Thursday, July 14, 2011

Matrix Unloaded!

Three months ago I wrote of how I’m a big fan of the Matrix trilogy – but following HP Discover and discussions with HP as well as with other vendors, while I still like the movies I’m not as sure as I once was that NonStop has a place in the Matrix …

I’ve just returned to Boulder following a one week trip to Europe. Family matters took me to the Polish capital, Warsaw, for the weekend and then potential business opportunities took me to Paris. I wrapped up the week with a meeting with Dr. Michael Rossbach, and the discussions turned to Dr. Rossbach’s observations about HP Discover. We also talked about the impact uLinga was making in the marketplace, and we reflected on the benefits that events, like Discover, can provide for all participants. And we talked about Clouds.

Clearly, HP has been aligning its executive team around the core messages of Cloud Computing and Mobility. We also see the messages of CI-Ready and of the expectations HP has concerning the value that will come with converged infrastructure – leveraging common components for even greater flexibility, and painting a picture where future hardware offerings will surely become even cheaper.

The question is what will really happen with NonStop, vis-à-vis the Cloud? Three months ago, in the post of March 10th, 2011, “Return of the Matrix!” I was very bullish on what HP’s Matrix product offered, and following presentations at SATUG from HP EMEA I read between the lines and concluded that, at some point, NonStop would be able to be plugged into the Matrix and that after a fashion, the provisioning software would be extended to embrace NonStop. When it came to slide-ware, it all looked really cool!

However, not so fast! The more I talk with HP executives and the harder I press them as to whether the Matrix product offering would support NonStop, the less I am inclined to believe that we will see any short-term NonStop participation. Quite the opposite in fact: HP views the NonStop Server platform, as it does the SuperDome, as specialty server platforms, in much the same way as IBM views its System z mainframe, and believes that there will be customers who will be looking for solutions apart from Clouds.

Unloaded from Matrix participation but included as a specialty processor, is a significant development for the NonStop community. This is not to say that there will not be some users who elect to find a role for NonStop in their Cloud strategy, or to tie together NonStop and Clouds. However, irrespective of the progress HP makes with the Cloud strategy – products and services – NonStop will find continued relevance in support for all applications considered too critical to be pushed into Clouds, public or private.

CI-Ready is about a convergence around infrastructure and middleware that is shared, and indeed common across many of HP’s high-end server platforms. It’s about clearly demonstrating just how modern the platform has become via the types of industry-standard and open systems software that is supported by NonStop. What CI-Ready is not about is a convergence around Cloud computing!

As soon as you realize that specialty servers will continue to be needed and that Cloud computing will only offset some functionality (and not likely the core applications), then business needs to go on, and modernizing connectivity, as is addressed by uLinga, remains just as relevant today as at any time in the past. Networks of Branch Devices, ATMs, POSs, even mobile devices, benefit from what uLinga can provide and with the operational “go live” just pursued by one large retailer uLinga is being watched closely by other retailers and financial institutions facing similar networking modernization issues. I will have more to say on this subject in later posts.

Responsible data center managers will not give up core capabilities of the business, that differentiates them from competitors, to Clouds and in this respect NonStop provides the differentiation many CIOs still value. The Matrix will continue to be featured highly in much of HP’s marketing collateral in support of Clouds, and we may yet see NonStop implemented as a part of the solution by some!

But as you consider the highlights of the Matrix package, they do leave many within the NonStop scratching their heads and wondering, so what? It would seem that, after all, the original architects of NonStop really did get it right and a modern NonStop certainly will serve quite a few selected companies well for many years to come as a specialty platform, to be relied on for the most critical aspects of the business.

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