Connect Kicks off Tech Forums at HPE Discover 2017

Keeping things fresh, that was the goal of the change a couple of years ago when we rebranded Connect’s in-booth Discover sessions from “SIG Meetings” to “Tech Forum’s.” The idea is to spend a half hour on a customer or product story and then an open forum with HPE support for attendees to ask the hard questions or ask for better ways of doing things.

Discover 2017 Madrid continued to prove that this strategy is working. Our attendance is growing and the technology topics just keep getting better. Every location for Discover offers Connect a challenge on how our booth can best present our sessions. In Madrid, we had a great location in the middle of the Mission Critical Systems area in the Transformation Zone with lots of room for standing, listening and asking questions. Our lineup of presentations was as varied as our members.

We kicked off our Discover Tech Forums at 10am on Tuesday with our first customer presentation. I put on my City of Sparks “hat,” and gave a talk about “How we work with Aruba Networking… a real-world example.” This session had an official headcount of 34, and was standing room only! I spoke about how the City of Sparks uses Aruba Networking products from the Data Center to the Edge, including our WIFI “mobile workforce” enabled City Hall and Police Departments. I also spoke about how we are using Aruba Clear Pass for our WIFI security, and how we are moving toward having AD security attached to every port on every switch. Finally, I touched on how Aruba Beacons are making it easier for Sparks residents to get around City Hall with “Blue Dot” mapping of city offices, and our future plans to integrate beacons at Golden Regional Sports Complex and Park in order to help people find better parking options closer to their destination (in this case, softball field). We closed out the hour with about 15 minutes of questions and answers from attendees. We discussed what they are doing in their organizations, and the questions they had about how to yield better outcomes. We all seemed to walk away with answers and ideas to bring back to the office when we return to work.


Calvin Zito Explains HPE’s Roadmap for Storage

The next hour and a half focused on Storage. During the first customer-led session, Dr. Heinz-Hermann Adam from the University of Münster discussed how the University uses HPE 3PAR Peer Persistence Software with a multi-tier storage strategy to deliver file services to virtualized environments from VMware and Citrix. Dr. Adam enjoyed participation from a large crowd of over 75 attendees, most of whom stayed for our next session, “HPE Storage Update with HPE’s Storage Guy, Calvin Zito.” Calvin discussed the Nimble purchase, and HPE’s strategy going forward. Calvin also presented an HPE Roadmap Update for the next year or so, and fielded customer questions from a large crowd of HPE Storage users.

With an active and thoroughly engaged crowd of storage users, we rolled directly into our next Storage session from Connect Board Secretary, Trevor Jackson. Trevor gave a great talk on the journey that the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) took to the All-Flash Data Center. More than 35 storage users heard about the past and future of music licensing in Canada, and how SOCAN went from paper to disk, and now to flash storage for all of their records and content storage.

After a quick break from Tech Forums, we welcomed Ray Turner and Ken Surplice from HPE EMEA to talk about HPE planning for OpenVMS on x86. Surplice and Turner gave an update on the direction of support forOpenVMS on Itanium, and described the move to x86 either on bare metal or virtual, on-premise, or in the cloud. The included information on how companies are preparing for the new relevance of OpenVMS with a long-term roadmap and strategy that companies can use for planning for their future.


Connect CEO Kristi Elizondo Shows How to Leverage Your Connect Membership to Meet Organizational Goals


After a rousing General Session from outgoing HPE CEO, Meg Whitman, and her successor Antonio Neri (among other special guests), we returned to the Connect User Community booth for another round of Tech Forums. Connect CEO Kristi Elizondo led a discussion on “Why you need to partner with Connect.” Kristi discussed how Connect’s regional chapters, publications, advocacy efforts, and training opportunities help HPE partners and Connect members leverage their user community to be more successful in their IT endeavors. We ended out the evening with a Welcome Reception in the Transformation Zone where we mingled with Discover attendees and greeted Connect members in the Connect User Community.



HPE Synergy Takes Center Stage

We started the day Wednesday with a great discussion on HPE Synergy. As the IT Manager for the City of Sparks, I’m always looking at what direction we need to go with our entire IT Infrastructure. When I first started hearing about HPE Synergy I didn’t see the relevance or need to really get more information. At Discover in Las Vegas this last year, I saw a trend and a direction that made me think I needed more information. We had 16 people show up for this discussion on what HPE Synergy could do for our companies. I was pleased to see that I’m not the only one looking at this next generation of blade technology. At least 3 others in attendance asked the same questions I had, and one of them even had the same setup as The City of Sparks – 3 c7000 blade chassis with Gen 8 and Gen 9 blades, 3Par for storage and an end of life for our c7000’s just around the corner. We all agreed that HPE Synergy is the direction we need to lean towards as we replace infrastructure in the next couple of years.

