Hewlett-Packard has paid advocacy group OpenMPE for engineering services surrounding the vendor's review of the HP MPE/iX build process. Birket Foster, chairman of the advocacy group's board of directors, confirmed in a briefing on Saturday that an OpenMPE "virtual lab" engineer — a 3000 veteran who is an independent contractor — was paid to review HP's process.
The payment represents the first revenue which OpenMPE has generated since the group formed in 2002. All monies which OpenMPE received up to now have come as contributions or donations — including the $5,000 which HP pledged in 2004 to the group.
The contract was not a one-off engagement, either. Foster, who was briefing the HP 3000 Conference crowd with HP's Jennie Hou in attendance, said the engineering project will include two additional phases. In addition to firming up the relationship between OpenMPE and HP, the project also demonstrates the kind of value OpenMPE supplies through its lab services. Apparently of a high enough calibre to earn a check from HP.
Foster said the payment for the engagement was a "pass-through" transaction which delivered the money directly to the engineer working alongside HP. (The group is still reluctant to name the Virtual Lab engineer who is doing the work alongside HP. Speculation includes Mark Klein, a former OpenMPE board member who did not run for a second term — and whose MPE/iX internals experience and prior contracts with HP's 3000 ab make him a leading candidate to head up any OpenMPE Virtual Lab organization.)
The pass-through means that OpenMPE itself didn't earn income from the contract. The organization is still on the hunt for customer POs for add-on support of their HP 3000s, one-year contracts starting at $3,750 per server to receive HP 3000 patches for repairs and some enhancements. HP has not yet decided if it will allow any third party deep enough access to the 3000's source code to provide such patches.
Foster said that future engagements with members of its virtual lab might include some fee paid to the OpenMPE group, money to help pay for capital costs, communications and marginal administrative overhead. For almost five years, the group has operated on volunteer time, minimal contributions of cash and extensive in-kind donations from its board members' companies.