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May 2006

HP hasn't been open to personality changes

In the first day after we reported on Advant's program to offer third party services for creating HP 3000s from "generic" PA-RISC systems, HP has not responded to the news. But the vendor might feel that it doesn't need to answer. Its policies on third party alteration of systems are already on record — on a Web page which Advant's Steve Pirie has already pointed out.

The business landscape has changed since HP laid out its policies on PA-RISC server alterations. HP no longer sells its HP 3000 line, so the damages it might sue for, to prevent third parties from changing HPCPUNAME, may be harder to tote up. The method to alter the stable storage in the servers has changed, too; an SS_CONFIG program — long requested by the OpenMPE advocates for the transition to third party support —  is no longer HP's key to transforming a server from one model to another. Advant will do such work for a fee for other third party suppliers, as well as its own support customers, by using SSEDIT, a program that it developed "with no knowledge whatsoever" of HP's technology.

"SSEDIT's been around since 1995," Pirie said, "and HP has had a good look at it. Listen, why don't they go after the people who do MPEX? Anybody that writes their own program and runs it on an HP system — what does HP have to say about it?"

What HP has said is that third party resellers aren't allowed to reset model strings on HP 3000s. HP enforces this with a statement that its support engineers will not repair problems with 3000s that fail to because of errors induced by third-party changes.

Continue reading "HP hasn't been open to personality changes" »

Can a 3000 server become generic?

A company operated by HP 3000 support and sales corporation Advant wants to help customers create late-model HP 3000s with maximum CPU speeds, telling customers to bring their own licenses of MPE to systems being sold as "GREBs," a Generic REplacement Box for an HP 3000 or 9000.

Advant's Steve Pirie said the company has started to enable these generic systems — Advant doesn't sell the hardware — by employing SSEDIT, software which Advant has been using to modify HP server model strings for support procedures. Advant does not sell SSEDIT, which it describes at the Web site It says SSEDIT is a recovery solution, meaning that it was introduced as a means to rescue inoperative HP PA-RISC servers including 3000s.

A GREB would not exist without SSEDIT to give the server its critical personality information: the details of how fast a given 3000 processor will run. "That's how it gets done," Pirie said. "There's no secret to how a GREB gets born. You go to eBay, you buy what you want, and then you GREB it. GREBing it is running SSEDIT, putting in the correct information that you need."

The 3000 community has long speculated that a third-party answer would emerge to counter HP's N-Class crippling. Advant, through GREBs and its use of SSEDIT, appears to be the first such reply.

Continue reading "Can a 3000 server become generic?" »

Charting the change in weather for shows

Hurricaneseason2006conditions1 Chris Koppe, marketing director of HP Platinum Migration partner Speedware Ltd., has been working to get in touch with the Greater Houston RUG conference organizer Denys Beauchemin via e-mail. Speedware wants to help sponsor the GHRUG conference. We directed Koppe — who now now serves on the Encompass user group board, after serving on the Interex board — toward our March 20 report about the GHRUG conference dates and location, because Koppe wasn't sure if conference was set, or when it would be.

Koppe said he also wants to reach out with Encompass to the GHRUG. And yes, Speedware would like to present some papers at the conference being billed as "the only HP 3000-focused conference" of 2006.

As the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season kicks off this week, it's assuring to know that November's GHRUG dates are beyond the sternest part of hurricane season in the Gulf, although there are always exceptions. Weather doesn't follow a schedule, especially with the Gulf waters remaining warm longer in recent years.

But last year's hurricanes had an impact on the conference schedules around the Gulf. This year, both Encompass and GHRUG are having their shows in Houston. What's more, HP is moving about one-third of the corporation's datacenter operations into Houston. Is HP moving its facilities into harm's way? Hurricane Rita came close to Houston just three weeks after Katrina leveled the levees in New Orleans.

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Matt Perdue: Making things work for a long time to come

Mattperdue OpenMPE Board member Matt Purdue is the subject of our May Q&A interview. He pursued the Series 987 system which had a starting bid of $7 and won the system at auction. He's also put a lot of time and energy into helping HP 3000 sites homestead, or prepare for their transition.

Yesterday we ran the first part of our Q&A with Purdue. Today we continue with his reports on migration pace, optimal platform, and how long an HP 3000 could be expected to do useful service.

How fast do you see your clients and contacts doing their migrations?

