November 27, 2013
HP quarter beats analyst estimates, but Integrity solutions' profit, sales slide again
HP has managed to eke out a penny more than business analysts estimated for its 2013 fourth quarter earnings. These days such a "beat," as the analysts call it, is essential to avoiding a selloff after a report like yesterday's. But the positive news did not extend to the business group which builds and engineers the Unix Integrity servers -- a significant share of the migrated HP 3000 installed base.
More than once during the one-hour report to financial analysts, HP CEO Meg Whitman and her CFO Cathie Lesjak talked about Unix like it's a market whose growth days have been eclipsed by steady erosion of sales and profits. "We have more opportunity to improve our profitability," Whitman said about a quarter where the overall GAAP earnings were 83 cents a share. That's $1.82 billion of profit on sales of $29.1 billion in sales. Revenues declined 1 percent against last year's Q4.
But R&D, so essential to improving the value of using HP-created environments like HP-UX, has seen its days of growth come to halt, and then decline at the Business Critical Systems unit. Lesjak said the company's year-over-year decline in R&D was a result of "rationalization in Business Critical Systems." In particular, the company's Unix products and business can't justify R&D of prior quarters and fiscal years.
As you look at the year-over-year declines in R&D, that was really driven by two primary things. One is the rationalization of R&D, specifically in the Enterprise Group's Business Critical Systems -- so we really align the R&D investment in that space with the long-term business realities of the Unix market. We did get some of what we call R&D value-added tax subsidy credits that came through. Those basically offset some of the R&D expense.
Business Critical Systems revenue declined 17 percent in the quarter to $334 million, due to "a declining Unix market." On the current run rate, BCS represents 1 percent of HP sales. And BCS sales have been dropping between 15 and 30 percent for every quarter for more than six quarters. HP posted an increase in its enterprise systems business overall, mostly on increased sales of the Linux and Windows systems in its Industry Standard Servers unit.
HP said it expects "continued traction in converged storage, networking, and converged infrastructure," for its enterprise business. But somehow, as the entire Unix market shrinks, HP said it's maintaining market share in that space. R&D at BCS will not be part of HP's planned growth for research and development in 2014, though.
She explained that R&D is down "due to streamlined operations across the Enterprise Group and lower R&D expenses, specifically within BCS." Long term, we remain focused on investing in innovation across the organization, and in fact, we've added headcount in engineering in FY13." In 2011 HP announced an initiative to add Unix features to its Linux environments in the biggest R&D project driven by Martin Fink, then-GM of BCS.
"We saw improved sales in our mainstream server business, but we need to improve our pricing discipline and profitability," Lesjak said. "Although revenue continued to decline in Business Critical Systems, we expect to hold or gain share in calendar Q3. And we have announced plans to bring a 100 percent fault-tolerant HP NonStop platform to the x86 architecture."
HP-UX and OpenVMS have no such plans. BCS revenues, including NonStop operations, dropped 26 percent from 2012 to 2013. This even includes an accounting for last year's deadly Q4, when HP had to report a $6 billion loss overall.
HP finished 2013 with $112 billion in sales, down five percent, and $6.5 billion in profits before taxes. The company restructured its way to about 13,000 fewer jobs during the fiscal year. Almost 25,000 people have exited HP since the program began in 2011.
Two organizational repositions were mentioned during the briefing. Robert Mao, chairman of a new China Region for HP's business, reports directly to Whitman. She also noted that Fink, who was named head of HP Labs last year -- a post that once was a full-time job -- has now added duties of leading the HP Cloud business as its General Manager. HP Cloud competes with Amazon Web Services among others. Whitman said Fink "will significantly accelerate our cloud business."
"Martin is a true technology visionary who brings tremendous understanding of the enterprise hardware and software space, extensive experience in platform development," Whitman said, "and he literally wrote the book on Open Source."
Whitman was referring to a 2002 book of Fink's, The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source. The book which is out of print got a glowing back-cover blurb from Tim O'Reilly. But the publisher of textbooks Prentice Hall now touts bestsellers such as How to Succeed with Women and the How to Say It series.
The strategy in Fink's book came from an era when one positive review said, "Linux and Open Source is not 'just' for geeks any more." Linux -- and not the HP-UX and VMS markets where Fink managed before his Labs post -- is what's driving the modest growth in HP server business.
November 26, 2013
Tweaks for network speed arise from Empire
The classic HP 3000 adventure game Empire has been around since the 1980s. It's now running on a system at Tracy Johnson's datacenter, and he's used the services for the free game to explore network speed on a 3000 -- and how to improve it.
The Empire machine is on an admittedly slow network. In other words it is on the cheapest Cox business line that was set up for 5Mb upload and 1Mb download. The circuit's real purpose is so visitors in our facility can surf the Internet over wireless without logging into our network. So the Empire machine was put on it as the default endpoint for connections coming inbound.
My question is, given the outbound speed is only 1Mb, are there any arcane tweaks I could change in NMMGR? Would smaller packet sizes do? Do I really care about checksum?
Jeff Kell replied
Depending on the 3000 model, you're only running at 100Mbps, so there is really no "speed" tweak that is relevant. You want to insure basic connectivity issues. The 3000 isn't that great or reliable at autonegotiation, so you may need to hardcode the 3000 and the switch on the other side to 100Mbps/full duplex. Nothing sucks worse than autonegotiation failure; a switch will typically "default" to 10/half if autonegotiation fails.Kell added that "Checksums only matter if you care if the data is accurate :) If you turn them off, errors may go undetected."
If you have enough traffic on the link to really generate congestion, you may want to check your TCP timers. There have been numerous postings in the past on tweaking the default timers (which tend to recover slower than the typical network device on retransmits).
Donna Hofmeister from Allegro added a link to a relevant whitepaper.
"Take a gander at the Allegro paper on TCP timers: http://www.allegro.com/?page_id=79. And yes, checksum matters."
November 25, 2013
Calculating the 3000's Time to Purchase
On an informal call with a 3000 vendor today, he delivered some sound advice about purchasing. "In the end, it's really about how they buy -- not how you sell." This makes a difference to everyone at this time of year, when fiscal year-end closing is less than six weeks away.
Sometimes a buyer of IT products or a service will want to make a purchase, but then the learning curve gets twisted. The manager might have an outdated estimate of how long it takes to get something into a status for a PO. This can be especially true for an HP 3000. Even when the system is on the path away from mission-critical, en route to migration, buying something related to a 3000 can be a distant memory.
This is not to be confused with renewing support contracts. Those are renewals, not outright new purchases. The time needed to get to a PO can include the processing time at related vendors, in some cases. For example, there's the licensing which is part of making a transition to the only emulator for HP 3000s. Software suppliers, or HP, require time to approve transfers. You only learn how much time your organization, or your vendor, needs by purchasing something. Or attempting to, near the end of your fiscal year.At Dairylea Cooperative, transferring the 3000's MPE/iX license to an emulator took almost a week, Jeff Elmer reports. The HP employee Erick learned about the process from Stromasys, the maker of the emulator.
