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June 2007

May 2007

Elderly 3000, just under $100

Eventually it had to happen: an HP 3000 offered under $100. At a starting price of $99.95, the Series 967 showed up May 30 in Weird Uncle Irwin's Shop on eBay — right alongside a used clarinet and a pair of Bongo Davidson Lace Women's Boots. You can place a bid, yea, even the first bid, on eBay at Uncle Irwin's shop, until June 5.

It's better not to think of what this baby cost new, say 15 years ago or so. No, not the lace-up boots, the HP 3000. With a model number in the high end of the 9x7 line, this now-pokey system rolled onto the loading dock of customers like Jennison Associates and Xavier University, costing upwards of $70,000.

Now you can buy it for less than a boxed set of the Sopranos. In 2007, when it comes to paying a lot for the older HP 3000s, fuggagedaboutit. But the same summary might go for finding one this cheap which operates with MPE/iX 7.0 or 7.5. And a Series 967 runs at a snail's crawl of twice the speed of a Series 918, the rock-bottom HP measure of performance established when the vendor dropped industry-standard barometers.

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Where two 3000s work better together

Image008_3 Where MPE/iX fears to tread on HP 3000s, hardware can muster onward. On the Unix side of HP's enterprise equation, instances help spread the computing workload. Multiple copies of HP-UX can live inside the same HP Integrity server, and so distribute the work of, oh, say the reporting from fourth generation language applications.

MPE/iX wasn't designed for such sharing, at least not out of the HP labs. While your average HP 3000 operates many more applications than a Unix server, splitting up the computational lifting calls for a third party, plus multiple 3000s.

The latter part of that combination has never been less costly. The latest report we've heard has a Series 928 selling for $200. That's a system which runs the latest 7.5 release of MPE/iX. So adding a server to share the work won't break a budget. This is called replication, but it requires outside software to sync up the servers in matching steps. Quest Software provides it; last week the company's John Saylor noted that replication can reduce the drag from 4GLs — if the 3000 is feeling the strain.

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HP updates its FTP powers

With all of the advances HP's added to the FTP server on the 3000, customers could use a good catalog on the added functionality of the file transfer service. HP delivers an update on the security enhancements of FTP its latest white paper.

HP's Jeff Vance announced the location of the paper, on HP's Jazz Web site. With just a few more days to go until the 2007 retirements kick off, last Friday afternoon's announcement could be the last from Vance to the 3000 community.

"The new paper on Jazz describes how to get the most security possible when using FTP/iX," he said in his usual venue, the 3000-L mailing list. "Check out: and scroll down to the heading “HP e3000 papers, faqs and training.”

Vance added, "There is also a new script, SFTPPUT, which provides a more secure way of transferring files from your 3000. It can encrypt files and automatically decrypt them when the remote system is also an MPE/iX box. It is aware of the netrc file too, and hopefully will help out with internal audits."

BARUG to bump about on the bay

Bump_cars Bay Area HP 3000 users around San Francisco once fostered one of the biggest and best Regional User Groups. A legendary showdown over IMAGE database administration performance went down at BARUG. The RUG once hosted an annual conference in Santa Cruz, a legendary surfer's beach. The meeting included an evening's outing at the local amusement park.

That's a long way from the 21st Century landscape. More's the pity, since that BARUG conference exhibit area had a bodacious view of those beaches, the surfers, and California swimwear and tan lines. Right outside the windows, something for everybody to admire.

The 3000 community honors the past, so BARUG is reviving itself for one last time next month. On Sunday, June 10, the group turns back the clock for an afternoon and evening meeting, noon until eight. Right there on the same Santa Cruz beach, complete with the beach Boardwalk's bumper cars.

BARUG's Donna (Garverick) Hofmeister announced the outing, which the group bills as "The Last Great BARUG Meeting, or, The Second MPE Wake." Contact Donna if you're interested in attending; the 3000 group meets at 3 in front of the Boardwalk's bumper cars. HP is involved too, both in attendance, the announcing and as part of the attire.

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Final shoe falls in HP pretexting hoax

In what was likely the last result of HP's 2006 pretexting investigation hoax, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a "cease-and-desist" order against HP. The SEC demanded that HP stop withholding information about why one of its directors left the HP board.

