Migration by steering faster
Overseas biz, PCs spark HP quarter

Don't fear the IPv6 reaper

Many technologies will emerge which don't have HP's MPE/iX blessing. That is, the vendor will not provide lab resources to support new tech on your 3000. As of the end of this year, HP won't even have a lab on call for its remaining support customers.

One technology which gets mentioned as a reason to migrate is the new Internet Protocol, IPv6. There's no support in MPE/iX networking for this new protocol, which is designed to expand the world's IP addresses much like the phone companies went to 10-digit numbers during the 1990s. By some estimates, more than 85 percent of the available IP addresses are already used up.

What will HP 3000 users do — some say by the end of 2010 — when these addresses run out? Is this the kind of "dead-air deadline" which US television customers face by early 2009, when no more analog broadcasts are allowed?

Not at all. Just like those TV viewers can buy a cheap converter to receive the new technology signals, HP 3000 sites won't have to change a thing about their existing networks and IP addresses. HP says that IPv6 is not a show stopper, but a new set of suburbs around the almost built-out city of networking.

From an HP update at the recent Technology Forum, the vendor's Yanick Pouffary, HP Distinguished Technologist, reports these timelines

  • 2008/09: Customers will start using IPv6
  • Will take years to upgrade infrastructure completely
  • HP Recommended approach - Dual IPv4/IPv6
  • Do NOT expect customers to turn IPv4 off any time soon
  • IPv6 will be deployed in conjunction with IPv4 for decades
  • Very few products or network infrastructure supports IPv6-only environment today

To be sure, any new IP addresses a company needs after the end of 2010 might be IPv6 protocol-based. Unless you can buy an IPv4 IP address, or a dozen, from someone who already has them.

And unlike the MPE/iX licenses which your vendor tries to control, IP addresses are not regulated by an organization trying to take out the old numbers. ICANN, the international IP address foundry, might have a lot of problems and blind spots. But it won't be in the business of keeping older technology from working alongside newer tech, or advising the world that IPv4 is risky.

That last point makes us wonder. If IPv4 can operate alongside IPv6, and the newer tech is designed to accommodate the older protocol, why can't Hewlett-Packard — the Number One computer company in the world — do the same thing with the HP 3000? After all, IBM has made its AS/400 servers operate in harmony with Unix, Linux, Windows.

IBM now calls that technology Series i, but HP calls it old, tech that the Big Blue customers should abandon. If that message sounds familiar to HP 3000 users, it should. A surprising number of former HP 3000 division staff are working to get the Series i "mainframe" users to switch to HP's servers.

We'll just take a wild bet that Series i will have IPv6 capability. After all, everything in the HP stable does. Everything? Perhaps the 3000 community should take HP CTO Shane Robson at his word when he said last year:

All of our platforms are IPv6 capable, everything from the handhelds and PCs to the servers. It's an exciting opportunity. It's an exploding growth area and we're right in the middle of it and have been for some time.

More time than than you might imagine. HP's Pouffary was a Founding Member of the IPv6 Forum in 1999 — yeah, two full years before the vendor decided to kill off its HP 3000 business. But "all of our platforms" means what HP's supporting now. Everything in the Business Critical Server stable except the HP e3000, as HP likes to call it. How's that for irony? HP renames your server with an "e" in 1998 to signal the 3000 is Internet ready. Then your business platform is only one that HP leaves behind in its 21st Century Internet plans.