Hilton Denver City Center
10-14 September 2023
A mere week ago (as I write this), Connect held its annual showcase NonStop user meeting. As I first sat down to write about it, I realized it was the first time since 1995 that ITUG or Connect hosted its annual NonStop meeting outside of California (we met in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, that year)! There were a few years early this century when we met in Las Vegas, but Hewlett-Packard hosted those events. That being said, we all know that once the meeting starts, it’s not so much about the location as the people. And the interaction throughout all four days of the Boot Camp was outstanding.
This year’s event, as in years past, was well attended. Attendees included customers, partners, and HPE employees from 6 continents. And (based on an ad-hoc survey by Mark Pollans in the opening session) quite a few first-time attendees!
Monday was a day full of 3 education courses and the ‘NonStop Design Challenge.’ Courses were given for the NonStop Development Environment for Eclipse (NSDEE), Web Viewpoint, and How to Build Your Own Virtual NonStop. In addition, Continuous debuted the new NonStop Professional Achievement Program, where attendees could test for achievement badges at no charge!
This year’s NonStop Design Challenge encouraged participants to build a migration plan from a NonStop SQL/MP database to SQL/MX. Judging was based on a number of criteria based on best practices in production environments. Unfortunately, due to issues we’re still working on understanding, the attendance was much lower than in 2022. However, the winner of this year’s challenge was a ‘Team’ of one, Andrew Brauernschmidt of Gravic. He provided a full solution for moving a replicated SQL/MP database to a replicated SQL/MX database. During the session, he built the scripts to do so and executed them. Great work, Andrew! Connect would also like to thank HPE, Gravic, Nexbridge, Pyalla, Randall Consulting, and XID Software, who filled various roles in planning, emceeing, and judging the contest.
The highlight of Monday evening was the traditional Welcome Beer Bust. It was well attended and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends if it wasn’t your first TBC. It was a lively affair.
After registration and breakfast on Tuesday morning, the event started in a big way, with a Welcome from Connect’s Chief Executive Officer Kristina Elizondo, followed by a brief overview of HPE’s plans for the next few days by Senior World-Wide Product Manager Mark Pollans. Mark introduced the keynote speaker, Hewlett Packard Labs’ Chief Architect and HPE Fellow, Kirk Bresniker. His eye-opening presentation was on how to “Future Proof your Enterprise: Mission Critical, Quantum-Safe, and AI Augmented.” He discussed the current state-of-the-art in Quantum Computing/Communications and Artificial Intelligence. He touched on the security implications in each field and areas that HPE Labs focuses on that are consistent with how you run your businesses. It got pretty technical, too (which is something that I liked), and wasn’t filled with a lot of the ‘hype’ of these technologies, just the current capabilities and limits.
Then, everyone popped over to the Partner Pavilion, which opened right after the keynote. There were snacks and soft drinks available to help power the attendees through the rest of the day. At the same time, the venue staff reconfigured the big tent meeting area into breakout rooms, and the attendees got to discover where each of the rooms were. My own presentation about configuring and using encryption in your NonStop systems was one of the four that started concurrently. In it, I primarily focused on how to put the best possible locks on your front doors and how to keep control of your keys. I can’t tell you much about the other three sessions, but I had a good group of folks who interacted with enough questions to keep me on my toes.
Lunch came next, back in the Partner Pavilion, and the remainder of the day had sessions lasting for 5 hours. Tuesday night allowed attendees to make their own dinner plans, and many of the sponsors used the opportunity to get their customers together in a more relaxed environment to enjoy the local Denver dining scene.
Wednesday started with breakfast and an open Partner Pavilion, and then HPE gave us three major presentations from around the world on fascinating new customers or solutions. Director of NonStop North America, Karen Ramirez, covered the Americas, highlighted by the news of a long-time customer solution beginning its move to Virtual. Neil Davis, General Manager HPE NonStop EMEA, gave updates on his area, with a particular focus on countries that are investing heavily in technology to support their growth. Suresh Menon, General Manager, Data Solutions APAC, shared news about new solutions and customers in that part of the world. My own takeaway is that NonStop is still being noticed and chosen for new customers!
After two more hours of breakout sessions, our Wednesday lunch was served, and then five hours of sessions completed the ‘work’ part of the day. Then, everyone convened on the Partner Pavilion for the ‘Community Celebration,’ along with a little good-natured competition sponsored by Diamond Partner NTI. In the “Wreck ‘Em Rally!” nine teams were formed to customize Radio-controlled ‘battle cars,’ who then set off to destroy all the other teams. This, along with food and libations, kept the night entertaining.
At 8:30, the “NonStop Under 40 Pub Crawl” set out to hit some local entertainment venues and see what sort of beverages could be found in the Mile-High city of Denver (at least within crawling distance of the hotel).
Thursday morning brought breakfast and the last 3 hours of breakout sessions. Finally, box lunches were available (so attendees could either eat together in the Partner Pavilion or take it with them as they started their trips home).
An often-repeated theme that contributed to a large number of the sessions was how Ransomware, pervasive in the news media, might affect your NonStop servers. Many strategies were offered to help defend you, and I can add that (as in most security-related areas), multiple layers of protection are highly recommended.
There were also a good number of presentations given by customers, which always helps in the quality and variety of the content.
One thing I haven’t yet mentioned is that Diamond Partner NTI hosted an entertainment suite late on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and anyone who wanted to continue their networking experience in a more relaxed environment was welcome to come. I have it on good authority that it was well attended, and quite a few Billiard matches were held. If you were one of the attendees, I really hope you were able to make it there.
After all of that, I can say it took a ‘day or two’ to recover from the very full (and productive) days of the Bootcamp. I had worried that the ‘Mile-High’ air would have a negative impact, but found that the pace of the event kept that from bothering me. The program committee, led by Wendy Bartlett, and the Connect Staff (Kristi Elizondo, Kelly Luna, Stacie Neall, and Sophia Androlowicz) worked extremely hard in putting the event together, and it couldn’t have happened without them.
I can’t finish this article without thanking the full list of Partners who brought their exhibits and some excellent session content, which, as always, are a key part of the success of the week.
Finally, Connect has announced that next year, the NonStop Technical Boot Camp will be held at the Hyatt Regency Monterey in beautiful Monterey, California, from 23-26 September 2024. Make room on your calendars. I hope to see more of you there next year!