Owners and managers of HP 3000 might be prone to measure the vitality of their world by numbers. What percentage of the customer base is still running the 3000 in a production environment, for example. Or how many people made the trip to the Gulf Coast this month to take in all the learning at the Greater Houston RUG's HP 3000 Conference.
The latter was the first of its kind in three years, perhaps even six You have to go back to the Interex e3000 Solutions Symposium to find the last 3000-dominant conference. Yes, there might have been only 50 attendees at this year's conference. We hear early reports that the conference will be mounted next year, too, at the same University of Houston Clear Lake venue, on the weekend of Sept. 14. You can bet on the RUG's board having more expertise and energy behind marketing the next show.
Nobody can fault the RUG for its speaker lineup, though: Birket Foster, Alfredo Rego, Bill Hassell, Gilles Schipper, Paul Edwards, even Jeff Vance of HP, doing an impromptu and excellent review of an updated paper on the 3000's Command Interpreter.
There were more, like Charles Finley showing how the transformation of a COBOL app like a Time Entry program can be moved to another platform, it interface improved and its flexibility extended. Finley, whose Transformix company works closely with Sector 7, showed us a solution that had J2EE applets, servlets, Java Beans and the Jakarta Tomcat Web application Server.
Finley's solution relies on the interface of Java Swing client, although he also showed Web client for the application. The major revelation: Oracle's JDeveloper Swing Application and JSF Application elements, priced within reason and relevant to moving a 3000 app.
Presenters like these did not attract the massive numbers of conferences of the 1990s. But even with a marketing machine such as Interex had at its disposal, the Solutions Symposiums never drew more than 200 attendees. What mattered then still matters now: who is presenting.
So long as the top-echelon gurus from the 3000 community remain willing to teach and lead at such conferences and up on the Web, a customer can feel confident about their transition clock. There's been talk in the community of graph that describes the rate of decline in the number of 3000 suppliers and customers.
There were a lot fewer T-Rex dinosaurs on the planet than any other species in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Numbers didn't matter then, either. A T-Rex dominated the food chain then, as much as these experts offer the dominant training and insight on using, maintaining and transitioning from the 3000.
The number of players at a poker table in the latter stages of a game doesn't matter, either. These are the best of the rest. You could say the same thing of the customers still relying on their 3000s, those taking needed time to make a transition, and the vendors and service providers helping out where needed.