Official documentation for the HP 3000 has a lifespan, a period of time that's not measured like a book's bindings or any crumbling foundation of a library. Manuals and documents about how to operate a 3000 thrive upon the interest and care from the community. Speedware said at the latest e3000 Community Meet that it wants to be a repository for such 3000 knowledge.
Chris Koppe, the company's marketing director who is also the 2010 Connect user group president, reported that Speedware took snapshots of the documentation that was removed from the HP's Web servers last December. "If you're missing anything that was in HTML, some see us," he said at the Meet. Documents which used to be available in either HTML or PDF formats now only appear as PDFs. Koppe said that while Speedware still can't host official 3000 documentation, HP advised them to "take a snapshot of all of it last year -- early, just in case."
HP spread that advice around the user community about this time last year, when it had begun to issue its final communications with the community. The vendor's migration effort may be erasing some edges of HP's picture of documentation, so outside respositories are important to preserve 3000 practices. "As part of the migration," said Eloquence database creator Michael Marxmeier at the Meet, "some documents might just vanish, and it's difficult for a large organization to restore them."
HP gave customers that advice to capture any needed documents last year, then took its Jazz server offline for good to remove scores of documents and programs. Early this year the vendor struck deals with several companies to host white papers, training materials and free utility software. The 3000 system and software documentation was also a part of those deals, but it was licensed with a caveat. Outside companies can't offer these docs until HP stops serving them.
That kind of change can happen overnight, but at the moment HP has promised that it will remain the repository of 3000 documentation until 2015. The vendor's support business is scheduled to end five years earlier -- a point in time when the more repositories exist, the better coverage for the community.
Chris Bartram, the founder of the 3000's Technical Wiki and host of dozens of public utility programs at 3k.com, said he believes HP's long timelines for exiting 3000 services are part of a strategy. OpenMPE, which also wants to be known as the 3000's repository, endured years of delays and HP deliberations about the vendor's plans to hand off the stewardship of 3000 intelligence.
I wished OpenMPE good luck when they set off so many years ago, but I firmly believe that some at HP knew it was probably in their best interest to drag things on long enough -- without actually saying no and pissing people off -- so by the time anything was handed over, there would be so little demand left that HP could be sure they had milked all the "conversions" (and related new hardware purchases) they could. I guess it's getting close to that point -- so I'm not sure if I'm happy for OpenMPE, or sad.
The challenge in preparing for a far-off transfer of information like manuals, or moving support contracts by the end of 2010, is that any new resources must ramp up and then wait for their turn as stewards. Speedware, which contracted for hosting of 3000 manuals, must keep them archived and ready for whatever day HP decides manuals will not be online at HP anymore. "The idea here is to make sure that nothing gets lost over time," Koppe said, "so it has a home somewhere."
Whether it's Speedware, with its contracts, resources and HP data in hand, or OpenMPE -- trying to get its HP docs cleaned up to host on a new Jazz/Invent3k server -- any alliance of 3000 community members won't be earning much from doing this repository work. The only real profits come from showing love for the beloved server still at the heart of so many careers and companies.
"We're not really making any money in this market anymore," said Bartram, who sold 3000 e-mail application software during the 1990s and still supports it. "So it's still more of a labor of love -- or love lost."