HP's Alvina Nishimoto, who attended the second half of the Meet, said HP is still observing customers migrating, and "migrating late, which is kind of surprising." But on the whole the vendor is seeing a very quiet picture of the community, she said. "We have 9x7 customers coming out of the woodwork," a data point that would seem to suggest more than 1,000 customers continue to use a 3000, since the 9x7s were first shipped 15 years ago. Nishimoto said these 9x7 customers were sites HP didn't know about. But a comment about the community having more than 10,000 customers drew sustained laughter.
OpenMPE, represented by Donna Hofmeister of Allegro Consultants, wants to establish business relationships between itself, support providers like Allegro and a group of professionals it calls Patch Providers. "Basically, that's what we used to call the lab," Hofmeister said at the e3000 Community Meet this fall. OpenMPE also launched its pitch for $25,000 in funding to purchase and maintain an HP MPE/iX source code license. The information was the first to surface that indicates how much HP is charging some applicants for the license. The source code deals are sealed under a confidential agreement.
By Ron Seybold
By Ron Seybold
We’ve been wrestling with risk at my house this month. The flu made its debut just as November started, and so a period of recovery and a return to health commenced, too. We’re not flu shot people, Abby and I, so we weather the risk of letting a virus have its way with our immune systems. Both beyond 50, we’re in the generation that drank from garden hoses, ate burgers that dropped to the dirt, and played for hours after we skinned our knees outside.
That’s all risky behavior, but so is rolling the dice on a flu shot, or deciding that it’s time to cut over in a massive migration. The shots and the migrations flow from sound advice, but they are solutions that carry a potential downside, too. A flu shot can give you a dose of the flu, and every virus has powerful evolution properties that let it evade a vaccine after just a few months, maybe weeks. (I’ve researched viral behavior for my just-finished novel Viral Times, but years of study that doesn’t make me an expert, just an informed storyteller. You can read more at viraltimes.net.)
We all tell ourselves stories as a way of surviving and thriving. Our story this month has been something like, “Okay, it’s just the flu. Here’s how you outlast the symptoms, and here’s how you protect yourself while your sweetheart gets through her bout.” We’ve developed our natural immunity for reasonable risk in our lives since we started the NewsWire together more than 14 years ago. Thanks to you, we survived the risk and thrived.
During more than half of that 14 years we have seen many of you managing the risk of 3000 transitions. Transition, as I’ve preached, describes the condition of nearly every member of the 3000 community: the homesteading customers who need new support providers and new DIY skills; the migrators, making a shift to a new environment and new apps; the solutions providers, shifting to new markets or shoring up their resolve to serve 3000 sites for another seven years.
If you want to be connected, social networks will link you into whatever you need to know right away. The world’s wildest and widest social net, Twitter, can put you in direct and immediate contact with anyone who’s a member. Millions of people, posting all around the wide world, can make you smarter, funnier and richer. (Sorry, not thinner. There’s only so much an electronic medium can do.)
If only there were more HP 3000 community members on Twitter. I can see the eyes rolling for many of my readers at this moment. They believe don’t have the time to plug in to social networks like Facebook, Linked In, the Connect User Group’s community, or even others. “I have enough to do already,” they argue, and then might add a quip that they have a real life.
That’s a more current argument if your professional life doesn’t span a world any larger than your county, state or province. As an IT pro, your field is as wide as your ambition and desire to grow and learn. If you don’t network using the tools of the Web, you’d better be traveling to meetings and conferences.
I enjoyed the glee of mixing both in-person and online networking this fall. At the latest e3000 Community Meet I sat in the front row of a Hyatt hotel room to listen and ask questions. I also spread Twitter tweets in pretty-much live broadcasting. I get excited about that broadcasting prospect because of my dad’s work while I grew up. He engineered broadcasts for WSPD-TV. That was my first taste of being a part of the media. At the Meet I got to shoot video which is up on the NewsWire's YouTube channel. It's another way to podcast, one where the speakers are featured instead of your host/editor.
A hotel meeting room, filled with 40 men and women wearing Post-It notes, could be considered an unusual nexus of HP 3000 energy in the year 2009. But there's been little that's been usual or expected about the 3000 community's Transition since late 2001.
That's why the dominant feeling at this year's e3000 Community Meet was not shock, over seeing more than 40 IT pros on hand for a day devoted to the 3000, but delight over any reunion. Because the 3000 has been a business tool and commercial opportunity since the 1970s, most of the people in the room were well past 40 years of age.
