PC business leads HP's Q2
Third parties: Fact of life for Windows support

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.

HP said, when asked why the RTU was making a 3000 price list appearance:

When purchased upgrade kits were no longer available, we realized that customers needed a way to create a valid system.

Additionally, there seemed to be confusion in the marketplace on how customers could ensure they had valid e3000 systems. We’ve been working on it for a number of months, trying to get this out in a timely fashion.

We’re putting a product back on the price list to enable this for the 3000. We’ve been winding down the 3000, so it was not expected that we would do this. We’re really doing this to accommodate customers who need to upgrade their systems.

So since HP's License Transfer operations don't demand an RTU on an upgrade, what's the RTU really doing for HP? Maybe just ensuring that something like another PA-RISC server, say a cheap L-Class, doesn't become an HP 3000 just because a program can modify that PA-RISC server's stable storage. Oh, you can do such a thing, with legal software. Some customers already have purchased such a Generic Replace Box from Advant/Ideal

But it always appeared to us that the RTU was a means to require a payment to HP for an MPE/iX license moved from one 3000 to another. Plus, we were most impressed with the language in that RTU briefing that makes it clear none of HP's non-3000 PA-RISC servers would qualify for a valid MPE/iX license from HP — no matter how the stable storage might ultimately ID such a system.

That 3000 which was once another PA-RISC machine won't ever qualify for HP support, either. But if you're a customer who purchases 3000 support from a third party vendor, you've got "air cover" — as one reseller called it — to make your generic replacement box a stable, supported part of your enterprise.

HP said it's got no taste for legal threats to enforce the RTU at this stage of the 3000's life, regardless of license appearances. That stance, of course, is a far cry from the ads and lapel buttons of 1999, when an FBI's enforcement threat and the FBI logo got pirated in the ads. That problem, by the way, prompted the FBI to demand those ads disappear.