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The 6th edition of the HP NonStop Open World was held in Goa on September 17-19 2009. The annual meeting of InNUG – India NonStop User Group – a confederation of users of 'NonStop server technology' was aimed at sharing experiences – especially in the banking sector – of NonStop server technology, which provides uninterrupted computing power to enterprise bodies that require maximum uptime to perform mission critical operations. This year, around 150 InNUG members descended in Goa to do precisely this. Amongst these were representatives from the Bombay Stock Exchange and Union bank of India. Other financial institutions in India that have embraced NonStop technology are HDFC Bank, ICICI, Bank of India and Bank of Baroda among others. The user group exchanged views on business forecasts, benefits from NonStop technology and attended sessions by HP on new innovations and additions to the portfolio.

NonStop server technology has been addressing the unique requirement of computing power which is mission critical, with zero downtime and infinitely scalable at will. With global names like AOL, Chrysler, Visa, BT Broadcast Services, Travelocity and more, NonStop servers span across industry verticals, and HP claims that the technology which enables this is the core technology which forms the basis of Cloud Computing.

NonStop down memory lane
This year marks the 35th anniversary of HP's NonStop portfolio, and interestingly, in 1974, the first ever NonStop system (the T/16), was created by a company called Tandem Computers, which was founded by a group of engineers from HP. The idea back then was to safeguard systems from 'single-point failures' at prices only marginally higher than non-fault tolerant systems. The first versions came bundled with a proprietary Operating System called T/TOS (Tandem Operating System), later renamed Guardian. The mainframe guaranteed 100 times less failures and uptimes promises were in terms of years and not hours – all this with 2-CPU systems, at prices just marginally higher than systems that ran on single CPUs. As the years rolled by, a fibre optic bus system called FOX was incorporated along with MS-DOS based PC called Dynamite, and later, a 'minicomputer-sized device' called the NonStop CLX. Also added was the NonStop SQL database along with newer versions and additional features.

Tandem was acquired by Compaq in 1997 and incidentally by HP in 2002, bringing with it a new set of competencies and enhancements. The first obvious and immediate outcome was the untethering of NonStop from its proprietary shackles. The only component of the original NonStop that has been retained is the NonStop Kernel, with streamlining the product line to be 'modern' and 'standard', with modernization and standardization as the core competencies. Explaining this in detail, Winston Prather, VP and General Manager, NonStop Division HP said, "The evolution of NonStop can be understood in three steps-the S-Series offerings that are proprietary to a certain extent, the Integrity range of HP servers which marks HP's commitment to Intel's Itanium processors, and the latest range of NonStop servers that run on Blades. The NonStop portfolio currently stretches till the single core NS 1200 and the dual core NS 2000 blade-based system. According to Winston, India's unique challenge of skyrocketing real estate prices and concerns of power and cooling for agile enterprise computing are addressed by the NonStop, and in the months to come, quad core processor-based blades would be added to the existing portfolio, giving uninterrupted power for mission critical enterprises.

The author was hosted by HP in Goa.

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