Once Erick was on board, it was just a matter of signing another document and processing a credit card purchase of $432. It took 3 days from the point when they said it could be done to when I had the appropriate documents via e-mail. (It took 3 days to convince them to do it, so the process overall was 6 days. I hope convincing them to do it is no longer necessary.)
Over at Boeing, the internal workings of the purchasing process for emulator hosting hardware will be tested. "I think we are too late in the year to get the hardware," said the 3000 manager there.
One vendor said they figured on 16 months to get to the PO point for their product. Another said their mission to close a purchase was nearly complete -- but the customer's legal counsel still had to weigh in on the deal. It's a good idea to review the timeline for purchasing if you're just getting back to supplying your 3000 with something, even if it's just assessments for transition or sustaining services.
That's especially true if you're left with money in your budget you'll need to spend, or lose it for next year. Only a buyer can put a Rush on an IT purchase. We're in the Season of the Rush now, the same part of the calendar when HP announced its 3000 exit. It was no surprise when nothing related to migration purchasing happened during the following year.
November 22, 2013
Cloud IT needs one migration or another
HP 3000s are being displaced because the servers are aging, at least in some managers' views. But moving IT operations of an organization to cloud-based providers also looks attractive to a company that wants to give up on the local datacenter concept. Why make the ongoing investment in staff and new hardware and maintenance, they figure, when a supplier like Amazon Web Services or even HP's Cloud can handle that systems service?
You just need to remember there's two migrations in a cloud transition. There's a new aspect emerging in cloud migration. It's being called Data as a Service. You must separate your application from its data during the migration phase, according to Michael Daconta, VP of advanced technology at InCadence Strategic Solutions. He's the former metadata program manager for the Department of Homeland Security. Metadata tagging is a part of DaaS, he explained in an InformationWeek article.
A 3000 site that's migrating will be counting on replacing its application in order to shut off the local datacenter. That's the ultimate separation of app and data. App replacement is today's popular choice to transition off the 3000. But there's still a migration to made, even if a replacement app can be used instead of doing a lift and shift of code. Companies have to migrate their data to the cloud, too.
Data migration is just as crucial as replicating the business rules and functions of the 3000's app. This migration also introduces the opportunity to employ the powers of Master Data Management. MDM gives the company the path to a One True Source of data. A half-dozen codes for the color black, for example, all ascribed to the same product, can be organized into a consistent view.
You could assume your data is in great shape and migrate it as is -- but you miss this MDM chance to centralize data. MDM lets you create what's called an enterprise data layer. Data in the cloud is a post-MPE strategy. You won't employ the cloud unless you're leaving 3000 apps behind.At the moment there's no announced solution to host an MPE/iX app at a cloud provider. The general manager of Stromasys, Bill Driest, said in May the company wants to develop such a combination for its CHARON emulator, but so far it's still under consideration. Unannounced products are rich with potential for speculation. However, one reason a product doesn't go into development is because no customer wants to become the test case for the first release.
We've already heard that a New York-based financial services company wants offsite emulation for a disaster recovery option using an emulator. They'll probably be employing a co-location supplier, one that will rack a PC configured for the CHARON emulator. Believe it or not, there's data migration to be done in that instance, too. Hot-switch DR needs data at both locations, updated in real time snychronization.
Data movement tools have been on offer for the the 3000 manager for decades. They will be an essential part of any migration or transition, even to a cloud solution.
November 21, 2013
UK reunion of 3000 mates achieves quorum
Dave Wiseman reports that he's achieved a quorum for a December 5 meeting of HP 3000 users and vendors. The gathering at a "Young's pub for the cognoscenti" starts after 11 AM on that Thursday in London, at a venue called Dirty Dicks.
We're not kidding. But the name of a pub with good food for thought fits Wiseman's aim for this first European reunion. He wanted a meeting where vendors could network, without worry about which users might attend. It's not the traditional aim of a user meeting, but these are untraditional times for the 3000 and MPE.
"Remember all those good old days standing around at trade shows talking to each other? Never being interrupted by potential customers? Then there were the evenings sitting in hotel bars. Well as far as I am aware, I am still chairman of SIG-BAR. I've dusted off the old ribbon and it's time for another meeting (only without the pretence of having business to do and without the hassle of actually bring a stand!)
"I've left in our US friends on this message," Wiseman announced with the notice of the quorum, "although of course it is unlikely that they will come. But they may be interested in what is happening -- maybe we could have an international vendors meeting one day!"
I trailed round London looking at a few venues and found a couple of pubs that would let us have space without charging for it. All of the hotels wanted to charge money!
Only one has sent me the email that they promised and they also offered the best venue – we would have exclusive use of the front upstairs of Dirty Dicks. They have a range of real ales (it's a Young's pub for the cognoscenti) and a menu below (not grand, but the food isn't the only thing we're there for.)
For the non-British 3000 user, Young's has been "one of London's oldest and most recognisable cask ale brands and the pubs that bear the same name," according to The Guardian. And of course for the 3000 users who are among the best-versed in the world about classic information analysis and management, they'll know that cognoscenti are "people who are considered to be especially well informed about a particular subject."
"Dirty Dicks is just across the road from Liverpool Street station," Wiseman said, "so for those of you flying into Stansted it is very convenient; less so if you come to Heathrow."
The address is 202 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4NR. The meeting will have the benefit of offering Christmas fare as well as its regular menu. If you're in the area and want to attend, drop a note to Wiseman at his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vendors and 3000 friends who are confirmed to be on hand, as of late last weekend:
November 20, 2013
PowerHouse still hums half-dozen years later
Six years ago this month, IBM tendered an offer to purchase Cognos and make the vendor a part of IBM's business intelligence group. PowerHouse was not the star of that transaction, or even a featured player. The most widely installed 4GL in the 3000's history had a bit part by that time in the Advanced Development Tools group of Cognos. ADT was profitable but not growing. Users were assured the IBM acquisition was not a death knell.
This is clearly the case today, even if some of the familiar faces are gone. Bob Deskin, the product manager for PowerHouse who answered reams of questions about Cognos intentions, retired in July. Christina Hasse, a regular on the conference speaker circuits of the 1990s, remains with the company. Then there's Charlie Maloney, whose name is invoked often today while customers try to locate a PowerHouse-aware executive in IBM.
"Has anyone been able to find someone at IBM/Cognos to deal with Powerhouse Licenses since the takeover?" asked Ken Langendock, a PowerHouse consultant. "I know Marianne Stagg has retired."
