HP released news today that changes its timeline for ending its HP 3000 business. Now, 2006 means at least 2008, and perhaps beyond.
In a surprise move, Hewlett-Packard has extended its support for the HP 3000 beyond the end of 2006, offering customers what it calls "basic reactive support services" for MPE/iX through "at least" the end of 2008.
HP issued a media fact sheet and sent a customer letter to its installed base to announce what amounts to an extension of the vendor's 3000 business for an additional two years. The announcement, released on Dec. 20, also included a statement that HP intends to offer a license of MPE's source code "to one or more third parties." HP will offer that license only once the vendor stops offering "services that address the basic support needs of remaining e3000 customers."
But the adjustment of the 3000 business roadmap emerged as the unexpected element in a long-awaited announcement. HP began its announcement with a statement that a majority of customers and partners in the 3000 community have either completed migrations, or are actively working on those projects. HP's extension of its 3000 business came with multiple caveats, a warning that support prices from HP for the 3000 would rise — and another chorus of "transition to a new HP platform as soon as possible."
The realm of possibility for its 3000 customers may have prompted the HP extension of its MPE business. HP wants to give the customers making a transition to newer HP solutions "a little extra time and safety margin." Many customers have found it impossible to meet the previous December, 2006 migration deadline.
"HP recognizes that some companies may need to run their e3000s after HP’s current end-of-support date due to business constraints, transition timelines, or to retain access to data for archive or regulatory reasons," the fact sheet stated.
HP Platinum migration partner Speedware reported that the support extension is a deal that's been offered to HP 3000 sites "for a little while" — provided that the customers sign a non-disclosure agreement about the extension.
Speedware's marketing director Chris Koppe said the HP support extension doesn't change much for his company's migration services and tools business.
The later deadline has been in place for any customer who asked for it in support of a migration project. Koppe described the offer as one that "has been made available on an exception basis to specific accounts where their migration would take them more time than was available.”
"We were telling customers who were deep in the sales cycle and willing to sign NDAs for quite some time now," Koppe said. "I'm not sure of the number of customers that HP already has signed up, but it's a lot more than I thought."
MB Foster, another North American Platinum migration partner, said the offer of extra support was "one of the worst-kept secrets in the marketplace," according to founder Birket Foster. The extension of HP support doesn't change the business model at Speedware, or MB Foster, according to their officials. But offering basic level reactive support won't meet some customers' needs, Foster added.
While some customers will welcome the potential for more time to migrate, Foster said the HP announcement is introducing some confusion among others. "We had a customer who looked at this and said it would not be enough to make them supportable — but their senior management felt they could take the extra time," Foster said.