The SEC and HP settled on the matter, instead of levying fines against the company, or any other penalty. The SEC ordered HP to stop its failure to disclose why director Tom Perkins resigned from the HP board abruptly last spring. Perkins left over HP's investigation into a press leak and accusations of misconduct by director George Keyworth. The vendor did not admit or deny the SEC's findings as its part of the settlement.

While the vendor is far from the first company to use such pretexting tactics in its internal investigations — its hired private eyes pretended to be phone company officials, to gather private information — HP was the first No. 1 computer vendor to use the trick. HP CEO Mark Hurd said the matter left HP with repair to do on its image. "This company will regain not just its reputation as a model citizen with the highest ethical standards — we will regain our pride,"

Some members of the 3000 community pointed to the California Attorney General's office as the instigator in the debace. The AG was running for re-election in five week's time.

HP's resigned chair, Patricia Dunn, fingered HP's legal department in the matter. HP's General Counsel Ann Baskins, a 24-year-employee of the company, resigned at the same time, then plead the Fifth to avoid testifying. In February, HP appointed Michael Holsten to the counsel position, after Holsten and the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm led HP's internal review of the pretexting hoax.

Holsten said in a statement that HP believes it acted in a proper manner, but "we understand and accept the SEC's views and are pleased to put this investigation behind us."

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Podcasts preface conference content

HP is exploring new options to lure customers to next month's HP Technology Forum. Over the next two weeks the vendor will be posting the last four of 10 podcasts, interviews with Tech Forum speakers.

It's an interesting way to sample sessions if you're already headed to the conference, or maybe justify a trip if you have not scheduled this training already. So far, the HP-ETV Web site has posted podcasts which include sessions on privacy in relation to e-mail, high availability, mobile device policy enforcement, and storage solutions.

If you listen to that most recent podcast, about storage solutions, you'll hear the host pitch HP's speaker Pierre Bijuoi a fat question: "What's the problem with tape today? Why look for alternatives to tape?" As you might guess, HP has some new technology it offers as an alternative.

HP 3000 customers who are headed toward Unix, and especially HP-UX, can listen to 10 minutes of Unix guru Bill Hassell on June 5, when his podcast about system administration goes live. And there's even a presentation on HP-ETV from an author who once pointed out the resurgence of the HP 3000 product line in a popular business book.

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CAMUS invites managers of 3000 sites

CAMUS (the Computer Applications for Manufacturing User Society) is inviting HP 3000 site managers to attend its annual user’s conference this summer in Nashville. The show runs Monday through Wednesday July 16-18. Since it's modest-sized user group, CAMUS is hosting its conference at a hotel, the Holiday Innn Brentwood.

The user group leadership is pragmatic about using 3000s as mission-critical servers, even in the era of 3000 Transition. "Our theme is 'You Still Have a Business to Run,' " said conference organizer Ed Stein, "and it is focused on strategies for homesteading on legacy systems or migrating to other systems.

Like the Greater Houston RUG, the majority of CAMUS members use HP 3000s. These ERP sites run the MANMAN MRP application. The app is one of many owned and mothballed (developmentally) by Baan. But that doesn't keep several hundred companies from using MANMAN as an information wheelhouse, especially for manufacturers with run rates of under $100 million.

CAMUS is giving back to the community, too, in a savvy way. The final day of the three-day conference is free.

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Third parties: Fact of life for Windows support

HP's sold a lot of systems, and prodded many customers to migrate, on the benefit of its support. Even while a steady stream of 3000 sites say they get spotty HP support, it's apparently still miles ahead of Microsoft's help.

Our Google trawling software dug up a user report from Karl Palachuk, a consultant and author, which compared HP 3000 support back in the day with the current Microsoft disappointments. Palachuck supported 3000s in the early 1990s. On a blog which which covers his consulting practice, Palachuk says you'd better get a North American superstar at Microsoft on the support call, or look elsewhere:

Microsoft's support of Small Business Server is deplorable. Until you can escalate your call to one of the superstars in North America, you are just as likely to have them burn your server to the ground as to get a solution.

How does he solve his problem? The same way many 3000 sites have today: get a third party. Just like the 3000 community's economics, the third party's support is inexpensive. Like $37 a month per Small Business Server.

