Friday, June 28, 2013

HP Discover? What we really did discover – and it’s all good news for NonStop!

While everyone who participated in this year’s HP Discover event welcomed the news from HP on technology, products and services there’s still no lessening of enthusiasm for regional user group meetings as the place to discover even more ... 

As predicted in the previous post, more than a handful of the NonStop community made it to the V Bar outside the Palazzo’s convention hall. While I will not be naming names, I was still able to hand out a couple of Fools for NonStop tee shirts to an appreciative gathering of early arrivers. There are still a handful of tee shirts left, but these will be kept for the upcoming Advanced Technical Boot Camp to be held in San Jose, CA, on November 3-5, 2013.

In the previous post, as I was departing for HP Discover, I wrote of how now the formula for these big HP marketing events is better understood,  and many of us are still wondered about their relevance, sighing deeply and bemoaning the lesser focus on NonStop. However, with news of the NonStop Technical Boot Camp, these concerns have lessened, and the return to San Jose is a much welcomed, and indeed anticipated, gathering of NonStop minds.

But it’s not the only event planned for the NonStop community, as Regional User Group events continue to be conducted on multiple continents – the enthusiasm for networking and sharing best practices continues to flow strongly within the NonStop community. And for good reason – the promise of further NonStop development was hard to miss for those who participated in HP Discover.

HP Discover is an expensive proposition and for the invited bloggers, myself including, HP put on quite the show – there was once again the bloggers lounge set aside just for the blogging community. There was also a private meeting room as part of the lounge where coffee-talks were held that included presentations by executives from all the HP groups participating in the event. Of course, the news about OpenVMS sent ripples through the blogging community and upset several highly vocal bloggers.

However, the business case for OpenVMS simply didn’t support further investments being made to port to next generation Itanium chips. In particular, there would now be no support for OpenVMS on Poulson or Kittson. Systems would still be built through 2015 and into 2016 and support would continue through to 2020, but the once mighty Digital Equipment (DEC) product line was definitely being given a use-by date.

Not so for NonStop – the business case is supporting the ports to Poulson and Kittson - and who knows to what other chips after that; speculation clearly running rampant in some quarters as the event unfolded. Not to make too fine a point on this, but networking at this level is exactly why user groups remain every bit as relevant as they always have – where else can you get to hear the real story from the very executives involved in the decision-making process?

Longer term, the fallout from an OpenVMS community, which will wane significantly over time, will likely generate shift in the way the user group is organized globally. However, regionally, the user groups have continued to meet the needs of their stakeholders, and for many this has been the participants’ only source for information on NonStop products and best practices. Furthermore, they have been the only practical channel for solutions and middleware vendors to communicate their messages.

Plans are already under way for a combined European event (through the combined efforts of Connect Germany and GTUG) and South African event (working with SATUG). This will be well-supported by local HP resources but will also prove advantageous to the solutions and middleware vendor community –many of these smaller companies’ executives will benefit from an opportunity to hit multiple markets in just one trip. Now, if they could only throw in an Indian (InNUG) or Singapore event as well, all the bases would be covered.

However, I digress. With the European event planned for Hamburg – a German city I have not visited as yet – in April (2nd – 4th) and SATUG likewise in March (31st - April 2nd) or April (7th – 9th) this combined regional group event has all the hallmarks of being something very special for the NonStop community. I have to believe it will be a sure-fire way to catch a beer with Neil Pringle, and that, in itself, makes participation all the more warranted.

In the run up to the 2012 event in Dresden, Germany, I quoted comForte CEO, Dr. Michael Rossbach, in the post
Pan-European event? Returning to Germany next Fall! “We are intentionally framing this as a pan-European event that will leverage the GTUG community in order to lay the foundation, hopefully, for similar events in the future,” Rossbach explained. He then went on to suggest that, “Whether rotated among the major regional user groups like GTUG, BITUG, and VNUG, our goal is to provide a valuable experience featuring the content the NonStop community wants to hear but at a price that is affordable for the majority of users.”

The future of NonStop looks assured at this point. The vendor community continues to invest in the platform, even as HP ensures NonStop supports the latest hardware iterations. ITUG may have long ago receded into the past, an integral part of Tandem folklore, but with the volunteers still active within the NonStop community and with strong leadership still actively involved, prepared to organize regional NonStop events, a much wider audience has even better prospects for staying close to all things NonStop.

Yes, HP Discover was well worth the costs, as it was the place to hear firsthand of HP’s pursuit of major initiatives, but what I did discover was just how much more we like our regional events. When it comes to the spirit of NonStop, the regional events being planned worldwide will be hard to ignore. Yes, I look forward to the coming year and hope to see many of you, as I hope  all of you will participate!

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