March 24, 2017
A Few Stops on the 3000 Maintenance Line
After inviting our readership to share their HP hardware service providers, we're got some early entries to share. The list of 3000 support teams is not the same as the companies who continue to service hardware. Much of the time these are different companies. While a manager can find some help on MPE/iX administration from a hardware outlet, this account-level support is more thorough and fine-tuned coming from a company like Pivital Solutions, or from The Support Group for MANMAN and ERP-focused engineering.
Even HP recognized this when the company was the primary support vendor for 3000 sites. A Customer Engineer was the equivalent of that hardware guru, working in the days before what Hewlett-Packard called Phone In Consulting Service. Close to 30 years later, onsite hardware maintenance is still the linchpin of keeping HP's aging hardware alive. Customers don't perform much of this while working with a vendor. "There's a liability issue when you have the customer do the component replacements," said one rep who's been working 3000 accounts for several decades.
A Software Engineeer was something very different than an HP CE. Not only did they know IMAGE at a depth that could outpace a CE, they often knew a customer's applications. Not just the HP-branded apps, either. In time, the top-tier utility vendors offered a kind of SE service. Adager was well-known for saving a site from calamity that wasn't yet a customer.
Without further preface, here's a few notes on some hardware resources who've volunteered information or been verified by their customers.
Saratoga Computers: "We are a group of ex-HP CE's," says Jim Maher. "All of us are experts servicing HP3000, 9000 and yes even 1000's. our average experience working on HP equipment is over 30 years." Hardware support providers usually branch out to other systems, such as Dell and HP's ProLiant systems. even Cisco switches, workstations and printers. Maher says that's the case at Saratoga.
Blueline Services: Bill Towe founded this provider that backs up the internal needs at The Support Group, among many other 3000 customers. In some cases the best way to bring up a downed 3000 is to ship a replacement system; that's what happened once, according to the Support Group's Terry Floyd. Component-level service is available as well.In Europe, ScreenJet's Alan Yeo recommends Newcorp. Yeo's software tool and consultancy practice also has worked with Nike Computing and Prestige Datacentre Solutions.
Allegro's Steve Cooper said he's got a select group of companies for his MPE/iX customers using HP's 3000 hardware.
Our top-tier partners, that I can recommend without reservations are:
Ideal Computer Services (serving Northern California, Southern California, Maryland); Black River Computers (working in Ohio) and Abtech (based in San Diego)
We also do work with a number of other hardware maintenance companies, and even act as an escalation center for some hardware/software maintenance companies. But for one reason or another, those companies have not made it to the above list. Most of our customers still come through a third-party hardware company, but many contract with us directly. Some of those are self-maintainers, some rely on their applications vendor for hardware support, and some are just rolling the dice. We try to be flexible, meeting our customers' needs. As a result, we see a bit of everything.
Pivital's practices utilize third party hardware-centric companies. But CEO Steve Suraci says his company uses its own technicians, too. The company's in an elite position, since it's got a license for the MPE/iX source code, one of just a handful of firms with such technical access.
We continue to support both MPE and the underlying HP 3000 hardware as one of the select few remaining support companies with access to HP's original source code. We maintain 7x24x365 phone support for those requiring that SLA. In New England, we support our own hardware agreements with our own local technicians. Outside of New England, we support our customers through a network of contracted technicians that have agreed in writing with us to support our customers SLA. In many cases, we will maintain parts on site to help facilitate quicker times to recovery.
One other way to resolve hardware issues can bypass the HP components completely. That's the strategy that works for the MPE/iX sites using the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualized 3000s. No HP hardware is required to keep MPE/iX apps and services available, because the entire configuration is powered by Intel-based servers (ProLiants are popular, but Dells reign, too) and non-HP peripherals.
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