The company which created the HP 3000 spent many months of 2008 quiet about the product and the 3000 community, until the final quarter of the year. As the deadline for ending HP 3000 lab operations approached, HP opened up opportunities and signaled its shutdowns of 3000 information and expertise. Nothing new will be available before the end of 2010, to the regret of OpenMPE and independent technical 3000 experts.
At the same time, more options showed up to motivate migrations, mostly in the form of new functionality Hewlett-Packard will never bring to its 3000 creations. Connectivity and efficient hardware design led the announcements.
1. HP said it will start negotiations for read-only reference licenses of the MPE/iX source code. The process will be conducted under confidential disclosure so the community won't be able to judge the HP offerings to the top technical experts. The value of source code to the community will be limited to creating workarounds and crafting object-level patches, and only for the community's companies with enough expertise to understand the code. However, new versions of MPE/iX won't be possible under the proposed source license.
2. Key technical information is being withheld in the form of locked-up configuration tools and technical manuals, all of which will remain inside HP even after its 3000 support operations end in two years' time.
3. Beta-test patches are staying inside of HP's support group for at least another two years, giving the general 3000 population no access to test completed 3000 enhancements and fixes. Only support customers will be able to use these patches, or test them, even while there's no development lab to modify any of the patches based on testing reports. But many other patches got their freedom throughout the year.
4. HP closed out its 3000 information presentations at the annual HP user conference with a farewell address at the HP Technology Forum in June. A pair of third parties, MB Foster and Speedware, continued to offer migration advice at the conference, but HP made it clear that it was time to thank the customers still using HP 3000s and move away from Tech Forum 3000 briefings.
5. HP acquired EDS, taking on a group of service and consulting experts as large as Hewlett-Packard itself in a move to make the vendor service-centric. The largest acquisition since HP swallowed Compaq, the deal will re-shape the vendor into a services powerhouse which will have to pare back slow-growing computer operations to keep high-salaried experts in the stable. The vendor announced a 25,000-employee layoff within weeks of finalizing the deal. Feeding the growth needs of EDS will push HP to evaluate products such as HP-UX which are showing minimal growth — if the vendor follows the same standards that pushed HP 3000s to the curb in 2001.
6. HP Support took on the remaining 3000 operations during the year, briefing customers but offering no clue on how much contact the community might expect from support. HP's community liaison to the 3000, business manager and lab experts depart this week. These final 12 months of 2008 included many with no information whatsoever from the vendor, which didn't appear eager to address much but the migration nuances still available to companies leaving the platform.
We're taking the New Year's break off to celebrate the start of the 15th year of 3000 NewsWire fun and independence. We'll be back with a look at what to expect during 2009 with our story of January 5. Have a great R&R break.