3000 patch fixes repair program
Eloquence: The path of least resistance

Preparing for prairie dog pop-ups

Prairiedog Hewlett-Packard canceled its Certified Professional status for HP 3000s earlier this summer. At the most recent HP Technology Forum, user group president Nina Buik of Connect said that HP could only find 21 IT pros who held CP certificates for MPE/iX. No vendor, she reported, would keep a certification program open for so few pros.

There's more to the story, another side that HP 3000 education expert Paul Edwards laid out. HP canceled those 3000 certs for the second time when it was shutting them down this June. Back in 2005, the vendor cut off certifications with little warning. Edwards' efforts and negotiations with Hewlett-Packard's Rich Gossman saved the certs back then.

Why should anyone in the 3000 community care about Certified Professional certification? Even if there were only 60 CP holders with HP 3000 system administrator or HP reseller certs, this is a significant number. Soon, HP 3000 owners will pop their heads out of their cubicles like prairie dogs from holes. They'll wonder where all the expertise has gone and how to find some. In about 22 weeks, HP's 3000 labs will abandon the prairie.

"The 3000 talent pool is shrinking," says Edwards, who retired from the OpenMPE advocacy group this spring after five years of service. He has been a teacher of HP 3000 owners, and said that he usually concluded his classes — taught for HP — by advising the 3000 pros to go take the certification test to get their cert.

I heard at the HP Tech Forum that the vendor couldn't keep a cert program open for just a couple dozen certification holders. It's hard to see why not, considering that keeping those certifications valid would not cost HP anything. The certifications were already issued. HP would be preparing no more tests, or retesting for a platform which HP has frozen.

All the cert program amounted to in HP's effort was maintaining a few dozen names in a database, a database so ill-managed during 2005 that HP couldn't even find it. It was located at last, Edwards arranged to have the certifications put into a special status: recognized, but not to change.

The only way anyone would get a new CP cert would be if Edwards and his partner in education Frank Smith could devise tests for Sylan Prometric Learning centers to administer. HP refused to do even this, even after the vendor had permitted Edwards and Smith to use the HP classroom materials for HP 3000s — materials which Edwards and Smith had written, and rewritten.

Now HP's CP program has been "realigned" for the second time in three years, and more than a dozen CP certs have been kicked out of the program. This kind of weeding out happens when a vendor is turning away from products, not when it's running short of money. HP's Services group was plenty profitable last year.

Finding help for managing HP 3000s, certified help that could pass an HP test on the platform, just got harder this summer. The 3000 owners who have been eyeing the horizon have a better chance of making their ownership sustainable. The prairie dogs, unaware of what HP has been bulldozing on the prairie, will find either another reason to migrate — which would please Hewlett-Packard — or a challenge that their vendor won't assist.