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February 2008

January 2008

The best CEO money can buy

Even if you're a homesteading customer, your steps back from HP can't keep you from seeing the CEO's windfall. Government securities reports said HP CEO Mark Hurd earned $26 million in compensation for the fiscal year 2007. If that seems like a lot of money, just remember that Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens got 2007 pay of $24 million, pro-rated. Clemens won just one-third of his games, including a flame-out in the playoffs.

Clemens may be headed to the baseball Hall of Fame, but Hurd will take a spot in HP's history as the man who made Carly Fiorina's outsized schemes work for Hewlett-Packard. I say outsized because Hurd did rightsizing on HP as soon as he took over for the fired Fiorina. 15,000 employees lost jobs, some of them who held key HP 3000 information which HP might call upon in a sticky support situation.

That's the darkness Hurd threw over the 3000 customer who's staying with the system and still paying HP support dollars. On the bright side, he brought on the light of a number 1 PC market share and the climb to top revenue rating once IBM left the PC field. Most of the largess on the HP board's part was due to HP beating its 2007 financial goals.

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User conferences post savings updates

Both of the HP 3000 user group events of 2008's first half delivered more details this week, and the Greater Houston RUG (GHRUG) and HP Technology Forum can save community members money by using the news.

Ghruglogo2008 First, the soonest event, GHRUG's International Technology Conference on March 14-15. The $175 event has the lowest rate on hotels, with options that run from $69 to $99 a night. GHRUG has reserved a block of suites at $99 per night at the Residence Inn, just down the street from the conference venue at the University of Houston Clear Lake campus. You can call the hotel directly to make your reservation: 800-804-6835. There's also a Best Western NASA another mile down the street with a $69 rate on (But the conference has its rooms reserved at the Residence Inn, if you want to support the user group's efforts.)

Since the GHRUG conference is within two miles of NASA's Johnson Space Center, there's accomodations a-plenty. The user group has a map of the options on its conference Web site.

Time and travel costs often turn out to be the deal breakers in getting a pass to get yourself trained. GHRUG's meeting could cost less than $500 for the conference fee and hotel, not counting the cost of driving or airfare.

The Encompass user group, which is putting on the HP Technology Forum June 16-19, has extended its call for papers through this Friday (Feb. 1). If your proposal is accepted, you'll get a free pass to the show in Las Vegas.

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One important job OpenMPE can do

HP has unfinished business in its 3000 labs: testing and releasing the scores of MPE/iX patches created since 2005. Yes, some of that engineering is more than two years old, and still not being released to the 3000 community.

Just in time, OpenMPE raises up its collective head this week and announces another election for board volunteers. We remain on duty, the group says, with the desire to help 3000 owners who remain on their systems. OpenMPE needs a mission, one that won't tax its resources too much but feels essential to the customers.

CEO Rene Woc of Adager proposed a task. Let OpenMPE administer the beta testing of those patches, enhancements caught in HP's logjam. Right now only HP Support customers can do the beta testing of these lab creations. If they're important enough to build, aren't they important enough to release? HP must've considered the patches essential when creating them. But HP support customers aren't biting off these new bytes. Meanwhile, OpenMPE has pan-community service in its essential charter. Secretary Donna Garverick-Hofmeister says support — which includes patch release — is a big part of what OpenMPE wants to offer the community. It can speak for the thousands of sites which cannot test patches, she said.

If it weren’t for OpenMPE, all these companies coming individually to HP for post-end of life support wouldn’t have a collective voice. HP could tell each company whatever they wanted without letting them know that other companies are asking the same questions. In my opinion, it’s OpenMPE that’s uniting these voices.

OpenMPE volunteers take a lot of guff from community bystanders. The organization hasn't paid its board members one dime, nor have the volunteers earned any advantage except a ringside view of how HP considers the 3000 market. Off the record, as HP insists. But releasing those patches via a program that taps non-HP-support customers for testing — that could deliver as much benefit as creating any patch during 2009 or later. No HP source code license required, either.

The patch release is an issue for migrating customers, too. Many who intend to migrate will do so years from now. Patches frozen in HP's labs can help migrating sites make the best use of a system that will still be working years from now. What needs to change? HP's ideals for those who can test patches. Frankly, HP support customers might be the least qualified testers in the community.

