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January 12, 2010

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.

"Beware, there are licensing charges," warns Craig Lalley of EchoTech, which does this kind of consulting to lift 3000 performance. The charges "can be many times of the cost of the hardware. Increasing memory is also easy; memory needs to be in pairs and there is an order to follow."

The hardware components are the least cost to consider and adding processors will not require an HP service blessing of the unit, since the HPSUSAN number doesn't have to be modified. This kind of upgrade, however, is going to need HP to activate the CPUs, as Bay Pointe's Bob Sigworth notes in his comment below.

But at Gilbarco that 979 could become a 4-way server instead of a single-processor computer. The memory is even simpler to bump up, and MPE/iX and its mapped file structure always respond to an increase in RAM. One hardware supplier posted a note on the 3000 Internet group promising half-gigabyte memory kits at $75 each, plus a $25 carrier kit. The CPUs were quoted at $450 each.

The best news is that in Buckingham's case, the upgrade to a full set of CPUs won't take him into a higher software tier and trigger license fees. HP lists the 4-way server at the same Level 330 as a single-processor unit. And going from one to four CPUs, for a total parts cost of $1,350, may give him as much as three times the performance according to HP's hardware configuration charts (24.4 versus 7.9 "HP e3000 Performance Units")

Of such ERP delays are the homesteading sales made these days. Customers make do while they wait for something non-3000 to emerge from testing. Or if they are not part of a $12 billion corporation, they decide to reach out for the performance headroom that's been built into the HP 3000 line. Until the last few years, you couldn't purchase three times as much performance for less than a Windows laptop. This is what the Transition era will buy those who homestead, interim or otherwise.

01:28 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink

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When adding a CPU to any HP 3000, 9X9 or N4000 you are going to have some costs from HP. 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. If you go beyond the 979/200 to a third "300" or fourth CPU "400" you could possibly have RTU charges from HP. The 979/100 and 200 are Level 2 RTU servers whereas the 979/300 or 400 are Level 3 CPU's. You get the "ability" to pay HP money just because you have extra CPU's.

The really big cost that Craig is referring to above regarding license costs are with the third party software products. I have had end users that simply could not afford the cost of these software products thus not allowing them to simply add a single CPU. I still sell a number of 9X9s and N4000s worldwide. My suggestion to an end user before you even get excited about a possible server upgrade or replacement machine is to call ALL your third party software providers and get their costs first. If the third party software is affordable, then you will find the hardware to be fairly inexpensive.

Bob Sigworth
Bay Pointe Technology

Posted by: Bob Sigworth | Jan 13, 2010 4:54:49 PM

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