Where they are now: Robelle founders
Top 2008 Stories: Migration

What the Community Is Doing Now

In less than one day from this morning, much of the world will close up its commercial concerns for a little while. Hanukkah is already upon us, and Christmas is tomorrow. Year-end in the IT business is a quiet time. But there's action in the advent to this period, if you look for it.

Hewlett-Packard has taken leave of action for these two weeks. The company has put on a salaries freeze as deep as anything now gripping North America's weather. The supplier of the alternative solutions for 3000 migrators will be shedding jobs as soon as 2009 begins.

"We believe it is prudent and responsible to reduce costs where possible," the company said in a statement this month. HP will reward "high performing" employees with compensation. The vendor reported record profits for its latest quarter, all while cooking up plans on how to pare down a workforce of more than 320,000. Even IBM's employee roster does not dwarf HP's today.

Employment is a 2009 issue for HP 3000 experts and veterans, too. Dale Pepoon lost his job at Circuit City tending HP 3000s last month. "I am open to contract or full time positions," he told us. "I am currently in transition. I have not been able to locate very many HP 3000 job listings, so I am trying to focus on my analysis and management skills when searching. It would be great to locate a company that is in transition to a new platform and needs the HP 3000 skills, but would be willing to train on the new technology or at least be willing to endure the learning curve."

There's hope for Dale. The largest migration services company in the community said that HP 3000 skills are even more important than experience in the target environment of a migration. He's also wise to emphasize the fundamental skills of managing enterprise IT. HP 3000 pros know much more than just the vitals of MPE/iX.

Circuit City has had its downturns along with the rest of the world's economy, the kind of setback that freezes plans to move away from the HP 3000. Hewlett-Packard, better staffed than any of its customers, finally turned off the HEART system on its HP 3000 cluster this fall. HEART tracked every beat of HP's orders for most of three decades. HP claimed long ago it had switched over every crucial enterprise app to SAP. Perhaps it's more true now than early in the decade, when the claim was made while 3000 Transition began. HEART had outlasted migration attempts for two decades, according to HP insiders.

"Most of you have no idea how big this is," said an HP VP to the internal IT staff in a memo, "so you’ll have to trust this old-timer… it’s HUGE!"

Other HP 3000s were recently turned toward the exits. Robert Mills announced to the 3000 community members this month who read the 3000 newsgroup that Pinnacle Entertainment "went into 'administration,' and I am one of the casualties of the first round of layoffs. I do not see Pinnacle remaining in that state long before they fold. When they do, that means that two HP 3000 979/400s will lose their home." Mills, like some in the community, is working at consulting that relates to the 3000 while looking for a more permanent position.

Unix is on the rise at places like Pinnacle, although it's only a 50-50 chance that it's HP's Unix taking over. Sun's solutions, and even SUSE Linux, are replacing HP 3000s. Oracle is often the platform in such cases, rather than the operating environment.

Meanwhile, Shoreline Community College, West of Seattle, continues to use an HP 3000 for its student information systems. Despite the best attempts of both Amisys and Ecometry/Escalate, both companies will have a significant share of their customers still running 3000s during 2009. Customers are just now considering replacements for systems like Series 937s, computers which were built early in the Clinton Administration. A tiny Integrity 2660 will replace a 937 nicely, and the 2660 is very affordable. The cost resides in moving software and training for Unix.

And since the HP 3000 is a big player in the history of computing, the history movement for the computer is gaining help. After this summer's MPE software history symposium at the Computer History Museum, Paul Raulerson will launch a history project next month, a not-for-profit Web site "funded primarily out of my beer money funds." Raulerson wants to preserve stories from the 3000 community, "and make them available to other people to enjoy and marvel at. The goals will be conservation and preservation of the histories and stories that surround the HP 3000 computer and related items of interest, such as the MPE operating system."

There's more 3000 history to be written in 2009, even as the effort to capture the tales of the past gathers volunteers and momentum. But this time of year is well-suited for reflection and revising of career courses. As well as R&R, of course. We're taking a couple of days off from the blog to reflect on the big stories of this year and enjoy the gifts of family and friends. We'll be back on Monday with our 2008 Top Story list, along with a review of what we predicted for this year and how our forecasts turned out. Have a happy holiday.