Our next Tech Forum focused on Software-Defined and Cloud Infrastructure. HPE’s Chris Purcell hosted a roundtable discussion about converged management,  hyperconverged appliances and Composable Infrastructure. He discussed how the integrated management experience with OneView is spreading through the data center and also how it is helping deliver a better cloud experience.


Mission Critical Solutions For Your Business

Next up was a great hour on HP-UX. We had an informative session with HPE’s Michal Supak and Ken Surplice showcasing the HP-UX roadmap and answering questions from the audience. What was really great was seeing many of the same faces from London the year before and even Las Vegas. The HP-UX community is still thriving but not as vocal as they used to be. When I first started working with HP-UX at Interex, (when they merged with Interworks) HP-UX users always complained about patching. That is not the case now. Their biggest concern is the end of PA-Risc and moving to x86. Patch complaints are gone. We’ve come a long way.

Carrying forward the momentum of the previous HP-UX session of 30+ attendees, the crowd grew larger for our next Tech Forum on moving from large-scale UNIX to Linux on the x86 platform. This Tech Forum, led by HPE’s Michal Sapak and Ken Surplice, demonstrated how a large-scale bank was able to get the best of both worlds: industry standard servers and robust software! The discussion focused on  how the bank was able to get their desired outcome: UNIX-like availability and scale at a lower cost.  Ultimately, the bank moved from PA-Risc servers to SuperDome X running Linux; Surplice and Sapak described the benefits that the bank is experiencing as a result.

Another well attended Tech Forum focused on how customers are optimizing and securing Linux and SAP HANA workloads with new automated tools from HPE. HPE’s Han Pilmeyer revealed details on the new Application Tuner Express, and how the latest Serviceguard for Linux capabilities for SAP HANA can accelerate workloads on NUMA servers in a completely new and automated way to secure your system against threats and meet security compliance requirements.  Attendees were pleased to discover how HPE customers are getting value from all of this new software innovation from HPE.


HPE Education Launches Digital Learning Framework

HPE Education services presented the next Tech Forum, which focused on one of the most important topics for the user community: How do we get the best training to do our jobs?  Hans Bestebreurtje from HPE Education Services EMEA officially launched the NEW Digital Learning Framework at Discover 2017 Madrid in the Connect User Community. This new Content As A Service subscription program increases access to meaningful learning, when and where you need it, in the modular form you want it, and provides incentives for both students and the organization. This new “digital” format for training will help any organization better spend and allocate their training funds for their HPE technology investments.

When Connect Worldwide’s Past President, Rob Lesan, talks about security, you should listen! For our next Tech Forum, Rob led a lively roundtable discussion on Enterprise Security. The conversation touched on everything from data breaches to brainstorming ideas on how to make our enterprise more secure. Those who attended the Tech Forum offered their thoughts, asked engaging questions, and exchanged ideas on how to yield better outcomes in their own organizations.


Connect Community Matters

When Connect Worldwide was formed ten years ago, those of us involved realized that we were much more than a “user group.” We knew that we were a part of a “community.” During the next session, (newly elected 2018 Connect President) Navid Khodayari spoke about the importance of leveraging our existing technology focused chapters and communities in order to build more focused groups that serve individual needs and goals. Navid’s energy really helps younger members realize that we are not just an “old guys club,” and that the Connect community is strong because of member engagement and participation from “up and comers” in IT fields.

We capped off two days of amazing presentations and discussions with a Tech Talk on something that many people even 5 years ago would not have thought possible – Virtualized NonStop. This new milestone in the HPE NonStop Journey showed how far we’ve come and what is coming next for the fast-paced changes taking place in the Enterprise today. This session was led by HPE’s David McCloud for a small group of NonStop devotees who were excited to see NonStop moving to the future.

Connect members should be excited about the questions and answers shared by our members and future members at all of our Talks and Tech Forums in Madrid. We demonstrated that actual users helping other users does make a difference. HPE provided resources and subject experts to share background and provide answers to questions that matter to the user community. These HPE experts enjoyed the feedback, and took down contact information so that they could assist people in finding the right resource at HPE to help solve their challenges.

I would challenge everyone who is thinking of attending Discover Las Vegas this June to think about giving a customer talk on a project they have done or are working on. From personal experience, I can say that it is a very rewarding thing to do. A user community that works together can easily find the best solutions and answers in their industry.

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