HP grows, senior executives go
More help in homesteading

Syngistix demise: the 3000's circle of life

News reached us this week that Syngistix is tossing in the towel as a company, after years of working to serve the HP 3000 community. More longtime 3000 customers will know the firm as Distribution Resources Corporation (DRC), an asset to companies which did warehousing and distribution as part of their operations.

Syngistix did its best to try to acquire multi-channel commerce vendor Ecometry in 2002, but the financing on that deal fell through a few months after the acquistion was announced. At that time Ecometry was a public company; when Syngistix couldn't come through with the deal, Ecometry took itself private.

Rumors among the 3000 vendor community indicate that Syngistix shuttered operations because of the intersection of two unfortunate events: declining support revenues from an installed customer base; and a late project to develop a solution to run on a non-3000 server.

This is how your average HP 3000 supplier heads for that great repository in the sky. Revenues from what has served customers slip. The launch pad for new products gets fogged in.

In the case of Syngistix, the solution is still in use at Long's Drug, but now there's nobody to call for support. Other customers decided that with the 3000 coming off HP's support lineup, dropping support for their 3000 applications was okay, too.

Software companies whose success was built upon the 3000 often aim for a new platform to keep their doors open, trying to migrate their application code to something like Unix or Windows. But that elaborate work can only go as far as the development headcount for producing the new version of the flagship product.

Ecometry was able to make this transition, and Summit Technologies's credit union solutions also made the transfer. Both companies still book support revenues for the 3000 version of their software. But each is counting more sales revenue on new platforms — and so less reliant on the flow of support dollars from MPE versions of software.

Individual companies which don't renew support sometimes have good reason to stop support payments on their 3000 third party apps and tools. 3000 budgets get raided to pay for overhauling Windows desktops, where the shift from Win 2000 to XP to XP SP2, and now to Vista, creates expensive churn. Then there's the migration efforts to fund.

But dropping support puts one more rock in the pockets of 3000 companies trying to swim to the shore of new platforms. Add enough of that dead weight, and a transitioning company cannot keep its head above the waters of change.