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January 2010

More Open progress toward MPE source

OpenMPE treasurer Matt Purdue has updated us on the organization's drive to earn a license for MPE/iX source code. The volunteer group will be using the source as a way to create patches for community members who are served by independent support providers. Those providers are probably writing patches from the source knowledge, too. But only those who win a source code license.

OpenMPE, on the other hand, wants to launch a business to sell patches. Through memberships, probably, to be collected from customers directly or the support providers in the community. While it's an untested business model, it's also a good option to buttress the homesteader's needs. 

The update is that OpenMPE is in "the home stretch" to raise the HP fee for the license. As of late last week, "We have in cash on hand and pledges approximately 65 percent towards the license fee," Purdue said. "Of course, additional donations of course are still needed."

That's why the NewsWire is pledging a modest amount to the drive. We respect the businesses of the support providers who are earning licenses, too. OpenMPE seems to want to operate in the patch business as a non-profit. That kind of dream needs encouragement. You should pledge, if you're going to be relying on a 3000 during 2011 for any reason -- and don't have an independent support company that can write patches, or buy them on your behalf. 

Come to think of it, even buying patches on your behalf could require a non-profit lab like OpenMPE's model.

Continue reading "More Open progress toward MPE source" »

3000 News for Some of Your Futures

A slice of the Austin 3000 community met last night at the County Line BBQ joint, where ribs and brisket hit the table to feed a brace of developers and sales experts. Everyone at the table had at least 25 years of 3000 experience, and almost everybody was still working on 3000 projects weekly. For many of us, the 3000 remains an everyday experience.

We didn't gather to share 3000 stories. We met to enjoy each other's company, prompted by a visit from Birket Foster. In places like Austin and elsewhere he swings through on sales and consulting calls and marshalls whoever can make time. (Seattle is his stop next week.) But even through the 3000 wasn't the primary topic, there were a few slices of fresh reports served up along with the meaty meal.

News that surprised me: one company counted its biggest sale of the fourth quarter as software and support of a 3000 tool. What's more, the software is being installed on four new HP 3000s. That's when Denise Girard, who worked for decades for Tymlabs and Unison Software, said, "There are new 3000s?"

Not new in a common definition of Just Been Built. But these 3000s were arriving where old systems had been, or none were in place. The better part of the story, from a homesteader's perspective, was the guaranteed end of support date for the new solution: 2015.

Continue reading "3000 News for Some of Your Futures" »

Cloud-bound users could be the unmigrated

While HP has been quietly building up its cloud messaging, the company is counting on another shift in its business server base. Hewlett-Packard would be happy if computer IT operations got to be something you'd rather not manage yourself. For the companies who haven't migrated yet, because of the cost of that journey, the cloud could be a way to save the search through replacement applications.

Nicolas Fortin of Speedware weighed in on the prospects of getting 3000 sites onto cloud enterprises. Speedware uses some cloud offerings itself, hosted by Activant, its parent entity. But the important part of the message is how the same kind of customer who can't find a replacement for apps could be served by a diligent cloud provider. 

"In our experience with the HP 3000 migration market," he says, "companies who aim to replace their custom-built applications with packaged apps or commercial software are more open to consider cloud computing or an Internet-based software-as-a-service kind of model to serve their needs."

Continue reading "Cloud-bound users could be the unmigrated" »

Homesteading users count on contributions

For a homesteading 3000 user, the future promises more than they have today. Not from HP, of course. But the contributing community of experienced developers is still working on refreshed resources for 3000s. Free resources, to match the lean budgets of homesteading sites.

Contributed resources take more time to emerge. Development pros and consultants need to feed their paying businesses first before they spend effort on contributed software. That's where OpenMPE has been, up to today. The organization is an alliance of about 10 individuals who set up servers, meet with HP to negotiate better terms for post-2010 services — you get the idea.

