UPDATED 10:30 EST / JUNE 08 2011

HP Talks NonStop Transformation on #theCube: HP Discover 2011

Winston Prather, vice president and general manager of Hewlett Packard’s NonStop Enterprise division, and Randy Meyer, Director of NonStop Product Management, Strategy and Technology, Business Critical Systems, and Technology Solutions Group, dropped by theCube with Dave Vellante during the HP Discover event and shared some of the big news around the ever evolving NonStop platform (full video interview below).

HP’s NonStop product is one of the industry’s quiet giants, having provided fault tolerant systems for banks, stock exchanges, telephone switching centers, ATM and credit card networks – basically anywhere absolute uptime and data integrity have been required.  The division is a carryover from the once dominant Tandem Computers, once acquired by Compaq, then later to Hewlett Packard.  The company continues today under this powerhouse division and there is no shortage of technological revolution going on in this space.

Fresh off the kickoff announcement for the platform, Prather promoted the theme of transformation of the NonStop platform.  Paying heed to the history of Tandem, Hewlett Packard has made the perception that the Tandem platform was very proprietary one of their main focuses.  They have spent billions and the last three to five years transforming the platform.  Vellante agreed with the proprietary nature of the Tandem platform of the past.  Prather continued that the systems indeed served customers well, but a need for change was recognized.  That need is based on a customer-focused expectation of a modern, standard environment.

Prather indicates that today’s NonStop platform has evolved from that characterization.

“Today’s nonstop other than the ‘Tandem fundamentals’ of availability and scalability – that’s really only the same thing about the nonstop system.”

The platform has transferred now from proprietary to industry standards, and is shared across HP converged infrastructure.  Dave simplified this by stating that they have essentially taken the codebase and moved it to more economical hardware.  Prather states:

“The secret sauce was always in the software – it was always in the fact that the software knew how to be parallel, and knew how to scale to thousands of processors and that database knew how to put the data wherever it needed to be and access it fast and the operating system knew how to fail over if it saw a component fail.”

“All of those things are still true, were just doing it on standard hardware blades, standard storage components, you maintain the software capabilities”

Prather adds there is added benefit in that the non-proprietary platform allows for application development in modern, accepted flavors.

“They deploy on NonStop – industry standard operating environment that scales and is resilient – “all the magic that was tandem” in today’s environment..”

Randy Meyer adds:

“We can release products faster, from chips, hardware, software- quickly deployed because of no more special purpose knowledge..”

Prather dismissed any notion of the NonStop business seeing an impact to a down economy.

“our business ..scales with customers business..  Are you using your cell phone or credit card any less during downturn?  Probably not..”

Meyer talked about their roadmap a bit, and a mission to get the latest, greatest and best price performance to their customers, including entry level offerings and systems with the same general capabilities as their most advanced offerings.

“We are always scaling up and scaling down, delivery capability across the spectrum…”

“We do that by being open in software, advancing the environments , developments, database, infrastructure across the board..”

On the NonStop architecture, it was mentioned that the i/o subsystem has evolved from bus-based architecture to a switch-based architecture, much like the datacenter.

“Messages moving very quickly, All-fabric based evolution, we fit into that..”

Winston mentioned the evolved platform and convergent infrastructure as one of the division’s main messages.

“We are moving to leverage our converged infrastructure – … before, five to six years ago, HP had offerings across a number of silos..  What we’ve done is pooled our r&d across organizations to leverage the investments..”

The takeaway is that innovation of NonStop is significantly increased because of this unified effort and dedication to the Common Modular Infrastructure.

Three benefits of this effort:

  • first benefit – in innovation
  • second – price supply chain economics – savings /man cost same parts across platforms.. pass to customers
  • last – Performance, this product once used to run on MIPS, now it runs on Intel, so the time to market is dramatically improved…

Referencing Dave Donatelli’s statement on Hewlett Packard’s 60billion supply chain, it was noted that NonStop’s customers gain advantage from that.

“If we had not moved to Common Modular Infrastructure, there would be no benefit for our customers of being in world of HP”

Meyer touched on NonStop’s mission to be direct, and the value of customer relationship over decades.  This is a part of NonStop’s value proposition, in addition to the 24/7/365 nature of their reliability stance, they are committed to delivering on that value proposition.

Prather wraps up the conversation by returning to the theme of transformation.  In that they have ported all the best of their technology to the NonStop platform in a way that is congruent to common application platforms over the last five years.  The mission they believe is one where they have solved a long held problem of the customer base of not being able to find specific talents locked to a proprietary system.  With today’s NonStop technology, that is no longer an issue.







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