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The best don't get hacked

Some HP 3000 customers survive security hacks through the blessing of obscurity. Most security experts will tell you that if a hacker wants to breach your system, there's not much you can do to prevent a focused attack.

But you have more going for you when you put sensitive data in the MPE/iX environment. You can prowl through a posting on the hacker site to see how passwords — that so simple but powerful barrier — keep mischief and mayhem out of your IT life. (Hackers are busy, oh so busy. Have a look through for the latest hijinks and sabotage. Today, Best Buy has to pull digital picture frames off shelves because some of the frames were infected with a virus.)

Somebody named "Eastwind" (don't they always sound like bad '70s spy names?) put up a report on called Hacking the HP 3000. At the end of some rambling tips, Eastwind brags, "The best don't get caught, and the best know who they are."

But the best 3000 system managers use passwords on everything — account, user, group, even sensitive files. It would take more than the rambling (the hacker's own description) of to get beyond good 3000 password skills. Good passworders, you know who you are.

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OpenMPE: Another opening, another vote

For the sixth springtime in a row, OpenMPE has opened its board of directors call which always precedes the group's annual election. This time around, however, two-thirds of the board of director seats are up for grabs.

In years past that has meant that nearly everybody who wants to volunteer for OpenMPE can win a post doing just that. In the past two elections candidates outnumbered open posts by exactly one. There's not a lot of perks to recommend this work. No pay, no office, not even a free e-mail account. Just hours of work talking to HP and one another about How's It Gonna End, to crib from a fine Tom Waits song.

What's going to end, someday, is HP's explicit involvement with the HP 3000, as well as sending out updates to the 3000's operating system. Not this year, no. But maybe next year, or in 2010, the vendor will be putting its source of MPE/iX away for good. OpenMPE has really always been about that moment. One of the three people in OpenMPE whose seat isn't up for grabs, Birket Foster, has long said the group only wants to make sure the operating environment is tucked away in HP's hibernation caverns so the community can wake it up way out there in the future.

If these two things seem in opposition — the need to dig up from the archives a product whichh HP wants to put to rest forever — then that explains why so many OpenMPE requests and demands have gotten the "we will see" answer your parents gave you when they didn't want to tell you no as a kid. HP never saw the need for OpenMPE, but the vendor has expressed gratitude for what the advocates have wrenched from HP's endgame machinery.

But you could see all that for yourself on the board, which is looking for candidates right now. Send an e-mail to board secretary Donna Garverick-Hofmeister to toss a hat into this year's ring. The voting begins Feb. 11 and runs through Feb. 29. You need to be a member to vote, but that's free, by joining at OpenMPE's Web page for membership.

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New slim solutions from HP

While Apple was using January to introduce its ultra-slim MacBook Air computer, HP rolled out a different kind of skinny computing with the introduction of three thin clients, the computer desktop choice with no moving parts. The only thing that moves are the bytes to connect to a company-wide server.

6720t HP 3000 customers are choosing Windows as a replacement environment when they migrate away from the 3000, and some of these migrating firms are pursuing a drastic reduction in capital costs. HP says that thin clients can offer up to 25 percent savings over desktops' capital costs and up to 80 percent in maintenance savings.

What's most interesting is that these new thin clients will not ship from HP bearing Windows Vista. Microsoft's Windows XPe is loaded onto solid-state wonders like the HP Compaq 6720t Mobile Thin Client. This is a thin client meant to be used like a laptop, but with all of its data hosted on a server instead of a local drive, HP says.

Mobilethinlaptop The newest model, one of the first three HP rolled out since it bought thin client specialist Neoware last year, looks pretty much like a laptop. What's of interest in this $725 solution is what has been excised from the traditional client concept. Weight. Storage (just a 1GB flash drive stores data locally). Oh, and power. If you choose HP's slimmest desktop (above), expect the energy consumption to go from 80 watts to 16. Even the mobile thin client laptop only draws 65 watts when it's plugged in for charging.

