Birket Foster likes to envision the world of 2012, a future that guarantees more migration experience will be in the community's consciousness. This spring we talked about this time well away from HP’s influence on 3000 ownership and migration. Foster's MB Foster is sharpening its message this year to reflect its business beyond 3000 expertise. In the years to come the company is booked to help manage migrated applications and environments running for customers MB Foster has migrated.
What has emerged—solutions, utilities, apps, IT strategy—to help the smallest 3000 shops step away?
When we look at the marketplace, it’s the small shops that are going to suffer the most. As soon as they move to Windows, there’s a lot more work to be done that what they had to do for their 3000s. HP 3000s are like a magic thing you set and forget. Moving from a 3000 to the Windows environment means you have to pay attention to things. Like putting new patches on, or some virus will break out. Or fixing the database from time to time to make sure it’s performance-tuned. Although the 3000 databases could get out of hand occasionally, it was very rare.
The good news for these shops is that those of us who have been migrating people since 2002 have refined the processes and introduced new tools. MB Foster built nine parsers in the last seven years. Some help with moving scripts from MPE-land to Linux or Unix or Windows. Some help with changing and fixing data on the fly, like moving integers stored in a Big Endian format to Little Endian. We also have a scheduler system written for Windows, one more like the job scheduler you had on the 3000.
We built these kinds of power tools to assist us in migrations. We’ve been moving data since 1985, so we know a lot about the context of data. Our team put a tool together for the datamart team that pulls an IMAGE database into Oracle or SQL Server. This saved people from having to write all the scripts to do that. By the time HP decided to phase out the 3000, we had a tool that got tweaked to generate a few new things to help migration to Unix, Linux and Windows.
Three years from now, does the market miss the final level of HP’s 3000 support?
No, those people are already working with companies like Allegro, Beechglen or Gilles Schipper. I’m sure that the only thing that annoys these guys is HP, announcing that it will keep taking money for support. That’s a long support tail, and HP has already removed resources from it. HP won’t stack any new resources behind it.
So more than a year after the announced HP support exit date, you think HP will continue to sell 3000 support?
I don’t think HP is planning on leaving the 3000 support business. As long as there’s enough money coming in, they’ll do it. And some of the companies just look at the support from an appliance point of view. They tell themselves, “As long as I can say the original vendor will support us, it’s the same as an insurance company that will support us, too.” But when the hurricane comes through, does the insurance company declare bankruptcy and go away? Or does it actually deliver?
In the 3000’s community of 2012, do hardware and environments carry the same weight in strategies?
It’s not just the 3000 market that’s changing. Companies have mergers and acquisitions and they want to make changes. You will be encouraged to come along.
Three years from now we’ll be closer to the point where the hardware is totally irrelevant and the operating system is totally irrelevant. Because the skills sets for those elements will be hard to come by, people who are going to manage and update security for systems will be working for the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC) and ISPs. The larger hardware vendors want to do a virtualized farm for an RBOC. The servers you once spent half a million dollars on are being replaced by systems that cost $20,000. The vendors can’t sell the same number of servers, so they have to find a way of consolidating.
It’s 2012: What business resource is most in demand for 3000 shops making a transition?
It starts with the end-users. Since the HP 3000 is a robust machine, technology is not the issue. But when the end users leave, and the last person who knows how use MANMAN, you will be a world of hurt because you don’t have a training plan for how to train the next person in. It’s really going to be a human resource issue. The 3000 will probably run forever, given that you can swap a motherboard if you need to. The issue will be where to find a person to swap that motherboard, and how would we bring the system back up, and what does that mean to the application when it died in the middle of the day-end batch. Those are the kinds of things people are going to have to deal with at some point.