What you will also get, sometime this year, is a pair of invent3k servers, one to serve OpenMPE's administrative needs while serving the community. (Client Systems is donating a Series 979-400 for this work.) The other, public server has been discussed and promoted since mid-2009. Matt Perdue of Hill Country Technologies is one of those working contributors. He's setting up these HP 3000s that will bring more to a homesteader's life, and he updated us last week on that project's progress.

Purdue said OpenMPE wants to know how you'd like those contributed programs organized on the public access server.

Continue reading "Homesteading users count on contributions" »

Itanium's static loss is Linux's growth gain

The NewsWire's offices got a call today from RedHat, the world's largest Linux distro provider. The fact that RedHat is calling HP prospects, especially any as modest-sized as ours, spells trouble for the growth of HP-UX.

Within the last month, RedHat announced its development of Linux for Itanium is being curtailed. Version 5 of the OS will be last supported with enhancements for Itanium servers. Linux is probably the fastest-growing enterprise environment this year. It can generate a lot of hardware sales. With the RedHat announcement, Linux won't be driving much more Itanium adoption. RedHat's Version 6 is proceeding with full support of Intel Xeon chip line.

What prompted the RedHat call here? We downloaded a white paper to research a story. Just a few fields completed in a Web form qualified us for real-human interaction. Any questions? Could they be of any help in our selection of an environment?

While it's not unheard of, few 3000 sites who are on HP's call list are receiving contacts about employing HP-UX. Selling an enterprise environment as extensive as HP's Unix, well, it doesn't start with a cold call. But maybe it should. HP's taking the chat method instead.

Continue reading "Itanium's static loss is Linux's growth gain" »

MPE memories grow from Busch's seed

JohnBusch bio It started out with a simple mistake. The popular IT news Web site The Register said engineer John Busch was pretty much the brains behind the HP 3000. Timothy Prickett Morgan, who's had some ill-advised sport with the 3000 before now, thought he'd located the head technologist for your server's magic. Busch, who worked at HP until 1987, "for a dozen years was in charge of the technology behind its HP 3000 proprietary minicomputer platform."

Some 3000 veterans mulled this over for about 15 minutes before they said, "Who?"

Busch sparked some important R&D in the life of the 3000, especially until HP released MPE XL. But IMAGE co-creator Fred White wrote us to say he never stumbled onto a Busch during White's era.

I don't recall anyone named Busch during my years (1969-1980) in Cupertino. Or even after I went to HP Corporate and subsequently to Adager. In any event, I can't see him (whoever he is) as "The Technologist behind the HP 3000." When did J. Busch join HP? Where and in what capacity?

Busch sprouted into view last spring, when The Register was working up his profile to add weight to a story about his startup's new Web caching and MySQL appliances. By this time last week, Prickett Morgan had elevated Busch to "the technologist behind the HP 3000 minicomputer line." We poked into HP's best technical archive, the HP Journal, to verify just how much this engineer contributed. (His official bio appears above.) Along the way in our journey we revisited the glory days of HP's proprietary, elegant innovations. MPE was chief among its software mastery, after a rocky start.

Continue reading "MPE memories grow from Busch's seed" »

What Size Is Your 3000 Community?

We fielded a question from HP 3000 customer Connie Sellitto yesterday, a query she was passing on to us from her manager at the US Cat Fanciers' Association. The CFA is the top cat when it comes to pedigrees of cats in the US. Sellitto's crew uses Macs to produce a fine online mews-letter (sorry, couldn't help it) called The Fanc-e-Mews. The head of CFA's IT operations was asking Sellitto, his enterprise systems manager, "What's a ballpark estimate for the number of 3000 installations worldwide?"

What a great question, I thought. I've thought so every year for the last 20-plus, as the size of the 3000 installed base gets prodded and guessed at by end users, vendors. Maybe even HP wonders. Hewlett-Packard doesn't have any numbers about how many 3000s it ever saw in use at any time. It could track its own support customers, but that was only a share of the community. Somewhere at 3000 Hanover Street in Palo Alto there's a figure of how many 3000s HP ever shipped out. It's easy to imagine that number at over 100,000. It's been a 35-year lifespan for devices called an HP 3000, after all, 35 years and counting for a business computer that first booted with under 1 MB of storage and now can see half a terabyte.