You can excise more than just the bloat of Vista in this thin client solution, too. Microsoft doesn't even have to be on the system, although the XP's e does stand for embedded. A new thin client from HP doesn't have to put you in bed with Microsoft at all.

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Leadership for the community

The HP 3000 community heads into its seventh year of Transition as of this month, and the customers both migrating and homesteading look toward leadership. Candidates abound for spots to direct the community, with the influence of ideas and the strength of customers — not to mention the years of dedication.

But who will stand out this year, the last one that HP claims to be fixing MPE/iX's bugs and problems? There's HP itself, with Jennie Hou speaking at for the 3000 operations. Ross McDonald is calling the shots on lab resources, however, and other HP executives in the HP Services group steer HP's 3000 future even closer – but make no appearance of leadership.

Platinum Migration partners offer a good prospect for leaders. HP began with four of these, but both of the remaining players serve both homesteading and migrating HP 3000 shops, which permits Birket Foster at MB Foster and Chris Koppe at Speedware to wield much influence among the community. Both men, incidentally, hold board of director posts — Koppe at the Encompass user group, Foster still chairman of OpenMPE.

Another leadership angle comes from the biggest customer shares among the 3000 community. Adager, Robelle and VEsoft all count their customers in the thousands, and each of these companies have offered solutions and solved problems since 1980 and even before, for Adager and Robelle. If there is to be a winking out of the light of the 3000, it's impossible to imagine these three companies not being on the scene to say goodnight to all.

But can any user or advocacy organization really reach for leadership of the 3000 community, both staying and going? Encompass has its eyes set on the migrating customers. OpenMPE has been serving the end-game needs of homesteaders. One group has resources but seems set to lead away from 3000 futures. The other is starved for resources and stymied to unearth any resolve from HP to dictate the vendor's end-game's rules. Always, HP has said, the most vital questions on post-3000 life will be answered later, closest the time the vendor exits.

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Spring GHRUG show moves forward

Bouncing back from a delay of six months, the GHRUG user group's two-day conference is proceeding to its March 14-15 dates, including Alfredo Rego of Adager as its keynoter.

The five-track meeting promises up to 70 speaker slots, with many already filled in at the event's Web site. The University of Houston Clear Lake Campus, just south of the city and on the way to the Gulf of Mexico's inviting shores, will host the meeting.

Pre-registration is already underway for the two-day meeting that will include tracks on Homesteading and Migration education, as well as a full track on the useful and efficient HP blade server technology. A PDF form, to be returned to the user group by e-mail or postal main, gets you in for $175. A Web page not only shows who's already set to present, but invites speakers to fill in still-open slots.

GHRUG is working with HP user group Encompass to promote the event, according to reports. The speaker lineup related to HP 3000s includes some of most experienced experts in the field for the Homesteading and Migration tracks.

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Homesteaders dodge risky business(es)

Long ago, it seems, HP said that risks revolve around using the HP 3000 as a mission-critical platform. There are risks in using any computing solution, from security breaches and malware to the general malaise of applications and platforms which under-perform while being over-promised, or exhibit flash-of-light lifespans.

For the HP 3000 site which homesteads, however, a risk does not lie in MPE/iX, IMAGE or the hardware that hosts those two marvels of software. No, the prospective fault lies not in ourselves, as customers, but in those stars of suppliers, to twist a bit of Shakespeare around. Put more plainly, providers going out of business pose the greatest risk, according to Resource 3000's Stan Sieler.

Sieler, who's part of the Allegro Consultants' brain trust, addressed the question at the most recent e3000 Community Meet in the Bay Area. "The biggest risk I've seen is vendors going out of business," he reported. "We've had customers using Bradford's SPEEDEDIT, and SPEEDEDIT has a bug in it as of 2007 which made it stop running because of a weird clock limitation." Allegro patched around the problem for those customers. Bradford Business Solutions supports SPEEDEDIT no more.

But there's a more widespread risk: Being unable to move any application or solution from one system to another. Upgrade your 3000 at the sweet prices of today and you might find some programs are frozen onto the older hardware.

