What was done to MPE for good in 1990
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A Unix feature to move you

Six years ago, HP calculated that much of its 3000 community would move to HP-UX. Enterprise customers need an enterprise-grade replacement, right? Something with an HP badge on it, already tested in mission-critical environments. HP's Unix seemed to HP like a natural fit.

Not so fast, said a lot of the 3000 marketplace, the ones willing to migrate. Windows looks like what we already use on desktops, plus its costs less in capital acquisation expenses. (The operating costs are a whole other matter, depending on how good your Windows staff is.) Other Unix solutions knocked on the door of opportunity, too, the gate HP swung open with its "we're getting out of the 3000 community" announcement.

But HP-UX is more than Windows-calibre, as some migration sites can already attest. (Don't look for too many of them in the Ecometry e-commerce village, but the Summit credit unions are hip-deep in HP-UX.) HP-UX is deeper, richer, more tuned to a large-scale customer. So the HP-loyal sites got to work on HP-UX migration. HP has only made this solution better over those six years, but some of the improvement uses pretty old ideas, turned new again.

Remember Application Service Providers, from the 1990s? The ASPs were supposed to make 3000 ownership an infrequent option. HP even opened up its own ASP center, someplace in Idaho, for application firms to host upon.

Now the essence of ASP returns in Software as a Service (SaaS). Don't look for this in your MPE/iX bag of tools. ASPs never took off in the 3000 community, but SaaS might be a real reason to mount the big task of moving your computing away from a not-broken-anytime-soon HP 3000 environment.

HP says in its Is SaaS right for you? Web page:

Increasingly, organizations are turning to Software as a Service – a delivery model where applications are typically rented on demand, on a per-user basis.

IDC, the Framingham, Massachusetts research firm, estimates that the worldwide software-on-demand delivery model will reach $14.5 billion (U.S.) by 2011, representing a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent.

HP has always wanted to grow its business in services, but the costs have kept many a small to midsize business out of the range of that ramp-up. These solutions, however, keep getting pushed down to the rest of the IT customer base, the companies that are mulling Windows as an enterprise platform right alongside Unix.

Now that HP's Mercury Interactive and Opsware acquisitions are expected to generate sales, HP is giving customers a reason to consider their services. We first heard about HP's plans for these offerings in the summer at the HP Technology Forum. At the Speed Interviewing (think Dating) afternoon, HP's service offerings promised better and easier adoption of the ITIL standards. HP had a role in drafting these "how to organize an IT service" standards, which were just updated earlier this year.

SaaS is part of the new HP IT Service  Management (ITSM) solution that "helps IT organizations continually monitor, measure and improve their business value while increasing the efficiency of IT service delivery." The eager HP press kit promises that

The solution includes major enhancements to:

  • HP Service Manager 7.0 – enables automated service lifecycle management to manage business services from a user perspective to help deliver higher quality services to the business at a lower cost. Problem detection and resolution can be accelerated through integrations HP Universal CMDB and HP BSM solutions. This is also offered through Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, with which customers can use software “on demand” over the Internet.
  • HP Decision   Center 2.0 – helps IT staff manage and improve the quality of service delivery by helping IT organizations make informed decisions to improve business processes while minimizing negative business impact. It provides pre-configured metrics and analytics based on ITIL v3 to enable the business-centric measurements needed for continual service improvement.

There are ways to learn how to make use of this next-level IT design, via HP services and training.

  • HP Blueprint and Training for Service Manager  7.0 – provides best practices for standardizing and automating processes to accelerate deployment of ITIL v3 and implementation of HP Service Manager. These services help customers improve the efficiency and quality of IT operations, ensure they meet regulatory reporting requirements and reduce operational risk.
  • HP IT Service Management Assessment  Services – helps customers continually improve the quality of service management skills and processes. With enhancements that include the new ITIL v3 processes, this service helps improve productivity and reduce reactive process changes. This frees IT staff to focus more on strategic projects supporting business growth.

Seventeen summers ago, I cruised around San Francisco Bay with a boatload of journalists, all on the HP teat, eating and drinking and listening to press and analyst relations staffers from Hewlett-Packard. They were talking Computer Integrated Manufacturing back then, but the heart of the vision was making most of HP's money in offerings well away from operating systems and hardware. "Frankly, we'd like to make most of our revenues off services," said Charlie, who was boiling down the talk to the sound bites we needed.

SaaS and ITSM look like promising reasons to make a move beyond the HP 3000, if your company can handle the budget to adopt HP's Services role. A manager might be able to argue that if you're spending the money to migrate, getting more than a Unix copy of what's still working just fine, well, that would represent a real return on investment.

Early next week HP will give a Webcast on Service Manager 7, another component in its Business Technology Optimization offering. The Webcast is likely to be high-level (C-level language), so getting a CIO or VP in front of a browser could be useful. Sign up for the Webcast at the HP page. I recall a manager at a Southeast Texas manufacturer being happy about HP's migration push, because he could finally rewire the company's IT to keep up with growth. If this sounds like you, maybe BTO, ITIL, ITSM and SaaS can take places in your new computing picture.