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October 17, 2012

Changing Engines, or Cars? It Depends

ReplaceEngineHomesteading customers are looking at the Stromasys emulator product as an interim solution before migrations. Dan Miller, a consultant in the community whose roots go back to using MPE in 1975, helps a client who wants to know if the HPA/3000 will perform in place of a Series 9x8 server.

The customer of Miller's runs their 3000 without HP support, but the site has risk avoidance measures in place.

As insurance, they have an additional redundant HP 3000 system on-site should hardware parts become immediately unavailable;  besides HP, there are many third party hardware resellers available to replace or repair their hardware. They are assured of software support, as I am retained on an on-call basis should they run into system or software problems. They can also contact the local HP office or other third party vendors for pay as you go software support.

But Miller noted an unusual profile for the homesteader. The company is running "lights out," which in this case means operating with no IT staff in place, except for the on-call Miller. The arrangement which gives ERP and financial processing to about 35 users has been flawless, "but time marches on," Miller says, "and a future migration is inevitable." Perhaps not nearly as close as it might be, if the emulator meets Miller's definition of viability.

For another aspect to the question, customers will weigh how cost-effective any emulator will be. That's a subject where ScreenJet's Alan Yeo says the costs depend on a customer's comfort with MPE's limits and the success of current applications.

Miller points out that his consulting client's operations to support a hardgoods distribution business is running without DP staff.

Although they have knowledgeable mangers to handle the day-to-day operations problems, they have no DP staff!  Because of the reliability of the HP hardware and the demonstrated success of their custom software, they have been able to avoid the cost of hiring a System Manager, Programmers, or Operators – they run “lights out” and are extremely satisfied with the results of these executed plans.

Needless to say, they are skeptical and hesitant to move away from their current system.

When is that kind of migration due to arrive? Yeo says the same choice befalls an owner of a comfy and reliable car which needs to be certified for a long trip. Buy a new engine, or spend the money on a down payment on a new car? Even at a reduced level of licensing, HPA/3000 is still going to cost in the realm of five figures. Yeo examines the question, "Is an emulator cost-effective?"

If you are keeping HP 3000 hardware running for a couple of thousand bucks a year, then No. If you are reliant on your HP 3000 applications, are happy with the constraints of MPE, and think that will hold true for a few years, then Yes.

The analogy is rather like running an old car that you like and feel comfortable with as your daily transport. It's inexpensive to keep running; the local parts store and local garage seem to be able to supply and fix everything for a few hundred bucks when it breaks. But you have a nagging doubt that if you decided to undertake a cross-continent journey that the engine might just expire with a loud bang. Now someone comes along and offers you a brand-new engine for $5,000 -- what do you do?

1) Decline the offer as too expensive, and carry on as now.

2) Accept the offer, and continue driving your comfortable old car for a number of years, confident that it's got a good engine that's going to be reliable.

3) Decide that if you're going to spend $5,000, that you may as well use it as a deposit and buy the new vehicle that you would really like, one that will better suit your needs for the next decade.

Which is the best most cost effective choice? Ah well, only you can know that, for as with so many things the answer is "It Depends."

07:44 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink

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Comments

MPE/iX wasn't around in 1975. Not for at least a decade later.

Posted by: Paul Edwards | Oct 19, 2012 2:30:38 PM

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