But at no point can we recall HP seeing an installed base that numbered above 50,000 servers, even in the system's heyday of the middle to late 1980s. By 2002, the analyst house IDC's Jean Bozeman thought there were 23,000 systems running. A year later they cut their estimate to 12,000-16,000 servers. That was more than six years ago, of course. Remember, though, Sellitto was asking about installations. If we interpret that as sites, instead of customers, then a few sources think there's 1,000 customers that make up the installed base -- and about four times as many systems.

But everybody admits they don't have a complete picture of the size of your community, even if people like Steve Cooper of Allegro Consultants concurs, as he did today, with a 4,000-server estimate.

Continue reading "What Size Is Your 3000 Community?" »

Filing deadwood requires community's help

Charles Finley, a stalwart member of the 3000 community whose reseller firm once moved thousands of HP 3000s, is now working on migrations at Transformix. He was searching for a fresher copy of the job submission scripting language SLS, rumored to be contained the Contributed Software Library (CSL). "I just received a CSL file in compressed format. Does anyone have software to decompress this? I was told that it's a cFA compressed file."

Getting a program to decompress cFA files pointed to SolutionSoft, a software supplier which was once a player in the backup competition of the 1990s. The company remains in business, but its Time Machine Y2K product is the only HP 3000 solution still being offered from its Web site. Compression Storage Manager, a late-'90s product which compressed the CSL file Finley received, is long gone from the SolutionSoft lineup.

The object here -- getting the free SLS job scheduler -- got complicated when HP closed its Jazz freeware server at the end of 2008. SLS isn't one of the Jazz programs that got rehosted by either Speedware or Client Systems last year. SLS was created by an independent third party and appears to have vanished since HP took its server offline.

Where to go from here? Finley and his crew at Xformix reported back that they've resolved the decompression issue on their own; SLS support is now a part of Transformix Tools package. While this problem got a workaround, it illustrates the challenge the 3000 homesteader faces. Freeware disappears, some suppliers go out of business, others simply bury their MPE/iX products to move on toward other markets. We'd like to track these deaths and the internments, but we'll need your help.

Continue reading "Filing deadwood requires community's help" »

Lifting and Shifting Data for All

LIftNShift overviewA massive migration project is underway in the State of Washington, where a collective of 34 colleges is moving HP 3000 programs to HP-UX.

It's called a lift-and-shift, but that's a primary way of telling the user base that not much is changing. It's true from a user's perspective, although the internals of the 3 million lines of code are going through significant and interesting changes.

One of the most fascinating parts of the project is its order of execution. The reports -- the part of the system the users touch the most -- are the first milestone. 200 of them are written for MB Foster's DataExpress. Foster has moved its product onward to UDA Link, full of enhancements. The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges posted a document that showed how vital these reports are to the life of its systems. That's why the reports are going across to Unix first.

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HP's return to familiar IT roots

On Friday we reported that Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft will partner a little more to integrate cloud computing with the needs of enterprise customers. Smaller enterprise customers are an untapped market for HP, which has announced major deals with large organizations. It's a migration strategy if you can manage to shift the responsibility for IT service outside your company -- and close a datacenter.

HP's CEO Mark Hurd noted that the $250 million the company will add to its expeditures with Microsoft is putting the profitable EDS unit of HP Services on the cloud mission.

This is aligning 11,000 HP Service professionals to this initiative. This is $250 million incremental dollars, alignment between engineering teams, services teams, go to market teams, all with the desire to make things simpler and easier for our customers, get the deeper levels of integration to optimize machine capability with software capability.

This sounded familiar to Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies, the HP 3000 consultancy and clearinghouse for open source solutions. At least HP is making a most retreat from its commodity rampage with such thinking, he says. It's almost as if the vendor is rediscovering its roots.