We mention this because Windows is the leading choice for 3000 sites making a migration. They often go to the Microsoft solution on price, plus the choice of a replacement application. These sites might not know a third party is often essential to uptime.

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The RTU that doesn't cost you

HP did its best to alert customers this spring about the new Right to Use MPE/iX licenses. Jennie Hou, the new leader of the virtual 3000 group in HP, and e3000 lab manager Ross McDonald briefed us, posted HP Web pages — just about everything short of issuing an official HP press release.

But we heard a report that the RTU, in practice, doesn't seem to be required while upgrading an HP 3000. So long as there's a 3000 someplace in the process with a valid MPE/iX license, resellers report that the standard HP 3000 License Transfer operations are keeping HP satisfied when a 3000 grows bigger. If the 3000 license is big enough.

That's to say that if a 3000 stays in its performance tier during the upgrade, HP's not requiring an RTU license up to now. If it seems confusing, customers can let their used hardware resellers take care of the paperwork. What you must have, apparently, is the MPE/iX license that can cover the bigger 3000.

Bigger? Like a B or C version of the N-Class, an upgraded model that can run its processors at faster speeds than an A version of the system. It's looks like you have a right to use the HP 3000 of your greater needs, so long as you've got a valid 3000 license. Or so we hear, from resellers still purchasing and selling 3000s.

HP has been reviewing and approving these 3000 license transfers in upgrade situations all this year, the resellers say. One reported that during more than a half dozen upgrade transfers, no RTU was involved. It just seemed to us like a 3000 that would be upgraded would need an RTU, when HP explained the new license to us in February.

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PC business leads HP's Q2

Strong sales of servers drove HP to a record quarter of revenues in the second fiscal 2007 period. But the server sales were of "industry standard" variety rather than the HP Unix systems. HP's own name for "Windows-based" servers says more than the company might intend about its future in the enterprise.

Even though HP posted its first $25 billion sales quarter in the company's history, the rise in Hewlett-Packard fortunes does not flow from distinctive products. HP 3000 customers might remember a time when computer sales at HP were led by proprietary servers like the HP 9000s and the 3000. For a time in the early 1990s, HP didn't pay enough attention to the enterprise opportunities of Windows.

Nothing could be more different today, especially in light of the latest results. HP's Enterprise, Storage and Servers grew its revenue 8 percent over last year 's Q2, to $4.6 billion. Profits rose by more than 7 percent. But listen to HP explain the ESS sales growth. "We had a strong quarter in industry-standard servers, with revenues up 17 percent year over year, and share gains in every region," said CEO Mark Hurd.

Make no mistake: HP's success in selling Windows-based servers,especially blades, should be applauded. But with Windows as the leading enterprise sale at HP, the company delivers its 3000 customers into waters where the choice of vendor is a minor consideration. Windows is HP's enterprise industry standard, not the operating environment of HP-UX, one that more closely matches the MPE/iX advantages.

Plainly put, HP's Business Critical Systems offerings are losing market share, outshone by the company's success in Windows solutions. Selling an Integrity server is harder this year than last, even though HP now drives more BCS sales than ever into the Intel-based Integrity servers. The company has finally reached its goal of selling more Integrity than PA-RISC or Alpha systems.

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Passing ghostly 3000 history

Where were you when you heard the news, the bolt of HP's notice about exiting the 3000 marketplace? Last week I passed the very spot where I first heard about the "end of life," as HP wanted to call it in November, 2001. On my recent 50th birthday vacation in Paris and Switzerland, I walked past the very phone booth in Lausanne's train station where my distraught partner was telling me from the US, "HP says the 3000 is going away. They're not going to make it anymore. They need to talk to you, before they announce."

I didn't shiver last week when we finally walked past that phone booth together. The weather this May was warm and sunny, even in the shadow of the Alps. But I could call up the chilling thoughts and questions I already had started to dream up, even before that trans-Atlantic call with my wife Abby was finished. On that night I was 45 years old. I'd covered the HP 3000 for 17 years. I knew that HP's five-year time-frame for getting customers off the 3000 was outlandish, knew it even before I hung up the phone.

