Monday, June 20, 2011

HP DISCOVER 2011 - a very biased wrap-up

About the author: Thomas is the CTO at comForte and has been active in the NonStop community for longer than he can remember. He has a keen interest in all topics related to security, cross-platform Enterprise computing and all things related to IT. For details, please see http://www.comforte.com/company/management/

Having been at many many “ITUG” events, I will try to sum up my experiences from this years’ event in this blog. I was on the program committee of prior events; I also attended several “NonStop-only ITUGs”, the very first HPTF including NonStop (2005 in Houston) – thus I hope I have a somewhat broad view. So let’s start with …

The ugly
My very first cab driver gave me a $35 ride from the airport to a hotel on the strip. But I got to see the highway west of the strip…

The bad
Not too much too report here… But to say it out loud: I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF LAS VEGAS! While – other to an urban legend – it is possible for financial institutions to attend events in Las Vegas, I think five years running is enough. I herewith pledge to hold the next DISCOVER in Hawaii. Or Fiji. Or wherever – but not in a place I feel home in by now. I struggled with the new format of the session scheduler. Other than having to learn a new tool each year, the sheer breadth of content made it very hard no to miss sessions which might have been even more interesting. I put up a sub-schedule for NonStop on my web site at www.thomas-burg.de but that was too late for many people to use. Maybe this is something Connect can do next year?

The good
Let’s start with the food. Seriously. How many of us remember complaining year after year to ITUG that the food was “improvable” – I think this simply happened. Nothing major of course, but I did notice.

Do I need to mention the concert featuring Sir Paul McCartney? The fun part of the event aside, NonStop is now part of a major IT event with more than 10,000 people across all IT attending – thus giving NonStop a much bigger exposure.

Then there is NonStop-specific content which I did like a lot. I know some people disagree on this one, so let me try to prove my point… Does anyone miss the vendor talks where they present their products? I have done several of those for comForte – typically competing in time slot with comForte’s trusted competitors. I don’t see much of a loss here – do you? Due to time constraints I only attended a few NonStop-specific sessions; here are some I find noteworthy:
  • Session 4775, NonStop HW roadmap: I think everyone who was there will agree that this was a good session. Someone new joning the HP NonStop Enterprise Division (NED)! 15 mins of Q&A with honest answers to tough questions!
  • Session 4622, NonStop Security technical update contained lots of announcements. NonStop security has improved a lot in the past couple of years
  • Session 4589, NonStop Technical Overview, provided an introduction to NonStop systems for people new to that platform
  • Session 3221, “NonStop and Linux combined”: was a very interesting session on how NonStop can be used as front-end for a cloud-based application, standing-in for the cloud when the cloud is down.

Moving on to “content beyond NonStop”: Like it or not, the NED is part of a much bigger Enterprise now, namely the BCS (business critical systems) unit of HP, headed by Martin Fink. Which itself is part of a larger unit, namely the Enterprise Servers, storage and networking division, headed by Dave Donatelli. I find it both relevant and very good for NonStop that the platform is being mentioned when people responsible for these larger units speak. NonStop was explicitly mentioned both by Martin and Dave. Hey, NonStop even got mentioned in THE keynote of the event, led by Leo Apotheker. While Leo did not mention the N-word; the keynote speaker from Intel did. You will find his slide on the comForte Twitter feed from June 7th, see http://twitpic.com/5814gc . (If you don’t follow comForte on Twitter yet, this is the time to add http://www.twitter.com/comfortelounge to your feeds).

In terms of “news”, there were no sensational announcements regarding NonStop, but maybe this is the biggest news: from an HP-global perspective, NonStop is “just” the high-end part of the HP mission-critical server offering (Martin calls NonStop “zero downtime” and Superdome “mission-critical”).

Let’s finish with the most important entity of DISCOVER – the attendees. Personally I had meeting after meeting after meeting with customers, prospects, competitors, partners and HP folks. I also took the time to venture away from the NonStop area to talk with the HP secure printing folks, some people from Accenture but I also took a look at the HP Slate 500 and TouchPad. I truly believe the event gaining a larger audience is beneficial rather than an issue; the comForte team certainly feels we were able to keep the community spirit alive (a customer dinner helps) while also making usage of the wider topic coverage.

The author welcomes comments - there will be a group discussion on LinkedIn for just that.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this - and I really like your inclusion of the quote by Martin Fink.

    This is a message that needs wider promotion - no, NonStop cannot be silo-ed and will benefit from greater visibility across HP BCS ....

    Good post!

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  2. Well, my cab driver spoke russian during most of the ride except for the part where she said 'only garbage comes to Vegas now'. Upon arrival she had her hands on the trunk and said that she would not open it until she was paid. But hey, I had a great view of the mountains. ;-)

    I am not Vegas fan to begin with and if it were not for the conference you'd never catch me there so yeah, enough of Vegas already. That's probably not the popular opinion, most people like Vegas.

    Overall I thought the conference was better organized regarding meals, session rooms, etc. The schduler did not work well and it was cumbersome to find the NonStop sessions unless the word NonStop was in the session title. Once again it also seems to take forever for the presentations to show up online. That's something that should be improved upon.
    This was a big conference and at first glance it did look like NonStop did not get enough attention. My perspective was changed by observations I made during the conference. Were we the small fish in a big tank? Yes, but NonStop also only represents a small portion of the entire HP business yet NonStop was mentioned during more than one general session. Also, sessions were available to introduce the NonStop to new users/customers. In the HP hardware section of the expo hall I noticed that attendees were asked if they were new to NonStop so that the product presentations could be geared toward new users. Being part of a large conference also provides opportunities to see what everyone else is up to, something I appreciated a great deal.
    Last, but not least, do I miss the feeling of user community we had at the ITUGs? The answer to that is yes. Can NonStop survive without being exposed to a much larger audience at an Industry conference? I don't think so. This is an opportunity for the NonStop to become known by people other than a very loyal user community and to shed that proprietary, only good for banks and stock markets label.

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