Measuring the 3000's Posix empire
Don't fear the IPv6 reaper

Migration by steering faster

This week we reported on the migration of e-commerce companies from HP 3000 application Ecometry to an Open System Ecometry. Many are migrating to another HP platform or using the Windows version of the app. But some Ecometry sites are leaving HP solutions behind for a new app — the third option we mentioned, after homesteading on a soon-to-be-unsupported Ecometry 3000, or migrating to HP-UX or Windows.

Musican's Friend, a leading supplier of instruments and all things musical across a number of Web brands, chose to leave the Ecometry path some time ago — long before Escalate, the new brand and company for Ecometry, issued its 3000 End of Life edict this summer. (Ecometry on the 3000 goes unsupported Jan. 1, 2010.) Musicians Friend sometimes calls itself MF for short, we learned from its Application Development Manager Ray Sparks. MF is steering a new platform into the future, because the company's CEO needs the speed for this market leader.

MF considered a move to the open version of Ecometry, but then a once-in-a-lifetime chance arrived: to purchase a major competitor, The Woodwind and Brass Wind. "We had to jump on it," Sparks explained, right in the middle of replacing MF's Warehouse Management System. That's when things got complicated, and Ecometry dropped off the horizon, replaced by a Windows-based app called Dynamics AX.

Sparks explains that MF wanted a solution the company could customize. The situation slowed down development away from the HP 3000, even while it gave the company the flexibility to grab opportunities.

We had the option of going to Ecometry (Escalate’s) Open System platform but we chose the Dynamics AX platform because we wanted a customizable solution.  We have been running Ecometry since 1997 and were tired of running the business the way Ecometry thought was  best to run a direct mail company.  This new platform will allow MF to modify our business processes very quickly to adjust to marketing demands in the industry.

Sparks was honest and candid about the impact of acquiring a new company in the middle of a warehouse app update. The 2007 fourth quarter deliveries slowed down, and so risk tolerance at his company dropped. The replacement for Ecometry would have to be done with every I dotted and every T crossed.

MF considers Dynamics AX to be an ERP system, software to manage enterprise resource planning. ERP is among the most comprehensive and complex applications to run on HP 3000s. ERP touches every aspect of a company's business, so in most cases ERP is big enough to get direct attention from CEO-level executives.

This is what happened at MF, Sparks said. "Four years ago our CEO, Rob Eastman, challenged the IT organization to 'steer the boat faster,' Sparks said. "It was at that point I knew we would never use Ecometry for our ERP. We began an immediate search for a replacement and found Dynamics AX."

We have done a lot of custom development in the new ERP — mostly because the bells and whistles that are in Ecometry were not in the new tool. Things as simple as backorders and fraud verifications were new to the software. We chose this product as a development platform.

We are expecting to go live with two of our smallest brands in September of this year.  Other brands will follow in the early part of 2009.  We are really excited about this opportunity and will be sharing the results with all interested parties.

The exit from the HP 3000 will be gradual, and Sparks wants to keep in touch with the community, plus share his experiences with MF's new ERP solution. "Even though we are moving away from the 3000 world, I plan to keep up on what’s going with folks," he says. "There are a ton of people in this community that are very wise and knowledgeable, and I would hate to lose contact with those folks. I was brought into the 3000 world kind of late in the game (1994) but will always have the affinity that many of us share."

Sparks wants to give back to the 3000 community, too. "If you know anyone that may be interested in Dynamics AX, we would be happy to show them what we’ve learned and what we are implementing." You can contact him via his e-mail at Musician's Friend to learn how steering faster can send a migration to a destination with more room to navigate safely.