It's been five and a half years, as of this week, since HP made the announcement to change your careers. I bought a new notebook the next day, when my son and I got back to Paris, and began to write questions for my interview. At the top of the first page I wrote the seminal query, the one that fueled 49 more:

Tell me why it's going away.

Even after all this time, some of those 50 questions I wrote in a fever of inquiry, roaring toward London on the under-the-Channel Eurostar train, remain unanswered. Some that HP's Winston Prather and Christine Martino  did answer have fuzzy replies, even after half a decade. Things like open source or sharing of MPE code with third parties, or a delivery channel of HP-like 3000 services beyond 2008 — remain unresolved. When will third parties get HP's direct help for the homesteading customer? Things like that remain mysteries.

To this day, customers still wonder how long HP knew  — before it began to tell its top application partners and bigger customers — that it would cancel its 3000 operations and development. "A few months before" was the answer I got in 2001, sitting in a London hotel doing an interview, two train rides away from that Lausanne platform. "Months" is the most real part of that answer.

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Norco's last 3000 deal

HP hardware supplier Norco Computer Systems announced this month they are closing their doors after more than 20 years of serving the HP 3000 marketplace. The Brunswick, Ohio-based reseller drew comments of praise from its former customers on the HP 3000 newsgroup, after selling hardware that not only included the HP 3000 but servers running Unix from HP, Sun and IBM, storage devices from HP, Sun, Dell and EMC, and more.

Connie Selito of The Cat Fanciers' Association, who called the closing "an end of an era" added, "We had a long-standing business relationship with Norco, having purchased our Series 937RX system from them many years ago, as well as disk and tape drives, printers and various other HP peripherals. My sincere thanks to our sales representative Wil Bournigal, for his integrity, support and excellent service."

Chuck Harner of the company said that his firm had lost key personnel who'd been tough to replace — along with a toughening market for computer hardware sales.

"[The closing] is because of numerous factors," Harner said. "The last three years have been rough; lost some good people, declining sales, couldn't get the right people in to replace the ones who left."

Norco was ready to provide evidence of HP's 3000 pricing history in a lawsuit against the vendor in 2004, an action to block HP's attempt to collect more than $10 million in insurance against lost 3000 sales to Hardware House.

Three years later and in its closing, Harner said the company still has one of the largest HP 3000 N-Class systems available in its remaining stock. "We have a e3000/N4000 4 x 750MHz machine. It has a valid license and it could be a very good deal for somebody. See the specs."

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How HP views your MPE/iX lifespan

Rather quietly on the day before his retirement was announced, HP's Jeff Vance clarified what the vendor considers to be the term of your MPE/iX license for your 3000. It has nothing to do with how long HP sells a 3000 product or service.

"An HP e3000 system must have a valid Right To Use (RTU) license when running MPE/iX on it, whether HP is still manufacturing [the 3000] or not," Vance said.  We noticed [the following] postings regarding MPE/iX licensing and would like to take this opportunity to correct these misstatements of our policy:

You can still use a box that doesn’t have a (LTU) transferable user license, you just can't get HP support for it or buy any HP software for it. Other than that, it's the same as having a “licensed” box.  ...

What about an RTU? Or is that going to cost too much?
Using an old HP slogan “What if?” you buy an old machine, and the manufacturer has stopped making it, selling it, and supporting it. Transferring the LTU would have no purpose. So for the manufacturer to refute the RTU would also serve no purpose.

Would the new owner still be able to get third party support? Or is this machine to be dismantled, and used for parts only?

Vance then clarified HP's policy on your 3000's license, which has an "evermore" term:

“MPE/iX Fundamental Operating System (FOS) and HP database right-to-use (RTU) licenses on the HP e3000 servers allow customers to use that software only on the system for which it was purchased. FOS and HP database software may not be transferred to other servers without prior written approval from Hewlett-Packard. Using MPE/iX — FOS, IMAGE/SQL, and ALLBASE/SQL software products — on original, upgraded, or modified hardware systems without the appropriate right-to-use license and/or software license upgrade from HP is prohibited.

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Stopping spam by slowing it down

HP 3000 managers steward more than their MPE/iX systems. Many of our readers care for Unix servers, Windows networks — the whole enchilada, as we say down here in the Southwest. A former HP 3000 expert is offering a solution on stopping spam that might ease the non-3000 portion of your task list.

