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License means HP never cares to say goodbye

Search for unexpected in HP's 3000 world

A routine check on our search engine at the 3000 NewsWire main Web site today turned up a seminal story. Give the 3000 NewsWire site's "Advanced Search" engine a run to do your Web-based 3000 research. Our Web mentor Chris Bartram hooked up Google's search code to the site just last night.

I usually search on the name "Prather" (as in Winston, HP's final 3000 general manager) when I test an engine. Winston Prather has been mentioned in more than 110 articles from 1995-2005; he was the leader of the 3000 labs for much of that time, then had a three-year tenure as GM. This was a fellow who drew a lot of copy, because he influenced HP's efforts for your system so profoundly.

Winstonwalk0010 By chance, I happened to click on our Winston Prather story from the Year 2000 HP World conference. Yes, a great deal has changed since then; there's no more HP World, or Interex. HP's got new leadership at the top of the company, as well as different people in the foreground to help the vendor get its 3000 business wrapped up. Oh, and there's that matter of the 3000's future with HP. People in this market know the future of HP and the 3000 pretty well, or they believe they do.

But that 2000 story still strikes me as emblematic of how things can change without warning. In October, 2000 HP was telling customers that the 3000 had a secure future with the company. Executive VPs Ann Livermore and Duane Zitzner both taped "don't worry" messages for the 3000 faithful. Those videos aired about a year before the system got scratched off HP's futures lineup.

You never know what might happen, even in the face of what look like clear messages.

Like so much of life, pledges and forecasts can vanish in a matter of months. These kinds of swift changes sometimes happen because of departures, or arrivals. Someone new to a decision team changes the vendor's course. Or a long-time advocate departs, taking the reasons for business practices out the door with them.

What's that mean for today, and your stewardship of your 3000? That depends on whether this month's early retirement program at HP takes much 3000 leadership out of the company. Some 3000 customers will address the system's exit off HP's price lists by saying "I'll retire before then. That's my plan."

Many key 3000 managers inside HP have that option now, too.

This comet has passed through the HP 3000 skyline before now. Early retirement has become HP's way of cutting costs, letting the best-paid and most experienced employees leave the company with a retirement offering somewhat less than full retirement pay. HP also gets to eliminate the salary and benefits when a senior employee retires.

This month HP employees older than 40 who've worked with HP since the 1980s will be eligible for retirement. That's a lot of HP 3000 personnel. Nobody could imagine that HP would take such a sharp 3000 turnabout between the fall of 2000 and the fall of 2001. Just like it might be hard to imagine that those who are leading HP's 3000 exit plan may not be around to see it happen.