Caring for orphans of the 3000
Conceal or encrypt: MPE can comply, with help

The word is out on conversion's value

Converting an HP 3000 to an HP 9000 holds little value for the migrating customer. That's the consensus of a group of users who responded over the 3000 newsgroup to a query about the value in making an MPE/iX system capable of booting up HP-UX. HP simply re-programs a personality chip in your 3000 to make the conversion. It's much harder to make the numbers add up to significant value in the process.

Even the biggest of HP 3000s, the N-Class servers, are plodding, aging models in the HP 9000/HP-UX world. HP has given in and stopped advising customers to repurpose their 3000 hardware; instead, the vendor will apply a trade-in value for your HP 3000 to a purchase of an HP-UX system. How far off the pace are the 3000-grade systems when turned into HP-UX servers. Chuck Ciesinski, an HP-UX System Architect at ACS Educational Solutions and an OpenMPE board member, pointed out that even some Superdomes are considered obsolete by HP: 

On the servers page, take a look at the ‘Discontinued Servers’ link.  HP 3000s and HP 9000s are broken down by various classes.  All the A’s, L’s, K’s, and N’s are already discontinued.  In fact several of the HP ‘Superdomes’ are already on the discontinued list.

Ciesinski went on to add that one application divided over two Unix servers (for active/passive failover) is more the norm than what HP 3000 customers know: a single server hosting lots of apps.

Duane Percox of K-12 app vendor QSS, making a transition to HP-X and Linux, said that "The equivalent HP-UX systems are probably not currently supported or will soon be in that category." Percox added

HP is giving you credit for your MPE system toward the purchase of an HP system on a part-equivalence basis. This is to get around the ‘not supported issue.’ Also you get steep discounts on software. However, you have to consider the value of your MPE system vs the cost to acquire a new HP-UX system. Best to run the numbers and then decide.

It's hard to get a firm figure on what a 9x9 or even an N-Class HP 3000 is worth these days. HP has its numbers, a deal that ties a customer into HP hardware to replace the system. A transaction with a third-party reseller will at least net your company cash to use in a migration project, wherever the need is greatest. (We note that Pivital and Genisys support this newsletter and blog, so you should check with them first.)

When a customer posted a note to the 3000 newsgroup saying that his company probably wouldn't take HP up on its "conversion" offer, OpenMPE board member Donna Garverick replied, "I sure hope you don’t. It might be known as a career-threatening decision."

Garverick, who manages systems for Long's Drug — a 3000 customer which has taken many of its MPE operations onto Unix systems, explained how different a Unix customer thinks of their investment:

Way back when... when A- and N-Class systems were new-ish and (some) folks had the blissful idea that moving from MPE to HP-UX was a piece o’cake, HP’s offer almost sorta kinda made sense. But....

- In Unix-land, those boxes are (more-or-less) obsolete.
- That big honkin’ MPE N-class?  It’s a low-end, wheezy, sputtering unix system.
- There’s a radically different mind-set in many Unix shops regarding servers.  They’re commodity items.  You get ‘ burn through their horsepower... and you replace them a few years down the road for something even bigger yet.  Very different from MPE shops, where we tend to regard our servers as investments.  We’ll take 7-10 years to write the asset off.
- Don’t even think of “server consolidation.”  Single server/single app is very much the reality in Unix-land.

To maximize the value of a 3000 that's being moved out, a sale in the open market looks like the best value — especially if that 3000 is of the latest (A/N) generation.