HP moves away from HP 9000s
Migrating sites choose both Unix and Windows

Community turns to Web as archive

    We consider the question often: “How did we ever get things done without the Internet?” The obvious reply is “much more slowly,” but that measure can describe many aspects. There’s the finding, then there’s the knowing. Finding an answer to a problem is one task the Web speeds up, especially for HP 3000 community members. While your vendor drains away its expertise on the 3000 internals, this vital information remains “online,” as those of us from the 1980s call Web access.

    As a case in point we offer the manual for a HP SureStore Autoloader tape library. The device is a decade old, which puts it in the same age range as the Series 9x8 and 9x9 servers. But HP’s storage business considers this library a relic, too old to have its manuals mounted on some disk in the HP empire.

   Not to worry: An enterprising customer tracked down the needed documentation, filed away on a system at a university in Ireland. How long will it be there, compared to a vendor’s Web archives? Not a fair comparison this time — because only the paper documentation was ever created or preserved by HP. The SureStore PDF file, which helped to resolve a configuration snag, could enjoy another home as well: a server operated by OpenMPE.

    For years now, the community has wondered what benefit OpenMPE can provide to 3000 users. Being a bank of data about aging-but-able computer devices is an obvious answer. Impossible, however, without the wonders of the Web.

   Earlier this month, OpenMPE board member Tracy Johnson placed the Interex Contributed Software Library online, cataloged and ready for anyone in the world to download. The CSL was lost to the community for the better part of three years, at least in cataloged form. Some of its value has fallen away; there’s a real limit to the durability of utilities written during the 1980s. On the other hand, HP’s PA-RISC servers provided the most durable enterprise systems in the history of computing. Plenty of vintage HP 3000s still support businesses of today.

    The PA-RISC generation of HP servers will see the end of its manufacture next year, including HP 9000 models. The latest HP-UX servers don’t even go by that number any longer, although the customer community still refers to them by that name. HP stopped building PA-RISC HP 3000s in 2003; the HP-UX versions of the PA-RISC line lasted just six years longer. By January 1, 2009, the only HP 9000 PA-RISC servers on the market will be used, just like HP 3000s of today.

   The announcement of the HP 9000’s demise didn’t arrive in a customer letter or through phone calls from HP Customer Engineers. HP put the information on a Web page rather quietly during May. A customer sometimes needs to search out such notices by now; HP assumes you’re looking for updates on your own. As an example, the HP XP512 and XP48 disk arrays have slipped off HP support, a development that some customers discovered only when they tried to renew HP support contracts.

    HP seems to be developing a habit of making its end of support notices on the Web, expecting the community to locate the vendor’s schedules. (A customer letter went out to announce the demise of the 9000, no doubt in part to spark sales of replacement Integrity systems.) Perhaps the largest of HP customers still receive their updates in other ways, independent of the Internet. I think the technology is called the telephone.

     Just like the old days when we had no Web to search, customers still need to do their own poking around to find the facts on the future of HP products. We recently asked if the above-named disk devices had gone off support. The HP 3000 group replied gamely that the best answer would come from the HP Storage group, not the server’s experts. It’s a good thing we’ve got the Web to bring these dimming points of light together.