Hasse replied, "You can always contact Charlie Maloney to start the conversation and he can help you find the correct person to work with. His contact information is: email@example.com, 978 - 899 - 4722." And if you spend any time at all on the IBM website looking at Cognos products other than Powerhouse, a chat box pops up quickly to offer help.The Business Analytics arm of IBM is where the Cognos products reside today. The Canadian company offered the 3000 market the first third-party reporting option in Quiz, and IBM even hosts a user manual for Quiz on the IBM website. There's a primer for the new PowerHouse user. But an active webpage for the version of the product that runs under MPE is not online any more. IBM operates off of documents pages for these kinds of products, and leaves the live website pages to the Business Intelligence aspects of Cognos.
Cognos would prefer that its HP 3000 customers migrate. In fact, the company says that “As part of our HPe3000 migration strategy, PowerHouse 4GL, PowerHouse Web, and Axiant 4GL support Marxmeier AG’s Eloquence, which has an IMAGE emulation layer.”
The PowerHouse and Axiant operations are a small part of the Cognos business, but the company insists that the products and their customers are a profitable segment. When consultant Robert Edis speculated on the fallout of a late 2006 Cognos-Speedware alliance, Edis said that development was likely to cease. PowerHouse product manager Bob Deskin replied at the time that "Eventually everything comes to an end. But we have a while to go yet."
IBM, to its credit, maintains products much longer than nearly all other vendors. The AS/400 server business, rooted in 1970s systems, has morphed several times during the last decade to include the latest in IBM hardware and software technology, and has now become Series i. Charles Finley of Transformix, an HP migration solutions and consultancy, pointed this out on the PowerHouse list.
The saving grace is that IBM does not seem to “pull the plug” on any software product that produces recurring revenue. My guess is that they will do what they have done with [the database] Informix. They keep supporting it but they do not enhance it much. At the same time they offer substantial migration paths to other IBM offerings.
What I mean is that they offer a comprehensive solution including tools and services to help customers change to some product and technologies that IBM considers sustainable in the current software markets.
Indeed, there's no plug-pulling. In 2011 IBM reiterated its support for PowerHouse on HP 3000s, although it's Vintage support.
IBM has identified PowerHouse 4GL and PowerHouse Web 8.49F as the final version of the ADT product offering on the HPe3000. This was documented in the release notes for that release, and there are no subsequent releases of PowerHouse 4GL or PowerHouse Web for the HPe3000 on our current roadmap. Mature Platform Extended Support is now part of the IBM Cognos Vintage Support offering. We are extending those provisions to PowerHouse 4GL and PowerHouse Web on the HPe3000 – MPE/iX platform.
Vintage Support provides the following services:
• Customers may continue to log cases with Customer Support.
• IBM will attempt to provide a workaround solution. Vintage support has the following restrictions:
– IBM will not provide any additional versions of the product.
– IBM will not provide any additional Interim Fixes, Refresh Packs, Fix Packs.
– IBM cannot guarantee the compatibility of the products on any future versions of Supported Environments beyond those stated for the version of the products current at the date Engineering Support ended.
November 18, 2013
MANMAN and a 3000 in new Ohio action
Just when you thought the HP 3000 and MPE were done with new installations, along comes a manufacturer to put another system online.
If you break it down, this kind of event needs a few elements to succeed today.
1. A license structure for software (apps and utilities) that is low-budget. Extending third party licenses, for example, rather than buying new ones.
2. In-house expertise to manage and maintain a new system -- or if not in-house, then in-organization
3. A requirement for inexpensive HP hardware for the install. Because if you're going to put something online that has an HP badge on it today, you'll want component redundancy. Think spare CPUs and CPU boards.
The 3000 install was mentioned during last week's CAMUS manufacturing RUG conference call. Measurement Specialties has been a MANMAN manufacturing app and 3000 supporter for so long that ERP Director Terry Simpkins was even used by HP to testify about the integrated 3000 solution. In print. In an ad. Remember print ads for computer systems? HP even bought a few in the 1990s.
Simpkins wasn't at his usual spot during the CAMUS call because he was in Ohio, we were told, working on another outpost in the MSI network. There's more than a dozen worldwide, with many outside of North America. There were years when Simpkins was in China for weeks on end.Some MANMAN customers have a clear path to put as much application up as they like. These forward thinkers got a source code license from ASK Software when such a thing was available from the MANMAN creators. Computer Associates and the succeeding MANMAN owners cut off the source purchasing.
A 3000 owner who maintains their own applications, written in house, is in a similar situation to a site installing MANMAN from source code. In fact, they have a lot in common. One of the reports from users on that RUG call was that most of the efficient operations in MANMAN come from mods. No, not the rockers from the Sixties in Britain. It's short for modifications, of course, custom programming either built in-house or bought from a consulting and support house.
Back in 2011, the MSI IT Director Bob Andreini had a staff of 32 to help him manage operations. Simpkins was responsible for MSI's ERP implementation and support, with a primary focus on MANMAN.
Simpkins has been asked in the past why new operations in MSI go online running MANMAN, sometimes resulting in a 3000 coming online. His answer: "We are using HP 3000 systems for general ledger, accounts payable, inventory control, purchasing, production scheduling, order entry, and invoicing." Way back in 2008 there were 11 locations around the world, "and we have a substantial investment in its continued operation."
Measurement Specialties has been a self-maintainer of its 3000 hardware for more than a decade. They've done their own independent support. Simpkins been a clear speaker along the lines of Teddy Roosevelt for as long as I've known him. 13 years ago HP was trying to assert that IT managers were not looking at platforms anymore when they deployed apps, just the software. Here's the exchange we had in a Q&A for the Newswire.
HP likes to tell us in the press that IT managers at your level don’t make deployment decisions around platforms anymore, that applications are the only thing that matters. What do you believe?
I think that’s bullshit. If I’m looking for an application and I find two that run equally well, and one of them runs on a platform I already have expertise with, I’m all over that one. I don’t believe that we’re all in a heterogeneous environment, or that we want to be in one. I’m not afraid of a heterogeneous environment, but why do I want to add complexity to my life if I don’t have to?
November 15, 2013
Newer-comers looked forward for us all
Yesterday I wrote about the group of companies who supported this publication at the time of Hewlett-Packard's November 2001 pullout from the 3000 -- and how many of them have survived that numbskull HP strategy. I don't want to overlook another set of stout community members -- those who showed up to help out and spread the word on keeping up with 3000s, well after HP said the party was supposed to be over.
Pivital Solutions comes to mind first. They were HP 3000 official resellers, the last ones to claim a spot for that, more than a year after HP pulled out of the futures business. Started print advertising, became sponsors of the Newswire's blog. All to freshen up our world with another resource to keep 3000s online, running long after HP figured the ecosystem would become toxic.
I'd also like to tip my hat to ScreenJet, another supporter who arrived in our media after November 2001. First in print, then as one of three founding sponsors of the Newswire blog. With a blog not being a thriving commercial concept in 2005, ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software and Robelle were first to the table to ensure we could afford to report and tell stories online as our primary communication. Robelle was with us from our very first year in print, but ScreenJet and Marxmeier joined in after HP said there was no future in 3000s.