The years of relationships between those developers, vendors and a few users made the event come together on the shortest of schedules. The organization was so tight that name badges were handwritten Post-It notes attached with large paper clips.
Hewlett-Packard reported its fiscal year and fourth quarter results late Monday, results that drew good news from services business, PC and printer sales, and little else. While the headline news showed an increase in Q4 profits over the same 2008 quarter, HP achieved its rise on cost cutting. Its total sales dropped 8 percent versus the prior fourth quarter and 3 percent for all of fiscal 2009.
That's a $114 billion year in sales, with HP reporting a total profit of $10.1 billion. The 2008 numbers hold the records for both categories -- and that was a fiscal year where EDS didn't contribute for two of HP's four quarters. Enterprise Server sales, part of the ESS group in the chart below, were off during 2009 by about $4 billion.
The numbers were brightest in the services sector which contributed most to 2009 sales. Once HP added EDS to its portfolio of acquired companies, the unit delivered both profits and sales that rose throughout the year. Services has kicked in upwards of $1 billion per quarter in 2009 profits, becoming the new printer group of HP's financial desires. The EDS unit came close to topping HP's PC business in sales, all while earning three times as much profit. Services now represent almost 38 percent of all HP profits.
PCs sat at the center of analyst questions in the briefing held after the US markets closed. HP is taking market share from Dell, but sales revolve around the least expensive products in the Personal Systems Group lineup. Wall Street and investment experts didn't ask about the Enterprise Storage and Server unit or the group's Business Critical Servers division. ESS generated more profits than in Q3, but its $481 million in earnings was 30 percent below the same 2008 quarter.
The latest numbers for the BCS products, such as the Integrity HP-UX server line and the ProLiant Windows servers, wouldn't inspire confidence in prospects for a renewal of former's sales growth.
HP's stock flirts with $50 a share today, as the company is set to release full details on its 2009 fiscal year and forecasts for business during 2010. The company will take questions from Wall Street analysts today in a Webcast which starts at 5 PM EST, after the US markets close. (Follow the link at the right, in our Twitter Updates, to find the Webcast page for HP's report.)
The financial condition and strategies of the world's biggest computer and services provider should matter to HP 3000 owners who are migrating. Business plan changes prompted HP to leave the 3000 market when the company decided revenue growth was not great enough to continue 3000 investments. Future surprises about support for non-standard environments could be impacted by financials.
HP took some of the surprise out of today's Q4 results by pre-announcing its financials on Nov. 11. HP said it earned 99 cents a share on revenue of $30.8 billion for the period, compared with a profit of 84 cents a share on $33.5 billion sales during the same period a year ago. HP trotted out those results along with news that it is buying the No. 2 networking equipment provider 3Com Corp for $2.7 billion.
But today's full report will include data on the performance of HP's enterprise server operations. The unit which develops and sells the Integrity systems that run HP-UX, as well as Windows ProLiant servers, is far from the spotlight for financial mavens. Performance of HP's PC business, the company's printer and imaging group, and the rise of the high-profit services unit are much higher on HP's hit parade.
At this year's e3000 Community Meet, a roundtable discussion offered insights into why more migrations aren't completed by now. After all, it's eight years since HP announced its exit from the 3000 business. What's holding up some sensible companies? For the 3000 site accustomed to managing its own development and operations, one barrier seems to be in-house experience.
Rick Goldman of Spellbinder Systems Group shared a typical tale of resistance. Small steps can soften the blow of change, he said, but moving something task-specific into enterprise-wide design can throw up a hurdle. Spellman is consulting on Speedware implementations as well as migration.
"In some cases people don't want to move because they want to avoid risk -- not realizing the risk they've got in staying on the 3000," he said. "They're afraid of introducing some new mix to their technology." The reluctance to extending a point technology like replication is one example Goldman shared.
The treasurer for the OpenMPE advocacy group has announced that the drive to raise licensing fees for MPE/iX source is halfway home. Contributions have been trickling in since Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies kicked in the first $1,000 in September. The money can help connect customers to patches, as shown in the chart, so MPE can continue to serve companies, both those homesteading and those on a long-term migration schedule.
Although the group doesn't have an official deadline from HP to submit its fees for read-only source, the vendor's "Jennie Hou says the sooner the better," reported treasurer Matt Perdue. At September's e3000 Community Meet where the fundraising kicked off, Perdue estimated that about $20,000 would be needed to pay HP as well as manage the licensing process.