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Small support shops fill big shoes

Across the 3000 community, from one end of the US to another and on to the lands beyond North America, individuals and small companies keep 3000s running. Not necessarily just their own systems, either. In various sizes, firms deploy years of MPE/iX experience, sometimes from a single expert, to make sure a 3000 stays mission critical.

Michael Anderson left the Spring Independent School District in Texas this year, taking his knowledge to launch J3K Solutions. He emphasizes in COBOL for now after doing freelance support for a Houston-area 3000 customer. He tended to the customer's application faithfully. A disk failed a few years ago at this client's site and Anderson introduced the concept of "backup" (don't laugh) and created scripts to apply this essential process.

The range of support from independents runs from the Pivital Solutions and Allegro/Ideal concepts, with multiple experts and a team to send on-site, to teams specializing in PowerHouse like id Enterprises, all the way down to one-man operations. Somewhere in between are companies like Data Management Associates, run by Ralph Berkebile and dedicated to users in the Southern California area. Re-dedicated with a sense of reprieve, he reported recently.

The shoes these supporters fill are those of HP, still making its exit from MPE/iX and even HP-UX support.

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Do 3000 people score 5 on openness?

More than five years ago, debates still raged over which desktop environment was best for business. HP 3000 pros and veterans discussed the subject at length on the 3000-L mailing list. Everybody agreed that the Mac was a minority choice; many of these pros overlooked the fact that the HP 3000 was a minority choice, too. The system never cracked 70,000 units sold. Today's VMS and AS/400 communities still count more than 300,000 each.

Air But Mac vs. PC must have become less of a technical argument, because a growing number of the most seasoned 3000 developers and management experts now use Macs. I spent some time with a few of them during my MacWorld trip this week. Many others have adopted the Mac as their desktop of choice, if not switching altogether.

You might be surprised at this list of users. Alfredo Rego and Rene Woc of Adager. Former SIGSysman chairman of 10 years Scott Hirsh. Java on HP 3000 guru Mike Yawn. IMAGE database creator Fred White. 3000 consultant, developer and aide to backup vendors Bruce Hobbs. Father of the HP 3000 open source revolution Mark Klein, who's the former lab director for Orbit Software. Michael Casteel, who wrote the Unison Maestro job scheduler (as well as a Solitaire program for Macs.)

I'm sometimes surprised at who I find booting up with an Apple logo on their screen after decades of HP 3000 use, coupled with Windows experience. Pleasantly surprised, because like all of those above, I boot that way, using a Unix that's had its thorns pulled. A Mac chooser is what a branding company calls "a customer with Openness 5," according to a Computerworld article. I think openness goes right alongside using HP 3000s. Your community still thinks different — even when it is migrating.

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Your next Unix platform?

Go ahead and snigger, or scoff. Dismiss another version of Unix if you want. But when you're considering a replacement for the HP 3000 in your enterprise, you could think beyond Windows. Being at MacWorld this week, as I have been, makes it easier to promote Apple's OS X as your next MPE/iX alternative.

We have posted stories about enterprise level applications on our blog last year, during the 2007 MacWorld. But never mind about this year's Steve Jobs Turtleneck Talk, sending out hours of hot air with the new MacBook Air portable. This conference also has an IT track, where the advice to managers mentioned a major change for Apple's environment.

OS X is now one of just four Unix implementations with official certification:

The official UNIX 03 certification, which entitled the company to use the Unix brand came from the Open Group thanks in part to the efforts of Apple's OS boss Kevin Van Vechten and his team and puts Mac OS X Leopard alongside the Big Three: Sun, IBM, and HP, according to Infoworld.

Of those three, HP really wants to sell the 3000 customer HP-UX. Except oops, that environment doesn't have a desktop client. OS X does. Sure cuts down on the learning curve.

Then there's the question of app availability. There are company suppliers for large enterprises here, though not the SAP-level solution peddlers. But that absence is not really a bad thing for the average HP 3000 shop, serving a small to medium business (SMB)

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Be exhaustive and Eloquent in show choices

Even as I research the world of the enterprise Mac and OS X today, I recognize that's further afield than many HP 3000 sites are willing to migrate. There's good choices for conferences much closer at hand, in the sense that they are nearer to what you know. One show even features the closest solution to IMAGE, the one tool you will miss the most in Life After the HP 3000.

