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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.

The answer was that HP wants to wait until its out of the 3000 market completely before it releases MPE/iX source. Paivinen said in an e-mail to the community

When HP no longer offers services that address the basic support needs of remaining e3000 customers, HP intends to offer to license HP e3000 MPE/iX source code to one or more third parties -- if partner interest exists at that time -- to help partners meet the basic support needs of the remaining e3000 customers and partners.

No release of source for future development has ever been promised. Basic support needs, which OpenMPE has defined as patch-buildiing

Then there's the "Gang of Six," the key requests the community demanded and needed within a year of hearing that HP was leaving the market. HP granted three outright: the ability to let a hardware emulator project proceed, including creation of new MPE licenses in the future; the protection of HP’s documentation about the system and freeware, including the Jazz Web site; and the removal of passwords on HP’s diagnostic software for the 3000.

The timing and details on HP's removal of the 3000's diagnostic passwords is also uncertain. There remain other questions that the 3000 group must still address.

Of the rest of the Six, 3000 hardware add-ons became a reality for awhile from HP, and now the third party market is delivering what the customers need. But HP wants to ensure its licenses for 3000 systems and MPE/iX remain intact. We wrote back in that summer of 2002

Although HP is taking slow, deliberate steps on making homesteading a viable future, it also recognizes that its customers are moving slower than expected toward other platforms.

More noteworthy to some customers: a list of what HP's 3000 group would not consider: Removing speed governors from the newest HP 3000 lines, the A-Class and N-Class. Making the 7.0 version of MPE/iX run on the very elderly (by now) 9x7 servers. There's little reason to believe HP will ever grant either of these requests, even with new staff in place to make decisions.

But the tribal knowledge we mentioned in our Friday entry also works in the customer's favor at OpenMPE, a group that's been teleconferencing with Paivinen for years. Recently the OpenMPE group delivered a report on the MPE build process to HP. The memories are clear among longstanding board members about what HP still needs to address post-2008.