Another new face has been Applied Technologies, a modest consultancy which has been a source of articles as well as financial support. You can get surprised by such good things that happen in the wake of something challenging -- like humanitarian acts in the face of natural disasters. If you clicked on a link to help typhoon victims over the last week, you're that kind of person.Add to this list of newer-comers here the MPE Support Group, Transoft, DB-Net, Unicon, Allegro Consultants, Can-Am Software, Bradmark, Viking Software, Acucorp, PIR Group, Comp Three, Ordina Denkart, ROC Software, Blueline Services, Core Software, Printer Systems International, Tally Printer, Managed Business Solutions. All arrived after November 14, 2001. Honestly, the list of companies who've been part of our community by supporting the Newswire, whether for one month or for 216, is long. At our last count there have been 146 companies who've had enough of a yearning for the 3000 that they'd be a part of our blog or print issues.
I'm grateful for every one of those commitments, gestures of looking forward for us all -- to a future of deep changes, or to a tomorrow that preserves the heritage of our yesterdays. This will be the last year I'll recall that sudden dagger of November 2001 with a story and an essay. If you want more stories of that day, leave yours to the comments fields below, or send them along via email.
November 14, 2013
4,383 days for an ecosystem to slip, survive
It's November 14 once again, a date plenty of people don't consider special. I was part of a telephone-only CAMUS user group meeting today. While we chatted before our meet began, I asked if anyone knew the significance of the date. It took a few minutes of hinting before someone -- Cortlandt Wilson of Cortsoft -- said this was the day HP ended its future vision for a 3000 business.
At the time the announcement emerged in 2001, HP said it was worried about the fate of the MPE and 3000 ecosystem. It had good reason to worry. It was about to send a shock wave that would knock out many denizens in that ecosystem. The losses to customers can be counted many ways, and we have done that every year since that fateful day. This is the 12th story I've written about the anniversary of the HP exit. The day remains important to me when I count up what's been pushed to extinction, and what has survived.
Companies come to mind this year. The photo at right shows the vendor lineup for our printed November 3000 Newswire in 2001. (Click it for details.) It was a healthy month, but not extraordinary. Almost 30 vendors, including three in our FlashPaper, had enough 3000 business to make budget to advertise. We'll get to the ones who remain in business after a dozen years. But let's call the roll to see what HP's ecosystem exit pruned or hacked away.
3KWorld.com was a worldwide 3000 website operated by Client Systems. It was large enough to draw its own advertising and used all of the content of the Newswire under a license agreement. It's gone. Client Systems has hung on, though.
Advanced Network Systems (web software circa 2001) and Design 3000 (job scheduling) and Epic Systems (hardware resales) are all gone, too. Interex went out of business in 2005 in a sudden bankruptcy; OmniSolutions (MPE interface software) and TechGroup (consulting) and WhisperTech (a programmer's suite) and COBOL JobShop (programmer services) are all gone, too.
Believe it or not, out of a list of 29, those are the only complete extinctions. Some of the rest have changed their colors like a chameleon, blending into the IT business of 2013. And many have gotten too pared down to consider the broad business outreach they felt confident about in 2001.Still serving under their same flag after all these years? Count on 3K Associates, Adager, Computer Solutions, Genisys, Lund Performance Solutions, MB Foster, Minisoft, Nobix, Open Seas, Orbit Software, RAC Consulting, Robelle, ROC Software, Robust Systems, and The Support Group.
A few others have evolved but remain alive after being absorbed. WRQ is now deep inside Attachmate, so deep the WRQ name is no longer part of the corporation. Quest Software slipped into Dell this year. Both of these acquired companies still sell, or support, MPE clients. The same is true of Speedware, which rebranded as Fresche Legacy while it's now honing in on IBM AS/400 clients.
And then there's Hewlett-Packard. Ah, the hand that threw the switch that sent a shock to the ecosystem. Within six months of November 14, the dominant Compaq managers were led by a CEO in her third year to erase HP's Way. Bill Hewlett's son Walter lost a proxy fight so legendary that it's the example used on the Wikipedia entry for proxy fight.
It's coincidental that the departure of 3000 products from HP's future happened at the same time as the vendor's decade-plus slide. The company has reported profits each year. HP became Number 1 in sales by adding billions in PC business. But the rest of the company's heritage has become a specter. Some community members take some bitter solace in knowing that the HP which believed in their computer died its own death less than a year later in a courtroom, where that proxy fight had its finale.
People must weather change as a regular part of life. One friend of mine took note a personal shift in business opportunity, on the heels of a decline, and uttered the prayer of the pivoting hopeful player: "The only constant is indeed change."
The tally of 3000 pros and resources pushed into extinction after these 12 years isn't limited to the Newswire's November 2001 lineup. Other extinguished companies from the Interex side include Hi Comp (backup software) plus the lineup of Interex conferences including HP World, the HP e3000 Solutions Symposium, and one of the hardest-working technical meetings, SIG/3000. A meeting in person is a high-risk opportunity to learn and grow. The Web filled in, at a rate we couldn't imagine in 2001.
Oh, the irony of that November. We wrote a lead story for our Flash Paper that reported a record month for 3000 sales at the US distributor of the server. We then had to fold over another sheet of paper at presstime, an Extra, to explain that HP said it only started a two-year period of "business as usual," to quote the impossible spin of the vendor's marketing chief. "There really was no other choice," said the company's general manager of the time about the exit scheme.
There was another choice, but HP didn't make it for the 3000. Get over it, or forget it, or take the time to make a good transition -- these were all responses that changed tens of thousands of lives and careers. We don't know of many people who left IT altogether for another career since then. Some have retired, or at least planned to do so.
Through those dozen years I've tried to put the most reasonable face on the inevitable trend that HP started. The vendor said its decision to talk about its walkout on this market was "about concluding it's time to advise customers about the long-term trend." It's certainly been a longer term than HP could imagine in 2001. More than twice as long if the remaining vendors and customers count for anything. I believe they do -- representing sage management of a resource, or the prospect for a transition-migration services company and vendors of products for the same.
If 20 out of those 29 advertising partners are still in business, the impact of that trend is limited to what two-thirds of them have done next, or what they've done with what's left. Downsized with layoffs and canceled projects. Consolidated product lines and froze enhancements. Launched new products into different, crowded markets. Found a buyer or a senior partner to infuse cash and new commerce in a new direction. Timed their own exit with enough fortune to retire.
Unlike these companies -- some so small their operating budget wouldn't buy coffee service for a single HP sales region -- Hewlett-Packard didn't want to be the last person to leave the MPE party. Lead onward to Unix, it figured, telling customers on Transition Day No. 1 that free licenses for HP-UX were available. Six years later, according to Dr. Robert Boers of 3000 emulator vendor Stromasys, HP told them that 75 percent of former 3000 owners were using something other than HP servers.
