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Java options grow cold on 3000

There is little on the HP 3000 platform that is broken. We mean "not working any longer" when we say broken.  Some solutions for MPE/iX are falling behind, however, a state that makes it difficult to keep applications abreast of company needs.

Java is an example of an HP 3000 solution not broken, but well out of date by now. The current Java version in MPE/iX is 1.3, a generation behind the 1.4 in use on most other platforms. At Quest Diagnostics, the HP 3000 there uses Java for its applications. Not all of the apps, but enough to prompt Jim Gerber in the IT operations to ask about getting Java upgraded for the 3000.

"We are using some Java here," Gerber said. "HP announced that the last supported version is 1.3, which is getting rather long in the tooth.  One of our Web developers wants to use an Enterprise Java Bean, for the extra security that it provides. But we would need Java 1.4.1, or later, on the HP 3000."

HP has turned away from Java on the 3000, after hailing the language nine years ago as a conduit for applications. Java works today behind the scenes and under the covers of many Web apps, or Web clients for hosted applications. Keeping the 3000's Java behind the times is putting shops like Quest under the gun.

HP took note late last year of its step away from Java on the 3000, in this brief statement on the HP Jazz Web site:

HP will no longer be able to offer sustaining engineering for Java/iX after December 31, 2006. As a result, HP will be unable to provide patches or fixes for new problems requiring modifications to the Java/iX source code. Existing patches will remain available from their current locations, and technical support for Java/iX will remain available from the Customer Support Centers through, but not beyond, the MPE/iX end of support date, December 31, 2008.

Let's overlook that statement's vision of when HP's 3000 support will end. (The vendor has announced its basic MPE/iX support continues until "at least" December, 2008.) Without new patches, for all practical purposes Java/iX support has ended at HP. HP dropped its unique support element for Java/iX — its ability to modify the source code first released in 1997, then carefully updated for another four years. In 2005 and 2006, the vendor couldn't even agree to release a 1.3.1 version of the language for MPE, an improvement that would solve some customer problems.

Two numbers work against Java's continued use on the 3000. Few customers adopted it. Far fewer HP engineers are even trained, let alone available, to support Java/iX with patches.

Of course, with an open source product like that, there's a better support community out in the customer base for Java's fundamentals. But not MPE/iX nuances The problem in this case, like in other languages for the 3000, is not support. This failure to support new features, by freezing or chilling releases, threatens the customers who need to develop on the 3000 awhile longer.