Bill Miller, founder of Genesis Total Solutions, runs his business to serve both homesteading and migrating HP 3000 customers. He's even looking for new business this year and next, by selling his company's suite of financials into HP 3000 sites which are thinking of migration someday but aren't his customers already.
Part of Miller's comfort with both sides of transition comes from his adoption of Eloquence as his database on non-3000 platforms. In a Q&A with him we asked why Oracle, much more of a perceived industry standard, was not as good a choice as the IMAGE-workalike Eloquence. Since the Genesis applications are included inside Ecometry e-commerce installations, we also asked Miller how Ecometry migrations are playing out today.
Since there’s been so much movement from the 3000 to Windows, why not go with a SQL Server database on open systems?
Microsoft SQL is a proprietary database. It just runs on one place. We liked the idea that Eloquence would run on multiple platforms, and it looks just like IMAGE. We had no learning curve to go through. There was almost nothing we had to do to get the Eloquence database done. We were happy with the new features on it, and thus far we haven’t had a single problem with Eloquence.
That was the smartest decision we made, because if I’ve got a Linux, Unix or Windows platform, I’ve got a database that will move. I sell it that way. To me, it’s not an open platform if you’re selling a Windows-only product. That’s a proprietary operating system. We offer an open system and an open database.
Selling an open system helps us with the new clients we have who’ve never heard of an HP 3000. We tell them we’ve got a solution that runs on all sorts of platforms, database included. Windows seems to be the hot product now, but it may not be in the future. Linux may take over one day, or something else.
HP gave the 3000 application vendors their marching orders early in 2002. How long did it take you to migrate?
We did it over a period of a year, but it’s not like we only worked on that migration during that time. We’ve got 10 applications and took our most popular ones and started moving them one at a time, all modular. The first one took an effort while we did our learning. The second was easier, and so on. Finally we were doing a whole application of 50 programs in a week or two, if we had to. The first one probably took us two months to figure out.
The developers doing the migrations — how did their training impact the success?
We knew every line of this code inside and out, tested and true. I’m not going to say there’s never been a bug in GTS software, but the same people who developed it were involved with the migration. That’s why it was clean. Because of the stability of our staff, it means that our stuff is still working after the migration.
Do you think the migration schedule for Ecometry sites is going to step up, now that the vendor says they will drop 3000 app support after 2009?
There is another solution. The Ecometry people are putting a lot of
pressure on their clients to move to other systems during this period.
Some clients are going to leave Ecometry. Some will migrate with
Ecometry to another platform. And some say, “I’m just going to stay
with my 3000, and I don’t care about support. If they don’t want to
support me, I’ll just going to keep using it and do whatever changes I
A guy will say he hasn’t had any changes [to Ecometry] in two years, so why would he want to do it today? But 90 percent of them are either going to leave or migrate with Ecometry. But I think some will either try to support it [on the 3000] themselves, or get some third party to answer questions as situations arise. And I think Ecometry may very well decide they don’t want to lose the money from those customers. They may say they’ll do nothing more than answer questions, and not make another line change of code.
So then you’re in a good position there, being able to support them on the 3000 even if they don’t migrate with Ecometry?
I’ve had one like that already. They’ve told us they like our systems and they’re going to leave Ecometry, and they’ve even looked at another system. Although quite honestly, I’m not encouraging anybody to leave Ecometry.
Are you prepared to support your 3000 customers for as long as they need to stay on the platform?
Sure. If they want to be on the platform for five, 10 years, and they’ve got somebody who can support the equipment, I’ll be glad to take care of our software. That’s because it’s the same code [across all platforms]. We generally compile the stuff and make changes on the 3000, and recompile it and stick it on PC in matter of a few minutes.
Since the changes cross platforms so easily, can new business for you in the 3000 community become a source for a migration opportunity?
I’m looking for 3000 people who will buy into my philosophy of “hey, how’d you like to stick with something you’ve known for years?” We’ll help them customize our stuff to fit their business, and when they’re ready, we’ll move them from the 3000. I’d like to find 3000 customers who are willing to do that. If they are, I’d like to be their supplier.