For three days this week we've begun to cover the change in owning an HP 3000 during 2006. Captain GREB — who we're now told is not Advant's Steve Pirie, but someone else at Advant — has told us and the 3000 newsgroup readers of a program HP can't keep from the community, SSEDIT, which transforms 3000 model strings. (We'll have a full Q&A with Advant on the subject soon enough. If you have any more questions you'd like us to ask, send them to our editorial offices.)
While this kind of system-changing activity was turned to less-than-legal ends in the 1990s, in our current era these changes to a 3000 qualify as end-of-HP-life customer comfort. HP has done some of its share of making 3000 customers more comfortable as they prepare for a platform transition. Very little, however, has been done by the vendor to align the 3000's cost with its receding vendor lifespan.
Put more plainly, a system with only two years of supported life should be selling for less than its authorized used reseller equipment price. HP has aleady acknowledged this computer line should drop in cost. The evidence lies in the HP parts price list, as pointed out by OpenMPE board member Matt Purdue.
Purdue was answering a question about how to get an upgrade into an A-Class server. Was this even available anymore from HP? A customer who's homesteading, MMFab, didn't have budget to beef up its A-Class back in 2002. Now the funds are present for their upgrade, according to Dave Powell.
HP's price list showed the more powerful A-Class processor board, along with a trade-in credit for the older model. The price for the A-Class board from HP, A6891-62001, has dropped from more than $3,500 to $800 in the past year, according to Purdue's notes from HP's Partsurfer Web site:
Go to partsurfer.hp.com and search for part# A6891-62001 for a new processor and part# A6891-69001 for a replacement (requires exchange of defective part). You’ll also need to call 800-227-8164 for availability. You’ll need to schedule the install with your local HP SE.
Just over a year ago the cost was: A6891-62001 $3,532.24; the A6891-69001 exchange $2,583; plus installation at $294/hour Mon-Fri one hour minimum plus travel charge $140. Today partsurfer gives A6891-69001 $800 and A6891-62001 $1,744.
Both the A6891-69001 and A6891-62001 are for the 650Mhz PA8700 processor. I would also ask what warranty is provided by HP for the new processor and installation — and that if there are any problems that affect the operation of your current perfectly running box, if HP guarantees they will restore your box to perfect running order.
Offering a program like SSEDIT for use by the third party community is going to help reduce the cost of HP 3000 systems. It should also open up the availability of low-cost systems, aside from the MPE/iX licensing issues. (Very real issues, it would appear, for the next two-plus years. HP has insisted that an MPE/iX license is linked to a piece of 3000 hardware like a brain to a body.) But SSEDIT can make 3000 hardware more plentiful, according to HP consultant Joe Dolliver:
Long live the HP 3000s. I would imagine that this also allows HP-UX systems to be converted to HP 3000 systems, which would open up tons of N-Class systems cheap.
HP derives little revenue by now for these systems, since it's stopped selling them. All that would be lost is HP's $400-plus support charge for installation of the new board. (We'd bet that with the use of SSEDIT, that charge could be reduced using a third party support engineer.) And it looks like those parts for the 3000 systems are already being discounted by HP. All of that reduction is a break that benefits all the 3000 computer users grappling with other costs, even as they homestead on the way to migration. Whether that's the right thing to do, or to oppose in a legal action, will be a subject of our podcast Monday.