It's a story with potential to be a rousing case study by business graduates, the exit of a vendor that could bank on more than 25 years of business selling a proprietary product. But it can be debated that a simple roll call of survivors tells just the most public part of the story. The career changes and chameleon shifts, the evolution of the elder generation of computer wizards can only be told one story at a time. If there are any less than 4,383 stories like that to tell, I'd be surprised. But we've all lived though a dozen years of surprises throughout that inevitable trend. I'm still here to tell stories, about survival as well as slippage. Try to permit next year's November -- the 40th year of MPE -- to contain a memory of the day your ecosystem changed.
November 13, 2013
The Safety of a Frozen Environment
Much is being made, from one source and another, about how the MPE/iX operating system is now unsupported. This is only true if you consider Hewlett-Packard the one true source of MPE support. The hardware falls into the same category -- beyond the creator's support. But a virtualization engine like CHARON will, given another year or so, make unsupported iron a worry of the past. If your budget allows for CHARON software licensing.
MPE/iX, on the other hand, is getting no virtualization. The same software that's running 3000s today will run them next year. There's no updated, doubly-secured version of the 3000's OS that's coming from any source. That can be seen as a benefit, considering what just happened to Windows users this week.
Microsoft released a refreshed version of its venerable Windows XP, and the software promptly locked up millions of machines that took on the update. Most Windows customers have their systems set to accept and install Microsoft updates as provided. Given the rollicking nature of working in the viral world of Windows, security updates are essential. From InfoWorld, this report:
It isn't a new bug, but it's a killer, and this month's round of Automatic Updates has brought it back with a vengeance. Freshly installed Windows XP SP3 machines running Windows Update -- typically because Automatic Update is turned on -- will stall twice. First, when Windows Update accesses the Microsoft website to gather a list of available updates, the machine can lock up for five, 10, 15 minutes -- or more -- with the CPU and fan running at 100 percent. Then, if the customer waits long enough for the updates to appear, and clicks to install them, the XP machine goes racing away again for five or 10 or more minutes, with the CPU redlined at 100 percent.
If you've turned on Windows Automatic Update, your brand-new WinXP SP3 installation may just sit there and churn and churn. Microsoft has known about the problem for months -- probably years -- but it hasn't fixed it.
This isn't the first time that an XP update stopped machines cold. Microsoft can claim that the problem is that people continue to use an OS that was created more than 12 years ago. But that's the same strategy that seasoned IT pros are following when they don't give up on the HP 3000. In so many places in our lives, old XP systems run a business or an organization. It wasn't broken enough to replace. At least not until Microsoft worked to make it better -- or just different.HP won't be doing this sort of service for the HP 3000 customer. If there are security risks on the horizon, or gaps in the software's capability, these will be for the community to discover or to bridge. But no automated update will make an MPE/iX server freeze into a service problem overnight.
People started to freeze their own HP 3000s into static, stable mode even before Hewlett-Packard announced it would pull out of the community. Companies first put their servers into lockdown in the months leading up to Y2K. Later, as the prospect of robust improvements to MPE/iX dimmed, enterprises decided that changing little to nothing was the best way to move forward with their 3000s.
The exceptions have required workarounds. Today independent companies create these kinds of updates, on demand and under the customer's watchful direction. The safety of an environment that's frozen is only possible on an integrated and secured system. You won't have the latest Java, or IPV6 Internet addressing, or a hundred other things available even before you know you need them on other platforms. But unlike XP users this week, you know what's going to work tomorrow, because it did yesterday and you didn't change anything in your software configuration.
That's the kind of certainty that keeps budget-conscious and efficient companies using a computer whose demise was first scheduled by the vendor 12 years ago tomorrow.
November 12, 2013
Did you sell your disks or give them away?
These days HP 3000s are going onto the auction block, eBay, or to a broker when they're decommissioned. It's a wistful day when Hewlett-Packard server hardware goes offline, followed a period of storage. Eventually purchasing gets ahold of the system. At the University of Washington, for example, the pharmacy school put its Series 969 out in the hands of sellers at the university.
Deane Bell, the pro in charge of the 3000's replacement and an MPE veteran of several decades, said the server isn't likely to draw much attention in the market. A support provider in the community talked about pennies on the dollar for the system. But both experts realized that the storage components are the most valuable parts of an older 3000. They just had different reasons for the retained value.
"The Jamaica drives are possibly the most valuable components," Bell said when we checked in on a server first advertised in the summertime. I mention the drives since last time, several years ago when I attempted to buy some, they were almost impossible to find."
Certified drives for 3000s can be complicated to locate, but even if they're out there, letting yours go with the server might not be the safest strategy. The drives could contain records that are regulated by government law. One expert said that destroying such disks, professionally, is the more secure way to decommission a system. Writing zeros over and over onto such drives gets a manager closer to the destruction level of security. But then there's the RAM, which can do it's own storage.We've heard of resold Unix servers in the HP line DLxxx line with 256MB RAID memory dutifully being kept alive by a built in battery. That's enough room for credit card numbers, user names, passwords, and SSNs. Pulling the battery should resolve that problem.
There's something more unique and valuable in any decommissioned HP 3000. The operating system license is one-off, not to be reproduced ever again. Any customer who's got a possible CHARON emulator in their future -- and wants to run the emulated system alongside a production HP 3000 -- could use another number in tandem with the existing system.
Series 969 hardware, without disk, will sell for pennies on the dollar. But if the OS license is considered, something with no physical attribute might be the most valuable -- and safest -- asset to pass on the market. Purchasing and asset departments could be notified by savvy MPE pros.
November 11, 2013
Emulator's transfers trigger shopping fees
At the IT shop up at Boeing, Enterprise Hosting Services manager Ray Legault reports that he's getting quotes for the transfer of his MPE/iX software licenses to the Stromasys CHARON emulator. At the end of the process, the HP 3000s that have been running at Boeing in Legault's shop will have their ERP software transferred to an Intel-based server -- one which boots up and runs the 3000's OS and all subsystems.
HP's end of the process is well-defined and costs $432. The Software License Transfer request form requires information including
• Current License Owner details
• New License Owner details
• Proof of Ownership (SAID)
• List of Licenses to be transferred
• SLT fee payment information
• Current Owner signature relinquishing ownership
HP also requires the 3000 owner to sign their own SLT form, as the New License Owner. "Once the full documentation is received, we will aim to process your request within 10 business days," said the confirming email from the SLT operation. In spite of the fact that a 3000 owner already has paid for an MPE/iX license, the fee still applies.
That's the last segment of the process with certain costs for licensing. Legault has been looking into his independent software vendor list to discover what each will charge to run on the emulator.
