GEO: Florida, USA
It’s a long way to the next NonStop TBC this fall, but it’s not too far away for most of us in the middle of a cold winter to SunTUG this February 28-29th in Tampa, Florida. In fact, it’s quite inviting right now.
There is a lot that draws Hewlett Packard Enterprise NonStop customers to Florida not only in the winter, but year-round. Why do a lot of customers base their NonStop business here? Is it the Salt Life, the “Tampa style” the beaches, the warm blue ocean, the rockets, the thousands of golf courses, the sunny weather, the numerous monster theme parks, or the low taxes for residents? No, for my money, it’s the general attitude, and the technical competence found throughout the innovative industries in the region.
Don’t mistake Florida for a backward state; it is full of technology that most people don’t even know about. Since relocating here from the San Francisco bay area a few years ago, I’ve come to see central Florida more as a southeast Silicon Valley. From financial services to national defense, aero-space exploration, and the entertainment industry, Florida not only has the technical workforce, but it also has a strong NonStop community.
This diverse technical environment in Florida yields some incredible opportunities. So HPE takes supporting NonStop customers, and the regional user group seriously and fully backs it up with a dedicated, expert team to help the community and the platform thrive. The level of expertise and experience in the local HPE team combined with the engineering and scientific talent in Florida make for a desirable location to base mission-critical operations.
The SunTUG membership and leadership team consists of volunteers from HPE, NonStop customers, partners, and consultants in the central Florida region. SunTUG has been around for over 30 years now and boasts one of the largest and most active NonStop Connect user communities in the country. Their annual meeting usually draws between 120 and 135 attendees every year for good reason. HPE shows up in-force to provide customers, partners, and members the most up-to-the-minute education and technical updates surrounding the NonStop platform and are the first to know the latest information regarding the environment directly from the HPE experts that manage, develop, service and support the NonStop ecosystem.
The HPE NonStop account teams that support the Tampa bay area include David Lorenz, Doug Tully, Tom Cahill (NonStop sales specialist for HPE’s largest customer in North America), John Vollers (who works alongside Doug Tully in Presales) and Teresa Norton (worldwide queen of all things telco) who works with HPE’s customers in North Tampa. HPE also has an extended account team under Mark Flanigan (ES&A) that includes James Chumley, Joe Hudec, and others from Pointnext to provide customers with unmatched migration and customized services. I’m pretty sure most of their names are on a frequent visitor plaque at the local Marriott.
I had a great opportunity to attend a recent SunTUG board meeting a few weeks ago to meet the board and interview a couple of the HPE guys that are part of the local-area team. At the meeting, which was held in a favorite local sushi restaurant, I met up with Doug Tully (HPE NonStop Solution Architect) and David Lorenz (HPE NonStop sales engineer) — jumping on the chance to find out more about them and discover what makes them tick. I peppered both with questions during dinner. Since the conference is quickly approaching (February 28-29), some of what I learned may be useful for you as a conversation starter when you see them at this next SunTUG event. I was able to uncover even more about their philosophies surrounding NonStop and how hard they work to provide the best experience for their customers and their companies.
Both Doug and David describe their work as it relates to NonStop customers as naturally focused on ensuring their customers are successful in what they do day-to-day, but also when their customers are developing and implementing innovative new solutions. Doug strives to be considered a natural extension of the customers’ team and is a trusted technical advisor when it comes to all things NonStop and HPE. I attest he has been doing this longer than most Tandem people I know. Doug will find the answer, even if one doesn’t exist.
David goes on to say that he lives for the challenges that pop up at times as the customer may have different internal voices on defining success, or if HPE is providing conflicting information. David works on building a synoptic view from the overall picture and differing input. He investigates all the resources in HPE and within customer teams. He can often identify new opportunities that bridge all HPE solutions and loves to share the many best practices and ideas he gathers from his peers.
David’s basic philosophy is the same as the platform, Always On. That means not only being on call for any emergencies which never happen at convenient times but also helping customers minimize their risks beforehand. David was quick to point out that on one recent occasion where a customer was in a bit of a pickle, he acted typically and instantly to provide the right help and solutions. The customer was very happy that help arrived so quickly and that our partner community was also right there with him to help. Pat Hill (current Treasurer for SunTUG) gets a big shout out and thank you for helping to resolve that instance quickly. I believe David was on a fairway with another customer for their annual charity golf tournament at the time, so the customer actually saved him from an even worse score. David and Pat jumping on a local customer issue to quickly resolve it is a typical and excellent example of how the NonStop community interacts with each other.
Doug’s basic philosophy has been ingrained since childhood and also echoes that of the NonStop/Tandem relationships with the platform’s longtime customers. Doug recalls how his grandfather was able to stay prosperous in business only because of his happy and close customers during impossible times. That’s a lesson Doug carries in how he responds whenever a customer is having some issues or simply has a technical question. He makes sure his customers are happy and does whatever it takes to solve any complex requirements that come along. Doug’s dependability and passion for his work have forged many lasting friendships. And, from Doug’s perspective, you are always there when a friend is in need.
How do guys like Doug and David describe NonStop to people? What’s their elevator pitch about what NonStop is, and how is it used in business? Without breathing, they have their answers rolling off their tongues.
Doug notes that he often gets asked what NonStop is by people that don’t know the platform. He lays it out easily.
