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OpenMPE letter draws HP response

   HP 3000 advocates at OpenMPE believe the transfer of source code to the volunteer group should begin now. But HP’s 3000 group officials continue to keep their calendar deadlines intact for MPE/iX licensing. HP intends to license, but scheduling is another matter, HP officials report.

   Jennie Hou, the business manager for HP’s e3000 operations, said that the open letter from OpenMPE’s board has been read and discussed by HP’s 3000 management team. However, HP will not be following any proposed November announcement of a timetable to license MPE/iX source in 2009.

    That process is not being accelerated even though HP will halt patch development for the HP 3000 during 2009. The availability of Hewlett Packard support for the 3000 customer, in any form, will determine the start date for any licensing of MPE/iX to third parties. HP recently extended its support for MPE/iX through 2010.

   “Other than altering the timeline to 2010, our intent [to license] stays the same,” she said.

   HP announced in December 2005 that it intends to license parts of MPE/iX to interested third parties when basic support is not available from HP any longer. But just because HP calls its 2009-10 support “Mature Product Support without Sustaining Engineering,” rather than Basic Support, doesn’t change the timeline. The transfer clock still starts when HP exits all of its 3000 support business, according to HP 3000 community liaison Craig Fairchild.

   “The intent has always been that when HP is no longer in the MPE/iX or HP 3000 support business,” he said. “That’s when we would proceed with this licensing endeavor.”

   OpenMPE volunteers made a case in October for a rapid start to source code licensing arrangements. The board said in a letter to HP that by the end of December, only one year will remain until HP will not develop new patches, even for critical bugs. HP and OpenMPE agree that one year will be required to transfer the knowledge of source code and build processes. OpenMPE wants to ensure patches can be created starting in 2009.

   But HP said its lack of patch development during 2009 and 2010 will still meet HP customer needs.

    HP’s own business needs play a part in the timetable, too. HP’s 3000 support business — the contracts with the customers who continue to rely on the vendor for MPE/iX and HP 3000 hardware fixes — require the vendor to stick to its licensing timetable announced in late 2005.

   “That is the main driver for that [business decision],” Hou said of maintaining HP’s 3000 support business. “We believe that these [licensing] triggers have not been initiated at this point in time — that is, HP remains in the 3000 support business.”

   Even the Mature Product Support to begin in 2009 will be enough to meet the needs of “the vast majority of our customers,” Fairchild said. “For the customers for whom MPS without SE doesn’t meet their needs, we would encourage them to contact HP to explore structuring a customer-specific support package.”

   Fairchild added that even during the current 2007-2008 support period, when Mission Critical Support has not been for sale from HP, customers can contact the vendor to attempt to arrange more extensive 3000 support.

   “This is a very consistent message that follows the model we presented at the HP Technology Forum,” he said. “There is an expectation that customers should have of an overall declining HP 3000 ecosystem over time. Part of the reason for sharing this model with customers is to reinforce and recognize the recommendation that customers migrate off the 3000 and onto other HP platforms as quickly as possible.”

    Even though HP is willing to try to maintain Mission Critical or customer-specific support arrangements — which could include critical patches — the vendor sees a term through 2010 when 3000 parts availability will decline and MPE/iX expertise will become more scarce.

    The support extensions just announced doesn’t trigger any acceleration of HP’s plans for transfers, the vendor says, because the extensions were sparked by customers whose migrations need more time to complete.

   “This extension is to offer the customers another layer of services that will be adequate for that extra two-year timeframe,” Hou said.