HP says staying fresh maintains influence
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HP advises against replacing what you built

Vice President Lynn Anderson spread HP's message of change at the recent HP Technology Forum. I sat down with her to discuss HP's approach to replacement of 3000 applications during a migration versus the task of rewriting. HP prefers the latter to getting an off the shelf app in Unix or Windows to duplicate the years of architecture and development under MPE/iX.

We also talked about how nearly half of you will be retired from in three years, according to an HP study. Start planning your future accordingly if you're staying on board, she advises, by keeping your "fresh until" date well into the years beyond, with new skills. At the HP Technology Forum, I asked her about the replacement versus Linux or Unix rewrites.

3000 customers tend to fall into one of two categories: those who know more about their business than computing, and those who built their IT installations, doing it themselves, from the bit-level upward. What do you think about the prospect of Linux suiting the migration needs of that latter group? Or should they look to match up with a replacement app?

    Matching can disappoint. We say don’t look at what you want your application to do today, but what do you want it to do tomorrow. [For the DIY customer], do you have the personnel?

   I think back to when I was a programmer. We had a guy in our shop who liked to think of himself as writing elegant code. Then he left, and when we had to make a change to his code, we literally had to draw straws, because nobody wanted to touch it.

   You have to look at that when judging a workforce. We just did a study on datacenter transformation, and by the year 2011 45 percent of the IT workforce will be retired.

So how will this impact choices to move forward with IT?

    We tell these customers you will never get anything to replace what you had built. The question is what will you want to do tomorrow, and are you going to have the staff to be able to go into the code.

Why so few remaining in IT?

    I don’t think we have done a good job of selling the value of a career in technology. During the dot-coms it was a bit cool, but it was never about people doing the IT work. It was more on the idea side. And you know what? It still is cool, and it can be a great way to make a living.

Plenty of 3000 customers make a living that way. HP has started to call them “technologists.” Do you see technologists as typical influencers in the 3000 ecosystem?

    I do. And I think over the years companies — and I’m not saying this about HP — who have forgotten about these influencers. Technologists still play a big role in organizations. There are not too many CIOs that are going to make a decision diametrically opposed to their organization. Based on that, we need to get the information out there so the technologist can understand it.

    With me starting out in that technology environment, I understand. We got our stripes in the 3000, and it was “live free or die — MPE only.”

So how do you influence those technology customers to dig in to new concepts and processes like ITIL?

    No matter what technology you deliver at work, that doesn’t mean you should stop learning about other technologies. You can think of bread at the grocery store — what are you doing to reset your “Best Before” date?