Spring GHRUG show moves forward
New slim solutions from HP

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.

This all comes to mind as another HP 3000-related conference (GHRUG's) opens up for registration, while OpenMPE nears its sixth board of directors vote, coming up in just a few weeks' time. I wonder if either of these organizations have the means or clear path to lead a community which is moving in disparate directions.

Others have led at times by example, most notably the European 3000 solution partners Alan Yeo of ScreenJet and Michael Marxmeier providing Eloquence. Yeo and Marxmeier have sparked two gatherings, aided by support from Platinum partners and other 3000 solution suppliers. They're done so by tapping a network of allies, sometimes on very short notice.

And then there's the Resource 3000 partners, both those with voting shares and the others who participate but don't determine that alliance's future. Few companies can count on the PA-RISC experience of Allegro Consultants, and it's PA-RISC that will drive HP 3000 systems until the last machine is powered down. Technical prowess and the savvy to support MPE/iX in its eldest versions can go a long way to leading the way.

Despite what you might hear from some quarters, the death march and hospice care hasn't commenced yet. There's no lack of resources still committed to the system, judging from the growing number of support providers, joining the ranks of Pivital Solutions, Beechglen and even one of the eldest 3000 support companies, GSA. Deep experience resides in the offices of the community's hardware brokers, too.

We could go on, to mention other players still deep in 3000 work, like Acucorp, Micro Focus and Transoft, all of whom have target-platform background to lean upon. But while I don't think this is a time to crown a king of all the provinces our your community, I am listening for a clear voice, perhaps a chorus in harmony, whose hot breath might clear a foggy 3000 outlook. Answers to questions about putting the 3000's source code in a safe place need to emerge from HP. Perhaps a collection of the voices above, working together, could elicit the replies so many have sought for so long.

If you're reading this and wondering why your company or name has not cropped up in my survey — why the application providers are absent, or a quarter-century of savvy doesn't earn a mention, forgive my incomplete search. I'd enjoy hearing from a community member who craves this leadership post but has been overlooked. In this time of Transition, which is lasting so much longer than HP ever estimated, the community needs all the vision that it can get. Some sort of alliance seems a good candidate for the voice of the customer and partner.