In our final installment of the NewsWire's print issue Q&A with consultant and community expert Jeff Kubler, we asked him to share what he sees about customer care and feeding of the 3000s still in service.
How much "flight attendants flying the plane" do you find in HP 3000 administration these days?
I see people who could use some more knowledge They're flying the plane according to the radio instructions from the tower. They're still up there, but if they need to land sometime, they might get in trouble.
While working with Summit customers, oftentimes there were not people there who were very experienced. These people have good knowledge but don't have training because people aren't investing in that. Now the dis-investment process has gone far enough that they can have trouble: maybe disk drives that are not mirrored and starting to fail.
HP says the predominant choice for migration is HP-UX. What do you see?
If they have HP-UX in the environment already, and knowledgeable people, they do that. But a lot of things are now being driven by "Well, we looked at that five years ago and four years ago and it was too expensive. And today, another company purchased us. And they run AS/400s, doing the same thing our 20 HP 3000s are doing. So let's just go over there."
Then you see them say, "I thought we were migrating off the HP 3000 because it was proprietary. Now we're being purchased by a company that's running proprietary stuff, so we're running on their proprietary stuff."
These things can be driven by what people are familiar with, like a large Windows implementation. Or we see a lot of benefits in the HP-UX move because of things like Suprtool, so they go that way. Otherwise, people wait around until some natural environmental thing causes them to move, like being purchased.
What do you see out there as far as customer satisfaction with third party HP 3000 support?
There's a lot of people very happy. Now you have all that knowledge base from people who are advocates for the 3000 working together at a single company, rather than having it spread throughout HP. When you go to a company that is specifically providing this for the HP 3000, you talk with people who really know what they're talking about. You don't have to go through a buffer.
When you do appeal to HP, it's sometimes hard to find knowledgeable people. I've made some calls on behalf of clients and asked about HP 3000s and got some very puzzled responses. "What kind of printer is that?" they say. "That's a server," I say. "Where's that come from?" Finally you do get to somebody who can give authoritative support. You just have to wade though a few layers before you get to them.
What difference will it make, to you or to the customers you serve, once HP leaves this 3000 market entirely?
Some people are so unhappy with HP abandoning the platform that they aren't using HP anymore. Those that are staying with HP like the confidence of having that big entity behind them. For the people who are staying because of that confidence, when HP's gone, they will be rather antsy and wanting to get onto something else. Big Brother isn't there anymore - even if they were using third party people for support, there's some confidence they can appeal to HP for help if the third party can't help them.
HP is leaving this environment, yes. But sometimes I wonder, why did they spin off Agilent and not the HP 3000 business? I imagine it's because of the competition it would set up for their own HP-UX servers. Maybe they wanted people to buy HP-UX or the HP Windows servers. In that sense, it didn't make sense for them to spin off their own competition.
My observation is that when you do this kind of [exit], then confidence is shaken in all quarters. Customers wonder if HP-UX is going to be around. "We used to buy all of our laptops from HP, but when they pulled the rug out from under the 3000, we switched that too."