Thursday, June 28, 2012

The value in visions and the relevance of executing early ...

It’s proving harder than I thought to shake off memories from this year’s HP Discover but all the same, when it comes to vision statements and setting strategy, it’s good to see there’s substantial “execution” under way!
For the most part I have wrapped up posting about HP Discover – the last post about to appear in Real Time View, the third in a three part series. However, this hasn’t meant that I stopped engaging members of the NonStop community in one discussion or the other on LinkedIn or that I have stopped looking back through previous posts to make sure all the highlights were covered as this most recent HP big-tent marketing event, HP Discover 2012, certainly produced more than its fair share of vision and strategy sessions.

As we begin to see HP executing on its vision it will be like turning around a supertanker far out to sea – when it finally does respond to the helm, stay well clear of the bow as it cuts a wide arc. However positive a change such an altered course may prove to be, in the process, smaller vessels may be swamped.

This image came to mind as I was returning to earlier posts and reviewing all that I had posted about HP Discover 2012. It was only a couple of posts ago, in the June 11, 2012, post “
Familiar territory; the view from this year’s HP Discover!” where I wrote of how, during an event diner hosted by comForte, their CTO, Thomas Burg, spoke briefly on two topics - firstly, that without proper funding your PCI initiative on NonStop WILL FAIL, whatever vendors you work with, and then secondly about NonStop 6530 access from any modern device, including iPads, which I already covered in several recent blog postings.

When a major company, like HP, articulates its vision it’s as if it is giving us advance warning that it’s changing its heading, moving onto a new course, and that its bow will shortly start to swing and it will be up to everyone in the vendor community to either plan accordingly or get out of the way.

When I queried Burg about his comments over dinner and asked about future prospects of supporting Whitman’s strategy the discussion soon turned to content, more so than vision. It was HP CEO, Whitman, who declared that “
all CIOs agree IT is an integral part of business today (and that) business cannot operate without IT” and that “CIOs want IT to be as available and as ubiquitous as electricity; information, more speedily turned into a resource useful to the business.”

And it was HP Enterprise Group head, Dave Donatelli, who added that it was “our vision for the industry and where HP leads – the focus on convergence - takes us to the clouds. We want to transform every part of the industry – the way servers work, the way storage is designed.” Against this background, as appealing as it might be for the NonStop vendor community, there’s only so much that can be done in the short term that will help HP as it changes course, and every likelihood that product decisions made by some of the vendors quickly orphaned and made obsolete.

“The real challenge, coming away from HP Discover 2012,” Burg observed, “is not to become overly ambitious about mobility, big data and clouds – all a part of the strategy that was revealed. As one of the panelists in Martin Fink’s presentation on Project Odyssey observed, users of mission-critical applications rarely made radical changes preferring to move more slowly when it comes to those systems supporting the revenue deriving business of the company.”

Mobility, big data and clouds are joined at the hip – the more we try to collect data on mobile phone usage the more we find the subject of big data relevant, that is, until we have to pay for the storage, when discussions about clouds becomes even more relevant. Even with these associations between mobility, big data and clouds, HP’s strategy is being overly simplified as many more variations could be involved.

“And that’s exactly the point I would like to convey,” Burg added, “filling in the holes and providing actual implementations rather than visions will require a lot of customer interaction to determine not just the plans that they will make but the timeframe. I am not all that sure, for instance, that mobile phones will ever be directly connected to mission-critical applications on NonStop but then again, until I have discussed these opportunities with real customers, I cannot rule out the possibility. As I said at the customer dinner, comForte is already supporting
NonStop 6530 terminal access from any modern device, including iPads, but this is a product very much in its infancy and not likely to be completed until we have further dialogues with customers.”

As a vendor with a long association with the NonStop community, comForte is already among the leaders in the area of connecting ‘something’ with the NonStop – not limited just to our NonStop 6530 access product as that is exactly what our ClientServer Link (CSL) product is all about.
Connecting NonStop to Anything and Anything to NonStop!

Having a foundation such as this represents a great place to start and comForte is very well aware of this. “It’s much easier going to a customer to talk about extending some area of functionality to better accommodate solutions HP begins to deliver than trying to appeal to these very same customers just with slide-ware. I feel very optimistic about our future as you take into consideration just how many within the NonStop community already rely on our products.”

Making sure comForte isn’t swamped by the course changes underway at HP is something comForte management is well aware of. Having strong ties to NonStop users worldwide, as comForte enjoys today, is an effective early warning system should the bow be coming around faster than initially anticipated. Being well established in the critical areas of connectivity and integration – many of the very important building blocks for secure connectivity, for instance, are already a part of several products - where even greater change can be expected bodes well for their future. Perhaps retaining a focus on filling in the holes with real content is a strategy after all! 

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