This is the time of year when editors try to sum up the 12 months that have passed. In many cases, the publishers of IT news sources have little news to digest at the end of December. That certainly hasn't been the case for HP 3000 customers or this newsletter and blog. We got what appears, to some, to be a game-changing announcement last week: HP support for the 3000 now runs at least to the end of 2008.
However there's some debate over the details that might lead you to see a different future than "Wow, now we can use our 3000 longer than we thought!" (You can, by the way, provided that you can get along with basic, reactive support from HP).
Among those debated details are the ones omitted from HP's Dec. 20 report, according to OpenMPE chairman Birket Foster, who also happens to lead an HP e3000 Platinum Migration Partner (MB Foster). He shared his thoughts about source code licensing timelines — or the lack of them — in a message to us.
"The lead time and technical resources required to make the turnover of the code were not addressed in this series of [HP] memos," Foster pointed out. HP's only comment about source code turnover to a third party came during the OpenMPE meeting in August. Mike Paivinen said that HP believes turnover of the source — said to be in millions of lines long — to a third party will take less than a year.
It's important to note that HP's source code plans, as defined in its Dec. 20 communications, do not provide for all of the MPE/iX source to be licensed. From the FAQ:
In the future, when HP no longer provides MPE/iX support, HP intends to license major portions of MPE/iX source code to qualified providers for the purpose of helping them support their customers. Providers may be able to use MPE/iX source code to investigate solutions, develop work-arounds, and create binary patches to solve customer problems. Licensing terms will be determined at that time.
Foster noted "there are no thoughts or comments on what 'qualified provider' will mean." But we expect to know more next year about what kind of company HP wants to do business with in the 3000 support space. The vendor has said that third parties will play a role, at some point, in the delivery of HP 3000 support with the HP brand on it. (Go ahead, look it up in our 2004 report from the final HP World. Bob Floyd, VP of Americas Support delivery, made the comment. Floyd retired this fall, however, taking the Enhanced Early Retirement offer from HP. But we digress.)
Finally, Foster points out the source code release gives "no definitive timeframe, which makes it hard for anyone to build business plans around! But that may have been the purpose."
It's easy to see that the future of OpenMPE has to move toward becoming a user group in 2006; the project to create a virtual MPE/iX lab has been set off by two extra years. At least. We'll be here and in print to keep up with the details, debated or not.
We'll see you back here on Tuesday, Jan. 3, following the New Year's holiday. Our very best wishes for your 2006 — a year that doesn't mark the end of anything, as far as we can see.