Top 2009 Stories: Bigger ideas for the future
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Still to-do in HP's toehold: Arrange a process in 2011 to revive CPU boards that have been replaced by legit means.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.

I missed the mark on user group forecasts with "Connect mounts its largest conference for HP users." Attendance was off by about 30 percent, a casualty of the economy and a shifting demographic that is trending younger and less travel-hungry. Connect is reaching out with even more events while it has reorganized around a more volunteer-rich staff; Speedware's Chris Koppe is now user group president. At the moment the NonStop community in Connect is showing the greatest desire to meet; the 2010 'big-tent" HP Technology Forum is scheduled for June 21-24.

"A majority of migrations shift from code-drop phase to testing." There's practically no way to check this one out, but HP did report its surprise at 3000 customers just getting into coding in '09. On the other hand, Speedware estimated that not more than 1,000 companies are still using the 3000 worldwide -- a long way beyond testing a migration. It seemed that for every Long's Drug or Luftansa that left the world there was a user report from HMS Host or multi-billion dollar Leggett & Platt that showed coding was either still in progress or not even started.

Indeed, "third parties did become the driving force for the community," from a group of vendors introducing PCI solutions, to the impact of enterprise open source on migration choices, to the steady business the independent support firms retained from 3000 customers. Client Systems and Speedware took over much of the HP Jazz Web site, while OpenMPE talked (at least) about a revival of the Invent3k public development server and hosting contributed CSL software.

When you toss in continued availability of 3000 hardware, and advice from consultants on maintaining systems, as well as outsourced datacenters for parking a working 3000, the elements HP delivered up to 2009 have made a clear shift outside of Hewlett-Packard. The significant exception is lab development to repair MPE/iX bugs. HP will announce by March 31 which third parties have licensed the MPE/iX source code to take over this work.

Software maintenance contracts did take some hits during 2009, as customers pared back on utility, development and app software support for 3000 servers still in production. These 15-percent-annually revenues have been the source of operating and development revenues for some software companies. Some vendors reported a smattering of new business on the platform. The servers going into archive mode -- a type of homesteading with no clear end -- led the community in this maintenance slowdown.

2010 is going to deliver a lot of shades of shuttering and slowdowns along with steadfast 3000 use at surprisingly large sites. Support companies don't expect the HP shutdown of support to prod customers toward the exits. After all, there's not much broken on the 3000 that keeps the servers from going to work everyday.

Overall, it's not a bad scorecard for such conservative forecasts. We'd like to report more do it yourself activity for companies who want to migrate, as well as stronger networking and resources from the homesteading suppliers during 2010. An emulator for sale would at least be a proof of the concept that the 3000's lifespan is in the community's hands during the year HP hands off the 3000.