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HP Support keeps quiet about futures

To be accurate this entry should be filled under No News Outta HP. But at least we have located a  source of information about HP's support plans for the HP 3000.

Last month Bernard Determe, HP Worldwide Support Planning Manager, spoke to HP partners about the 3000 futures. He was one of several speakers in an EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) briefing, and the only representative listed from HP's Services arm, where product support survives for the system.

We say survives because for two extensions now, the support business has been extended beyond original HP end dates for the platform. We wanted to interview Determe about HP's policy for creating and distributing patches for MPE/iX during 2009. HP's Jennie Hou has said the company will develop no more 3000 patches in about nine months' time. Determe's division is responsible for collecting revenue from the 3000 community for this no-more-patch service.

Alas, HP is holding back on its future support information until sometime in the future. Judy Erkanat, Public Relations Manager for the Technology Solutions Group Worldwide Marcom, wrote back to reply to our request:

We will pass on your offer of an interview at this time, but look forward to working with you in the future. We wanted you to know that HP is committed to continued support of HP e3000 installations. Limited HP Support for e3000 servers has been extended through December 2010 to best meet the needs of our customers and partners.

We're well-informed about that extension, but a bit puzzled on what purchasing HP support during 2009 will bring to a customer. It's a newsman's job to ask for interviews. Sometimes the answer is "not just now." That brings HP support into step with the 3000 virtual division, which has been saying "not just now" to requests for source code licensing schedules. Support, however, has been a primary motivator in that schedule, we believe.

It is disappointing to learn that Bernard and the Technology Solutions Group believes  it must wait until some later date to talk to us. Here in the 3000 community there’s a growing belief, among customers and HP partners, that the Support group is now determining HP’s e3000 futures policy.

The belief only makes sense, since HP will cease creating patches for the community in nine months. Revenues and profits drive policy decisions. (There are liabilities to consider, too, just another aspect of HP's timeline. But legal exposure is probably less important than what HP continues to collect from customers for the corporate bottom line.) What else but support still generates dollars for HP from the 3000 community, except the new Right to Use License and those $400 license transfer fees? Support contracts continue to bring in millions of dollars, by our estimates.

Which services will be offered next year are on customers’ minds. A few days after we asked for our HP Support interview, we talked to an e3000 customer who is considering a 3000 migration to HP Industry Standard Servers. The customer called us to confirm if HP will use third party companies during 2009 to deliver support under HP contracts. The customer’s migration will not be complete by January 1, 2009.

I had no answer for this customer except, “HP has not made that third party plan public at this time.” He will continue to call around, since his board of directors wants the answer.

This is the sort of support topic that HP could let us all know about. We appreciate getting some answer to our interview request, however, even if it’s “not now.”

I look forward to hearing from the part of Hewlett-Packard which is still collecting revenues from HP’s e3000 customers. As 2009 approaches, our articles about HP will focus more on HP’s support policies with every passing month. We can only offer our space and access to the community. HP’s job is to offer the information, answers to questions such as "when will 3000 support from the vendor cease?"