Mailchannels_intro_mar0107 David Greer, a leading light from the 3000 community's foundation days, is helping in the battle against spam. Nearly all 3000 sites which manage their own mail server use something other than the 3000 as a mailbox. This fact of life makes Traffic Control, a product offered from MailChannels (where Greer is a board member) a good prospect to keep e-mail humming at 3000 sites.

Most e-mail spam is delivered from robot and zombie computers these days, a shift in the strategy that's letting a lot more junk clog up operations. "People don't understand how fundamental a shift this has been over the last three years," he said. "Spam volume doubled last year. The problem's getting worse."

Throwing money at the problem with extra servers, to keep up with the torrent, is a losing battle. Enter Traffic Control, which makes it less profitable for spammers to fill the pipe with the 89 percent of mail that is spam. By slowing suspected spammers, the spam business model is hurt. Either fewer messages must be sent per hour (increasing costs), or zombie computers must pick different targets.

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HP Q2 shows PC growth helps customers

A gamble in 2002 is starting to pay off for HP this year, as the merger with Compaq has driven HP's PC business to new highs — and brought along HP's share price in the run-up.

Yesterday HP's shares traded above $45 for the first time since November, 2000. That was the month when HP was still hosting things like the "Go e!" conference for 3000 customers in Europe, pushing the platform. Perhaps just a coincidence. One November later, the 3000's story and future at HP changed.

In more than five years since that exit the 3000 market announcement, HP's stock and its growth have been tied to making that merger work. Then-CEO Carly Fiorina tried to right the shareholder ship when the stock stalled in the middle teens. Even after she went overboard in 2005, however, the PC business remained lashed to the deck of HP.

This week HP had to make an estimated revenue and earnings statement about its Q2 for 2007. An inadvertent leak forced the report, ahead of schedule, that HP will post its first $25 billion quarter. A tide of PC business growth is lifting that ship. It's also doing something good for 3000 customers who will stay loyal to HP.

Business Critical Systems growth has been driven by sales of PC-based solutions. Success in this area is good for the 3000 customer who needs a hardware bargain while trying to afford a migration. Even if Integrity servers have been tough to sell to migrating 3000 customers, that BCS group is going to need some gains. The rising tide of selling PCs — a business IBM bailed out of last year — give HP leverage.

It also appears to have proven that while Fiorina was wrong about clipping low-growth businesses like the 3000, she was right about PC futures. Even if they did take about three years longer to come true than she expected.

Tribal intentions recalled

Paivinen As HP sets off on its preservation of 3000 institutional memory this month, it seems a good idea to review the vendor's intentions for the 3000 community as of 2003. In February of that year HP issued a lengthy resolution of its intent for the 3000 customer, especially those who would not be migrated by the (then) December 2006 HP exit date.

One of the members of the 3000 group who departs HP this month, Mike Paivinen, (left) broadcast those intentions to the community. Full of good humor and wry wit, Paivinen handled the customer concerns when emotion rode the highest among 3000 owners. Fury is not too harsh a word to describe what he heard from IT managers who faced — and still do — a project even bigger and more complex than surviving the Y2K transition.

Notable among those intentions: A desire to offer an MPE/iX license for a 3000 emulator, once such a product came to market. The price of $500 was mentioned often for this license in 2003. Of course, to date the emulator has been stalled, or slow in emerging. How the new RTU license might affect such an emulator license is a question unanswered.

Paivinen put his name to the bottom of a document that had been through many meetings inside the 3000 group. But this phrase stands out: "Below is HP's current proposal for distributing the MPE/iX operating system independent of the HP e3000 hardware platform."

Paivinen was also the spokesman for the most eagerly awaited reply from HP: Whether the vendor would ever release source code to MPE/iX to a third party. The answer was yes, with some provisions.

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Micro Focus acquires Acucorp

COBOL solutions ownership, and potential product design direction, changed on Friday when Micro Focus announced it has acquired development and COBOL supplier Acucorp for $40.7 million and an acquired cash consideration of no more than $250,000.

The two companies have battled for business in the HP 3000 migration marketplace. While Acucorp designed and released a 3000-compatible compiler in 2001 — only to see, within months of release, HP announce a 2006 exit from the 3000 marketplace — Micro Focus has worked from a broader base of enterprise environments. HP 3000 customers and application suppliers, including Amisys and others, have chosen the Micro Focus solution when moving away from the HP 3000.

