Advocacy group OpenMPE has endured some slings and arrows from impatient 3000 users during the last five years. Too much talk, too little action, say the critics. The complaints look unfounded when HP's trump cards are considered. The vendor needs to do only what it sees as vital to the 3000 customers. OpenMPE cannot insist on anything.
Meanwhile, HP retains the ability to dictate terms on the license: what kind of company, what kind of staffing. The source code is, after all, HP's intellectual property, locked up behind a generation's worth of legal restrictions.
But these volunteers are trying to crack open the HP vaults on behalf of the community this month, firing off a letter that says the time is now for HP to share the MPE/iX source. OpenMPE even suggested a deadline for the decision. The deadline could be useful to HP to help budget and fund the transfer process in its upcoming fiscal year.
Reminding Hewlett-Packard of the vendor's promises to share the operating system internals with a lab outside of HP, OpenMPE says in a letter released today that pruning away patch creation for MPE/iX in 2009 starts the clock on an outside organization's patch development effort. OpenMPE wants to be that organization.
The letter signed by the board's nine volunteers, asks HP to permit OpenMPE to take on engineered support of MPE/iX in 2009, since HP won't do the "sustaining engineering" of patching anymore.
With HP’s September 26, 2007 announcement, HP effectively split hardware support from software support and has left some customers in the position of requiring engineered software support after January 1, 2009 that will not be available from HP.
In light of these statements, OpenMPE calls upon HP to begin the transition of MPE source code responsibility to OpenMPE. Then OpenMPE can, in a timely manner, prepare for and deliver engineered software support to the members of the MPE community that require it beyond HP’s stated end of engineered software support, December 31, 2008.
HP said earlier this year that it is still considering when the transfer of the source code, or parts of the OS, to OpenMPE would be appropriate. OpenMPE makes a case that "the time is now."
Both HP and OpenMPE say that 12 months is an acceptable period to give OpenMPE time to learn the building process for patching, as well as bring the OpenMPE virtual lab up to speed. Most important: a real benefit to sell to a community that has not been ready to pay for the OpenMPE engineering. No one is sure, at the moment, what that engineering will entail or when it will be available.
A transition period of one year should be sufficient to properly complete the documentation and transition process of MPE source from HP. OpenMPE stands ready to provide engineered software support for our members after HP no longer provides this service as of December 31, 2008.
OpenMPE’s Board and the members of the MPE community look forward to HP’s announcement by the start of HP’s new fiscal year on November 1, 2007 fulfilling their public commitments to the community, that is – completing the software review process and the transition of MPE’s source code to interested third parties.
The open letter from OpenMPE reminds us all that Ross McDonald, MPE/iX R&D Director of Engineering, told the community in late 2005 that an outside license for MPE/iX is a matter of when, not if.
Quoting from Mr. McDonald's December 20, 2005 message:
"1) HP intends to offer basic reactive support services for e3000 systems through at least December, 2008."
"3) 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."
By November 1, OpenMPE says in its letter today, HP should follow though on its intentions.