HP told customers last month that it will extend its product support for the HP 3000 through 2010, although the two years beyond 2008 will not include any new MPE/iX patches. One reason for the extension: Customers need more time to migrate. Sometimes those delays are completely unavoidable.
The County of Roanoke in Virginia is moving its governmental applications off their HP 3000. Just about a month before HP extended its support date, 2008 was looking like a very rigorous deadline for IT director Diana Wilson. She had reported back in 2004 the county expected to be all migrated by 2006. We checked back in with her and several other migration-bound customers.
Our current schedule puts us out to 2008. We lost about a year of time when one of the new software vendors went bankrupt while we were in the middle of implementation (we are purchasing vendor applications to replace all of the HP 3000 apps). This caused us to have to start all over with the bid and award process for those applications.
Yesterday's story about delays due to vendor changes offers counsel on what to do when a new app provider leaves your radar screen — or has its flight pattern changed by an acquisition.
Wilson reported the county's plans to us a month before HP's most recent extension of support, making reference to the 2008 deadline the 3000 community understood at the time.
We've now selected vendors for all of the remaining applications and have implementation and deployment schedules for each. Our schedule is aggressive, but so far it looks like we will be able to meet the 2008 deadline.
There are other customers who see HP's extension of support as a reason to keep the 3000 on the support price list indefinitely. There are no firm numbers to examine about HP's 3000 support revenues or profits. HP doesn't release these figures, so the rumors of $100 million annually in service contracts and more than $20 million in profits will just have to remain rumors, unverified. HP Services is one of several HP operating groups who have a say in how long HP will stay in the 3000 business.
But one customer who replied to our story about the extension of HP support made his case without referencing what might be in it for HP's bottom line.
"I think they should do it indefinitely," said Michael Caplin of Aero Corporation, manufacturers of safety products. "HP can freeze software updates and software support, but what's the harm in supporting the hardware? It's the least they can do after abandoning the very customers who put them where they are today."