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NonStop Insider

The HPE Corner

It is official – the good ship HPE is turning and coming into sight is NonStop; a critical element in the new HPE product portfolio!

NonStop Insider


As I recall from many years I have spent working as part of marketing and product management teams within the former Tandem Computers, there were always programs to tackle the siphoning of transactions away from mainframes and other large systems – remember Burroughs? Univac? Honeywell? – into NonStop applications. As a strategy, it was pursued as a means for a more gradual, phased approach, fordeploying NonStop systems. When it came to supporting networks of ATMs and POSs, this insertion of NonStop into the transaction path was initially a part of replacing front-end processors (with something arguably more intelligent) but in time, as the sophistication of the applications on NonStop grew, it was not just a case of siphoning transactions but the creation of a symbiotic relationship between the NonStop and the mainframe – arguable, one of the first practical instances of hybrid IT.

As last month’s The HPE Corner … wrapped up, I made reference to statements made by HPE CEO, Meg Whitman, on her call to financial analysts. Whitman told all those on the call that, “In just the last quarter, we’ve reshaped the entire Enterprise Group business to better drive the three pillars of our strategy, hybrid IT; the intelligent edge; and services.” In the month that has followed I haven’t been able to distance these statements from something very similar that I once heard at Tandem Computers in presentations given by Tandem Computers founder, Jimmy Treybig. Longtime fan of the siphon approach and the strategy of picking off the “low hanging fruit,” as marketing described it, the result of which was that there were very few NonStop-only deployments ever completed. No, NonStop’s roots in Tandem created a hybrid IT environment that resulted in dictating the types of communications, the types of monitoring and management solutions, even the introduction of SQL that came out of development.

Replace the mainframe today with clouds and you begin to see the connection NonStop has with past endeavors. It is not a stretch by any means to view impending cloud deployments as akin to what led to successful mainframe deployments. Support of clouds comes from very large public corporations including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google (plus a number of lesser players on the periphery) all of whom recognize that their respective futures are becoming increasingly tied to their success with providing cloud services. HPE’s three pillars of strategy may include hybrid IT, the intelligent edge (including IoT), and services, but the most obvious role for future NonStop systems is as part of hybrid IT and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been part of the NonStop community.

However, it is hard to ignore the questions that this generates among those within the NonStop community working closely with NonStop. Who will be deploying NonStop as part of hybrid IT? What is the market for NonStop in hybrid IT? Perhaps, most importantly, is NonStop contributing to hybrid IT going to be featured in HPE marketing messages developed in support of its three pillars of strategy? And perhaps, even more importantly, will there be marketing funds coming from HPE to ensure there is follow through with every party that today makes up the IT ecosystem – press, bloggers, analysts, etc. It’s still very early days and NonStop isn’t making it yet to all the meetings where HPE discusses turning strategy into products – but some steps have been taken that augurs well for the future of NonStop.

For starters, there is the impressive “capitalization” by NonStop development on opportunities that it came across concerning HPE’s own IT where NonStop X (and likely VNS) are at the center of a major overhaul of HPE’s IT as it looks for ways to rationalize the more than 25,000 database licenses that remain, post-split. Success at this early stage is fueling the work that has led to NonStop SQL/MX (NS SQL) now having Oracle compatibility. Check the latest updates circulated late March concerning the general availability of L17.02 where there’s coverage of NS SQL release 3.5, including:

Database compatibility features for easier application migration from other relational databases (yes, including Oracle);

Database Services and Multi-tenancy features have been added in order to support provisioning, configuration and management of multi-tenant database environment on NonStop systems;

To support multi-tenant environments, MXOAS is enhanced to enable each of its instances to listen on separate IP addresses;

… and much more!


I am referencing these few points to highlight just how much work is going in to ensure that NonStop can play a role in hybrid IT and that it can play a role on both sides of the dividing line separating the two key elements of hybrid – traditional IT versus cloud computing. Yes, NonStop can easily network with new-age applications on Linux server farms – NSADI is a big factor in bettering the support for this – and NonStop can be part of the cloud, running virtual and a very good fit for supporting DB-as-a-Service, a subcomponent of IaaS.

There are two sides to marketing – that part associated with evangelism where promotion of key products and features, important to an enterprise, are featured. And then there is the other part of marketing that often occurs when there has been a break-out by a product or feature that wasn’t anticipated by the enterprise. In team sports, participants on each side probe for weak spots on the opponent’s side and when one is found, the whole team rallies around in support of those first to capitalize on that weakness. It’s safe to say, that yes, with NonStop, the efforts of product management and development have led to the emergence of an alternative platform capable of running on both sides of the hybrid IT divide and yet, bringing with it features unmatched by competing platforms. It is now only a matter of time before the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google discover that crashing, going offline and in general disrupting the services they provide (yes, think Amazon and the outage of their S3 storage) shouldn’t be considered unavoidable.

There may be a future for NonStop in services. There may also be a future for NonStop in the intelligent edge. But for the majority of members within the NonStop community the more obvious and indeed immediate future is in hybrid IT. We have been travelling down this path for years and NonStop has experience. The only element missing is confidence, belief and yes, commitment – who knows, the first big deployment of NonStop in a hybrid IT environment may very well happen as a direct result of what is said at eBITUG. It would be good to read about it at a later date but somewhere, at some point, NonStop is going to break out and be seen as a major influence within HPE of all things, hybrid IT!