"I couldn't help but think back to the early days of proprietary computer system sales (i.e. HP 3000s)," Edminster says, "where there was 'alignment between research teams, engineering teams, service teams, and marketing teams' to make things 'simpler and easier for the customer,' providing systems with 'deep levels of integration' and software designed to 'optimize machine capacity.' "

Continue reading "HP's return to familiar IT roots" »

Finding the Hidden Value in Migration

Speedware's Chris Koppe briefed us this week on the large-scope migration project that's underway at the Washington State Board of Community Technical Colleges. We'll have updates throughout this year on the work to move an environment of 28 HP 3000s to the HP-UX platform, an effort targeted for a spring 2011 finish that's supported by ScreenJet, Eloquence, UDA Link and Speedware's project management. But one point of Koppe's report stood out: the value a customer can uncover while doing this unwelcome task.

"No one wants to do this if they don't have to," Koppe said of migration. "But if you're going to do it, these are some pros to it. One thing you walk away with is a more intimate knowledge of every piece of code in their entire environment than you've ever had at any point in time."

Customers talk about taking away this knowledge, Koppe said, "because they will have touched and tested and played with and tweaked and fixed everything: all streams, all JCLs, all batch programs, all user interfaces, system interfaces, FTPs. They will have touched and played with them all, all within one year's time."

This kind of exhaustive inventory is crucial and extraordinary for most 3000 customers. It's crucial because these 3000 customers bear the responsibility for their own IT services. It's extraordinary because many customers use apps and systems 15, 20 or even 25 years old. (A quarter-century of service from an app only dates it back to 1984, after all.) Elements that old have often outlived the developers and managers who built them.

And if you're the rare 3000 site that doesn't have to bear that IT responsibility? HP has a cloud for you. You just have to be able to float your heaviest computing on that platform.

Continue reading "Finding the Hidden Value in Migration" »

Upgrades still rely on some HP support

HP 3000 system upgrades have become genuine bargains by this year, with prices for things like extra CPUs and memory well below $1,000 from some sources. But purchases of full systems can still bring a five-figure price tag for the newest models of the 3000 -- even those servers that don't qualify for HP MPE licensing. What's more, HP's support teams still hold a critical outpost on the 3000 upgrade path.

Bob Sigworth of Bay Pointe Technology writes to remind us that HP's technical blessing is required to add CPU units for the 9x9 models of 3000s, as well as N-Class and A-Class servers. "When adding a CPU to any HP 3000, 9x9 or N4000 you are going to have some costs from HP," he said. "The first cost will be to have HP activate the CPU. MPE is not like Unix where you just plug in the CPU and off you go."

It gets more pricey depending on how much upgrade you've purchased, he adds. Although the Software Tier rating for a Series 979 is the same for 1-CPU through 4-CPU units, HP's crafted its "Right To Use" changes over the last three years to collect money for improving a system, if you're paying HP anything at all these days for your 3000s.

"If you go beyond the 979/200 to a third or fourth CPU, you could possibly have RTU charges from HP," Sigworth says. "The 979/100 and 200 are Level 2 RTU servers, whereas the 979/300 or 400 are Level 3 CPUs. You get the 'ability' to pay HP money just because you have extra CPUs."

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Retail futures for 3000 tote up at NRF

1364.mda The annual National Retail Federation conference, which gathers this week for its 99th meeting, includes exhibitors and talks that can help shape the future of 3000-based e-commerce. But nothing our Editor at Large has heard at the meeting in New York City adds up as much as what he says Ecometry's managers are reporting about their futures.

"Their [direct sales] division is selling Windows-based stuff," said Birket Foster from yesterday's show floor. "They're not selling any 3000-based stuff anymore." Ecometry has announced that its support of the e-commerce application for MPE/iX ends this year. "Unless that doesn't work out for you," Foster said, "and they'll spend some time helping, and so on."

