It was during my last track outing when a tornado approached. I was giving a ride-along to well-known NonStop salesman, Jim Miller, when the whirlwind approached. Unfamiliar as I was with the forces tornadoes can unleash, I was more curious than anxious. Jim, on the other hand, was pleading with me to end the session and seek safety. With my wife, Margo, standing alongside Jimi’s wife, Dale, clearly observing the path of the tornado, their level of anxiety was even greater.
Curiosity can only take you so far. Today, the impact of clouds is hard to miss. They are the center of attention for almost everyone in IT and their value to business is hard to ignore, but it is a complicated topic and one that brings out widely differing opinions from almost every IT professional with whom you care to begin a conversation. “The winds of change are always present,” said Karen Copeland, Manager, HPE NonStop Product Management, in her post to the HPE blog, Leverage cloud services in part or in full with HPE GreenLake and HPE NonStop.
“There are times when external forces combined with the company’s overall direction determine the course of NonStop. When these winds sweep across the entire company, it affects the course of NonStop.”
From the time that news broke that HPE wasn’t going to build out its own cloud services offering but rather will support products and solutions that make adopting cloud computing a lot less complicated, HPE has been aggressive in its commitment to go down this path.
For HPE, differentiation came with its support for any cloud by overlaying a fabric that would give HPE customers a single way to provision any application’s resource requirements in a singular manner. It soon became apparent that HPE’s goal to become a world-leading edge-to-cloud platform as a service company wasn’t limited to just PowerPoint slides. In reality, this program, that HPE labeled GreenLake, is HPE’s ambitious pursuit “to bring the cloud experience to you” that has taken on substance and makes for a compelling argument about how best to embrace clouds either in part or in whole.
The branding of this initiative as GreenLake has raised more than a few eyebrows. To some, any green lake is just a reference to algae blooms that cloud whatever is happening beneath the surface. However, it isn’t algae but rather calcium carbonate pulled from a lake’s surrounding terrain that gives green lakes such clarity that the many components supporting the lake can be readily seen. It provides a visualization of the complete ecosystem supporting the environment. No matter the depth and the composition of vegetation, rocks and even timber lying on the lake floor leaves you with the impression of true serenity.
The complications are no longer in evidence. Rather, the serenity of the green lake allows you to focus on what matters, and, for enterprises, it really isn’t about the cloud per se but what the cloud delivers in support of the business. “HPE’s product strategy has changed remarkably over the past five years. While it still sells hardware appliances, both directly and through its channel partners, the company is now more focused on GreenLake – it’s as a service, consumption-based product,” said Jane McCallion in an October 1, 2021, post to ITPro, Everything you need to know about HPE.
“In short, GreenLake promises to bring a cloud-like experience to an on-premises environment, with customers only paying for what they are currently using irrespective of how much hardware they actually have in place,” McCallion said. “Neri has said GreenLake is the future of HPE, stating in 2021 that ‘this will be our leading product, leading offer, our leading experience, where everything else underneath is part of that experience’ – everything else, in this case, being HPE’s traditional hardware offerings.”
For the NonStop community, appreciation of GreenLake has only just entered the conversation but it’s becoming hard to ignore this approaching whirlwind. It comes as no surprise to read of how the NonStop team has moved the needle as far as it has done of late during conversations with the GreenLake team. It can now be said that while NonStop and GreenLake may not be walking in lockstep, the NonStop team is demonstrating its alignment with GreenLake in the way it is now pursuing support of critical services and interfaces to make NonStop similar to all other platforms participating in GreenLake.
There are two distinct markets for NonStop as part of GreenLake. For those enterprises with a major commitment to HPE and where many HPE products are deployed enterprise-wide, the prospect of having just one monthly invoice has appeal. Likewise, where CapEx exposures are a problem, then being able to pay as you go for NonStop resources under an OpEx option equally holds appeal. The good news here is that HPE is including NonStop in ways that best meet the needs of NonStop users and in allowing them to choose what’s best for their business HPE opens the doors to potentially more sales of NonStop.
“For the HPE NonStop development team it has become apparent that NonStop customers were concerned about access to the skillsets and in-depth experience required to run today’s IT solutions, particularly those of a homogeneous nature,” said Copeland. “‘Our IT estate is complicated, spanning traditional data center, hybrid cloud, and edge. We need insights, tools, and skills to manage our IT estate,’ was a common, indeed consistent, response that we heard from our NonStop user community.”
When it comes to NonStop vendors, they too will have options. Early indications are that as many as 20% of existing NonStop customers will go with GreenLake and as big a number as that is for something as new as GreenLake it still leaves a very large market open to those vendors who are looking to pursue a balanced development program. For those NonStop customers that do not have CapEx exposures or have HPE as their primary vendor, the status quo will persist for some time. In the coming months, NonStop development will make the pursuit of parallel paths a lot easier for NonStop vendors following closer ties with the GreenLake team.
“In consultation with the GreenLake team, the NonStop product portfolio will be recording actual usage of systems and associated storage and networking resources, operating system and middleware usage and applications,” said Copeland. “This is achieved through accessing an API provided by the NonStop team that is not only used internally but has been published in order for all applications to use, even those coming from the NonStop partner community.”
One of the inescapable realities that are a highlight of NonStop alignment with GreenLake and the efforts undertaken by NonStop development is that such an investment financed by HPE bodes well for the future of NonStop. The clarity that comes with pristine green lakes offers us a glimpse as to where NonStop is headed and how long NonStop will remain important for HPE. In some ways, this goes a long way in satisfying the curiosity that often arises from the NonStop community.
Rarely is there a conversation among NonStop users and vendors that doesn’t turn to the topic of HPE NonStop’s presence in the marketplace long-term. However, the recent outages among even the biggest cloud services providers illustrate once again how availability is important even as it throws a spotlight onto what mission-critical applications will continue to run on NonStop. And nothing could be clearer than what we are witnessing firsthand in this regard.
Where GreenLake with NonStop will have a clear advantage is the better integration of business data with other platforms performing analytics. NonStop does transactions but Linux does analytics and so, being able to blanket a hybrid of NonStop and Linux represents just one aspect of the value proposition that comes with this alignment of NonStop with GreenLake. Best of both worlds? We read of this so often but just having the immediate option to continue transaction processing with NonStop under CapEx (it runs 24 x 7 after all) while funding analytics on Linux under OpEx (take up may be gradual for some enterprises) just makes sense.
The tornado that led me to get the car off the track turned out to be serious, overturning a passing UPS van. For the NonStop community, the sense that the approach of GreenLake is a serious wind of change is hard to miss. NonStop alignment with GreenLake means the NonStop community now has even more options, and as the fundamental attributes of NonStop are still to be prized by all enterprises and being able to choose what best suits the business has now become a major factor in ensuring NonStop is here for the long haul. As Copeland observed at the conclusion of her post, “Remaining competitive with the ability to address new business opportunities remains the goal of enterprises today and our NonStop and GreenLake teams working together will make this possible.”