Counting down to changes in strategy
Retaining 3000 value, by the letter

Counting the 3000 up, or out?

At the community outpost called the 3000-L mailing list, veterans and customers and experts are tossing around visions of the future for the system still running at thousands of companies. Numbers and figures can add up or obscure — and this time of the year when polls and counting are everybody's mind, it's numbers that are on this segment of the community's mind right now.

Pro3K consultant Mark Ranft reported at that community outpost that he's supervised more 30 post-2001 installations of HP 3000s for his client, a major airline transaction processor. I have heard from more than one 3000 community member about new installations of HP 3000s. So despite what some community members think, new 3000 installs since 2001 are a non-zero number.

These are, of course, systems new to a company or a site, since HP hasn't built a new HP 3000 for almost five years. But new or old, the 3000 retains some value, in major part because of its MPE/iX license.  This week, a Series 918 system with only 40GB of disk was valued at $1,800 — the very smallest size of "K-Class" HP 3000 which supports MPE/iX 7.5, almost 15 years after HP introduced this series.

But at this stage of the 3000’s life, these numbers are not what matters anymore, although they are a very easy metric to count.

I still see evidence that it’s too early to tote up the HP 3000’s platform value. For the few IT pros who haven’t noticed, the world’s economy experienced a reboot over the past 30 days, and people are revising their assessments concerning computers. The number of new systems is of far less importance than the number of old experts. From the looks of the traffic on the newsgroup/list, that group is retaining its critical mass.

Speedware has been making a business out of employing HP 3000 experts for several years. Next month in our printed issue, I’ll have interviews with a few one-man support suppliers, new to me and serving companies of all sizes, and Adager tells me they encounter new vendors like this while Adager works with its customers. Even while you're wondering what to do with your HP 3000 expertise, you can aim for success by learning new technologies. It will be good effort which will have value to a 3000 installation, should HP keep its promise to sell an emulator license for MPE — which will first require that some company release an emulator.

HP will not be doing anything more to support the 3000 with anything new, starting in 2009 — with the exception of whatever OpenMPE can wrest in promises for the intellectual property use of MPE/iX. That’s what happens when a vendor shuts down your development labs. The lights go out on HP’s 3000 creativity at the end of this year. “What’s new lately” is a question which HP answered for the last time in the summer of 2007, when the SCSI pass-through driver was released.

We're on the lookout for anyone who has experienced the value of that SCSI engineering. Craig Fairchild of HP said last summer that using this final engineering gift “is not for the faint of heart.” The experts on the mailing list have shown very strong hearts — older, yes, but still true.