"They don't want to lose somebody just because they can't afford to move off the 3000 just yet," he added. "They'd rather take some money rather than no money," accepting support payments while a customer moves. The troubled HP Business Critical Server group won't be getting much help from these 3000 migrators, who are choosing Windows more often as a replacement platform when they stick to Ecometry's solution.

Foster added that migration assessment bookings are up now during in the final year of HP's 3000 support. At last year's NRF, suppliers and the retailers were talking about the PCI DSS credit card standards -- and doubtful about the 3000's future to support the new security requirements. This year's NRF introduced another kind of solution to meeting the July, 2010 PCI deadline.

Continue reading "Retail futures for 3000 tote up at NRF" »

Homesteading value flows at the pumps

Migration has become a project that demands persistence in the 3000 community. Cutting over to a replacement application that's as steady an MPE/iX program can take longer than expected, so customers are finding ways to make their 3000s last longer in production status.

That's the case at Gilbarco Veeder-Root, an operating unit of the $12 billion corporation Danaher Group. Gilbarco is a typical 3000 customer because it manufactures something, in this case petroleum retail distribution products. It would simple to call them gas pumps, but what the company builds is far more sophisticated than that. The 3000 manages the resources needed to build and sell "fueling and retail management systems for convenience stores, hypermarkets and service stations."

Simon Buckingham at Gilbarco reported not long ago that the company's transfer to a replacement system needs more time to step in for the 3000. Like a lot of customers, the site is working with a 3000 designed prior to the N-Class, a Series 979 with a single processor. Although the system is old, the business is new at this manufacturer. His 3000 has got to grow.

"It looks as it will be having to do a job for us for a while longer, as the delivery of a new ERP system appears to have been delayed," Buckingham reported. "The demands on the system are increasing and we are looking at installing extra memory to help cope with the load. Another option we might pursue is an additional processor. It is not an option I am familiar with; at previous sites as we have only had single-processor machines."

Memory is cheap for these 9x9 systems, and the extra CPUs are not expensive, either. The most costly element can be software that's not developed in-house: the utilities and tools that are licensed by HP's old tiered pricing structure. Getting familiar with hardware upgrades starts with the 8-page (PDF file) HP e3000 configuration guide of 2004.

Continue reading "Homesteading value flows at the pumps" »

Emulating 3000 Bugs, As Well as Features

Creating an emulator is detailed work, development which can be tested in the market for years after release. That lengthy timespan of test was illustrated over the past week, when a discussion surfaced on the Internet about how the MPE Command Interpreter (CI) product behaves for HP 3000 emulation.

The discussion over the past 24 hours has opened a window on how the 3000 works at a essential tech level. JCL, which relies on the CI, can be used for programming on the 3000. But the chat also illustrates an issue of using an emulator for any 3000 system, whether it's hardware emulator like the coming Stromasys product, or a environment emulator like Speedware's AMXW. Customers need to rely upon complete emulation, even of features that work differently than they should.

Unlike the long-awaited product to mimic HP's 3000 hardware, AMXW works to re-create the 3000's operating environment on Unix or Windows. The software sold and updated by Speedware has been essential in getting a massive 3000 site onto Unix, when Expeditors International moved a network of more than 150 3000s using AMXW. This weekend a developer asked the 3000 community for help with an apparent expression evaluation bug in the MPE/iX CI. AMXW drifted into the 24-hour chat near the finish.

The CI in MPE/iX behaves differently than expected by several 3000 experts among the 10 who examined this bug. Some of them called it a bug, conjuring up the redoubtable phrase, "That's not a bug, it's a feature." In this instance, the CI's unique evaluation methods should be mirrored in any emulator environment. Please replicate bugs, said one expert with emulator development experience.

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HP's new touch needs massive grip on apps

HPTouchscreenThe 2010 Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up, leaving the HP 3000 community with a reminder of how the industry deals with innovation so real you can touch it. HP's tablet computers made a fresh entry to the marketplace at CES, but the game-changing HP tablet running Microsoft's Courier was not among these entries. Some were looking to Microsoft and HP to release a product as unique as the HP-150 Touchscreen PC was in 1983 and 1984.

