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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."

So if running your own DIY migration project might be years away, or out of your budget, the traditional migration project management can be used by anybody who can afford it. Or you can keep search the cloud in the meantime, if that HP 3000 simply must go.

Packaged application replacement was popular among 3000 migrators for awhile, but many companies hit the wall trying to find and customize software built for generic companies. Fortin explains the match between sites which feel they must buy and maintain their own computers and IT infrastructure.

Customers who use our migration solutions tend to aim for low-risk, lift and shift migrations of their existing custom-built applications and related supporting environment. They usually purchase their own servers, software and own the infrastructure that powers them, so they don’t really opt for a cloud computing or software-as-a-service model, since they host the apps locally. Some of them of course choose to “virtualize” their server environment to respond to their specific computing needs, stay agile and to aim for a lower Total Cost of Ownership, but that virtualized environment is localized and internal, not outsourced. Note: This also applies to the IBM mainframe and AS/400 markets.

Another migration services supplier, MB Foster, has a similar look at the longer-term future for the smaller 3000 shop. Birket Foster has said companies which once could afford to maintain and build out their own IT -- using the built-in value of the HP 3000 model -- will find that outsourced computing, from places as ubiquitous as their Internet/phone vendor, represent the future. "By 2012," he said, "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. 

The remaining 3000 sites which feel like they must migrate are now tied up in budgetary concerns. Their next step is to employ the polished tools to move their customized apps themselves. They can do this, with enough staff time to spend on the task. Speedware is among many suppliers of the needed tools, Fortin said. "Customers who buy our software to do the migration themselves," he said, "get training and a jump-start service that installs the product locally on their servers -- so again, no perceived benefits for clouds."

Tools from a raft of other suppliers including MB Foster, ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software, Minisoft, Hillary Software -- the list has become so long and polished -- will make DIY happen. But the DIY site will need in-house expertise.

A decade ago, the 3000 division at HP bought a company called Open Skies to sell 3000-based software as a service to the airline industry. The division was ahead of its time. An alliance like the one HP announced with Microsoft earlier this month shows how the vendor is getting more serious about getting servers out of small shops. Not just the 3000s, but everything except the PCs that will climb up to the apps in the clouds.