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January 09, 2012

Vendors preserving 3000s for historic use

Keeping 3000 History AliveOur ongoing mission to help clean up the hp3000links.com site uncovered a new line of business at AICS Research. Once known mostly for its QueryCalc reporting software, AICS has expanded its 3000 oursourcing for sites that don't use its software. AICS calls this Keeping History Alive. It's aiming the product at migrating users of HP 3000s.

Archival HP 3000s will be increasing in number over 2012. System migrations will be complete this year, some of them anyway. Even though these 3000s will go to recyclers or resellers, the systems' data lives forever. What's more, the applications refuse to fall to IT's axe.

Enter companies like AICS, The Support Group, Speedware and others, all who will move applications and data onto offsite servers. The accounts will live in password-protected volumes on disks or arrays. And the software needed to run those apps? Support must be maintained for third party tools such as Adager, Suprtool, byRequest, UDC Central or MPEX. This surround code -- even extensive products such as PowerHouse -- will continue to be crucial to make such historic systems deliver accurate reports.

"You may be concerned about how you will access the mass of data you currently have on the HP3000 in five or 10 years from now," says the AICS website. Migrating customers who come off a reliable server that's been active for several decades need to include this aspect in project planning.

Given enough time, the applications can be replaced on non-3000 environments. However, that's a task that will either demand an outside expense or require in-house resources. If an IT manager can delay that expense, there's more budget that can be spent keeping up with Windows updates, for example.

So far there's no Archival-Level support agreements on the market for these historic installations. The software companies may not be quick to extend these kinds of discounts -- not in an era when the number of support contracts are declining.

The emulator for HP 3000s will play a role in this change to the MPE/iX business ecosystem. Stromasys director Jean-Paul Bergmans says the company sees its software-only "Son of Zelus" package as a solution ready for archival 3000 needs. In this model a 3000 shop operates its own archival server, hosted in a cloud that Stromasys will maintain.

That's Intel hardware running MPE/iX, a configuration that's being tested by third parties this month. The technical ability of a 3000 manager must be considered for this kind of archiving, too. Bergmans said the first wave of interest in the emulator is coming from less-technical 3000 managers.

"It's fascinating to realize most of the CIOs that we're talking with do not really understand what the HP 3000 is which they have inherited when they took their position," Bergmans said. "They're looking for a solution to that."

There's no shame in relying on technology that's unfamiliar. One clue we've noticed over a quarter-century of talking to customers is when the IT manager refers to the system as "the HP" rather than use the 3000 to name it. They are, however, the kind of CIO that won't know about surround code and tools which have made the server so reliable and cost-effective.

Bergmans understands that the archival role for a 3000 in the Stromasys cloud demands more MPE savvy. "We need to bring in skilled people with us," he said. "We're going to have to take the problem out of the hands of the CIOs, so we can give them a turnkey solution including support, and possibly a move from MPE/iX 6.0 to 7.5." Son of Zelus won't run anything but 7.5.

05:46 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink

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