OpenMPE has applied for the license, and must be prepared to pay the license fee, upon approval by Hewlett-Packard. "We are now more than half way to the fundraising goal," Perdue said in a note to the HP 3000 newsgroup, "so please consider what you can contribute."
Specifics of the source code license terms are under wraps, thanks to a Confidential Disclosure Agreement that all applicants must sign. HP hasn't announced which companies have been approved and granted licenses. The program was first announced by HP in February.
Even though many IT pros disregard the word free, and cull it from e-mail, the old-school HP 3000 community remembers genuine gifts to customers. Source Direct, a supplier of enterprise hardware, is sponsoring free training in the Houston area in three weeks. The source of the training makes it easy to identify the value you'll get on Dec. 9.
On that Wednesday from 11-5 you can receive HP-UX training from Bill Hassell, one of the best recognized Unix gurus in the HP community. Two years ago, the Greater Houston Regional User Group (GHRUG) included Hassell in GHRUG's user conference. Hassell has demonstrated enough HP-UX savvy and experience to fill a full day of pre-conference training at the HP Technology Forum. His training during that HPTF day was being sold at $495.
GHRUG may not have mounted a public meeting this year, but the user group has delivered notice of this free training to its membership list. As HP 3000 members of GHRUG have made transitions to HP's Unix, they need the kind of administration tips that save time. The cost of the training is already saving them money. There's a free lunch, too.
To reserve a seat and get directions to the event you can contact Dave Crawford, Regional Client Business Manager at Source Direct -- (713) 473-5368 or [email protected]
In our recent report on the seventh anniversary of HP's 3000 exit notice, we referred to a shining moment for the community. We captured the first-ever introduction of A-Class and N-Class HP 3000s on February 7, 2001. Although HP introduced its final generation of 3000s over and over for the next six months, that spring morning showed off the new design in extensive detail.
Product Manager Dave Snow is introduced by General Manager Winston Prather at the e3000 Solutions Symposium in our video, waltzing down the meeting room's aisle with an A-Class server under his arm. He's borrowed one of the few that were testing-ready that day from HP's MPE/iX labs. In a separate movie of 5 minutes, Snow leads a tour of the advantages the new design still offers over the 9x9 and 99x 3000s. HP pulled the covers and cabinet doors off to show internal hardware design.
HP hasn't manufactured these N- and A-Class models for more than six years, but they remain popular among community members who need to upgrade 3000s. They were built to a standard of reliability and durability that gives the computers a longer lifespan than many business servers. It's not easy to find this video's level of configuration detail here in 2009, even while the servers continue to be bought and sold
Snow discusses the length of that 3000 lifespan as he starts his advantages tour. The term of useful service of an HP 3000 gave customers an advantage in the short term -- but some say that that same service level contributed to HP's departure from your community.
Eight years ago this week, your community lay in a state of shock. Some vendors were not surprised that HP announced the end of its HP 3000 business, but an overwhelming majority of customers and suppliers found themselves caught off guard. The approach of the 3000's afterlife began on Nov. 14, 2001. Like the horizon, of course, the complete exit of 3000 customers has remained out in the distance.
HP continues to find itself surprised at the pace of migration. Alvina Nishimoto, one of the few HP employees left who can help out with 3000-specific issues of moving to HP's alternatives, said as much during the roundtable discussion of this fall's e3000 Community Meet.
It's very quiet on the 3000 front at HP, she explained. But when asked what the surprises have been during the Year No. 8 of the 3000 Transition, Nishimoto said the unexpected continues to surface.
"They're migrating late, which is kind of surprising,” she said. “We have 9x7 customers coming out of the woodwork,” a data point that would seem to suggest more than 1,000 customers continue to use a 3000, because the 9x7s were first shipped 15 years ago. That's been a busy 15 years, since more than half of it has comprised The Afterlife.
It's a powerful part of your HP 3000 that runs whenever the server is plugged in. The General Service Processor (GSP) is the maintenance control console that commands the server to "reboot, do memory dumps and even fully power down the HP 3000," reports consultant and outsource support expert Craig Lalley of EchoTech.
Lalley has been on the hunt for a method to make the 3000's GSP as useful as the unit in an HP-UX server. "On HP-UX it is possible to reset from the host OS," he said. "I have not found a way from MPE."
Lalley explains that on HP-UX it is possible to issue the command
stty +resetGSP < /dev/GSPdiag1
to reset the GSP. From time to time a reset may be required for diagnostics services. If your 3000 gets loving care from outside your computer room, you may need a paper clip to keep service at HP-UX levels.
