Encompass, the surviving user group that wants a relationship with you HP 3000 customers, extended its free membership offer recently. This was an offer first floated in the fall, around the HP Technology Forum, one supposed to expire Dec. 31. Not unlike HP's extension of its 3000 support, Encompass is holding the door open to its user group for an extra period — in this case, three months.
The free offer that expires March 31 applies to members of Interex. We're not sure if that's folks who were current members, left holding the bag when Interex suddenly shut down last summer, or if its anybody who had a recent membership. In any case, the application form to join Encompass for free for a year starts off with a field for your Interex membership ID. It is, however, not a required field. (We had trouble getting the compete form to load up in Firefox 1.5 and the Mac's Safari browser. Microsoft's Internet Exploder loaded it up pronto, though — if you want to check out your virus defenses at the same time you fill out the form.)
Encompass wants 3000 members, but it's still unclear what the user group will be able to do for the customer who is not planning to migrate. President Kristi Browder said that migration from the 3000 is an eventuality for the 3000 customer base, in her opinion. When we interviewed her at that Tech Forum, she also said, with a great deal of tact, that Encompass can help the 3000 customer who is a realist about the future of their system.
In our interview with Browder, we posed the homesteading question: Is Encompass comfortable with having legacy-using members among its membership?
"Yes," she said. "But it’s part of our charter to move people, too. As you saw in the OpenVMS SIG, there was a lot of passion in that room. One of our jobs as a partner to HP is to keep them as an HP customer but assist them in migration. Sometimes when you’re doing a migration you run a mixed shop, and it takes awhile.
"That’s one of the things we learned from the DEC days. We did multiple migrations: VAX to Alpha, Alpha to Itanium. We’re pretty good at migrations."
On the subject of migrations, Encompass is becoming more Unix-driven in its first decade of service (the group formed up in 2000 after Compaq had acquired Digital. Scratch an Encompass leader and you're likely to find a former member of DECUS, although that too is changing.) Many of its customers still use OpenVMS in mission-critical operations, however, an operating system now fighting to keep its place in HP's strategic picture. If nothing else, Encompass members will know how the HP 3000 advocate feels about keeping HP's attention.
Migration customers of the 3000 would be well-served to take Encompass up on its free membership offer; it's hard to beat the price. That is, if you're a former Interex member. If not, well, the user group experience still has something to offer here in the 21st Century, even in a world where the Web connects us all so much better.