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New Year fireworks means New Year resolutions

New Year Fireworks Means New Year Resolutions

It is traditional to come out with New Year’s resolutions. Whether it is to start a fitness regime focused on exercising to travel more or simply cut back on things that aren’t good for us, there are plenty of headlines being created around who is doing what and where there is greater participation. Of course, there are warnings, too, of fads that need to be ignored, just as there is encouragement not to set our goals too high. Well, there is always that danger of setting goals that are simply too low just in case we actually achieve them …but I digress.

As I look at what 2024 is shaping up to be, I see again that there is a healthy sprinkling of NonStop Regional User Group (RUG) events being planned. For Margo and me, this will mean regular trips to our local airport to catch a flight as we cross the planet. There is definitely an upside to this for all involved. Since the global pandemic and the restrictions that came with it, our enthusiasm for getting out there and networking has really ratcheted up. The opportunities to catch up with colleagues and friends are readily afforded by the HPE NonStop community!

However, when it comes to resolutions, it isn’t so much about the opportunities to gather for a RUG event as it is about the condition of the NonStop vendor community. There is no hiding the fact that the NonStop team is tightening its stance on what NonStop vendor products they will promote and which ones will be pushed further to the perimeter. While this may not seem as important a consideration compared with where our NonStop journey is taking us, alarm bells are beginning to ring, and I know I am not alone in wondering what the endgame is for the sale of NonStop systems.

On January 1st, 2019, Margo and I boarded a boat in Sydney Harbor as the entire city gathered around the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House to witness the fireworks. This year, even as we spent many weeks in Sydney, we will miss this event, but the memories linger. What a commitment to the community the City of Sydney continues to make with the passing of each year. And we heard that for New Year 2024, it was a record in terms of a number of fireworks that were launched. It is always a news leader as the rest of the world catches up, captured from many angles and featuring different pyrotechnic displays.

Fireworks! Exciting times! Resolutions! Turning to NonStop, then yes, as a community, it’s all happening. When you consider the state of affairs for the majority of NonStop vendors, you can readily side with them when you hear of fireworks, exciting times, and resolutions. And if you are not sure what this all means, the simplistic explanation comes down to the NonStop sales team being restricted to promoting and selling only a few selected products from NonStop vendors that appear on the HPE price book for NonStop. Perhaps even more distressing? The promotion of “frameworks” that are not inclusive – look at what’s happening under the banner of the HPE Digital Resilience Framework that excludes popular NonStop vendors with long-standing relationships with NonStop customers. We have seen this development coming for some time, and yet, it continues with NonStop vendors questioning their future commitments to NonStop.

For the NonStop vendors not listed on the price book, the cost of marketing has skyrocketed. The local RUG event presents the NonStop vendor with an opportunity to showcase their product offerings. NonStop customers and prospects will see no reference to these vendor offerings in any presentation provided by the HPE NonStop team. Nothing. Not even a blank space into which we can (optionally) write our own name. These escalating marketing costs are beginning to see NonStop vendors withdraw from some events, even as others are simply scaling back their sponsorship, upon which the Connect organization depends to keep supporting the NonStop community.

But the escalation in costs is only part of the story. Where is the impetus to keep investing in NonStop? If you have few sales channels open to a vendor, why continue the investment? Serious conversations are taking place along these lines, and they are only likely to gain momentum in 2024. Major vendors not on the price book have already turned their investment strategy towards systems apart from NonStop. While it began long before the NonStop price book motivation took hold, this drift away from NonStop is noticeable and will only become more visible this year.

There is also the real possibility of NonStop vendors exiting the market entirely. Many of the better-known NonStop vendors just happen to be “lifestyle businesses.” As such, they continue to be run by their founders and pursue basic business plans that are adjusted to meet certain lifestyle goals. However, their exit strategies are murky at best. Some of these businesses look to handoff to family members, whereas others look to bring in professional management teams. Others are still looking to pursue mergers with other lifestyle businesses. Across the NonStop vendor community, we see a representation of all three options, but the end result remains the same. In time, there will be fewer and fewer choices available to NonStop customers.

Fireworks? The NonStop vendor community isn’t known for being disruptive or voicing protests. This is not inherent to the culture of NonStop. If the market is taken away from them by the NonStop team, then what sales remain are purely relationship sales. There are opportunities to swap one product for another, and conversions are now being discussed more than in previous years. However, the number of NonStop customers prepared to force the hand of the NonStop team to write a new deal inclusive of a NonStop vendor with which they have enjoyed a relationship over many years takes a level of resolve that in the ever-changing world of IT management may prove difficult to maintain. For those vendors caught up in this cycle, these cannot be described as exciting times but, rather, can only be thought of as sad times.

Resolution? For the NonStop community, this comes down to turning up to as many events as your budget allows. Come and hear from the broad spectrum of product offerings providers that will present at an event. Know fully that what products are to be found on the price book are not there out of merit but rather out of investments made years before in building relationships. In most cases, they are good products with a couple of excellent “standouts,” but collectively, you will be hard-pressed to view them all as being the best products available for the NonStop platform. As has been clearly recognized by all involved, there was never an RFP process to select the “best of breed.” As for support, with numerous intermediary layers introduced by HPE, you will not find the same level of responsiveness when dealing with independent NonStop vendors.

It still leaves the question about leveling the playing field to ensure all NonStop vendors have equal footing. One way to resolve this issue is to revisit the salesman quotas and commissions. If the NonStop teams no longer provide commissions based on the sale of infrastructure software, there would likely be less pushback on covering any product from the NonStop vendors. Possible? Some will argue that this ship has sailed. But has it? Whatever approach is adopted, failure to consider or to make amends will only see a steady exit by current NonStop vendors from the NonStop marketplace. Do we truly want to see that happen?

In 2024, there will be many tough calls made by NonStop customers. Whether it’s time for a complete technology refresh, a system upgrade, or the introduction of a new application, many conversations will take place. Should you simply stay with what the NonStop team is selling? That may be the easy path to go down, but then again, is taking such steps the most cost-effective approach? For some, the tantalizing fact that there is only one contract holds appeal. For others, it will mark a shift to an op-ex model where HPE GreenLake takes the lead. However, as with all firework displays that excite us, their luster vanishes from the sky the moment they are over.

Any resolutions we make for NonStop in 2024, this might be the time when you step back, take a good look around (at the NonStop vendor community) and ask the question: is this really the best I can get for my NonStop system? Perhaps the real answer lies elsewhere, even as it is never too late to step up and give all products available to the NonStop customer an opportunity to compete. In so doing, maybe it’s not part of a resolution so much as it is a realization that all that shines brightly might not last. And with that, we look forward to seeing you as we move from one NonStop event to another, and yes, we send our very best wishes for a Happy New Year to the NonStop community!

Author

  • Richard Buckle

    Richard Buckle is the founder and CEO of Pyalla Technologies, LLC. He has enjoyed a long association with the Information Technology (IT) industry as a user, vendor and more recently as a thought leader, industry commentator, influencer, columnist and blogger. Well-known to the user communities of HP and IBM, Richard served on the board of the HP user group, ITUG (2000-2006), as its Chairman (2004-2005), and as the Director of Marketing on the board of the IBM user group, SHARE, (2007-2008).

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