Vintage HP 3000s present some risks of hardware failures, but not many. Any computer's hard drive can fail, and will at some time in the future. Power supplies have been reported going AWOL. Memory can forget its purpose. Most of these failures can be planned for, so a site will experience little downtime.
Perhaps not so much with the 9x7 internal batteries. A few weeks ago we reported that a 3000 which forgets what time it is may have a failed internal system clock battery. Sad to say, this isn't an easy hardware failure to recover from, and a good reason to invest in spare parts server. Or arrange for complete hardware support.
Bob J. of Ideal Computer Services filled out the details on getting a working battery to replace what he calls "the Dallas Semiconductor DS1287 real time clock module. The replacement is a DS12887 and is available from components suppliers. The only concern is getting a replacement part that has been on the shelf too long."
A Series 947 HP 3000 surfaced on Craigslist yesterday priced at $400. Offered by Alan Cartwright of Gilroy, Calif., the computer was purchased at auction. Gilroy said the system is new to him and he'd like to resell it. He's not really certain how he should price this computer first released in the 1990s.
"I really have no idea what this is worth," he said on the day after he posted the item, "so any info you could give me based on the facts already at hand would be great." He did note that as configured, the server sold new for more than $150,000. So that would make his asking price a 99.8 percent discount.
Since he's not sure if his paperwork will pass HP's muster to transfer the MPE/iX license, Cartwright will have to wait on that assessment. But Bob Sigworth of Bay Pointe Technology took a quick look at the listing. The 3000 hardware reseller said it's been a long time since he's seen a Series 9x7 with decent license paperwork. The phrase "parts box" came up to describe Cartwright's offer.
For more than a year after Micro Focus acquired the ACUCOBOL family of products, Acu users had grave doubts about the merger. Micro Focus sold one of the most popular, competing COBOL compilers. It paid $40 million for the entire entity of Acucorp, its Extend development suite, even Acu's Chief Scientist Drake Coker. Buying your competition to gain prospects, while retiring their tools, is commonplace in the computer business by now. Just ask any of the customers whose ERP or CRM apps now belong to Infor. (MANMAN is among those put out to pasture.) Micro Focus announced Project Meld in 2008, in which two products were to do a Vulcan connection to become as one.
So it came as a surprise to the enterprise solutions community when ACUCOBOL regained its development future at Micro Focus this year. Peter Anderton of Micro Focus explained the turnabout at the e3000 Community Meet in September. "We told our customers we were merging Micro Focus and AcuCOBOL, and they told us we were daft," the Englishman said with British candor. "And we were."
Migration service suppliers had a hard time visualizing an ACUCOBOL that would survive. Mike Howard of Unicon Conversion Technologies pointed out that a customer couldn't purchase AcuCOBOL since the acquisition. Anderton said that's changing now, and his company has a roadmap available that visualizes an ACUCOBOL 9, created by Micro Focus.
At this fall's e3000 Community Meet, ScreenJet's Alan Yeo shared an unexpected story. His company helped to establish a new HP 3000 customer site within the past year. While there's a lot of talk about the risk of remaining on the HP 3000 due to the vendor's exit in 2010, this company saw a 3000 app as a way to avoid the trouble of falling behind.
In our 3-minute video (click on the embed above, or view it on our YouTube channel), Yeo related the case study. A 3000 solution beat out IBM iSeries apps and outlasted the promises of a migration too often postponed.
They were in a position where they hadn't been allowed to do anything for years — because the answer to everything they wanted to do was, “wait until the new ERP system comes in.” They said they needed to do something, so they looked in their group to see who was doing what. The best systems they had in the group happened to be HP 3000 systems. Even though they had IBM i5 apps running.
Some programs from the former HP shareware server Jazz are online at Speedware and Client Systems hosts. But some are not -- especially the 3000 tools written by the user community. One of the best repositories of such 3000 programs is still online and serving software. 3k.com is, as its founder and curator Chris Bartram says, "a site with arguably the largest collection of public domain/shared software, or links to the such software on the Internet."
We agree, and want to note that 3k.com was always a Web resource with more scope than the now-defunct Jazz. The 3k Associates site hosts a 3000 technical Wiki, did a 3000 FAQ before that, hosts a raft of technical papers, has a link to the freeware from 3000/9000 support vendor Beechglen, points to another set of tools from Allegro Consultants, and has been home to the biggest directory of HP 3000 software products. How long has this resource been around? Well, 3k.com is a two-character Web address. You simply can't buy those anymore, having been snapped up long before the 3000 business was closed off at HP.