     At a very cautious pace. One has to remember that these application systems are used to run the entire business (at least the ones I work on) and not just a portion of the business. PCs are used, but the core business data resides on the 3000. Therefore they are very cautious in changing the system that supports their very existence.

Of all of the platforms and OSes you’ve seen, which one looks like a good fit for the 3000 customer who’s got to migrate?

   Linux. Running on anything.

Continue reading "Matt Perdue: Making things work for a long time to come" »

Q&A: Matt Perdue, OpenMPE Board Member

Matt Perdue says he specializes in finding a way to make things work. A sparkplug on the OpenMPE board of directors, Perdue manages his Hill Country.Net ISP business from San Antonio, using the $7-a-month ISP as a platform for his IT consulting with HP 3000 customers both homesteading and migrating. Last month he had enough moxie to win at auction a Series 987 for less than $300, a disaster recovery system — sold new at more than $100,000 — which Perdue has put in as an upgrade at a homesteading customer’s site.

He embraced computers early in life. Perdue started working with them in high school in Maryland, learning everything he could on what the district used. After serving as a student on a school district advisory committee for educational technology, he contacted Hewlett-Packard to say “can my group come and learn on what you’ve got?” The HP of that era opened up everything it had available in its Rockville office for experimentation — including Perdue’s first HP 3000.

He began his IT career doing consulting work for HP customers recommended by HP, “since at the time HP didn’t have any internal resources for such work.” Working in an time when a customer would use a “CRT” — cathode ray tube, for readers who’ve only known “monitors” — he built a CRT interface for a client to an HP9830 workstation “so they wouldn’t waste paper.” His development missions have included applications such as accounting systems, mailing list processing, professional time and expense billing, court docket tracking, and residential design and construction management.

Perdue has served as comptroller of a company, CEO of two construction firms and a residential design firm. But his most significant post to the 3000 community might be his director’s position on the Board of OpenMPE, serving the community in discussions with HP about the future of MPE. After one very interesting year on that board, he ran for another term this spring.

With Perdue’s background in development, consulting, and supporting migration-bound 3000 packaged systems including MANMAN and Amisys, we wanted to ask him about the years to come in a homestead-migrate business, as well as how the 3000’s future looks post-HP. We interviewed him via e-mail in early May, just after HP asked again for beta-testers for its MPE/iX enhancement patches.

How have you changed your business model since HP stopped making and selling the HP 3000?

    The 11-14-01 announcement definitely put a crimp in plans. Prior to the announcement I had five-year plans to release or re-release three software packages and make major marketing efforts in conjunction with HP’s software developer program. After the announcement, needless to say, that changed. Instead of updating the packages native to the 3000, a review had to be done to determine the cost and market return for those packages.

   I can certainly tell you it was not a welcome announcement. As a result, two of those packages have been mothballed and may never resurface again. Our business has changed from producing or re-releasing three packages to one, supporting clients either eventually migrating or homesteading, and continuing to assist clients with business operational support. I’ve also acquired more 3000 hardware than I would have otherwise, both for my consulting group and my clients.

What is the mix of 3000 versus other kinds of work you’ve been doing?

    The 3000/MPE is still the bulk of my time, probably 80-85 percent. The rest is business support functions, project management, working with Linux, investigating Itanium and helping clients solve whatever they need solved.

Continue reading "Q&A: Matt Perdue, OpenMPE Board Member" »

Fewer changes mean fewer glitches

At SMB HP 3000 customer Aerocraft Heat Treating, a combination of new-platform tools that work like 3000 stalwarts IMAGE, COBOL II and VPlus made a one-year migration possible. With few changes needed for applications, there were fewer glitches

    The promise of using the ScreenJet-AcuCOBOL combination lies in its ability to bypass change. Both solutions have been engineered to understand nearly all of the 3000’s nuances in screen handling and intrinsics.

    Bob Karlin, a consultant and developer from the 3000 community who contracted on the migration, said that when Aerocraft added Eloquence to the mix, the company eliminated much of the tedium of rewriting for a new environment. Not every need was met by the mixture, but most were, and the rest got workarounds.

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A small-medium 3000 shop migrates quickly

A high-temperature company has weathered the cold news of HP’s 3000 exit without relying on full-time IT staff — just two outsourced experts. To make a transition from its HP 3000 systems, Aerocraft Heat Treating, a small-to-medium sized business (SMB), used a toolset from ScreenJet, a database from Eloquence, and a development environment from AcuCOBOL. Together with 25 years of outsourced 3000 experience, the combination got Aerocraft migrated in less than a year.

