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April 2010

HP reaches out to Palm a new environment

HP announced its plan to purchase the people and assets of Palm for $1.2 billion, reminding me of another  grab from the past. That acquisition of Compaq more than eight years ago signaled the end of HP's 3000 futures, even while the company took on new environments. Embracing Palm seems an echo of that strategy (buying innovation that was being thumped in the market) and it marks a notable turn on HP's course.

Hewlett-Packard is purchasing an operating system, one that's not open or an industry standard. You have to go a very long way back to find that sort of play. In fact, it's that very Compaq deal that marks the last time HP acquired an OS or two.

In this week's case it's WebOS, widely praised but under-adopted, developed by top talent and well-loved by the modest base of users who use it for their Palm Pre smartphones. “Palm’s innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP’s mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices,” said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group. “And, Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team."

Eight years ago HP's acquisitions were OpenVMS as well as the NonStop environment, a pair of operating systems that had built loyalty and ardor among IT pros. Like WebOS, they weren't growing. HP didn't pursue Compaq for these environments, but it didn't cut them off like MPE/iX, either.

The history of acquired software is not a pretty one for HP, however, from the Allbase relational database for the 3000 in the 1980s right up to the Mercury Interactive test software purchase in 2006 for $4.5 billion. OpenVMS and NonStop at least had critical mass when HP took them in. WebOS has technical superiority over other mobile environments. Adding it to the HP portfolio shows that control of technology is becoming important in mobile computing, at least. It's a start, or maybe a return to the days when Invented in Here was an asset HP knew how to sell.

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Integrity servers roll out with Tukwila chips

BladeLink HP promoted solutions for banking, convergent telecom and healthcare providers in its introduction of new Integrity blade servers this week, calling the models that will use the Tukwila Intel 9300 chips a foundation for mainframe-class computing.

Blade servers that are hosted in HP's C7000 chassis were introduced at the portfolio announcement Tuesday, part of the vendor's Technology@Work customer event in Frankfurt, Germany. The new systems are the single-blade BL860c i2 server, starting at $6,490, the 2-blade BL870c i2 at $13,970, and the 4-blade BL890c i2 whose configurations start at $30,935. The blades' pricing doesn't include storage, but each has double the resource capacity (memory and IO)  of the model below it in the new lineup.

These are servers aimed at companies that need to scale their computing upward in the near future. "When applications outgrow their server, it usually means a new platform," said HP design engineer Shawn Kroeger of the Enterprise Systems Lab in a rollout video (below). KrogerBlades HP calls the designs "scale-up" blades, compact servers that are connected with a crossbar called a Blade Link (shown above) to combine two blade servers to create a single SMP server. Blade Link can combine up to four servers together to connect eight sockets' worth of the new chips. Each blade can contain up to two of the Tukwila processors.

While the Superdome 2 blade servers will not ship until the second half of the year, -- HP's event featured window and door manufacturer Pella promising to deploy the new Superdomes -- the new Integrity blade systems are available immediately. HP says the new 870C i2 is up to nine times more powerful than the previous generation of Integrity blades. The blade system design makes upgrades simpler and conserves datacenter space, something of an issue for the larger customers moving mission-critical apps onto HP-UX from 3000 systems.

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Intercepting PCL to Extend 3000 Printing

HP 3000s generate Printer Command Language, the format syntax HP created for its line of laser printers. The 3000s were glad to get PCL abilities in their applications and utilities, but PCL is not for everybody. Multifunction devices not schooled in HP technology, such as those from Xerox, need a go-between to extend the 3000's printing.

The easiest and most complete solution to this challenge, one recently posted on the 3000 newsgroup, is Minisoft's NetPrint, written by 3000 output device guru Richard Corn. When we last reported on Corn's creation it was helping the Victor S. Barnes Company pass 3000 output to Ricoh multifunction printers.

But for the company that can't find about $995 in a budget for that 3000-ready product, there's a commercial Windows alternative of about $300 less you might try to integrate into your system designs. Charles Finley of Transformix explains that the path to print outside of PCL is two-fold.

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HP intros "Best Mission-Critical Platform"

Wiehardt intro Hewlett-Packard introduces "The World's Best Mission Critical Platform" today in a series of Web chats, online video shorts and specification sheets, all designed to let prospects like 3000 migrators "Witness" the rollout of Superdome 2.

The Superdome line, first introduced more than a decade ago, will be rejuvenated with the latest Intel 9300 Tukwila processors, plus innovations in the massive server's FlexFabric Matrix designs that tie together processors, storage and networking. HP's new Executive VP of Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking David Donateli, said that the vendor's enterprise solutions benefit from HP's classic one-stop mantra.

"We're the only company out there that designs its own networking, storage and servers," Donateli said in a Flash presentation that's being hosted today. HP has a registration page to enable access to the presentations, timed to coincide with this week's Realise the Future HP Technology@Work 2010 event in Frankfurt.

PartitionInterface The online show is set to begin at 11 AM EDT, while an online chat is starting up at 10 AM. Both can be accessed through the Witness event's Resource Center. Engineer Wendy Wienhardt of the Enterprise Systems Lab (above) conducts a video tour of the massive box at the site, plus shows off an old-school-style interface (left) that lets administrators inspect and troubleshoot Superdome 2 partitions that are not even online.