Eloquence is hosting its 2008 conference for the IMAGE workalike database, with a special focus on the TurboIMAGE user, next month on Feb. 22. A discount rate for a hotel convenient to the Ratingen, Germany show venue expires on January 21. Marxmeier AG, creators and suppliers of Eloquence, call their meeting the Eloquence TurboIMAGE Conference.

This technical conference is a forum for customers and partners with a special interest in the Eloquence TurboIMAGE compatibility functionality. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about recent developments for Eloquence and the Eloquence TurboIMAGE option. Meet the Marxmeier Software AG R&D team, obtain the latest information on new releases and features, discuss your experiences, share thoughts and network with peers.

View an agenda online at the Marxmeier site, and register there. Enjoy a Feb. 21 pre-conference dinner, much like the productive one at last fall's e3000 Community Meet.

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Off to look at another Unix

Sooner or later, the community's experts say, your computing will be done on a system other than an HP 3000. More to the point, your applications — whether you replace them, migrate code, or dream up another alternative — will run on an environment other than MPE/iX and IMAGE.

Your time to migrate may not have come. It might never arrive while you're in charge of IT at your company. But when the movement comes, why not choose Unix?

And if you're choosing Unix, why not choose OS X, and the Macintosh?

I mean to get more information to that question, so I'm heading off to San Francisco today for the 2008 MacWorld conference. No, I'm not standing on line at 5AM to hear Steve Jobs talk about his latest movie download service or phone feature. Jobs is a powerful speaker, and Apple is quite the visionary about Thinking Different. But the Black Turtleneck talk is more sport than business.

But since we spend a good slice of our time these days thinking about business on Unix here in the 3000 community, why discriminate? Apple may not practice all that it should yet to pursue IT enterprise business. But neither did HP when the 3000 market changed in the 1990s, and suddenly Unix and Windows were right alongside the proven MPE/iX environments. HP had to evolve the 3000 message.

The OS X environment now has VMWare selling a virtualization solution. You can hardly swing a dead mouse at an HP Windows talk without hearing about the vendor's close partnership with VMWare. An enterprise server-based virtualization solution for OS X Server is on the horizon, too.

Wednesday kicks off a two-day Mac IT conference within this week's MacWorld, a conference that's like the old Interex conferences of the 1990s: A solitary gathering point for the user and management community of OS X. Developers get their own once-a-year show in summer, sort of like the IPROF meetings of the old 3000 days.

I expect Mac IT users to have the same needs they had last year — namely, Apple needs to beef up its support for enterprise customers. This has a familiar ring too, if you attended the HP Management Roundtable events from the Interex days.

Continue reading "Off to look at another Unix" »

Learning about a missed opportunity

What would HP have looked like, or dreamed up, if not for a choice it made 30 years ago? We found this quote out in the IT enterprise trade journal world.

HP had a campaign for its new Touchscreen desktops in the 1980s called "Imagine." It even had a cute butterfly. So your vendor is capable of letting its corporate hair down, more so now than ever.

But not when it mattered, at least back in the days when choices were being made like Bill Gates bringing on MS-DOS. Here's the story, one that Steve Jobs may not tell next week at MacWorld:

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.' "

With Apple's stock now trading at almost three times the cost of HP's, Jobs still hasn't gotten through college. I don't believe Bill Gates has, either.

Apparently there's an education to be earned in many places.

Mission-critical, disaster-ready, in big places

HP eased your community into the Transition Era for 3000s with a tidy sweep of the broom. Companies would be staying on the HP 3000 for years to come, yes. But they'd be small companies, or enterprises with little to no growth.

You get the idea. The large companies will be migrating, or already have done so. This has been true in lots of places. But don't think that the message is always homesteading = a small, static company.

A few days ago I heard from Matt Perdue, who runs Hill Country Technologies. He's a vendor and partner to the 3000 community who offers Internet services, 3000 consulting, Amisys expertise, and disaster recovery, even down to a turnkey level. His clients are 3000 sites around North America. He passed us a report of a new client, still using a 3000 — a finance firm of hefty size, undaunted by the risk, as HP maintains, of using the system in mission-critical operations.

