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OpenMPE keeps knocking on HP's door

App supplier advances, holds line for 3000 sites

Software suppliers have made decisions during the past year or two on the future of their HP 3000 solutions. Even the most ardent do-it-yourselfers will be using such third party solutions on a 3000, ranging from utilities like Adager to languages like Speedware to helper apps to manage communication between servers. STR Software, which sells software in that last category, has been helping hundreds to migrate — but its founder says the company will never give up on a 3000 installation.

Ben Bruno of STR updated us on the company's migration efforts, which began in 1992 when a customer asked for a Unix version of FAX/3000 (as it was called at the time.) Over the years the 3000 software evolved into AventX MPE, which earned a spot on 581 HP 3000 servers. More than 100 still send support fees to STR, Bruno reports.

He also says that the company's single largest customer of all time, First American Home Buyers, recently completed their replacement of HP 3000s with Windows servers, and "they moved with our product, too." Combining a mix of migration targets to STR's companion products on Linux, Windows and Unix, along with unflagging support of 3000 customers, mixed revenues arrive for sales and support and "the entire company wins," Bruno says.

STR aims to make a stand with a goal of keeping half of its existing AventX MPE business:

We have 107 licenses paying an annual software and hardware (=fax server) support fee. We have another 40 who still use it, but don’t pay support because it is too darned reliable!  Our goal is to retain at least half of these remaining 107 active and 40 non-paying licenses forever on our other platform solutions. Although the number of active licenses continues to decrease, we also continue to “migrate” them to our companion products on Linux, Unix and Windows with a free license transfer. Unused support transfers as well.  Last year alone, we migrated nine MPE licenses to Windows free of charge. We see many of the Ecometry and MANMAN companies migrating to Windows.

The best news is that with enhanced technologies that include inbound and outbound desktop fax, OCR, advance routing, input into databases, and so forth, we significantly increase their use of our products, and that leads to increased initial sales revenue and recurring support revenue.  The entire company wins.

I can honestly say that 20 of our MPE customers will most likely never move from the HP 3000.  They simply don’t have the money to do so. For example, Measurement Specialties bought several [3000] spares to keep MPE alive. 

I thank one of my MPE customers, Boat America, who in 1992 said, “Ben, I can’t find a Unix (Sequent server) fax solution that has what yours has for me. Please consider writing it in UNIX.”  Well it took five years of a complete C++ rewrite on the core product, and another seven-plus years in the major ERP markets of Oracle and SAP, but we have been solidly selling in non-MPE markets post Y2K. I am certainly glad that we plowed the MPE profits into the development of the non-MPE products. Aligning our niche focus with Oracle EBS and hiring talented staff has been wise too.

Notably, for the 3000 user who intends to stay on the platform indefinitely, STR has the backing of its sales in the non-3000 markets — to keep MPE support online as long as a single customer needs it.

Finally, I have no intention of stopping support of our fax product on MPE.  We will support it until our last customer leaves the platform and stops paying support. Or perhaps, I die, which I don’t plan to do either!