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An iPad as a 3000 remote terminal?

Diagram_ipad_vnc Last fall Terry Simpkins, IT director at 3000 shop Measurement Specialties, asked if an Apple product could be used to check on HP 3000 operations. The director wanted to use the iPod Touch as a remote terminal to connect to a 3000.

Simpkins represents the kind of outside-the-box thinking that kept the 3000 vital and high in value over three decades. He asks about Virtual Private Networks -- a feature the 3000 supports -- as a conduit to drive a console over wireless nets.

Whatever might work for the 3000's controls could work as well on Apple's latest groundbreaker, the iPad. The solution would look a lot like the Virtual Network Connection that drives a medical practice application today, on both the iPad and the iPhone.

I have VPN access into our network, and would like to use my iTouch to perform simple system checks and job restarts.  Nothing fancy, just the basics. It would allow me to solve  many problems very quickly.

Measurement Specialties runs a significant manufacturing operation, across the US and in China. In 2008 Simpkins reported that "We have no plans to leave the HP 3000 platform. It currently hosts our applications for GL, AP, inventory control, purchasing, production scheduling, order entry and invoicing. With 11 locations around the world, we have a substantial investment in its continued operation."

iPad to 3000 is not out of the question or science fiction. One veteran 3000 developer and consultant, Bruce Hobbs, is looking at development projects for the new iPad.

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Grow or Decline: What OpenMPE Counts On

Second of two parts

Yesterday I talked about the challenges to OpenMPE and what it needs immediately. Complete communication is the keystone, from my viewpoint. But I communicate and persuade (and even sell) for a living. I suggested five committees: Communication, Development, Membership and Events, Guild and Training, and Community Resource. (In a company, you'd call these departments.)

There are several unique assets that OpenMPE holds or can leverage if it hopes to develop as an enterprise. The alternative is a decline -- but committee work and simple oversight from directors could stem that slide.

The assets seem to be, in no particular order

1. The Invent3k server
2. The Contributed Software Library
3. A role as a neutral repository for MPE/iX source -- and perhaps patch coordination. (Neither of these missions were part of HP's licensing terms for the source.)
4. An Exchange for training, technique and perhaps certification.

No. 3 gives the Community Resource committee a mission. No. 4 gives the group a way to justify a Training and Guild committee. The top challenge to 3000 homesteading is brain drain from the community. Fewer experts mean they'll need a centralized place to offer work on very small projects, even one-answer engagements. There's a good support network out there to do this right now, and many have relationships with developers and consultants. If there's any hope of doing critical work on a 3000 in five years, or even three, someone has to stem the brain drain.

With Communication, Training and Guild, and Community Resource set in motion, that leaves Development, and Membership and Events. The former is a means to develop what the group has called a Virtual Lab. This is probably a Committee chaired by a contracted developer of deep MPE experience. Patch-level operations are resolved and organized here. That leaves the community needing a way to gather, online and in person. Nobody is serving the latter need, and the former is an uneven effort among blogs, a newsgroup, and Linked In groups. OpenMPE needs to meet such unserved needs.

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Minutes show OpenMPE ready to collaborate

First of two parts

The OpenMPE volunteers have taken another step along the path to communication this week, posting the second set of minutes for the year 2010. Even two postings in a row is an improvement for this group, which has met via conference call on Thursdays for many years.

Today is a meeting day for this group, the people and their successors who started with talks about obtaining a license for MPE/iX source code. Those minutes show that it's time for this collective to gain help from a classic user group resource: committees. Its work to negotiate in confidence is over; HP has closed its labs and ended talks about future 3000 work.

This group was named OpenMPE during 2002, in the same vein as the term open source. Even though HP dismissed that ideal -- that the 3000's OS would become shared, collectively-developed software like Java or perl that could be improved and extended -- the 3000's internals are now in the hands of eight licensees. Seven of them have a business plan for using the source. OpenMPE does not today, and it will need more effort to assemble a realistic plan before the bill comes due for HP's source code license.

I suggest forming five committees to mature OpenMPE. Invitations should be sent, in public and reaching out in private, to chair work efforts in

Membership and Events
Guild and Training
Community Resource

The first committee's need is evident and immediate. If this group is ever to attract the talent and passion it needs to survive, those talented people need to know what OpenMPE's mission has become -- and learn what it will offer to make continued meetings like today's make a difference to any 3000 owner. The work of these committees is the only way the group can justify holding a source code license, or meeting much longer.

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Early gravedigging surrounds HP solutions

MartinFink "This IT choice won't survive much longer without customer support," the analysts and experts and community have said. "It's too niche, and HP can't prop it up forever." Those predictions -- the gravedigging around a choice that's not an industry standard -- have been heard about the HP 3000 since the middle 1990s.

But such forecasts are not heard anymore about the HP 3000. HP's favorite replacement, the Itanium-based Integrity, draws such dire predictions these days. Itanium may deserve them just as little as the HP 3000 did, at least until Hewlett-Packard announced its exit from the market in 2001.