Sometimes, however, unique can be a dead weight instead of the balloon to lift innovation above the clouds. The trick to avoiding this dead-end is to provide critical mass on introduction. It's very slippery to grasp this brass ring, as HP learned with the architecture that drives all futures for HP-UX. The touch and tablet talk of this week is reminding me of the Touchscreen.

HPSlate Among all the world's computer customers in 1984, HP 3000 DP managers knew the above product best. These were the years when a PC instead of a terminal was a gamble in the office environment, the place where the majority of computing dollars were spent. The Touchscreen was too far ahead of its time to change the game in personal computing (that's what PC stands for, by the way.) However, it was the Touchscreen's software partner plan that doomed the device that was popular in 3000 shops for its built-in terminal software. Hardware and OS were minimal roadblocks by comparison. What was missing was critical mass.

CourierSlate This disconnect between critical mass and computer wizardry remains a caution for your community today, even though HP's technology prowess and partnership skills have improved as much as the photos of these products show. When HP and Microsoft lure the markets into a forecast of changing the interface for computing, the language sounds a lot like the HP-Intel promises of domination by Itanium. HP-UX adopters, take note: your environment's critical mass rides on Itanium adoption. Not even two of the largest computer companies innovating together in the 1990s could make that mass appear.

Touchscreen screen Technical superiority is the least part of the success equation. The most important component is relationships with companies, partners who believe in the rising tide of Natural Human Interface. Shown here is the rolodex card replacement app that was running on the Touchscreen. HP wrote it, sold it, ran it on the 9-inch Touchscreen. Few companies chose to write software for this interface. NHI will replace GUI as the brass ring for leading user interface. Not the stylus of the Courier concept, mixed with human gestures touching the screen. All touch. Microsoft's attempt to change the game, powered by HP's technology, seems as sketchy as 1984's novel interface that was missing apps and critical mass from its opening frames.

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Oklahoma teachers retire 3000 to Windows

Editor's Note: Four years ago we reported on the migration mission at the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana, a Speedware lift and shift to HP's Unix. Conversion and migration supplier UNICON offers the following report of a mission from a similar organization, converting to an all-Windows environment after two decades of 3000 application use.

By James Harding
UNICON Conversion Technologies

The Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System is an agency set up to provide retirement benefits to Oklahoma’s education staff. Based in Oklahoma City, the TRS employs nearly 50 individuals and oversees a pension fund valued at approximately $10 billion. While the TRS’s active members are all located in Oklahoma, its retirees are located all over the world. The TRS has spent many years and dollars customizing its Client Accounting System for the HP 3000 and designed to manage pension funds for active and retired members. The system was predominantly written in HP COBOL, utilizing Suprtool and VPlus screens and accessing a TurboIMAGE database.

When HP announced its end-of-life decision for its HP 3000 business, the TRS was forced to review its options going forward. Finding a replacement package software product was an impossible task — even a package remotely similar would require heavy customization to bring it in line with current needs. Re-writing for a new platform was too costly, time-consuming and would introduce an unacceptable level of risk.

TRS wanted to retain its valuable investment in the existing applications and felt that migrating them to an open systems platform presented the best option. TRS reviewed two ways of doing this: emulation and native conversion. While emulation offered a way to run on open systems hardware, it introduced a proprietary emulation layer between the code and the operating system -- thereby locking TRS into the proprietary MPE environment and also rendering them dependent upon the emulation vendor after migration.

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What HP should bring to Identity Solutions

We'll take a leap into the language today to examine where HP's 2010 investment can go to best help its classic customers. That would you, our readers, companies who have built IT around HP's unique products like the HP 3000 -- as well as the migration sites choosing HP's Unix as a target in 2010 and later years.

