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As my last official duty at last week's Technology Forum, I watched a fun film. HP produced it, and HP 3000 Business Manager Jennie Hou escorted me onto the closed expo floor to watch the film from the HP booth, just to make sure I'd seen it.

Disaster_button In a prior report, I mentioned the HP booth at the Tech Forum was big enough to require a tour guide. (I found the tour useful and enjoyable. In fact, one of the cooler parts of it was listening to the guide's voice over her headset follow her. Zoned speakers picked her up from point to point around the HP exhibits area.)

The film — which works as an HP marketing piece — unreeled in an unlikely spot at the booth: The HP NonStop display. HP used C4 explosive to make a bang-up demonstration of how a disaster would mean no more than two minutes of downtime. As they used to say on the SCTV show "Farm Film Report," HP blowed up its computers real good.

After watching HP's film, I believe the old "marketing sushi as cold, dead fish" image of HP's communications is long dead — or just as blowed-up as the computer configuration in the film. As an added touch, HP's Jack Mauger, Product Manager of the Business Continuity Products in the NonStop Enterprise Division, stood boothside wearing a white lab coat with the HP logo on the back. "Costume," he called it, in another repudiation of HP as an inept marketing firm. Perhaps being Number One in the IT marketplace brings budget enough to produce such drama.

Dsc04826 Mauger was also passing out portions of the exploded computer, encased in a handsome lucite block. (Click on the image at left if you're "ready for a close-up, Mr. DeMille.") I haven't had such an HP paperweight for my desk since the early 1990s. This one takes its place next to the Precision Risc Organization clock from the same era. Perhaps only time will be able to erase the Itanium-based systems, much as the calendar has caught up with PA-RISC designs.

The DR catch-phrase is "disaster-proof," a feature that many HP 3000 sites have experienced after floods, fires and the like. HP recovered five different environments after it used 65 pounds of C4 to destroy an Itanium-based system and attached storage. The film's high-energy narration says the vendor's test crew was simulating a gas line explosion, with a backup failover system connected less than a quarter-mile away.

No, MPE/iX was not among the recovered environments. Windows, Linux, HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop got the stopwatch treatment. It made me wonder if, during a wholesale migration of HP 3000 code, any NonStop servers have been evaluated by the risk-averse HP 3000 crowd.

The footnotes from Mauger included a story that the detonation and filming site was in Camden, Arkansas, where an electrical storm had fried out a nearby substation with a single lightning bolt strike just before shooting was to begin. For two days, the HP server and storage sat in a tent with portable cooling units. Meanwhile the HP film crew waited for the skies to clear. After all, 65 pounds of C4 is not something to hook up under threatening skies.

The customer who chooses HP as their Transition supplier might be more certain of HP's marketing prowess after seeing the film, complete with cute animals. Marketing was a downfall of HP's business plans for the HP 3000. The vendor has learned a few things since those mistakes were made. Mistakes, after all, are really the only things that teach new lessons.