While the hardware aspects of the migration — as well as the conversion of 40 reports from Cognos to Crystal Reports — were handled by Data Pacifica’s Jay Jakowsky, Bob Karlin of Karlins' Korner waded in to transition software of a 16-user operation from an A-Class HP 3000 to a pair of Dell servers running Windows.

The migration eliminated Hewlett-Packard from Aerocraft’s shop. HP is no longer serving computer needs at the company, founded in 1959, which uses 18 gas-fired atmosphere furnaces to treat steel, titanium and high temperature materials. Its clients are aerospace firms like Boeing and manufacturers such as General Electric.

The novelty of this migration? It's one of the first SMB businesses reporting on their own HP 3000 applications that they had migrated — rather than an SMB using a packaged app, and so having their vendor migrate them. Aerocraft is a small manufacturing company, typical of many of the HP 3000 shops

This story provides one answer to the question, "How is it possible to have your own applications migrated if you're an SMB?"

Continue reading "A small-medium 3000 shop migrates quickly" »

HP's changes double profits in quarter

Hewlett-Packard followed CEO Mark Hurd's leadership to another positive quarter this spring, as HP posted a 51 percent increase in profits for the second quarter ending April 30. Hurd's been given much of the credit for the company's turnabout in business performance, a shift toward focused enterprises and away from being everything to all customers.

Toward that goal of focus, HP announced it will consolidate its 85 datacenters into three cities in the US: Austin, Texas, Houston and Atlanta. Each city will host two datacenters. HP says the consolidation will allow it to reduce IT spending by about $1 billion. HP plans to use the datacenters to also showcase products and services. The plan includes a strategy by new CIO Randy Mott, hired away from Wal-Mart, to consolidate 784 HP databases into one data warehouse.

HP chose the locations based on availability and affordability of space, power and network bandwidth as well as a low probability of natural disasters. However, Houston evacuated more than 1 million people as recently as last September in the run-up to Hurricane Rita.

HP's press release reports each location will host two separate physical sites with more than 50,000 square feet of floor space within 15 miles of each other. HP 3000s continue to work on mission-critical applications in HP's data operations. The 2005-2006 cost-cutting at HP has been a Hurd trademark, delivering on the promises of improved business from Carly Fiorina-led merger with Compaq. HP's stock has gained 50 percent in share price since last year.

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The Winner of the Series 987 Bargain

As we reported on several days during April, a Series 987 HP 3000 — a $100,000 system when new in the early '90s — got auctioned off last month with a starting bid of $5. The winner of the auction paid more than 40 times that, including tax. But the bottom line for Matt Perdue, OpenMPE board member and HP 3000 consultant and developer, was $255.74 plus the cost to pick it up. 

Purdue is based in San Antonio, and the server was in an auction warehouse in Houston, so the shipping wasn't outrageous for the 110-pound server.

In our May printed issue (hitting the streets next week; e-mail me if you want to get onto our postal mailing list and get a free copy) we interviewed Purdue, prompted by his pursuit of that deal that's a steal. What will he do with a system that can nothing more recent than MPE/iX 6.5, a box that HP says can support more than 1,000 users?

Continue reading "The Winner of the Series 987 Bargain" »

Make a present of a presentation

Encompass has a deadline of tomorrow (May 19) for paper proposals for its September HP Technology Forum. The lineup includes MPE and HP 3000 issues; nearly all of the talks and meetings surrounding the 3000 at last year's conference tracked migration solutions and strategies.

As they said on Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." Chuck Ciesinski, an OpenMPE board member, reminded 3000 users today on the 3000 newsgroup about the deadline. Last fall, in the wake of the first Technology Forum, he said of the conference:

The content of the sessions I was in reminded me of the InterWorks Conferences that Interex put on. Yes, there was a little marketing, but not as much as I had anticipated. The conference appeared to be geared towards larger more enterprise like customers, like my new employer, banks, and international groups. 

More 3000 customers are stepping up to contribute their migration experiences, both successful and woeful. Some stories don't have an ending yet. Every year that Interex hosted a conference with a migration roundtable, the majority of the panel members hadn't finished their migrations.

