August 19, 2016
Vendor makes its installs a key to emulation
Customers have not been crazy about paying for services along with their software. You can make a case for doing things differently when the expert arrives to put something mission-critical into your datacenter, though. Hardware integration included installing services for a long time, until the commodity era arrived. Software then slid into self-install territory with the advent of PC apps, and then open source.
Thing is, the 3000 community managers learned lessons from an era when they were sometimes as experienced as anyone the vendor could assign to their installs. By the end of the 1980s, though, the vendors often had sharper software engineers than most customers. But the MPE vendors didn't have big staffs for outreach with installs. Here's a tape, stream it like this. Call us if there's a problem. DIY system management was the first option.
Now, if you got a great third party support company, they'd help you with anything. Few software companies wanted to be in that business, though. Adager's Rene Woc would say they got called for every problem someone ever had with an IMAGE database. Sometimes the calls didn't even come from customers. After the call, there was sometimes a sale, though.
Finally, there was freeware. For the price, there was no reason to believe anyone would help install this at your site. Emails and websites gave advice. This was the moment when Charon HPA stepped in. People needed to see the new product working to believe in its magic. For a couple of years anyone could download the software on a single-user license and mount it themselves. The results depended on how adept your administrative skills were. Everybody likes to think of themselves as well-seasoned. It's sometimes less than true.
Charon HPA is a mission-critical part of enterprise computing. Although it doesn't emulate anything in MPE/iX, this is software that transforms an Intel processor into a PA-RISC engine. MPE users have lots of variations in their PA-RISC configurations. That's what happens after 40 years of commercial computing success.
So freeware Charon downloads ended a few years ago. Then over the last year-plus the DIY option has been ended too. "We do it ourselves to be sure it's done right," said one official at Stromasys. There was the freeware era, then the DIY era with customers installing themselves. Now it's the vendor-install era. The proof of this concept comes from a statement by the HPA expert for 3000 sites. Doug Smith says, "All of our installs are successful now."People who did the DIY route for HPA, and some who made a stab at plugging in freeware, have generated a few considerations while installing. These are mostly anecdotal reports from that DIY era. When you quiz them about issues, you hear things like IP address configurations and printer workarounds. There are some embarrassingly old printers out there attached to 3000s. We've even heard reports of DTC-attached print devices. Really, that's the kind of thing that's best replaced. It's not like the newer generation of printers is expensive, after all.
The undeniable consideration is the third-party software re-licensing for Charon HPA. Most of the push-back we hear about from HPA prospects revolves around costs versus the number of years needed to emulate. Migrating customers do a shorter-span cost analysis. We haven't heard of a single software vendor who's unwilling to re-license, though. Yes, every app and tool vendor gets to pick their price for this re-licensing. You charge what you believe you can get.
In one spot, new-ish 3000 systems are shipped out from a hardware support company to replace failing 3000s. It's the kind of thing that can forestall an HPA prospect. Interesting, because none of that replacement HP hardware is getting newer. Just different. Battery life alone on HP gear might give you some pause. Putting a fan in front of the 3000's backplane to lower the temperature to operating level? More common than you'd think.
Help on Charon HPA comes from Stromasys. Some 3000 sites are accustomed to asking their regular support and service providers to assist. But the buck stops at the Stromasys desk. Everybody wants it that way, even the customers. A vendor takes the lead responsibility in exchange for being a key to a stable, essential datacenter running 3000s.
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