Emulation reclaims its time
Who's to mind the CALENDAR?

Stories to expect in 2009

Many of us in the 3000 community are adjusting calendars today. Jan. 5 might be your first day back at work, whether that's in an office with a company or returning to your independent desk in whatever room you designate at a workplace. With 2009 already upon us, and a journalist's penchant for looking ahead, I'll make a stab at predicting some trends and developments our the new year.

HP keeps a toehold in the community. It seems logical to imagine that HP announces an ongoing licensing facility for MPE/iX. Even though the vendor's support operations will cease in less than two years, companies will continue to need to revive CPU boards in the event of failures. HP won't let SS_UPDATE (for the newer 3000s) or SS_CONFIG into the third party supporters' shops.

An emulator for PA-RISC goes into a beta test. SRI, based in Switzerland and a producer of Digital emulators, has had a project in play since 2004. Strobe Data, based in the US, has also announced a emulator project. 2009, perhaps late in the year, might be a likely target date to start gathering field test data. An emulator becomes important to any customer who needs 3000 horsepower increases or support (via Intel host CPUs) for peripheral or networking stack elements.

Just a few more, as a tease into this year's calendar.

Connect mounts its largest conference for HP users. Not exactly a real leap to imagine a new Connect event, since the HP Technology Forum and Expo is already moving toward its June date. But with three allied organizations now promoting a single North American conference, the number of exhibitors and attendees should surpass the 2008 figures. Trade shows might be off the radar for the younger generation of IT professionals, who'd prefer a good Internet experience for social and professional networking. But the Boomer Generation of IT pros are used to face-to-face community building.

A majority of migrations shift from code-drop phase to testing. Not by a significant margin, but by the end of 2009 the community should see more migration sites doing testing on reworked, lift-and-shift code rather than the actual programming and tool selection. Migrations are subject to business demands rather than HP support timetables, but a lot of migrating sites are now serious about tooling up and coding in the new year.

Third parties become the driving force for the community. With HP's lab closed down, there's little for the vendor to introduce or influence among 3000 owners, regardless of homestead or migration strategy. We won't predict another extension of HP support, because the vendor will study its business closely before deciding how many MPE/iX experts to retain. Headcount has got to come down in HP by 25,000 jobs through 2009 and 2010. It will be harder than ever to keep 3000 expertise inside HP when most of these pros are in the upper echelon of HP's salary schedule.

By third parties, I mean the migration companies and support staffs for a firm already serving HP 3000 customers, whether the company is focused on moving sites away from MPE/iX or keeping production running through support.

Market pressures of a recession will test the resolve of maintenance contracts. I'm not predicting a bad year for business in the 15-percent-yearly maintenance fee operations of software suppliers — but customers are going to plead budget cuts when the renewal notices go out to bolster the 3000 software stalwarts.

Staying in touch with a network takes more effort, but yields new rewards. The economy is going to send people to new employers, out on their own, or searching for jobs in other fields. If you have an expert or an ally or a colleague in this community, 2009 will be a good year to employ the monthly tickler e-mail to them. The year will also make surprising opportunities for hiring and alliances when companies downsize, outsource or go dark. Money in the world has gone into hibernation in CDs and savings and long-term bonds, but retirement is an option even further away as a result of the declines of last fall. That knowledge can't sit on the sidelines like all the money.

If you ever wanted to work alongside somebody you've admired, or go into partnership, 2009 should be a good year to propose something new. Keep in touch, do good work, and be well.