"I think we are too late in the year to get the hardware needed," Legault told us today. "We may get the software, though." Since Cognos software runs at Boeing, Legault has contacted them about a transfer fee. Cognos, now a division of IBM, said "they wanted to know how many cores we will use," Legault added.
Cognos -- where the director of sales is Charlie Maloney -- might care about is how many HP 3000 CPUs are being emulated. The PowerHouse user license is totally independent of the machine it's running on. Maloney has offered to help out any user who is having problems getting pricing from their local [IBM] reps. There are supposed to be relatively new licensing options, which not all IBM reps might know about.
While one other vendor has already hit the highest mark for transfer fee demands, Legault added that Robelle and RAC Consulting (makers of ESPUL) "will charge zero, for being a long time customer." Maintaining relations with reasonable companies -- which might involve keeping up support contracts -- will earn a customer that kind of consideration.
November 08, 2013
How to do Digits-to-integer, and EDT to EST
What is the MPE/iX system command to convert a string of digits into an integer value? I find NUMERIC will tell me if I have a string of digits, and DECIMAL converts a number to a string, but I cannot locate the reciprocal function.
Donna Hofmeister of Allegro responds:
It's actually easier than you think to change a string variable into a numeric one. Here's an example, with some blah-blah-blah to go with it.
: setvar foo "123" <--- string with all-number content
: echo ![typeof(foo)] <--- do ': help typeof ' to find out what '2' means
: echo ![numeric(foo)] <--- if you have any doubt about the 'quality' of the content use numeric
: setvar foo_n !foo <--- here's the conversion
: echo ![typeof(foo_n)] <--- and a test for giggles
My HP 3000 system was still on EDT, so I wanted to change it during startup. I answered "N" to the date/time setting at end of startup, and it refused my entry of 11/04/13; it returned a question mark. After several quick CR, it set the clock back to 1 Jan 85, which is where it is now waiting.
Gilles Schipper of GSA responds:
While the system is up and running, you could try (while the system is up and running):
:setclock ;timezone=w5:00 (for example)
:setclock ;cancel (again)
I'd been quite surprised by how many small 'single machine' shops don't properly set the hardware clock to GMT with the software clock offset by 'timezone' Instead, they have their hardware and software clock set to the same time, use the 'setclock correction=' and then give either a +3600 or -3600, for spring or fall time changes.
Allegro's got a simple command file called FIXCLOCK, on their Free Allegro Software page, that allows fixing the hardware clock AND properly setting the time-offset for the software clock -- all without having to take the system down.
Here's the spring and fall time change jobstream code. You can use this and modify it for your specific needs. Note that it's set up for the Eastern US time zone. (That's the TIMEZONE = W5:00 -- meaning the number of hours different than GMT -- and TIMEZONE = W4:00 lines.) Modify these lines as necessary for your timezone.
!setvar Sunday, 1
!setvar March, 3
!setvar November, 11
!if hpday = Sunday and &
! hpmonth = November and &
! hpdate < 8 then
! comment (first Sunday of November)
! SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W5:00
! TELLOP ********************************************
! TELLOP Changing the system clock to STANDARD TIME.
! TELLOP The clock will S L O W D O W N until
! TELLOP we have fallen back one hour.
! TELLOP ********************************************
!elseif hpday = Sunday and &
! hpmonth = March and &
! hpdate > 7 and hpdate < 15 then
! comment (second Sunday of March)
! SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W4:00
! TELLOP *********************************************
! TELLOP Changing the system clock to DAYLIGHT SAVINGS
! TELLOP TIME. The clock jumped ahead one hour.
! TELLOP *********************************************
! comment (no changes today!)
! TELLOP *********************************************
! TELLOP No Standard/Daylight Savings Time Chgs Req'd
! TELLOP *********************************************
!comment - to avoid 'looping' on fast CPU's pause long enough for
!comment - local clock time to be > 2:00a, even in fall...
!while hphour = 2 and hpminute = 0
! TELLOP Pausing 1 minute... waiting to pass 2am
! TELLOP Current Date/Time: !HPDATEF - !HPTIMEF
! pause 60
Do a showclock to confirm results. Careful, though, of any existing running jobs or sessions that may be clock-dependent.
November 07, 2013
Staying on Schedule in a Move to Windows
Yesterday we reported on an airline service provider who's made the move from HP 3000s to Windows .NET systems and architecture. While there's a great advantage in development environment in such a transition -- nothing could be easier to hire than experts in Visual Studio, nee Visual Basic -- companies such as Navitaire have to arrange a new schedule. To be precise, the job handling features of MPE/iX must be replaced, and Windows won't begin to match the 3000's strengths.
Enter a third party solution, or independent software as we like to call it here in the 21st Century. In 2010 MB Foster built a scheduler for Windows sites, and yesterday we heard a customer from the Windows world size up the MBF Scheduler tool. This was an IT shop where a HP 3000 has never booted up. But NaturMed, a supplier of supplements and health education, is a user of the JDA Direct Commerce (formerly Ecometry-Escalate Retail) software on its Windows servers. The company's never seen an MPE colon prompt, but it needs that level of functionality to manage its jobs.
"We've helped Ecometry with the move of many customers off the 3000 and onto Windows," said CEO Birket Foster. "If senior management has simply decided that Windows was the place to be, we could help automate the business processes -- by managing batch jobs in the regular day and month-end close, as well as handling Ecometry jobs and SQL Server jobs." Automating jobs makes a Windows IT shop manager more productive, like creating another set of hands to help team members out. For a 3000 shop making a transition, something like an independent job handler means they'll be able to stay on schedule with productivity.Companies that use Windows eventually discover how manual their job scheduling process becomes while hemmed in with native tools for the environment. Credit card batches must be turned in multiple times a day at online retailers, for example. The site that sparked the MBF-Scheduler design didn't have a 3000's tools, either. It just had 14,000 jobs a day running.
"It seems like this is extremely powerful," one Windows shop said of the product after looking it over, "and we could benefit from this."
Job listings, also known as standard lists (STDLISTs), are common to both the 3000 and Windows environment, and the software was built to provide the best of both 3000 and Windows worlds, Foster said. The software's got its own STDLIST reviewer, one that's integrated with a scripting language called MBF-UDAX. Ecometry sites working on HP 3000s usually rely on a tool as advanced as Robelle's Suprtool for job scheduling.
Foster's Scheduler includes filtering buttons in job reports by user, by job name, by status and by subqueue. A recent addition to the product introduced a custom category that managers can use to select or sort jobs. While running thousands of batch jobs a day, some are in distinct categories. Customers like the idea of managing factory floor jobs separately from finance jobs, for example. Managers
Measurement Systems, the manufacturer which runs a dozen HP 3000s in sites across North America, China and Europe, uses the MBF Scheduler. The product manages a complementary farm of MBF Scheduler Windows servers to move jobs among servers throughout Measurement Systems' 3000s. Terry Simpkins there has been devoted to Infor's MANMAN implementations well beyond the vendor's ability to support the application. Like other customers around the community, Simpkins and his team have compared the Scheduler to MPE's mature tools, and favorably. Sites like this don't need a separate Unix or Linux server for job scheduling, which is the usual way to keep Windows IT on schedule.
