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Eloquence: The path of least resistance

This one is for migration sites only, but the story involves an HP 3000 keystone: IMAGE. Your system has come bundled with IMAGE/3000, then TurboIMAGE, then TurboIMAGE XL and iX, since 1976. HP won an award for the database about the time the product was first bundled with every 3000, ranking Number One in a Datamation study.

Oracle was also in the running that year, along with IBM's DB2. SQL Server didn't exist, and neither did Eloquence — although that last database was not very far away from going to work for enterprises like yours.

Out on the 3000 newsgroup, the users and vendors of the community debated the merits of an SQL database versus IMAGE. Migration sites will require something to replace IMAGE. Nothing is a closer match or a better value than Eloquence, although the product did have a few detractors in the online discussion.

Craig Lalley runs an HP 3000/HP 9000 consulting business along with Jeff Kubler (we interviewed Kubler in our last printed issue). Kubler said, based on his field experience with users

Part of the path is convincing management, and that means getting cost approval. While large companies can absorb the cost of Oracle, most small to medium business would choke at the cost. Eloquence is much more cost effective and provides 80 percent of the capabilities of Oracle.

Small to medium is you, reader, for the most part. More HP 3000 sites hover below the $100 million run rate than those running above it. If your IT enterprise is part of a much larger mothership already using Oracle, migrating to it is an easy decision. SQL Server is only a little easier, because of a cost still in the Oracle strata — but "it's Windows, man."

Something like damning with faint praise, unless you can add, "and I don't mean the bad Windows, Vista."

Charles Finley, who's been working alongside IBM's outpost Sector 7 to migrate large enterprises to IBM systems, said that by breaking out the cost of TurboIMAGE (a clever trick, if you can manage it), the migration databases are not that much less of a value.

If one compares the cost of the Oracle Standard Edition or MS SQL Server or DB2 for something like the HP 3000 with a TurboIMAGE license when it was sold, you will see that the cost of that plus an Intel server is not all that different. I played with Oracle’s numbers the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find this out.

When Michael Anderson pointed out that "migrate to Oracle requires more money upfront. So my idea of 'Path of least resistance' is: COST!"

Denys Beauchemin has also been helping users migrate, and added that using a
"true relational database" like Oracle gives a foundation in software that is, well, we'll let him say it:

Oracle is HUGE, (yes it can be in cost also.)  But as foundational software, it is amazing.  The companies that I have helped migrate to Oracle have been very pleased to get all these capabilities heretofore unavailable to them. Going from IMAGE to Oracle is a veritable quantum leap and one that is very liberating.

As for open source relational database migrations, Duane Percox of QSS said that his application for K-12 school systems used to run on TurboIMAGE. That database has seen its day, he says.

For its day TurboIMAGE was a great tool. That day has passed. Just like I don’t use RMS (DEC) anymore, there will come a day I don’t use TurboIMAGE. No sadness, just fond memories for the fun we had with TurboIMAGE in running circles around DEC solutions that used bloated DB solutions.

We have done a bunch of PostgreSQL and find it to be a wonderful database, but our customers are choosing SQL Server at a rate of about 80/20 over PostgreSQL, with Oracle being almost non-existent. But that [latter choice] is more due to our customer base than the technology itself.

As a last word we'll quote Ray Shahan, IT manager at Republic Title, who also swears by the power of an RDBMS. The power, Shahan says after taking courses in Oracle and SQL Server, lies in the third party tools for those more costly DBs.

The current RDBMS technologies are  to IMAGE what IMAGE was to flat files - just blows it away.  This is not really due to anything about the DB’s themselves, rather, the really cool tools for these DB’s.  SQL alone can make IMAGE more useful (much more useful), but using triggers and stored procs as well as vendor specific access languages (for instance, PLSQL), make data access quick and fun!