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Open source technology, or products — choose, dude

Dude Last fall I reported that an HP manager cast doubts about the mission-critical stature of some open source software. David Claypool said in an HP Technology Forum talk that an open source solution better have evolved beyond technology to product status, if you want to consider using it. Evolve here apparently means being part of a company's product line, from what I understand.

Okay, October of 2006 seems a long time ago, but Claypool said he just located the blog report. He sent me an extensive rebuttal, attached to the original post. I love comments on blog entries, even when they tell me, like this HP Product Manager in Technical Marketing did, "I think you took my comments out of context and you missed the point."

Claypool has a lot more to say about his talk and how he believes I misunderstood it. "The important thing," he says, "is to distinguish between open source technologies and open source products. When it comes to a bet-your-business decision to adopt a product, no one in their right mind should plan on doing an Internet search and download a zero-dot-whatever release of something an individual has crafted."

Using that zero-dot stuff is pretty foolish, to be sure. But the cartoon above spoke to this creeping commercial elitism I see entering the open source world. Apparently, if your open source solution doesn't have a company attached to it, and collecting support fees and managing your updates, you're riding bareback.

I think perhaps David doesn't know much about the HP 3000 community, which only got its first working Web server once an individual, the brilliant Mark Bixby, ported Apache to MPE/iX. HP later took it on as a supported product, but millions of sites use Apache in commercial situations without a care for what company the solution gets sold by. Apache is well tested, yes. But in 12 months, HP won't be patching it anymore.

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Using a migration general contractor's blueprint

After six years of HP 3000 migration work and experiments, there's a lot of software and experience to use to ensure a migration succeeds. But how to educate yourself on what's right for your company?

A sensible solution is to engage a migration "general contractor" — a company that knows the details and can match the right materials, if you will, to build your mission-critical system that's a reliable and efficient as your HP 3000.

Capturing that knowledge can seem like a tall order for smaller companies, especially those who need to do the migration themselves. Speedware's Chris Koppe, whose company is one of several serving as migration contractors, outlined the advantages and options of using such a guide at the recent e3000 Community Meet.

For example, database migration tools need to make sure every byte has come across. Since the Eloquence database is a common choice for a migration, Koppe said his solution and others have data integrity tools to check Eloquence migrations.

Customers at the meet wondered if Eloquence can be a final database destination, or an interim choice. "Thirty to 50 percent of migrating customers walk in with a concept of Eloquence being a transitory solution because it's low-risk," Koppe said. "But once some of them see how it works, I've seen them scrub other projects. Once Eloquence is working, it's there, and customers have halted projected of 30 40 developers creating Java solutions."

Koppe noted several sites which have performed successful HP 3000 migrations, but no matter how big the IT staffs are, they often use a migration contractor. The education process from these guides, which is usually free, saves a lot of time and money.

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Scoop up an array of migration savvy

A migration project can fail even if its budget is in the tens of millions. As our WestJet report relayed on Friday, $31 million wasn't enough to keep a co-developed effort from crashing at the regional Canadian air carrier. the company continues to rely on HP 3000 software that it's been using for more than seven years.

One of the ways to avoid this kind of crash is to make the best choices across the whole menu of migration entrees. WestJet, which is still hiring for 3000 help on an interim basis, was developing a replacement application alongside a single software supplier.

Not so effective, says Chris Koppe of Speedware. The marketing director and Encompass user group board member spoke at the recent e3000 Community Meet. He cautioned community members about searching for migration solutions in a single spot.

"I think its a poor approach to go to one vendor and have that one vendor build everything in-house, and do everything in-house," Koppe said. "There's a lot of great technology out there, and a lot of technology out there to automate different aspects of the migration."

Koppe was laying out strategy for a genuine migration — that is, the movement of code and systems from the HP 3000 to another platform, in the hope of retaining business logic and sustaining design continuity. The greatest challenge in these kinds of projects, he added, is the complexity of the typical 3000 system. Dozens of programs and utilities, usually, make up a reliable system.