HP closed down Jazz one year ago this month, but the vendor did more than pull the plug on the freeware server. As we've reported before, the Jazz programs are now walled off by a 40-page End User License Agreement. At least the ones that HP engineers developed for free use by the community. The third-party tools that were hosted on Jazz aren't covered by the HP EULA. That's where 3k.com comes in, during a time when OpenMPE is still working to try to get its hosting site open to the public.
A serious share of HP 3000 migration projects target SQL Server as an IMAGE replacement. The Eloquence database is a sleeker, faster, more 3000-friendly solution, plus it runs across all three major migration environments. But SQL Server is a Microsoft product, tied to Windows, the most popular migration target.
All those follow-the-crowd reasons show why a brief announcement from Computing Solutions Ltd. (CSL) could help migrating 3000 sites.The UK company sold Linkway an IMAGE-to-ODBC utility starting in the 1990s. Now the vendor is tossing its development hat into the SQL Server arena.
CSL's SQL Server Job Monitor (SSJM) software is on sale at launch prices through this month, according to Tom Moore of the company. The utility helps supply automated monitoring of batch work (SQL jobs) to the Windows environment.
Linkway earned good marks from the community in the late '90s, while IMAGE was still gaining tools like the company's founding product. The company continues to support some 3000 customers still using its products and services. Batch work under Windows merits special considerations while making a migration, according to Unicon's Mike Howard.
By Birket Foster
Special Report to the NewsWire
Whoever imagined a conference agenda with the discussions on the appropriateness of using iTunes to distribute e-learning content, or open-source versus proprietary applications? How things have changed!
This week I’m attending the Educause conference in Denver, where I will be taking a dive into the modern world of educational computing looking at these topics and more.
The world of computing for education used to be really simple. Early HP 3000 adopters included many higher-ed and K-12 organizations. There were consortiums that were formed to build common applications iN Washington state, California and other places. The HP 3000 market had several providers that sprung up – SRN provided fundraising software, degree audits and more. Bi-Tech provided financials and many customers flocked to conferences. There were even conferences within conferences, as there was a SIG-ED track at Interex.
But the modern campus landscape has evolved to include massive IT infrastructures – internet, wireless, servers, secure networks, mobile computing, peer to peer file sharing, High Performance Computing, and Learning Management Systems (LMS) dot the landscape of the modern campus.
IBM made a gallant effort at capturing users who pondered an HP 3000 migration seven years ago, but the alternative midrange iSeries server has seen declining share of Big Blue attentions. Now a group of iSeries (and AS400) owners, vendors and leaders are mounting an effort to make the iSeries manifest a brighter destiny. The campaign bears a striking resemblance to the OpenMPE advocacy -- with the distinction that IBM hasn't canceled the iSeries futures.
The iManifest initiative took off in the spring in Japan. What does the iSeries need that IBM sales and marketing isn't supplying? The launch manifesto doesn't call out IBM's shortcomings, but aims to rally the users to recognize their systems' value.
More widespread usage of IBM i is the best way for corporations to strengthen their management capability and business power. We have started activities to add to the user community as many new companies as possible. We ask that users renew their firm confidence and belief that IBM i is the best infrastructure available to support managerial and operational innovation.
2009 is the 20th anniversary of the iSeries family, which started when IBM migrated its System 36/38 customers to the AS400. At the same time HP was moving its HP 3000 sites to the PA-RISC 3000s and MPE/XL. iManifest is trying to ensure that HP's 3000 history doesn't repeat in a fadeout of the iSeries. The initiative recently gained new members in the iSeries chief scientist Frank Soltis, as well as the top application supplier Infor -- which owns the MANMAN customer base in the 3000 world.
The Connect user group for HP enterprise customers will close its voting for a 2010-11 board on Nov. 12. This election of directors is following a pattern HP 3000 customers will recognize from OpenMPE board voting. The number of seats open equals the number of candidates on the slate. For any company pursuing an HP 3000 migration, however, this organization has a lot to offer in networking opportunities.
In situations like an election without a contested seat, members understand their vote won't influence the outcome of the balloting. But voting will keep you engaged and more interested in what the board of directors will propose for the year to come. This year's slate of directors includes a candidate from the HP 3000 community running for re-election. Steve Davidek of the City of Sparks, Nevada is volunteering for a term that runs through 2011.
Connect members are the only people who can vote. Membership is only $50 for a year for an individual. You can cast a ballot after looking over the slate at the Connect site, then following the link to vote.