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Platforms: The easier part of migration

Migration and Chinese history

Even though HP's 3000 decision is more than four years old, frustration with the transition struggle still lives among the user base. The veteran IT staffers understand that change will be part of a lively career. Some don't savor living in such interesting times.

One recently-prolific customer, Dave Powell, spoke out on the 3000 newsgroup about how migration seems to compare to a bit of Chinese history.

The Chinese sage Mencius, 4th century BC, was asked by Prince Wen of Kung what to do about pressure from larger neighbors. Mencius replied with a tale of King Tai of Pin, who in ancient times (which is saying a lot, coming from him) had been under pressure from barbarians.

He tried to appease them with tributes of furs and silk, to no avail. Likewise tributes of dogs and horses. Ditto pearls and jade. Finally he told the elders that for their own good he had to migrate to another land. Most of his people followed, but there were others who said it was their ancient homeland, built up over generations, not something for one person to throw away, and they would rather die than abandon it. Mencius told Prince Wen to make his choice.

So, based partly on my own ancient recollections of a college course in Classical Chinese, and partly on the original source in a textbook that I find mysteriously harder to read than 35 years ago, I offer the following modernized, “relevant” translation.

The IT manager of the Unix shop asked the Consultant saying, “I am under pressure from the advocates of commodity computing. How can I deal with them?” The Consultant answered saying “In ancient times, at least in computer years, the Management of Cupertino was under pressure from the forces of industry-standard computing. They implemented Posix and could not stem the tide.  They ported Apache and Samba and their ecosystem continued to erode.They protected price-points and investments but market share did not increase. Finally they told their oldest customers that for their own good they must migrate to HP-(S)UX.  Most migrated, but there were also those who said it was their System, built over many years, not something for one person to convert, and they would rather suffer resume death than abandon it. Pay me to make the choice for you.”