Windows schedulers serve HP 3000s, but also server Windows-only IT environments where some MPE/iX operations will be headed. At Measurement Specialities, for example, the IT pro who handles scheduling never sees the HP 3000. But enterprise server-born concepts such as job fences are tools which are at his command.
November 06, 2013
Open Skies flies to a .NET transition
Mark Ranft has been reporting on choices being made by his Pro 3k consultancy to move airline transaction processor Navitaire off a farm of 35 HP 3000s, carefully and with precision. The application -- which began its life as IMAGE-MPE software in the 1990s -- has become New Skies, a shift from its Open Skies roots. Windows .NET is the platform of the future.
What remains of the 3000 farm is going up for sale, he noted in a posting at the HP 3000 Community of LinkedIn. Asked why Windows and its .NET architecture is a suitable replacement for the MPE/iX operations that served major airlines, Ranft said that Windows, like MPE or Linux or HP-UX, is just a tool.
"The enterprise architect must understand the strengths and the weaknesses of the platform and design the application around them, Ranft told us when the migration was underway, some five years ago. "Sometimes this may mean you have large pools of mid-tier systems/application servers to make up for the lack of resiliency in the operating system. This could be compared to using the RAID concept for disk arrays. However, I fear that most enterprises will find the licenses, care and feeding of the numerous mid-term systems needed is far from being inexpensive. Keep in mind that MPE was never exactly cheap."
.NET has been popular for years, a way to apply the Windows environment with more complete application architecture for enterprises. But some of the latest advice about .NET seems to factor in the slowing speed of the Microsoft juggernaut. One writer has even called .NET a failed Microsoft business line, but IT managers who use the product say it's a good choice for Windows implementations.
Ranft has reported that the enterprise once known as Open Skies ran more than a dozen of the largest HP 3000s that Hewlett-Packard ever sold. Five years ago he said
We have 21 HP 3000s. Eighteen of them are the largest, fully-loaded N4000-4-750 systems you can get. We have migrations to Windows in various stages, but there is also a very real need for legacy data access after the migration. The alternative is to migrate all the data and all the archival history, and that can be costly.
.NET has been on the radar screens for 3000 migration since at least 2004. Back when Managed Business Systems was one of the four HP Platinum Migration partners, Rich Trapp said at an HP World presentation the environment may be involved if an organization chooses:
To port their applications, since some porting tools convert the existing applications into .NET. Tools from Unicon specialized in .NET while they were being used by 3000 sites doing a migration. Once inside the .NET framework, further enhancements may involve .NET development.
For the limited number of companies that choose to re-build their applications, they may be re-written or re- engineered in a .NET development environment.
To replace 3000 apps with off-the-shelf packages, which can mean adopting an implementation in a .NET development environment. After replacement, customizations and interfaces may best be written in .NET.
The development for all of these choices takes place in Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE. Like many transition choices from standard 3000 tools -- VPlus, COBOL II, 4GLs, DEBUG and the like -- stepping into Visual Studio means a serious increase in power, as well as a learning curve if a 3000 pro hasn't developed VB skills yet.
.NET adoption means that a staff will need to be up to speed on Visual Basic .NET, C# and SQL Server -- or another .NET-compatible database. There's also a need to get a scheduler working in the Windows world. Fortunately, a 3000-like scheduler has been available for Windows since 2010, from MB Foster. MBF-Scheduler has gained advanced reporting tools, explicit and fine-grained filters, and the same robust functionality as the MPE/iX job handling tools.
The primary difference between development in an HP 3000 environment and a .NET environment is the HP 3000 is geared toward procedural design, while .NET is geared toward object oriented design. Procedural design establishes procedures or steps as a sequence of commands, acting on data structures. With object oriented design, developers model real-world situations and business scenarios as objects that perform actions, have properties, and trigger events.
Even nine years ago, when .NET was much less entrenched, Trapp said that ".NET provides efficient development, well-structured applications; a large number of interfacing techniques and interfaces; and a large quantity of existing, re-usable source code."
November 05, 2013
3000 transfers receive special HP treatment
Customers who are making a transfer of their HP 3000-MPE licenses get special treatment from HP when moving to the virtualized server product from Stromasys. Jeff Elmer of Dairylea Cooperative said he had to rely on Stromasys to help him find the right person -- and explain things -- during a recent license transfer.
"Unfortunately, the transfer experience was not as smooth as I would have hoped," Elmer said. "Ultimately, it's not a big deal to do the transfer, but you do need to find the right person to talk to. I filled out forms and exchanged e-mail with Erick. The best advice I would give anyone would be to ask Stromasys for help."
By the time a customer is ready to transfer a license to an emulator, of course, Stromasys will be a familiar contact. The company recently added HP 3000 consultant Doug Smith to its staff, bringing even more MPE familiarity to the operation. Paul Taffel, who's been blazing the 3000 trails since 2011 for Stromasys, sent us a note about the same exception to transfer rules we'd found in our October, 2012 story about software licensing.
About our story yesterday, Taffel said, "You missed one important thing, which we've put into our new User Guide. The last paragraph might be [most] important:
Emulator MPE/iX software transfer licenses are available from HP for (at the time of writing) $400. For more information, email the appropriate HP Software License Transfer department:
Specify that you wish to obtain an HP3000 Emulator Transfer License, and that your request is for an internal company transfer. HP has agreed to create an exception for HP3000 Emulator Transfer Licenses, as their license transfer process normally only applies to transfers between different companies.
Indeed, the $400 figure is current on the HP webpages we referenced yesterday. It's more crucial to get someone who knows about the 3000's special exception in the AMS Software License Transfer unit of the Hewlett-Packard Development Company. HPDC is the owner of Hewlett-Packard's intellectual property, which includes MPE/iX licenses.
The exception is that a customer gets to sign both the originating and receiving lines of the transfer document. Usually, those are two different signatures, for seller and then for buyer. As of this year, it takes some explaining to receive permission to do this. There's at least one person in HP Americas SLT, Erick, who's done this by now -- for Elmer. But you might not be able to ask for him by name.
"I'm hoping that Erick will spread the word about emulator transfers within HP," Elmer said.
November 04, 2013
HP 3000 software license transfer: still $400
Earlier this month, a famous manufacturer of aircraft had its HP 3000 director checking up on software license transfer processes. This SLT is not the one that a system manager cuts for rebuilding your MPE/iX directories, but the fee HP charges to move your MPE to another system. Well, the fee and the required documentation. In this case, licenses for an A-Class server and a Series 979 4-way are in the on-deck circle, wating to go to bat on the Stromasys virtual HP 3000, CHARON HPA/3000.