Bottom line: You don't have to have all the answers to get airtime at what will be the biggest HP-only conference of the year. You need to set aside the time to work up about an hour of talk, as well as make budget to be in Houston for a few days in September.

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A Multitude of Ways to Move Your Console

There's plenty of change in the 3000 manager's life these days. Some of it might involve changing the location of HP 3000s from one part of the IT shop to another. Users and support experts have discussed the many ways to adjust a 3000 console's location. The method you choose depends on budget, experience and technical skills depth.

Kent Wallace, a 3000 manager for Idaho-Oregon healthcare delivery system Primary Health, needed to move his 3000 console:

I was asked to move the console another 10 feet (more) from the rack (it's an N-Class HP 3000/N4000-100-22). What are the 3 pin positions on the wire that I need to extend this RS-232 cable?

Reid Baxter of JP Chase offered the most direct answer, for those willing to modify cables. "Pins 2, 3 and 7."

Continue reading "A Multitude of Ways to Move Your Console" »

More consolidation in ERP

After Activant became an acquisition in the Thomas Cressey Equity Partners Portfolio last week — moving the OpenERP solution (formerly eXegeSys) into a bigger conglomerate — another 3000 solution has gone deeper inside a massive buyout. Infor, a $800 million company with offices and customers "including many of the world's leading process and discrete manufacturers and distribution companies," is purchasing SSA Global for an eye-popping $1.36 billion.

SSA Global is well-known to the several hundred MANMAN customers running the application on the HP 3000. SSA purchased Computer Associates ERP businesses several years ago, then turned some heads by telling 3000 sites they didn't have to migrate off the MANMAN application, despite HP's advice, so long as no major enhancements was an okay future.

Now the combined company is primed to be the third largest ERP application provider in the world, just after SAP and Oracle. There's a lot of AS/400-i5 energy among its development managers and customers, making IBM look closer at what's become the leading supplier of apps for the i5 platform. It's also become a company with 7,000 employees and 37,000 customers. A few hundred of those still use HP 3000s, for now.

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Keep pedals moving to give change meaning

In our podcast for this week (3MB MP3 file), I talk for seven minutes about how change can bring things together, and how less can deliver more. This spring I helped make change make good, in a world well outside of the 3000 community. Our Hill Country Ride for AIDS cycling route got shorter, but drew more riders, many trying to manage hugging shoulders on roads that can seem so narrow next to the traffic of 70 MPH SUVs.

Does the traffic toward 3000 alternatives seem faster to you this year? Listen to the sounds of developing the nerve, as we tell our new riders, to share the road. We are, after all, riding in the same direction, whether on bicycles or moving along in our careers. For any 3000 customer, it's moving toward the future, and its changes.

HP, partners take a late tilt at migration in UK

The e-mail in our box at the NewsWire was titled "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Migration tools supplier Alan Yeo of ScreenJet calls our attention to what he says might be the last meeting in the UK to promote the concept and benefits of migrating away from the HP 3000.

"This is probably the last HP 3000 Migration event that anyone will bother organising in the UK, unless there is sufficient interest in this one," Yeo wrote us. "The last couple that anyone tried to organise here about two years ago were cancelled through lack of interest."

Yeo has extra self-interest in the event on June 20 in Reading at the HP offices there. "They didn't have people like Jeanette Nutsford, Michael Marxmeier and myself presenting at those other events," he quipped. (Nutsford was legendary for running a productive COBOL Special Interest Group for Interex before she and husband Ken took to the high seas for months of cruises. Marxmeier is the guru behind the IMAGE plug-compatible database Eloquence.)

Details in the flyer from the HP User Group UK (download the PDF file) offer an "HP e3000 Migration Seminar." The day begins at 10 and ends with a general Q&A session at 3, with lunch included. Yeo said there's a way to bypass the 75-pound (UK) entry fee, too.

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Developers can help test beta patches

Paul Edwards, a director on the board of the OpenMPE advocacy group for the 3000, has suggested another resource to test the enhancements and bug fixes for the system. This work has been sitting in limbo waiting for customers on support to test it. HP won't release the patches to the entire HP community until they are tested.

Edwards suggests that the DSPP developer members who know the 3000 and have systems can help get these 3000 enhancements into the community. DSPP is the latest generation of the HP program to help developers create applications and tools for HP servers.

