Over the next few weeks OpenMPE will search for a few new volunteers to man its board of directors. Donna Garverick of the board posted a notice on the 3000 newsgroup and OpenMPE mailing list yesterday, soliciting fresh blood for the organization.
Some board members who've served for two years are frustrated with HP's engagement with the group. OpenMPE got scant advance notice of HP's support extension plans, according to one director. The drive to get a source code license agreement got stalled by two extra years when HP pushed back its exit date to the end of 2008.
This year's election will take place over starting next Monday and running into March, just as in prior years. The three weeks of voting ends March 3. Five of the board's nine seats are up for re-election, with just one likely to be vacated. OpenMPE members are the only customers who can vote for directors. Last year's vote gathered fewer than 60 ballots. Some directors say that's an indication of how far OpenMPE needs to go to get the community's attention. Membership in OpenMPE, after all, is free.
Working on an all-volunteer staff plan, with virtually no operating budget, OpenMPE has done an admirable job of making HP speak up on its plans for a customer base that had an incomplete migration path from the vendor in 2001. But HP's responses to OpenMPE haven't included much in the way of guarantees. Even the recent promise of a third-party MPE/iX license, extracted after two years of insisting from OpenMPE, is conditional: if there's anybody interested in such a license, and if HP hasn't wrapped up its 3000 support, a license of some parts of MPE/iX will be available.
Like much of the 3000 installed base, OpenMPE hasn't been able to find much leverage with HP in its negotiations. Directors have despaired of that ever changing. John Burke, an open critic of the non-disclosure arrangement HP demanded, has served on the board for two years under such an NDA and won't continue with a second term.
OpenMPE's future might not be bright at the moment — but the volunteers who meet on a conference call each week remain determined to make a difference in HP's endgame for the 3000. Luring new energy to an effort strung along on a four-year path, with at least three more years to go, won't be easy. But the entire mission of making a future for the 3000 after 2006 seemed hopeless, too. Heck, now there's two more years in HP's 3000 effort. The unexpected might have to play a part in making OpenMPE's 2006 significant. If you have interest in playing a role by volunteering for the board, contact Garverick at [email protected].