Voters keeping OpenMPE flame alive
HP Development Company signals HP exit

OpenMPE moves beyond HP efforts

The OpenMPE advocacy user group ratified its 2009 election results today. The 63 ballots put four directors into seats for the next two years. Birket Foster, Anne Howard and Alan Tibbetts were returned to seats for the volunteer organization. Tony Tibbenham joins the group from a unique perspective, as a board member who has already migrated his HP 3000.

The ballots equalled the number of 2007 votes cast in an election with contested seats. Meanwhile, th contest between which would last longer, Hewlett-Packard's 3000 division or OpenMPE, has been decided as well. 3000 community members will see proposals and action from OpenMPE while HP has retired its lab and division expertise.

"I think it says something that OpenMPE is still here, and HP is not," Foster said today in a conference call to ratify election results. "This is not the only marketplace that HP is in that things are fading out on. IBM, Sun, all the rest of those guys have the same issue: At some point it's not economical for them to run the platform."

OpenMPE has a list of active issues about the 3000 the vendor hasn't addressed, but there are some crucial items the group had to retire from its list. HP 3000s will never get the un-throttling code to release the full power of the N-Class and A-Class processors. HP will never make MPE/iX 7.0 run on the eldest Series 9x7 systems, despite years of asking from OpenMPE's directors. But the additions of programs and processes is impressive, from a rudimentary source code licensing plan to the transfer of HP's 3000 programs from Jazz onto third party servers at Speedware, Client Systems — and soon, OpenMPE's own server.

The group started with a "Gang of Six" issues, with a deadline of 2006, crucial to continued 3000 use:

  1. Remove or publish passwords for MPE-unique system utilities no later than end of 2006.
  2. Enable MPE license transfers, upgrades and hardware re-configuration (add/upgrade processors) to continue after 2006; for emulator usage, changing user license levels, acquiring used e3000 systems.
  3. Allow non-HP access to and escrow of MPE source code
  4. Allow third-party creation of an MPE emulator
  5. Enable third-party HP e3000 software support after 2006
  6. Enable availability of all public documentation after 2006

Numbers 2, 3, 5 and 6 are a reality today after five years of OpenMPE effort. The passwords present a distinct problem because some utilities are identical to HP-UX server programs. As for Number 4, the MPE emulator, work is proceeding on a 3000 hardware emulator project, and emulator features exist in MPUX and AMXW products from Ordina and Speedware, respectively.

The four directors from today's election join Donna Hofmeister, Matt Perdue, Tracy Johnson, John Wolff and Walter Murray to make up the nine-member board. This month the group will meet by conference call to decide what's on its 2009 agenda. Jeff Bandle of HP still has some answers to issues the board considers active, so a meeting with HP's OpenMPE liasion is in the future.

In the meantime, e3000 business manager Jennie Hou has moved on to join the Enterprise Storage and Servers group at HP, moving from the HP Services sector where HP 3000 activities were based for the past several years. HP's actions, steered by R&D Lab Manager Ross McDonald for the last three years, were hemmed in by the HP Development Company L.P., which calls the strategy plays for the entire corporation. With HPDC at the reins, controlling HP's intellectual property, the open transfer of MPE/iX and 3000 work was never going to come off with as much cooperation as when HP retired its previous server, the HP 1000.

"I am just wishing that it could have been as pleasant as it was with the 1000," said board member Alan Tibbetts, who was essential to the 1000's IP transfer to the customers and user groups. HP 1000 operating system code for RTE made its way into the Interex user group repositories during the earliest part of this decade. OpenMPE made its attempt to let the older HP school the 3000 division.

"At one point, OpenMPE had Don Pottenger of HP communicating with [HP's OpenMPE liaison] Mike Paivinen," Tibbets said, "going over the way that we had done it on the 1000. The major difference between now and then is the structure of HP at the time" HP left the HP 1000 market.

HP opened a patents division in 2004 which became the HP Development Company after HP sent former CEO Carly Fiorina packing. Future advocacy efforts — for any of HP's products which may see a sunset in the corporate price list — must deal with the shadow efforts of HPDC. As an example of how broad HPDC LP is established at Hewlett-Packard, every one of its press releases and Web pages carries the organization's name in the copyright information, and all HP officers are listed as employees of HPDC. We'll have more on what advocacy groups like OpenMPE are up against in tomorrow's editorial.

There are patterns to a vendor's strategy for its proprietary server products, such as the HP-UX systems, "and I think [the 3000] is just the first one that HP pushed through the chute," said OpenMPE chair Foster. "It was pushed because it was part of the merger process with Compaq, and also because it was part of HP's need to do discovery — because they had never done one of these [exits] in HP's living memory."