Here on the last day of 2007, we have the advantage of 12 months of perspective to decide on the three biggest stories of the year just ending. Most customers will agree on Number 1, and we'll get to that in a few paragraphs. But what other two stories had the most influence on the customer base?
3. In my view, the overall behavior of HP in patching situations comes very close to being the top stop story of the year. Twice in less than six months time of 2007, HP released patches during the year which only the vendor could create, considering the timeframe of the patch development.
If HP has truly been working to kill off the HP 3000 — as some wounded customers and partners insist — it would hold fast to a deadly intent: Draw down the available resource to repair internal problems in MPE/iX. Even if the vendor supplied support, creating patches for the entire customer base to use demonstrated a subtle agenda, it seems. HP doesn't want to be caught leaving a critical problem unfixed, at least not while it continues to charge someone for 3000 support.
2. The ecosystem became richer and more complete than ever. Whether it was MB Foster taking over ODBC support from HP labs, a swelling inventory of available HP 3000s, or the SCSI Pass Through tool to add new disk support — not to mention a white paper that outlines open source development techniques from the HP labs, illustrated by a Samba port — the future of the platform has no firm end before 2027. Third party partners span both the migration and homesteading needs of the community; MB Foster, Speedware, Allegro Consultants and a fleet of independent advisors raised their profiles and maintained five years of momentum for either side of the 3000 mission. After all, so many sites are homesteading until they complete migrations, or can afford the switch.
Moreover, that prediction of migration expertise being as pricey and rare as Y2K consulting, well, it never came to pass, not even one year beyond HP's envisioned end date. People still misunderstand the support aspect of the 3000, and others showed they hadn't found everything that could make a migration affordable and faster. There's much to learn, beliefs and outlooks to change, and a growing host of experts to help.
Even in the face of the number one story of the year, the ecosystem of OpenMPE maintained its mission. Proof of this relevance? HP lost a liaison to the OpenMPE group and named another. If OpenMPE were irrelevant to HP, such a move doesn't happen in 2007.
As for the top story of the year, most of us can guess that it involved two letters and two years.
1. HP extended its support period two years, through 2010 for the HP 3000. And the announcement came in September, at the suggestion of OpenMPE, so customers could have time to plan for their 2008 HP 3000 resources. It's true, the vendor now supports no more than one third of the systems still in production, by our estimate. But the presence of HP in the market in any way — even in a period where the vendor promises little if any patch development — helps define the useful lifespan of the server.
More than six years ago, HP recommended that the risks on the system made getting off it critical, a top priority for customers. But HP itself hasn't shut down all of its own HP 3000s. Meanwhile, the HP Services arm of the vendor calls the tune for how much farther the vendor will move along the 3000 support path. The vendor continues to charge for license transfers, and there's no end-date for the HP Service counsel for migration.
Two more years will slow some migrations, but it will also allow the vendor more time to become a partner in the next platform chosen by sites. We can't be sure of what's in store for 2008, but it's one of three remaining years of the system's vendor-supported lifespan.
Have a Happy New Year, and check back with us on Wednesday for a look at suggested New Year's resolutions for 2008. It's been a fun and captivating year for us here at the NewsWire. Thanks for another 12 months of this wild ride.