Neither company made headway into selling a solution for homesteading 3000 sites: Acucorp because of HP's withdrawal from the 3000 market, and Micro Focus because the company has never offered an MPE/iX solution.

Acucorp generated $3 million in profit in its just-ended fiscal year, according to MicroFocus. The company will be restructured by 2008 "to margins... consistent with Micro Focus' existing business."

Acucorp's gross assets at the end of 2006 were 13.1 million. Micro Focus will take an $8 million restructuring charge, by April of 2008, to bring the Acucorp business into the Micro Focus operations.

Micro Focus, the larger of the two suppliers, issued a press release on Friday reporting the company's year-end results along with the purchase details. Micro Focus a public corporation, while Acucorp is not.

The release on the Acucorp Web site assures the Acucorp customers — the majority of whom have little to do with the 3000 market — that the merger will bring benefits to them:

Micro Focus remains committed to delivering the highest level of support and business value to Acucorp customers. Specifically for Acucorp customers, the combination of the two companies will bring further improvement in support and maintenance capabilities. The company believes the future will provide broader development capacity to accelerate innovation to meet customers’ current and future demands.

Micro Focus CEO Stephen Kelly, who's brought a new management team on board in the past year, had more detailed comments on the purchase.

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HP tribal knowledge hopes to help 3000

HP hopes to stay in step with the needs of its 3000 customers this month, even while more than 70 years of experience with MPE/iX departs the company or the 3000 business. Corporate behavior relies on "tribal knowledge" to bridge the gap when longtime, well-versed leaders and executives depart. This month will be busy with the drumbeats of the 3000 tribe at HP, even while it loses a significant number of its warriors.

Customers who know the work of mainstays such as Jeff Vance, Mike Paivinen or Dave Wilde try to imagine how issues will be resolved, plans made and policies proposed without these tribal members.

"Jeff [Vance] has been a rock for the MPE community for as long as I have been using HP 3000 systems," said Joe Dolliver, an expert in the healthcare applications field and independent consultant at Dolliver's 3K Solutions firm. "I can't imagine HP or the 3000-L [newsgroup] without him."

Such loyalty stems from familiarity. Whether a customer agreed with Paivinen, Vance or Wilde, they often knew what to expect. Those expectations, and the intentions of the 3000 loyalists still inside of Hewlett-Packard, are what the tribal knowledge is supposed to carry forward and protect.

A search on "tribal knowledge" in Wikipedia yields a definition about knowledge carried forward without writing, in oral form. But the Wikipedia page also refers to "institutional memory," something closer to what the 3000 community will need from the HP successors of Craig Fairchild, Bill Cadier, Walt McCullough and Jim Hawkins — as well as new 3000 business manager Jennie Hou.

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Vance leaves creative, contact shoes to fill

Vancephoto Jeff Vance has acted as essential as postal carriers to the HP 3000 community during his 28 years at HP: traversing everywhere, bringing new solutions, essential to communication. His departure from the company leaves a hole that HP will work to fill with Craig Fairchild, another HP 3000 engineer whose decades of duties will now include part of Vance's regular tasks: being the public voice to the customer base, as well as an in-house advocate for the 3000 user's point of view.

Vance leaves HP along with Mike Paivinen, the most forward-looking HP staffer regarding the post-HP segment of the 3000's history. Jeff Vance leaves behind his own take on the future of HP's relationship with its 3000 customers, too. As recently as this week he posted a message on the 3000 and OpenMPE Internet mailing lists, restating how HP views your MPE/iX licenses.

But this avid mountain biker was at his best in customer contact at meetings, or in Command Interface development in his offsite lab. Over one rainy weekend during 2001, he told us in an interview, (right after HP's discontinue announcement) that he created "customer delight" CI enhancements for fun:

Stories are out there about things you wrote “because it was a rainy weekend.”

Well, that’s how I like to do it: If it’s a nice weekend I want to go out and do something fun, and if it’s a rainy weekend I have fun programming. Especially if I see leverage, if I’ve already been in the code for something else I’m doing and it’s just a matter of doing a little bit more. I like to be able to leverage as much work as I can into a patch, so there’s less administrative overhead and more time actually creating code.

