While customers were happy about HP's 3000 support extension to December, 2008, there are limits to the longer path that HP Services will walk alongside your systems. HP's announcement noted
The [support] offers... are subject to limitations and exclusions based on hardware and software configurations, geographic location, customer transition timelines, and other considerations. Pricing variances may apply.
When we checked with HP e3000 Business Manager Dave Wilde and HP Services on those limits and exclusions, it sounded like most, but not every 3000 site, could continue HP's support for two extra years. "Most customers will have access on a worldwide basis for basic reactive support for very substantial parts of their configurations," Wilde said in HP's interview with us. "Over time, some of those limitations could change over time and on a regional basis — but the intent is that customers will be able to renew that basic reactive support."
He was candid about what to expect from HP in support. "The 2007-2008 timeframe is going to be less than what they had before," he said.
We also tried to focus in our interview on the need to migrate toward HP to get additional HP support. This time around HP is not insisting, at least for the basic reactive support. Mission-critical levels of support — which HP has not extended on a "most customers" basis — will require talks with HP to establish such support beyond December, 2006. But staying with HP's solutions is not necessarily a mandate.
"The intent is not to insist on a migration plan to an HP platform," Wilde said. "We look to see if a customer has a migration plan so we can see if they need [3000 support] to go on forever. We want to encourage customers to move forward, and over time we don't believe we'll be able to sustain these [support offerings.] But we want to get a clear message out there that we value all customers, and we want to retain their business."
It sounded likely to be easier to arrange a mission-critical support level extension if a customer has plans to stay with HP. "There are cases where if they're moving with HP and investing in new HP solutions, structuring things from an overall package, it gives us more degrees of freedom to work with them," Wilde said.
So HP appears ready to offer a support contract to a company making a transition to other platforms, such as Sun, IBM and other vendors. Revenue, after all, is revenue. "We view any customer that has an HP support contract as an HP customer, even if they're moving to another platform," Wilde said.
As for the homesteading customers who have decided not to leave the 3000 platform, mission-critical support is available from third parties with only one limitation. Third parties can't create patches to MPE/iX to resolve problems. That capability won't be available until HP licenses 'major portions" of MPE/iX in 2009 or later, if anyone is left to perform that kind of patching. HP put associated that caveat with its source code promise, saying " if partner interest exists at that time." What time is that, really? It's tied to HP's 3000 support revenues, "when HP no longer offers services that address the basic support needs of remaining e3000 customers."