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We're making history here

I keep hearing this in postings about the HP 3000's future:

"The growth or decline of a specific computer platform is directly akin to any other biological population."

By now, I'm wondering. What studies have been completed to confirm this theory? Come to think of it, what are the "akin" elements between computer platforms and biological populations?

See, I am a realist. Someday all the HP 3000s will be museum pieces. But there's the meantime to consider, a meantime many of you live and work in today, and for the forseeable future.

I got a call this morning from Vladimir Volokh, who'd read my November editorial about redemption. He invited me to point out that 2027 was the end of the HP 3000's 7-bit date-keeping technology; but he added that many of the customers he visits don't even know about 2027 as a CALENDAR intrinsic deadline. Too many of them don't even know HP extended its basic support to 2008. I encountered one of the latter customers myself at the HP 3000 conference in Houston two weeks ago.

That moment in Houston was an eye-opener for both me and the customer. How could you measure the conference value to a attendee who learns that his end date for his company's mission-critical platform is not the end of this year, but the end of 2008? Think of the way an IT budget could shift (like, now there's time to engage experts for planning, and maybe move our home-grown app to another platform.). Think about how the shift in IT plans might affect his company's profitability.

Sometimes it feels that this computer community is getting a bum's rush to the door  Nothing lasts forever. But need we remind everyone that HP predicted the bitter end for the majority of the communit to be about six weeks from now?

I think a computer platform, and the humans who use it, doesn't match up so well with other "biological populations." What biological populations exist whose behavior is so deeply affected by a technical tool whose merits are measured in relation to other technical tools?

I don't believe using hammers or arrowheads count, being not complex enough to compare to a computer, which reflects the state of the human mind. No, you are making history with your decisions on when to leave the 3000. This is the biggest population of computer customers using enterprise-grade systems who've ever been told by their vendor, "you don't have to go home, but we don't think you can stay here."

We are taling about symbiosis here, influenced by the relative value proposition of other computer platforms. Frankly, in 2002 we found it foolish to be making any move off an HP 3000. Four years later, it looks like HP is putting together a good alternative, with hardware value and software virtualization, to offer a winner.

So I'm waiting to hear. What does the demise of the passenger pigeon or the buffalo or the native populace of the Great Plains in the 19th Century have to do with the HP 3000's useful lifespan? Studies? Papers? Testing?

I don't plan to be writing about the 3000 in 2027, when I'll be 70. But if there's something interesting to write about then, and anybody still alive to read it who cares, then I'll be tempted.

In the meantime, the Transition you're going through is producing some real data, research, on the demise of a population of computer users. You're making some history in showing the rest of the market how a shift from a technology takes place, and how long the process takes to complete.