing new had to be learnt? What if a given application interacted directly with operations and programmers in a manner consistent with other platforms more familiar to an enterprises staff? If you listen to OmniPayments CEO Yash, the OmniPayments solution is being marketed today with no reference being made to NonStop and unless someone asks specifically about NonStop, it rarely comes up when talking about OmniPayments with prospects. Now, this isn’t a case of big middleware and solutions vendors not being proud of NonStop but rather a reflection that marginalizing any perceived complexity to the point where NonStop becomes transparent to the operation of the application well, I have to believe that is a good thing for all of us!

There will still be times where we want to advocate strongly for NonStop but there will be other times where minimalizing its presence will work in our favor. It may come as a surprise to members of the NonStop community that HPE folks aren’t kicking off presentations on MCDLT with an intro to NonStop but then again, why would they do that? The end result is that the success that HPE may enjoy simply means that there will be more NonStop deployments and isn’t that what every member of the NonStop community wants to see? MCDLT may turn out to be the new model for selling NonStop into enterprises and I see no harm in emulating this approach. The coming months and quarters should prove very interesting for HPE in this regard so let’s just see where this leads and in the meantime, let’s take a good look at how this approach could be applied to the work we are doing whether we are NonStop users or vendors – after all, surely it couldn’t hurt, right? It’s still NonStop on systems real or virtual that count and growth on either if it can be achieved is a good thing!