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The migration stakes fly high at WestJet

Many HP 3000 customers are looking toward the future with plans to upgrade their computer systems. The plans these days often lean away from extra years for the 3000, which CIOs and executives consider unsupported — at least in the shorthand of the business press.

WestJet is one of the leading low-cost Canadian airlines and a long-time user of HP 3000s. The company installed Open Skies software back when the solution was available to individual firms. More than a decade later, the solution is still working as remote-hosted application, but WestJet has been working on a migration.

An article in the Canadian Financial Post showed how much the work has cost, and sad to say, reported a disappointing outcome of the migration. The overall outlook at WestJet is upbeat, according to the article. The carrier is working to become one of the top five international airlines by 2016. It's a more than $2 billion company now with 70 aircraft.

This is no Southwest Airlines, but WestJet wants to be one. It has also wanted to shift away from the HP 3000. The Post report took note of the price tag for a migration away from a working application.

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Mine those reports and data for value

When it comes to experts on ERP, the customers who use MANMAN are hard to beat. You take an class of users running an application that's been powering manufacturing sites for more than three decades, then carry the solution into the 21st Century, and you get a critical mass of expertise. Data mining is one skill these customers are practicing, an art that makes an HP 3000 work harder at a company, no matter how long the system's expected lifespan might be.

The heart of MANMAN savvy resides in CAMUS, a user group that began in the 1970s and is still holding conferences and putting out newsletters. The latest CAMUS news came to us over the holiday, an issue that includes an article on data mining of MANMAN information. Mining for data is not much different than mining for high-grade ore or gems; what you net is of greater value to your company.

Inside the latest issue of the CAMUS newsletter, Eric Estes of Titan Tool outlined how he used Monarch, a PC-based tool from Datawatch, to reformat reports from MANMAN. The GUI revival never did make it to MANMAN, at least not without third party solutions. Estes showed how a standard MANMAN report that looks like this (click to get a larger version):


Can have key information extracted by an administrator and imported into Monarch, to end up looking like this


Monarch may be very well known, but it is far from the only tool to be able to transform MANMAN's information into a more powerful corporate asset. Estes's example illustrates how the mission-critical data reports can be refined with third party solutions. The MBF-UDALink from MB Foster performs this kind of magic, and a lot more, by creating a data mart out of MANMAN information. Monarch works all over, but it has limits to what it can do.

A full data mart, as opposed to the relatively simple reformatting of a report, gives a company a wide range of solutions. A UDALink data mart can offer views such as vendor performance reporting, lead time analysis, reports on where components are used, tools to plan and forecast sales, and detailed operational analysis, just as examples.

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Help define your story's resolutions

On the first business day of 2008, the new year offers some opportunity to define the finish of your Transition Era. This is the 12-month period in which HP promises to wrap up its patch development for the system. HP hasn't confirmed it, but perhaps this is final year to have an impact on the release of the completed 3000 beta patches still not tested to HP's standards.

Things are changing and HP's role is coming to a close, at least in the cubicles of HP's 3000 labs.

This year also holds the prospect for being a period where HP doesn't change its ending date for servicing the 3000 community. With no changes, this strategy would give the migration companies — some of whom, like MB Foster and Speedware, have been preparing for migration service and offering it since 2002 — a spark to prod some sites into action.

A new year can arrive with resolutions for 3000 community members, where they are leaving the platform in an orderly procession or staying until 2027. Resolutions work best when they are positive statements, rather than negative denials of existing actions. With that in mind, here's a few to consider taking up and practicing during 2008.

You might resolve to

  • Take HP at its word about the exit date of the vendor from the marketplace. While some customers are happier with the chance to call HP a support provider through 2010, the company could move on and give the migration suppliers and third parties a chance to develop business in the market.
  • Beta test a few patches that will benefit your fellow customers during 2008. Dozens of repairs and a score of improvements are locked inside HP's support customer environment. HP still has not announced a program to deal with whatever is still on the test shelf when 2008 wraps up — or 2010, if releasing a beta patch to general release is possible after this year.
  • Establish a detailed migration plan or a sustainability plan for your HP 3000 operations. Planning shows command and confidence, and it's the least costly step of a transition.

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