About two dozen HP partners and customers took less than a hour today to log into HP's latest update on the system which it calls the e3000. The event was aimed at partners in the Europe, Middle East and Africa HP region (EMEA), but was accessible worldwide. By the time 45 minutes had elapsed, HP had presented less than three dozen PowerPoint slides to the partners, nearly all of which contained zero news.
At least none to our eyes, since we had seen presentations by HP about the platform and migrations at the March GHRUG International Technology Conference. In fact, the e3000 partners got less information from the vendor than GHRUG attendees received, as HP skipped the "Who owns MPE/iX" section of its March presentation. (Download your own copy of the GHRUG slides, as presented by HP e3000 business manager Jennie Hou.)
But we heard a new speaker or two. An uncounted number of partners listened on dial-in phone links to Bernard Determe, whose presence on the HP e3000 EMEA Customers Webinar served as the only new voice. Determe is HP's World Wide Support Planning Manager, a name and voice the world's e3000 users can attach to the vendor's decisions about how long HP will remain in the 3000 community. We say decisions in the plural because, as Determe pointed out today, HP has made three 3000 decisions in all, one following another until "we lose our lab."
HP's speech was not without "color," as we journalists like to call "more speaking about a fact you have already been told." Determe noted that the vendor discovered twice that people are still relying on the 3000 — a point that has sparked two revisions of its support plans.
HP has changed its timeline, but never its intentions, he said. "Since early in the 2000s, we've been pretty consistent in the message we have delivered," Determe said. That is, HP intends to exit the 3000 community and curtail its support, the event the vendor insists on calling "end of life" for the HP 3000.
Life has gone on, he added. "In 2001 we announced the platform would be obsolete in five years, but we were still doing full support and limited development. History has taught us that migrating from any platform to another is a pretty significant endeavor," Determe said, "and many of our customers were still on the e3000 by the end of '06."
Despite HP's discovery of continued 3000 life in 2005, and then in 2007, the vendor seems serious about ending its support in 2008. Well, some kind of support, especially any which requires HP lab development to fix problems. That's what "Mature Product Support without Sustaining Engineering" means, he said.
"We still offer the same level of from the front line engineers, but we lose our labs," Determe said, "which means there won't be any more PowerPatches [in 2009] there won't be fixes for newly-discovered bugs. We won't be offering new MPE/iX versions so we will stop charging for update services."
As long as customers only wish to call HP for workarounds and fixes to existing problems, "nothing changes [through 2010]," he said. "The only thing that changes is that HP will be unable to provide you with fixes to newly-discovered problems."
Nobody should interpret the extensions as a change of HP strategy about the 3000's lifespan in the vendor's business. But "if some of you feel that what we will offer in '09 and '10 does not meet your needs, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with your HP contact, and we can see what type of custom solutions or transition plans we can build together, to help you migrate to another platform."
Liz Glogowski of the e3000 labs in HP presented the information about HP's Right to Use license (RTU). She called it "a new product that allows for upgrading to different levels [of HP 3000s]. As we've matured we've stopped selling the upgrade options, and yet people still needed to move, to do things like go from a 2-way to 4-way [CPU] on a system."
Glogowski reviewed a list of upcoming deliverables (one remaining PowerPatch 5 for MPE/iX 7.5, to be released "in the next few weeks" by Determe's calcuations) and deliverables for 2007. The accomplishments she listed "from the R&D lab" are
• Samba Porting white paper
• SCSI Pass-Thru Driver Enhancement
• Two critical data integrity patches
• MPE/iX7.0 PowerPatch 5
• Samba Release 3.0.22
• Securing FTP White Paper
• 2007 Daylight Savings Time Changes
Glogowski said that R&D lab engineers are working on peripherals, storage and networking white papers during the remaining 31 weeks of 2008 before the lab reaches its end of life.