The 3000 community can count on third party resellers to provide fresh HP 3000s for years to come. While these systems will not be factory-fresh, they bring new horsepower and connectivity to sites that need upgrades. Homesteading customers as well as long-term migration projects require refreshed 3000s.
But an offer of a 3000 system does not always include a license for MPE/iX. Even though HP once said that an MPE license can't ever be separated from a server, during the past several years that has not been true. Customers who toe the legal line for 3000 ownership might find a 3000 out on the market without a legal MPE license. And such servers turn up because Hewlett-Packard created them, through deals or oversight.
A 3000 can lose its license when an owner trades across for a comparable HP-UX license, HP has explained. The server does not return to HP in many of these cases; it can be difficult to get HP to pick up a retired 3000 system, even while the vendor is installing an Integrity server to replace the hardware.
Tracy Johnson of the OpenMPE board of directors said that HP's upgrade engineers sometimes have left a license-free 3000 in their wake.
There were chassis upgrades done by official HP CEs which after having done their work, sometimes they left the old HP 3000 in their place. So the [MPE] license was transferred to the new HP 3000, leaving he old HP 3000 without a license (even though the old HP 3000 would still function just fine). These boxes were sometimes retained by customers as “test machines” and could possibly (even probably) be upgraded by simply using official HP SLT+FOS+SUBSYS tapes a second time.
These license-free systems are sold in the third party market. HP introduced a '"lost license" program for customers to get MPE/iX onto HP 3000s which don't meet HP's Software License Transfer standards. HP's process addresses a system "which has no documented history, such as aPO, invoice, or a support contract. We have created a stand-alone MPE/iX Right To Use license (AD3777A) that is not coupled with any secondary hardware system sales." But Johnson believes "I would think those [license-free upgraded] boxes would be ineligible" for the lost-license program.
The concept of a license-free HP 3000 surfaced on the 3000 newsgroup not long ago when Cypress Technology offered an N-Class server for $3,300. Competing hardware vendor Client Systems asked if the N-Class box was a "de-licensed State Farm server."
HP charges for its "lost license" program, although less than the RTUs cost at introduction now that the prices have dropped 35 to 50 percent. A N-Class system is not the usual kind of 3000 which has its MPE cashed in for comparable HP-UX licensiing; that kind of swap happens more often for older Series 900 HP 3000s.
HP has set a deadline on how long it will operate its lost license program for MPE/iX. When the vendor exits the market altogether on Dec. 31, 2010, the lost license RTU progam ends.