Hewlett-Packard was built upon a credo of Invent It Here. During the 1980s and early '90s the Not Invented Here (NIH) prejudice kept the company apart from mainstream partners as well as powerful solutions built by independents. A small company would create a software product, and then HP would offer its own, less-worthy solution to compete. NIH was a protection plan for HP hegemony.

Now with a new decade upon us all, community members are looking at the opposite of NIH at HP: the shopping-happy corporation tossing around its No. 1 revenues to acquire. Today Nina Buik, who headed up user group Encompass and then Connect for several years, said in a Twitter tweet, "I wonder who is on HP's acquisition radar in 2010?"

Community members in Encompass should care where HP spends its revenues, since so many of the user group members use HP's unique products like HP-UX, VMS and NonStop systems. HP 3000 sites are only picking only one of those as an IT alternative. But HP's penchant for purchasing instead of developing unique products have a dim future. Let's call them Identity Solutions to keep track of their special value to you and HP's legacy.

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Any HP service to survive to 2011 for 3000s?

In this month we recall the last official communique from HP about its 3000 support roadmap, issued during January 2009. These choices are determined by the Worldwide Support Manager for Business Critical Systems, Bernard Detreme. (The last time we made contact with the group to ask questions like this, in 2008, Detreme was in charge. You can ping him with 2011 support questions at [email protected].)

2011 support for the 3000? It's easy to find among independent suppliers, but there is no such thing available from Hewlett-Packard, right? On a few important and pointed issues, that remains to be seen. HP's not showing up with answers yet to the two following questions.

First, when a 3000 owner transfers a licensed CPU board into a 3000, to replace a failed component, who's going to transfer HPCPUNAME and HPSUSAN numbers to the board? Last January HP said this process would be delivered on a time and materials basis by HP Support. It's not clear to the customers or the independent support teams if HP will bless replacement boards in 2011. Time and materials projects behave differently than other HP support.

This might not matter so much if the independent support teams in your community had a way of blessing the replacement boards. They don't today.

Then there's Question 2, one that HP has answered -- but perhaps not well enough to satisfy its own liability needs. Let us suggest a rally cry to Hewlett-Packard support: "Free the MPE media!"

Continue reading "Any HP service to survive to 2011 for 3000s?" »

2009 predictions stock up 2010's to-dos

Welcome to the final year of HP's business with the HP 3000. Althrough much of HP activity around the 3000 will remain unchanged -- mission-critical pros like Bob Chase in the HP Escalation center and James Hofmeister of HP support will be around to service customers as needed -- the community will be edging closer to its enhanced afterlife. Whatever you're buying from HP this month for your 3000 will be coming from an independent supplier one year from today.

Edging toward this future means taking newsworthy steps. I took a gamble on some predictions for 2009 last year, forcasting on the first day of HP's penultimate year of 3000 service. Some were accurate and others not so much. The ones that didn't come true still have potential to shape this pivotal year of 3000 Transition.

"HP keeps a toehold in the community," I predicted, by announcing an ongoing licensing facility for MPE/iX. Some of this came true. In mid-January HP confirmed that Software License Transfers between 3000 systems sold on the used market will still be offered through HP’s SLT organization -- a group that serves more than just 3000 products. HP was candid enough to admit that only a portion of its customers will make any effort to have 3000 software licenses transferred during 2011 and beyond. HP made no references to what it could offer in exchange for a complying with license requirements.

Still to-do in HP's toehold: Arrange a process in 2011 to revive CPU boards that have been replaced by legit means. The HPCPUNAME and HPSUSAN IDs can only be legitimately changed using HP's SS_UPDATE or SS_CONFIG software. Neither will be released to independent support providers. HP's got no process on how this service will be offered in less than a year, after its support ends for the 3000.

"An emulator for PA-RISC goes into beta test," I predicted. A pretty easy guess, considering the effort had been in play since 2003. Indeed, Stromasys announced it was putting a product into testing in the fall. What becomes of it will be one of the 2010 stories to impact Transition.

Continue reading "2009 predictions stock up 2010's to-dos" »