Just as the 3000's Transition Era was getting underway in earnest, this was being called an Emulator License. HP's Mike Paivinen and others at the vendor arranged for such a license, with a suggested cost of $500. In 2004, nobody knew what an emulator would look like once it emerged. Strobe Data sells an HP 1000 emulator that includes a hardware board plugged into a desktop server. Strobe couldn't move forward with a 3000 version of that product, and by 2012 CHARON was finally into the marketplace.
HP's process for putting MPE legally onto CHARON follows the same steps as if a customer purchased a newer or more powerful Hewlett-Packard brand of iron. There are five parts to a software right-to-use license transfer: the Request, the Proof, the Transfer Fee, the Software License Terms and the Authorization. Each of these five parts must be in place before HP will grant a right-to-use license, taking MPE/iX off HP's 3000 servers in a way that will satisfy any auditor.
HP's Jennie Hou told us last fall that emulator-based license transfers within a customer's site present no problem for the current process. We looked into the license transfer process when the personal 1-user freeware version of the Stromasys emulator was rolling out -- and the download included an instance of MPE/iX.Last year's information included the word immediate in our headline, but that's no report on the speed of any process inside HP (or at a customer site, for that matter; budget approvals can take time.) Hou was telling us last year that HP expected any freeware user to be making a transfer once they started to use that 1-person emulator to test CHARON.
Stop snickering. You know how much HP loves its MPE/iX licenses. Just because de-licensing a production 3000 seems hasty, when you're still checking out CHARON, doesn't mean you can't do it. Most emulator customers, however, are taking a more prudent route while replacing their older HP iron. Older is a relative term: the Series 979 hardware was built at least a decade ago, as was the A-Class machine. If an MPE/iX application is to have another five years or more of service, operating on something newer seems safer. It depends on how well that HP iron has been maintained, especially disk drives, power supplies, and CPU boards.
The phone number to HP's SLT operation in the Americas is 408-447-4418. (In Europe, it's +48 22 3060152.) If you haven't been to HP's webpage for SLT in the Americas, it's listed under an HP-UX name. To better understand the process, and get more detailed contact information and specifics for a transfer, visit hp.com/softwarereleases/releases-media2/slt/americas/sltprocesshpux.html
That's right -- the MPE/iX license transfer operations are holed up with HP's Unix system adminstrator information. That's a connection that might be appropriate several years from now, if an HP Integrity emulator is ever needed, or built for HP's Unix customers.
November 01, 2013
3000s a-Wake, become Saints, then Souls
I grew up a Catholic boy, right down to serving Mass at an altar. The start of November was holiday time for us, even through we might have to don our cassocks and surplices and sacrifice part of our days off. While our church was doing Mass in Latin, both Nov. 1 and 2 were days off from school. The first one was All Saints Day, the second All Souls.
This is the time of the year when the dead are celebrated in story. Last night, while I took our little granddaughters to Trick or Treat, there were plenty of zombie costumes around. Some MPE servers might as well be zombies, for all their attributes: they're tough to kill and survive on brains. And even cannibalize each other, as the older 3000s give up their parts for those still roaming the earth.
But despite the anniversary of the World Wide Wake yesterday, the 3000 has become more of a saint in some places, as well as a great soul in many others. A saint can't be annointed until he or she has passed away. Then they live in heaven and inspire us all, plus have a special gift. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. St. Joseph is the patron saint of workers, patronage that he shares with a computer that "just works," as so many of its fans say.
But when someone or something becomes a saint they fade from the mortal realm. They join a pantheon of holy entities. Some might call the 3000 a saint because of this. It's happening to Apple's Mac, too, or at least its operating system. If Mac OS can head toward sainthood, then another OS based on Unix is on its way, too. HP wrapped up its fiscal year yesterday. Apple released share numbers for its lines of business this week. Both periods showed that once-critical platforms are being dwarfed by newer business lines. The Mac is maintaining its sales numbers but has a smaller percentage than in Apple's sales mix. Every HP quarter, including the once that just ended, that's also true of the Integity Business Critical Systems unit. Oh, except for the maintaining the numbers part of that statement.
As a Mac manager, and an HP reporter, I'm here to note that if you're not finishing as a saint, then your fate is to become a soul. It's not so bad, especially if you get devotion and prayer cards for your protection.HP might not be protecting its Integrity business like it once did. The roar of Unix was once so loud at HP that its CEO gave the OS a Valentine's speech. Lew Platt was reaching out for business when he spoke at Uniforum in 1996. "Good morning, Unix lovers," he began. "I don't use that term because it's Valentine's Day, but because Unix is near and dear to my heart.
As well as to HP's bottom line, way back then. It's hard to imagine that Platt gave a talk eight years earlier with the title Maintaining Momentum: Can Unix Make It? HP was serious enough about that momentum that it spent much of the '90s feeding 3000 customers into its Unix ovens. Those were the days when Windows was little more than a Microsoft experiment, instead of today's dominant business platform.
Apple released that chart that showed the trend of its business growth over the last two years. You might want to dismiss a Mac as a consumer platform. But I think the only genuine consumer platform today are the $100 Android tablets sold as movie viewers and Pandora players. Companies are running their businesses on phones -- at a certain size of enterprise.
If HP were to make such a chart, one of its most recent bars would look like the one at the left. Notice that tiny slice of HP's revenues? Look hard, because it's been diminishing by about 10-20 percent per quarter. That's the business that drives a great OS, Unix. HP's giving in to Linux on that front, as slowly as Apple is creeping on Macs. There's a difference, though. A new release of the Mac OS, Mavericks, brings us Mac managers even closer to the white-hot business of Apple, mobile iOS.
Is HP pushing HP-UX toward its own next-generation products, the ones that make up the biggest and growing share of business? (Oops, sorry: HP's business isn't growing, except for a few pockets that remain to be identified. We'll hear about the pockets in a few weeks.) Enterprise servers won't become printers, and the growth at HP isn't in any environment, but the total HP experience. It's just that you can't get month-end reports done with an experience at the heart of the datacenter.
Mavericks will make Mac OS better in some ways, but the best attribute is that it brings our environment closer to the corporate love, the kind Platt expressed. HP's Unix hasn't experienced its Wake, but one Integrity facet will shine less bright before long: OpenVMS. For the DEC faithful it'll be a saint, and perhaps even inhabit a successor as a soul. The 3000's soul lives on in MPE when the OS runs on an emulated platform.
Is it All Souls Day tomorrow, the time we take to honor the departed? HP's business of unique environments is departing, one customer base at a time. Take a moment to appreciate the HP 3000 computer's afterlife. It is providing the holy card to clutch and read in the future, when the living environments pass through their wake, to be saints, or maybe only souls.