This illustrates the generous spirit in Vance, something akin to the "information wants to be free" creed among the 3000's founding community. He explained about his decision to leave HP now, after a few other chances to do so — a choice seemingly centered on getting to new work closer to customers of a strategic product, in a much smaller company.

    "The decision was very difficult, as you can imagine. My entire career, since graduating from college, has been HP, MPE, and the 3000. It's been 28 memorable years, but since the end-of-life announcement in Nov 2001, the focus of my job evolved such that there were fewer opportunities to delight customers."

"I always have liked working with 3000 customers, even now. And, I have had really excellent managers and just plain good people here as my bosses over the years. The value of this cannot be overstated. My managers have supported every work decision I’ve made, while also providing me work-life balance, trust, independence, and their confidence."

"I like to create (invent!) and develop code and solutions to delight customers. Unfortunately, there are simply fewer opportunities for this kind of work on a non-strategic product, even though I still enjoy my chances to help customers continuing to use their 3000s to run their business. I tried to be a voice of the 3000 customers in our meetings where policies and decision were being made. I tried to find win-win scenarios."

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Pair of HP's 3000 vets retire; Wilde hands reins to Hou

A pair of HP engineers, steeped deepest in HP's 3000 development and post-2008 planning, announced they will leave HP at the end of May — the same month that the current e3000 business manager is handing over his reins to another HP 3000 veteran of more than 20 years.

Jeff Vance and Mike Paivinen will accept the Enhanced Early Retirement (EER) offer from HP for 2007, leaving behind decades of work on the HP 3000 and MPE/iX, as well as more than five years of service to a 3000 community in transition. Dave Wilde, who's been the HP 3000 "virtual division" general manager and e3000 business manager since 2002, reports that he's taking a new HP post to work in a vertical industry team that serves HP's Health and Life Sciences business.

While HP cannot replace the resource which Vance, Paivinen and Wilde represented to the 3000 community, the company will be carrying on their work in development, advocacy and management with current 3000 staff. Jennie Hou,  a veteran of more than two decades of 3000 experience who's been working as one of the e3000 R&D project managers, takes over for Wilde as business unit manager. Hou was HP's representative at the HP 3000 conference hosted last fall by the Greater Houston RUG, and she spearheaded this spring's announcement of the new Right To Use MPE/iX license.

While Vance has made the five years after HP's exit-the-market announcement bloom with MPE/iX enhancements, marshaling beta test patches into customer hands, Paivinen served as HP's liaison to OpenMPE — keeping the advocacy group updated with HP's long-range plans and current software procedures.

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The awards and rewards of Web support

Web pages probably deliver the most HP 3000 support from the vendor to the 3000 community this year. HP extended by two years its commitment to remain in the 3000 support business, until at least the end of 2008. The Web gives HP a means to do this without taxing its resources of live IT support engineers. People who own 3000s contribute to the knowledge that HP offers in Web support. But the real gold online comes from HP's 3000 engineers.

Nevertheless, the HP IT Response Center — ITRC, to the community — is described as an "online community" in this week's press release that touts another award for HP's Web support site:

[The ITRC is] an online community of IT professionals with an average of 1.5 million visits per month worldwide. The website provides enterprise and commercial customers with online tools, expert assistance from HP response center engineers, online training, community forums of IT experts and a broad, fully searchable multi-vendor knowledge base.

Customers can receive services and support for HP-UX, Linux, MPE/iX, NT, OpenVMS and Tru64 UNIX servers and workstations, as well as diverse tools and information for managing multi-vendor environments.

That's right, you see your MPE/iX brand right up there with some operating environments HP is still selling and installing. (Come to think of it, HP is still selling MPE/iX, since its Right to Use (RTU) licenses showed up in the price list this year.) The reason the 3000 and MPE get on the roster is because support has a much longer shelf life than software enhancements or new hardware.

HP just earned an award from the Localization Industry Standards Association naming the ITRC as one of the Ten Best international Web support sites. Other than the RTU, support is the one 3000 product HP wants you to buy — although that ITRC does deliver patches for free.

Continue reading "The awards and rewards of Web support" »