While there are not a lot of DSPP members with 3000 experience, there are certainly more than the number of beta-testers HP's been able to scratch up. The vendor recently warned users that a deadline for 7.5 PowerPatch was fast approaching, and several key enhancements still hadn't passed test muster. At the moment, HP won't let a non-support customer test a beta patch.

Continue reading "Developers can help test beta patches" »

Tricks with command files

I'm working on a command file on my HP 3000. Is there any way to have it copy part of itself into a separate (temporary) file?

HP's Jeff Vance replies:

MPE does not support the Unix concept of ‘here’ files, where input data for the command can reside in the same file as the command, except in the case of jobs. But even in a job, you may not include inline data for a script or UDC invoked by that job.

The SPOOKHELP script on Jazz may be of some use. This single script contains the help text for all of the SPOOK commands plus the code to search for and display that text once HELP xyzzy is entered.

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IBM alternatives aim at new customer

IBM put its AS/400 entree onto the migrating 3000 shop's menu in 2002, but the offerings have gotten sweeter in the past four years. It's been a time of tumult for the existing IBM customer, seeing their system renamed from iSeries to System i5 and now to System i. The changes are aimed at customers like the 3000 community, though.

While those renames might have been cosmetic changes, lots of power has been added: an advanced CPU, partitions, the Hypervisor — which supports partitioning and controls the multiple operating system environments in each partition — and a bunch of new applications from other operating systems. Linux has become a real solution running on the System i by now. IBM's also just dropped prices by as much as 20 percent on its integrated bundle of hardware, operating system, Web suite and database.

The result has been 2,700 new System i customers during the past year — not an astounding amount of growth, but enough to make IBM pledge, once again, its loyalty to the platform and its customer base. This faith has led serveral HP 3000 sites facing a migration to choose the System i.

The system even got a blurb on national radio last month, when Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor broadcast a show from the System i headquarters city of Rochester, Minn. Getting the mention out to 4 million listeners can't hurt, considering the system's reveneues were off 22 percent for the most recent quarter. IBM, which had a bad revenue quarter across the board, has had good success selling smaller System i solutions. So it's cutting prices on the bigger units.

It's the cost of ownership, however, that makes the IBM alternative to the 3000 shine. IBM execs also point to the the 1,700 new applications for the system, with 240 "ServerProven" tools and 70 new tool vendors. "For the first time in a decade," according to System i analyst Thomas Stockwell, the System i market actually grew."

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Speedware shares new parent with WRQ's new owners

The private equity firm Thoma Cressey Equity Partners Inc. (TCEP) has been buying up ownership stakes in several HP 3000-related companies during the past six months. The latest to enter the TCE fold was Speedware's parent corporation Activant Solutions — which last week announced it has completed the transaction that brings it into the TCEP portfolio. Activant is also moving its headquarters from Austin, Texas to Livermore, Calif. and naming COO Pervez Qureshi as president and CEO of Activant.

Hellman & Friedman LLC and JMI Equity also financed the Activant buyout. TCEP also was a partner in the buyout of HP 3000 connectivity vendor WRQ last December.

Activant Holdings, the parent corporation of Activant Solutions, posted revenues of $233 million last year. Activant acquired Speedware Corp. in 2005, including the HP 3000 Platinum Migration partner Speedware Ltd. The purchase totalled $114 million.

These acquistions have driven HP 3000-related firms inside of nine-figure corporations during the past year. WRQ's revenues, before it acquired competitor Attachmate in 2005, were more than $100 million.

AttachmateWRQ, which in 2005 reported it became a firm with more than $200 million in revenues, has shown an appetite for acquiring companies of its own. The company just announced it is paying $495 million to acquire NetIQ, a systems and security management firm that helps customers ensure operational integrity, manage service levels, reduce risk, and ensure policy compliance.

The US Mint, an HP 3000 site making the transition to IBM solutions, uses the NetIQ solutions.

Continue reading "Speedware shares new parent with WRQ's new owners" »

6.5 users give patches cold shoulder

HP has released five PowerPatches to extend the useful life of the 6.5 release of MPE/iX, but the prospects for a sixth collection of patches look doubtful. It's not because HP is reluctant to do the work. 6.5 sites, which make up a very large portion of the installed base still under HP support, just don't seem to want to change anything.

HP's Jeff Vance reported on the thinking from inside the HP labs on this issue. Vance has been out in front of HP's effort to get beta test patches into General Release status. An impending deadline has put the latest 7.5 beta patches on the bubble for inclusion in a PowerPatch. When we asked about including more customers in the beta test group, by allowing 9x7 owners to test, Vance told us that's a customer group not eager to add anything new.

