Well we at HPE continue to work from home. I was doing that anyway so my only change was never going out. When I do I’m complying with mask recommendations and washing my hands often. My youngest son is worried about me, which is very endearing. He always offers to do the shopping but every once in a while you just want to pick your own peaches. I never appreciated a trip to the store so much. I’m sure everyone has their own stories to share and hopefully, we may be able to share them at the Bootcamp but we are still waiting to hear if that will be live or virtual.
If you follow my column (and if you do, thank you), you know that I tend to favor the ‘Trends’. I confess the technology does hold more fascination for me but it is high time to discuss some NonStop success. Now, first off, NonStop is a unit inside Mission-critical systems which is a business unit inside High Performance Computing which all rolls up to Compute within HPE which is still just one of several major business divisions. I say this because I don’t want the percentages I am going to disclose to be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or to not buy HPE stock. That would be between you and your financial broker. Also the percentages I am discussing refer, this issue, to North America. So that being said and without disclosing any real numbers I am okay in relaying that so far this year NonStop is about 15% up revenue-wise over last year (Y/Y). This quarter NonStop is up over 30% (Q/Q). And for the year so far we are tracking over budget. So wins are definitely happening. Since I do not have customer permission to disclose any specific names let me just say that major banks, major retailers and major credit card companies continue to be pleased and are investing in their NonStop mission-critical systems. The x86 platform systems are the predominant platform that is selling, and the latest systems (HPE Gen 10 or for us X-3) takes full advantage of the HPE silicon root of trust, making it the most secure x86 architecture available. See this article on HPE cyber security or search the website for Cybersecurity or silicon root of trust. Pretty cool stuff. If you have an existing Gen 8 or 9 system (X-1 or X-2) you may consider a processor swap to the latest Gen 10 (X-3) processors. They are faster and have the added security built in (see link above). If you saw my last article on the old syndromic surveillance pilot, I am happy to say that there is renewed interest in that solution both in the United States and overseas. We are seeing the criticality of systems as Covid-19 is cresting in the United States and starts, hopefully, to begin to decline.
With the pandemic upon us I believe the value of NonStop is paramount. As many are aware GE Healthcare, the NonStop healthcare solution partner, existed the enterprise side of the business, relinquishing that market to their competitors Cerner and Epic. However NonStop has done more in healthcare and I wanted to tell an older story that becomes very applicable to today’s environment.
At this year’s NonStop TBC we had the first ever NonStop Hackathon. Hackathons have become commonplace but not on NonStop. To me this shows a new commitment to keep NonStop current and viable. 3 teams competed to connect to the vNonStop system in Alpharetta and demonstrate connectivity. There were cash prizes. The competitors all received the inaugural T-shirt and to keep them going, a snack table, and, of course, beer.
Many years ago now, a company known as Tandem was struggling to stay viable in the new world of client-server. This was in the mid-1990s, and the CEO of Tandem, Roel Pieper, was looking at partnering with Microsoft, the main company driving client-server architecture. Microsoft was struggling to move up within the enterprise space, needing a more robust solution and decided to provide a clustering option, code-named Wolfpack, to Windows. Several vendors contributed to Wolfpack, including Tandem which became Windows clustering software…
There has been a lot more interest in virtual NonStop since the support of the VMware Hypervisor. I am aware of many proof of concepts testing virtual NonStop. There still seems to be some confusion around what virtual NonStop means exactly. Many jump to the conclusion that NonStop can now be run in a public cloud such as AWS or Azure. This is not currently possible since, to make virtual NonStop, actually ‘NonStop’ requires some fairly stringent configurations. These things are not readily available to configure in a public cloud. That depends on your definition of cloud; but in general, yes, if you mean a private cloud…
Everyone and every company seem to be designing for the cloud. Of course “the Cloud” means different things to different people but in general I think we can agree that when the term comes up it means something like Amazon or Azure. One has the capability of quickly bringing up compute resources including servers, storage and networking. One will only be charged for what one uses and for how long it is used. One can stop anytime. The presumption is that this is much better than owning resources and having them sit idle, or at least not fully utilized. As usual, people want something that is available whenever they want it for as inexpensively as possible. For that they are willing to accept some risks including availability, security and an eventual, not immediate, database consistency. It is good, perhaps not great, but solidly good. NonStop is looking for customers and businesses that require great. NonStop has a long history of interfacing to “the Cloud”. In the early days Keith Moore and I were discussing the ‘Silver-Lining Architecture’ to protect resources that were on the cloud. This developed later into GuardianAngel where NonStop’s Pathway monitors were running serverclasses off platform and in the public cloud while still being controlled by NonStop with the inherent advantages of Pathmon – scale up (more instances) if response time started to slack off. Recovery in some instances failed. Automatic shutdown of instances as load decreased. Now with virtual NonStop we have real integration with a cloud, not ‘The Cloud’ (public), but a cloud (private) by allowing NonStop instances to be spun up, with several configuration requirements, but spun up nonetheless.
The greater HPE strategy evolves around the idea that corporations will use a mix of hybrid architecture and hybrid cloud to achieve optimal results for a reasonable investment. Another tenet to the strategy is that everything will be understood through artificial intelligence and its components of machine and dep learning. Finally that a large portion of computing will be done at the edge. By the edge, HPE means near the creation of an event or transaction. It would be pre-cloud and would, most often, obviate the need to move the data back to the data center since it would have already been processed. Only aggregate data and outliers would make the long and somewhat expensive trip back to the data center. By way of example, I was reading of video ‘smart cities’ surveillance systems that were setup in China a few years ago.