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A news era after old departures?

Ronatbrunch     A Paris waiter snapped the photo next to these words. The picture, taken on the first morning I brunched with my wife and NewsWire co-founder Abby, catches a look of sleepy, jet-lagged bliss. Why not? With a $28 breakfast before me on a sunny Sunday street, any other kind of expression would confound my memories.

    But back here in Austin, I muse about departures rather than arrivals. By the time you read these words, two mainstays of the HP Transition Story will have made their transition to retirement. A third 3000 stalwart will have moved on to another HP pasture. All three were engines of the news and announcements of the Transition Era — those stories you see to the right on this page.

    It is a unique view today to get up and realize that Jeff Vance will no longer be informing the 3000 community about policy, programs or promises. He tells us in our May print issue's changing of the guard article he’s served the 3000 customers for 28 years, his entire IT career. In that, he’s got something in common with some of our readers: two decades and more on the same enterprise system, knowing it like a good street map of Paris, aware of every hidden passage and double-named Rue.

   

June is also the first month without Mike Paivinen since HP made its 3000 exit announcement. I didn’t know Mike before November of 2001, except for a few glimpses of brilliance during technical meetings. But in the Transition Era, and especially in the first 18 months, Paivinen weathered every “what if” and “how about” and “why didn’t you” question that frothed from the mouth of a flummoxed 3000 customer.

    And he fielded those questions — the kind that have sparked countless Web exchanges over 3000 newsgroups — with the same kind of spirit you see on our cover. Wry, knowing, parental, sometimes frustrating. But unflinching, the kind of steady hand you hope for in a turbulent time.

    Finally, the departure of Dave Wilde closes a significant chapter of the 3000 saga. Wilde was left with what his predecessor and boss Winston Prather had created: a community thoroughly baffled and uniformly upset at HP’s business decision. HP’s management was reviled throughout Wilde’s tenure, but I never felt that emotion about him, through countless professional encounters. I often thought that one of the world’s worst summer jobs would be to work as the business manager of the HP 3000, post-2001. Wilde held that often-thankless job for five years, longer than any HP 3000 general manager, including Harry Sterling.

   These men are replaced by others in the 3000 group who’ve been essential, though more behind the scenes up to now. Paivinen and Vance’s workloads are so diverse they will be split up among not less than five HP 3000 veterans, by our accounting. As for Wilde, he leaves his reins to Jennie Hou, a veteran so dedicated that she toiled in the hard fields of Oracle for MPE/iX. Some large customers appreciated the work she delivered. So many more seemed to wonder either 1. Why Oracle would ever be a good bet for the 3000, with IMAGE overwhelming all apps, or 2. Why Oracle wasn’t better on a platform with a tiny installed base, using Oracle’s yardstick.

   That kind of determination, in the face of little thanks, seems to be a hallmark of the best HP manager still protecting the 3000 interests. As a teller of 3000 tales, I can hope the community will see as much communication and contact in the years to come as it got from Wilde, Paivinen and Vance.

   The bromide I recall at these moments is that people of this caliber cannot be replaced. Trees with this many rings are among the most prized in any forest. I wish for as many rings in all of our futures — to keep the our stories in print and on this blog flowing for the many years of Transition still on our plates, reports steaming like so much fresh bread at a French breakfast.

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