Deep Enough to Hold a Mansion
Planning a Path for Patches

Watch for migration's undertow

A lot of people think that a platform's popularity determines its longevity. That might be true in a global sense, but on the local scene, you decide if something is finished at your shop by testing the waters — the underwaters of software. Application and utility flexibility and availability: That's what marks the countdown clock for many users.

PowerHouse is a good example of a product line with layers of undertow, the current below the surface that pulls down unaware swimmers. Lately, the PowerHouse users on the PowerHouse-L mailing list have asked for support to make the language friendlier to the code editors everybody loves. Those are the ones that color-code syntax. Cognos got to work on the request and provided a start on the syntax request. But it included a warning that suggests support for PowerHouse is being reined in, bit by bit. The undertow can be hard to feel at the very first. PowerHouse has versions which don't have what the vendor calls "development support." Read the product manager's reply to see if you feel that tug of the undertow.

That Cognos manager, Bob Deskin, does a lot for the customers reading the PowerHouse list. He's got to stick with the Cognos program for support policy, however:

There is a difference between Customer Support and development support for a particular version or platform. If a customer has a support contract, they can ask about any version. However, once a version is matured or superceded, we don’t provide development support, i.e. bug fixes. Depending on how old the version is, we may not be able to test for bugs. For example, if someone calls up with a 7.10 issue, we’ve still got it installed, so we can try and reproduce a problem. However, 7.10 has been superceded so any fixes would go into the current version. On the other hand, if someone asks about 5.01 (on MPE V and it’s happened), that’s too old to have running. We will try and reproduce the problem on the current version. So if a supported customer calls up regarding 8.13, we can answer questions but since 8.13 has been superceded by 8.43 and now 8.43D1, there is no development support for 8.13.

Using older versions of software is one way that HP 3000 customers ensure stability, odd as that may seem. Better the bug you know than the one you don't, apparently. A strategy that relies on support for older versions — development support, if you will — is going to need a stronger stroke to avoid the undertow. Next thing you know, you might decide that an unsupported feature like syntax coding is reason enough to toss the whole tool overboard, and abandon ship for the migration boat.