I remind them how everyone expects the Internet is up all the time.
Then explain how ATMs, telephones, cell phones, and your banking has been that way long before the Internet. The infrastructure that made that possible then and now is NonStop.
Other types of industries have also adopted the NonStop for the same reasons.
It’s a fact it’s transparent, reliable, and always on.
David likes the visual approach to get the concept across quickly.
I am on teams that cover some of our largest customers in finance and telecommunications, so when people ask me to tell them what a NonStop system is, I usually hold up my wallet phone case and ask if they use one of these (mobile phones) and then I pull out a credit card and tell them whether they know it or not they probably use a NonStop system every day.
Lastly, I thought it would be worth knowing what they think their customers like best about what NonStop offers to their businesses.
Doug knows solving issues immediately is a big factor in what his NonStop customers really appreciate on any given day. He credits the HPE Global NonStop Solution Center (GNSC) as a huge differentiator and that customers tell him they wish their other vendors had the quality and responsive staff that our support center has.
The GNSC has had the same phone number for over 20+ years. (800-255-5010). That is a prime example of how HPE NonStop is and will consistently be there when you need them. It’s like a call home to your parents when you need them.
David agreed with the GNSC and goes on to say:
I think investment protection is really what keeps a company a NonStop customer. If you’ve been selling NonStop systems for any length of time, you might have heard customers tell you that they are migrating off the platform once or twice. But I think when they look at the options, that cost/benefit tradeoff doesn’t make sense most of the time. Plus, we have done such a good job changing out the engine (the latest one from Itanium to X86) from an engineering standpoint and with the Pointnext implementation teams (Joe Hudec and James Chumley) there to help, it is an incredible investment protection on the years and years of development work that has gone into most of these businesses.
I knew that could not be all of what makes Doug Tully and David Lorenz tick. So, I wondered what they’re like outside of work and what they do living here in the Tampa area. If you want to tap them on the shoulder at the SunTUG event or in a local Publix grocery store, perhaps you can ask them more about a few of their offline or unusual interests.
It turns out Doug belongs to a local philanthropic organization called the Krewe of Shamrock. They are part of many Krewe groups in the annual Gasparilla Parade held in Tampa. Gasparilla is the 3rd largest parade in the US, with approximately half a million attendees. Doug’s Krewe is the original kilt-wearing Krewe, and yes, he does wear a kilt for the events. The parade happens over only a few days in the year, but their fundraising and volunteer work is year-round. They are also a major sponsor for the mayor’s River O’ Green every St. Patrick’s Day.
David, when he’s not working, spends his time playing in golf tournaments, running marathon races, riding horses, attending a lot of hockey games, and running with his eight dogs. David’s recommendations for anyone visiting Tampa in the spring include:
..partaking in the annual renewal of sports where all the baseball teams are here gearing up for the coming season, and some pretty good professional hockey is being played in town as well, so I’d say take in a sporting event or go and participate in golf or go enjoy our beautiful beaches. When I came here way back when I saw a license plate that had an ‘endless summer’ theme to it. And life here really is an endless summer.
The SunTUG summit is run and put together by SunTUG board members Teri Sears (President), Sylvain Tetreault, Pat Hill, Jim Anderson, John Trizis, with strong support from HPE by David Lorenz and Pat Boland. This team has been working together for years and coordinates and manages securing the hotel, vendor sponsorships, organizing the daily schedule, and organizes the golf tournament held on Saturday after the event.
I highly recommend staying over Friday evening after the conference for the Saturday morning golf event. It is always fun, they feed you, and you don’t have to be good at golf to have a great time. I have stayed the last couple of years and enjoyed getting to know a lot more about the actual people that work for NonStop customers. Conversations while riding in golf carts help you learn a lot about what drives them too.
This Connect NonStop regional user group event (SunTUG) is a long-time staple in the Tampa and central Florida market and has the full support of the NonStop community in the area. Local companies that use NonStop and their managers are very supportive of this event, which helps drive the great attendance numbers they get. There is also fantastic vendor support in attendance every year and is a main contributor to SunTUG’s success as well.
SUNTUG – Florida Tandem User Group
Double Tree Tampa Airport Westshore 4500 West Cypress Street Tampa, FL 33607
Friday, February 28th
2020 SunTUG Sunshine Summit Attendee Registration
Click on the DETAILS button to register.
Saturday, February 29th
2020 SunTUG Sunshine Summit Golf Tournament.
Click on the DETAILS button for information on sponsorship types and prices.
Event Info: Vendor Registration
Contact: Pat Hill
Partner companies can participate by purchasing a table, providing a sponsorship, or purchasing a speaking spot. HPE provides the keynote speaker to talk specifically about the HPE NonStop platform. There will also be a wave of HPE subject matter experts to engage and answer any questions that the membership and attendees may have.
I think the most important thing that attendees get out of SunTUG is the information on new and exciting news on NonStop and the community interaction you feel, not to mention the easy flowing collaboration with other NonStop professionals. The golf tournament is a great way to wrap up the conference with a great day of fun, prizes and always friendly competition.
By the way, I saw Doug and Dave demolish that sushi boat by themselves in no time flat. It was overflowing with sushi. You will find Dave proudly holding their emptied trophy in the SunTUG team photo.