Real time view: Another major milestone reached; NonStop turns fifty and it’s time to celebrate!

N2TUG Presentation and a reminder of just how important it is to maintain the personal contact
N2TUG Presentation and a reminder of just how important it is to maintain the personal contact

Two items have dominated conversations this early in the year. The return of RUG events and the realization that NonStop is now celebrating fifty years of existence. A golden anniversary and possibly a golden era for the community as a whole. While it is not universally agreed upon, as some RUGs are struggling to foster an environment that the local NonStop community welcomes, when it comes to the big events, then yes, the attendance by the community is truly appreciated by all involved and particularly by the organizers devoting their time to make them happen.

As April came to an end, many of us were back on the road and heading to RUG events. Having planned for some time to swing by ATUG (Atlanta), SunTUG (Tampa) before ending in Dallas for N2TUG, the late postponements of the first two events didn’t detract us for a moment. As the Blues Brothers closed out their film with the conversation between Elrod and Jake, we can all relate to –

Elwood: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago; we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
Jake: “Hit it.”

And so, it was for Margo and me; the journey simply continued as planned but with time for once to stop to check the beaches and waterways dotting the American South East. Yes, we were wearing sunglasses as we tackled the highways in America’s car, the Corvette!

Further events are planned for 2024. There will be the NonStop TBC 2024 planned for September to be held in Monterey. Then, there is the major gathering of the larger HPE community, the annual HPE Discover 2024 in June, which will be held in its traditional venue in Las Vegas. Want to hear more about HPE’s vision for all technology? Or, perhaps you want to be present as the NonStop team continues providing the updated picture of NonStop for the coming year and beyond? Wherever your plans take you, make sure you register and then participate in the conversations that will surely take place.

Anniversaries are not just a time to look back, but they provide opportunities to think about what comes next. Will we see NonStop in fifty years’ time as it celebrates its centenary? There are already younger members of the community who may make it to witness the celebrations of 2047.  Not being part of that demographic still gives me the opportunity to consider where NonStop might be headed and what use cases it will support. There’s nothing like a time to project a positive future than while you are caught up with looking at the past. On the other hand, with the genetic strengths of my own family lineage, maybe living beyond 120 isn’t as fanciful as it might seem.

Recently, I was in email and message exchanges with a number of current and former leaders of HPE. Folks we all know whose observations cannot be discounted. This led to me writing a lengthy article on the possible future of NonStop, and the link to that article has already been posted on numerous social media sites. If you missed it, then look up our NonStop community blog with the same name as this column – Real Time View. What influenced the writing of this article was the encouragement of NonStop product management. When did this happen? Naturally enough, as recent RUG events wrapped up in Australia, naturally enough.

What really stood out were the two items in particular. Less fanciful, if you like, but locked into where the industry is going. Will we see NonStop become open source, with an HPE distribution being one of many? Will we see Moore’s Law finally come to an end, bringing with it the end of dependence on silicon? Just as importantly, will the exit from silicon strengthen the argument in favor of the “new” NonStop becoming open source? I think it might, and it’s worth a conversation. Or two. The point is that applications are where the true future of NonStop lies, and the exploitation of the NonStop fundamentals will propel NonStop into the spotlight as it sheds any last remnant of proprietary-ness.

As we will understand the journey to virtualization more fully in the coming months when the hypervisor disappears, so as to speak, then whyn’t the virtual machines, including NonStop, likewise disappear? Making that leap to where we know we can call upon the resources of a fault-tolerant supervisor as an extension to a hypervisor makes sense to me. I openly predict that this combination will be accessible globally and will fuel considerable interest in differentiating applications based on the long-serving attributes of NonStop.

When it comes to Moore’s Law, now that we are laying down circuits and connections that are 2 nanometers wide – a human hair, in comparison, is a massive 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide – there’s little room left to pack circuits any denser. Much of a chip’s real estate is already given over to filtering noise and the interference such close proximity creates. Yes, we can stack and stack layers and build out the cores to some extent, but even that will become a losing battle. It’s time to bid farewell to silicon and raise an eyebrow on those governments intent on protecting supply chains by building their own silicon fab lines – good luck. As with anniversaries that look back, so too do these initiatives.

What will move the needle when it comes to alternatives? Back in the mid-1970s, I worked with futurist Charlie Lecht. He wrote the widely read book Waves of Change, and I contributed just one paragraph. And it was on virtualization, no less. However, all those years ago, Charlie was convinced the future lay with two options: embracing biology or embracing optics. Build computers that replicate the brain using natural materials or channel the power of light. For those who saw the movie Ex Machina, the robots brains were this blue-like organic “package” whereas those who saw the film 2001 A Space Odyssey will recall HAL was all about optics and photons. The memory that Dave removed was clearly glass-like flash memory plugged into a mass of distributed photonics.

These observations may be of interest or simply a fun aspect of the future of technology worth a drink or two. However, where do they contribute to a positive outcome for NonStop? Today, we talk about AI and its application to robotics. Yes, they can do backflips and balance on a ball. However, the speed at which they mature will lead to the reapplication and, indeed, usage of AI. Machines will become intelligent beyond our imagination even as the work being done at companies like Neuralink, pioneering brain-computer interfaces, will likely blossom to where machines will carry the label intelligent, whereas AI will be repurposed to describe humanity as Augmented Intelligence.

Where the contribution to the growth of NonStop will come from? When it is recognized that we will all become endpoints! The talk of bringing the cloud to us will transition to where we are on the edge. And the life-threatening potential from downtime will be unacceptable, and NonStop will blossom in a world that truly values uptime. Too much of a stretch? According to the early reviews of my article, there was no pushback on this outcome. Clearly, it is just one of many outcomes, and it favors the presence of NonStop, obviously, but here is the beauty that comes with predictions: you will just have to live long enough to see if any of the above materializes and the possibility that we will all cross that threshold to witness it is slim. But then again, at the next RUG event where you see me, let’s share a coffee and simply think of the marvelous possibilities this would create for NonStop. Do you want to see a future for NonStop such as I describe here?





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