"We have had relatively low demand from our 6.5 customers for PowerPatches," Vance said. HP released PowerPatch 5 for 6.5 in December, but Vance said the 6.5 community didn't take delivery of the gift.

We were surprised by the lack of 6.5 customer requests for this patch bundle. In general, 6.5 (and thus 9x7) customers are not installing patches or doing any significant changes to their MPE environment, based on our observations.

Continue reading "6.5 users give patches cold shoulder" »

Community crafts XML expertise

On the very day we posted our story about a new third party solution for COBOL-to-XML on the 3000, a customer posed a problem that would require that solution. Or a few others for the do-it-yourself shop, if your HP 3000 budget has been reduced.

"There's some companies that need the exchange of information with our HP 3000, and they are asking us to send/receive XML files for their transactions," said Eduardo Garcia. Several experienced managers offered a mini-clinic on how to handle this format and what XML offers.

"XML is not magic," said Mark Wonsil of 4M-Enterprises. "It’s just ASCII. It is a method to markup documents that has been commandeered to handle data, albeit in a less than efficient manner. MPE can create ASCII files and hence XML files. Your only real limitation is size."

Contradicting some user reports about HP 3000 integration difficulties, Wonsil said that standards for XML make it an able tool to use under MPE/iX.

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Connecting COBOL through XML

Canam Software has released a new version of its XML Thunder software, one which works with HP 3000 COBOL applications.

"We have ported our XML enabling software to serve the HP 3000 community," said Canam director Peter Prager. "This product allows the creation and consumption of XML documents without platform moves or re-writes."

XML is getting popular as a standard format for data exchange, Canam says. The company's visual XML designer and code generator steps into the data transformation arena for the 3000 at a time when the platform's users need to improve interoperability with other systems. HP 3000s which are due for migration sometimes meet that fate because they don't share as easily as other platforms. XML Thunder is a new way to solve an old 3000 problem — making mission-critical data available to other environments.

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HP offers a new view of retention rate

In a story published by the Web site IT Jungle, HP's Rich Marcello is quoted about the retention rate of the company's enterprise server customers. HP, according to the article based on a press conference in Asia, believes it's retained 95 percent of the top 1,000 accounts among the AlphaServer, HP 9000 and HP 3000 customer base.

The comment came during a briefing about the future of the Integrity line at HP. No, the vendor's not announcing an Integrity end-of-life; far from it. But the matter of what to put in the next generation of Integrity servers? Of course, it's Intel's Itanium, the dual-core Montecito version that's been delayed to at least the middle of 2006. (That's a date less than two months away, so we expect a later delivery than that, which pushes the Integrity server refresh out to September. Pretty much a year from when the HP sales force said their top accounts were ready to take delivery.)

While discussing the new chipsets for these new entry-midrange and high-end Integrity boxes — sets being called "Titan" and "Arches," to accomodate the final PA-RISC generation and Montecito — Marcello explained that HP has retained 950 of its enterprise customer accounts by using "high-touch." We see a couple of important footnotes to his claim.

Continue reading "HP offers a new view of retention rate" »

HP looks at extending beta testing

HP's Jeff Vance reports that the vendor is addressing the prospect of letting non-support customers test beta-class patches to MPE/iX. HP's got more than 80 patches waiting for complete testing results before they can be released to the community. Vance, who communicates from HP's 3000 labs to the community, said "we are addressing all of the questions in our Roadmap teams."

Expediting the beta testing will deliver new functionality and repair bugs in the 3000's operating environment. This is work to upgrade the HP 3000 which third parties have been unable to do, up to now, because HP still holds the MPE source code. (This is the kind of work that OpenMPE wants to do with its virtual lab program, once HP leaves the business behind.)

Vance explained HP's beta test release process for the HP 3000:

All beta-test patches on the Jazz [Web] pages are still in beta-test as of the past 24 hours. This info is automatically updated nightly. Our WTEC support engineers check out each beta-test patch periodically — by contacting customers who have requested the patch — to get an update on its usage at the customer site.

It is a judgment call as to when a beta-test patch is moved to general release. The patch has to have sufficient customer exposure. The last thing we want to do is destabilize a Powerpatch build, so the beta-test patches need to be exercised in real-world environments.

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