Upgrades still rely on some HP support
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.

Microsoft and HP announced a $250 million deal this week to extend cloud computing to enterprises. HP is going to earmark that much money in its EDS services group to shaping the cloud computing solution to include Microsoft's products.

"We are talking about here aligning 11,000 HP Service professionals to this initiative," said HP's CEO Mark Hurd. "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."

Migration lies in the future for some HP 3000 customers who are not already en route to that target. For others, they'll be happy to remain on the platform with no plans to change. They already know every stream and batch job and module in their environment. At least we hope they do for their sake, no matter how mature their environment has become. It's the only safe road to sustainability.

There's a third group of sites that have an option to consider, one that's still unproven: offsite IT, using the cloud.

The things that won't move to the cloud are likely to be some applications and systems that have a strong following among the 3000 community. The Chief Technical Officer of Rackspace, one of the biggest hosting companies in the world, said ERP and big finance aren't among typical cloud apps.

"If you look at big manufacturing plants, those will probably never leave the datacenter," said John Engates in a Forbes.com interview. "There are also heavy financial applications that are run internally."

So heavy manufacturing and heavy financials bear too much weight to float on the cloud at Rackspace. HP will try to improve its cloud implementation to align this migration alternative with the most platform most popular with 3000 users on the move: Windows. Meanwhile, the work goes on in Washington State to get 34 colleges onto a Unix environment. More on that next week.