HP 3000s may have a longer lifespan than even homesteaders can kindle. Being such a different system from its replacements, this computer might even continue to do useful duty as an archive device.
Mike Hornsby of Beechglen took note of this in a message on the HP 3000 newsgroup. "Given the complexity of recovering and rebuilding an HP 3000 system from tapes only, many HP 3000 shops are continuing to run the HP 3000 in archive mode or contracting the hosting of their HP 3000 out."
Hornsby's company is one of several in the HP 3000 ecosystem offering a hosted home for archived data. "We have seen many HP 3000s converted to other applications/platforms, only to find out that they have ongoing issues requiring access to the data," he said. He reports that companies are keeping data on their 3000s for periods that run from 10 years into the future to an indefinite period of time.
"These requirements tend to be concentrated, but not limited to, payroll and healthcare records," he added. "One recent urgent case for historical data access from an archived HP 3000 application came from a school district that needed to produce a high school transcript to satisfy a very political and public request."
If the customers are large enough, this archival backup can influence even a supplier as large as HP in planning its future of 3000 support. A platform so stable — because so many are frozen now, barring changes — is less costly to support.
This may not be the afterlife that Hewlett-Packard imagined for the HP 3000s still running. But companies and strategies of the 21st Century tend to be cautious. A 3000 in limited duty is a better mechanism for archives than tapes, Hornsby says.
One aspect [of archiving] besides life expectancy of the media, would be the availability of the exact tape device, backup software, and OS version combination that originally made the backup.
From a long term view, it is important to consider the backups as an archive consisting of:
- the backup media (tapes)
- backup listing
- the HP original OS media
- any third party software installation media
- SLT/OS on bootable media
- at least one of the original devices