Doubts about long-term Itanium success are not difficult to locate. Although the most dour analysis comes from the industry-wide The Register IT Web site, developers and founding partners in the 3000 community see declining prospects for Itanium, too. Some doubts might be based upon phantom chills from HP's 3000 pullout. One developer who has customers on the 3000, with others migrating, said HP ought to be engineering ahead for the inevitable.

"I would be more interested to hear HP quietly assembling a group of engineers to get HP-UX to run on the Intel/AMD true commodity server CPU -- Xeon/Opteron -- and finally admit Itanium is a bust," he said. Few HP partners want to go on record with their skepticism, but their development dollars make louder statements. Some are using Dell servers and VMware to host HP-UX in emulation.

But this chip has been tarred for more than five years. Despite those doubts, HP still swears by the only processor which can run HP-UX. Martin Fink, the VP of HP's Business Critical Systems unit, most recently testified when the Tukwila Itanium generation rolled out.

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3000s still busy enough to make messes

Robelle's lead Suprtool developer Neil Armstrong laughed yesterday when I asked him about the state of the 3000 market. He was not snickering at whether the 3000 market's state was history, either.

"I was just poring over a HowMessy report from a 918 when you called," he said. "That should tell you something."

Armstrong has been hard at work servicing the 3000 customers -- we'd estimate several thousand -- who continue to rely upon the Robelle products, including Suprtool and HowMessy. He's been leading the former in steps toward other platforms to serve the needs of migrating Suprtool sites. But HowMessy is strictly an HP 3000 tool, used by companies who want to improve the database performance on their systems.

Not exactly a leave-the-platform utility -- and the generation of the computer said something about the market's state, too.

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SuprtoolSQL slips into Windows to migrate

A pair of developers are taking the first steps to bring Robelle's Suprtool database language to Windows servers. Transformix's Charles Finley and Suprtool guru Neil Armstrong are introducing SuprtoolSQL into 3000 shops which are migrating. The software will be sold as a combination of code and migration/development service, a tandem assembled when an Ecometry e-commerce site needed to take Suprtool along on its migration journey.

Suprtool is often embedded at an essential level in HP 3000 shops which use the Extraction, Transform and Load (ETL) language. HP's Alvina Nishimoto said at an HP user group meeting in 2007 that Suprtool plays a significant role in prompting 3000 sites to move to HP-UX. Until SuprtoolSQL started to emerge this month, keeping the infrastructure of Suprtool working meant moving to HP's Unix.

HP-UX, Nishimoto said in March of 2007, was the target platform most favored by migration sites. She chalked up the choice to one 3000 essential tool: Suprtool, unavailable on Windows until now and in wide use in the 3000 community.

Armstrong has ported the product to both IBM's and Sun's versions of Unix since that time. Those brands of Unix along with HP's share a common denominator: the Big Endian chip set. But the software hadn't made the leap to Small Endian chip sets which run Windows servers and some distros of Linux.

When developers at Transformix leveraged the capabilities of Oracle and a deep knowledge of Suprtool, however, the ETL language started to take steps toward a life on Windows systems. Ecometry sites have been migrating in large measure to Windows rather than HP-UX, and Suprtool is a crucial part of the surround code for these HP 3000 customers. The solution works only with Oracle today, according to Transformix. But it can be extended to work with any relational database, according to company officials.

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HP sticks in Fortune 500's Top 10

Fortune magazine released its annual rankings of American corporations today, and Hewlett-Packard maintained a spot in the Top 10 companies as measured by revenues. HP slipped one spot to No. 10, just as perennial leader ExxonMobil slipped to No. 2. WalMart leads the 2010 list with revenues of $408 billion -- and profits of $14 billion.

When measured against other computer makers on the list, HP's $114 billion leads by a comfy margin. The next three suppliers of systems: IBM at No. 20 ($95.7 billion) Dell at No. 38 ($52 billion) and Apple at No. 56 ($36 billion). The real trick in this kind of measurement victory is profits, however. HP posted $7.6 billion, while IBM earned close to twice as much at $13.4 billion on 20 percent less sales. (Dell eked out $1.4 billion, but Apple reported $5.7 billion.) In profits, HP ranks 17 and IBM is No. 5.

These numbers matter because HP touts them to prospects and reports them to customers, suggesting that bigger is a safer choice. HP 3000 sites who are choosing migration environments, or outsourcing the 3000's IT ops to major vendors, are encouraged to feel more secure in their own boardrooms because HP remains big.

The Fortune 500 is a phrase quoted often to measure the success of a system vendor's solutions, too. HP's partners invoke the F500 incantation as well, all to demonstrate that large-scale customers maintain their investments in HP solutions. In an American business sector much closer to the HP 3000's roots, the company says it services 1 billion Medicaid claims per year and manages $100 billion in assets.

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Cross over lines from disk's unknown state

I had a mirrored disk drive in a Jamaica Enclosure attached to my N-Class 3000 go bad.  The DSTAT results showed that it went into a ‘BUSY’ state, and nothing short of a reboot could clear it. During the reboot, I replaced the drive. But when the system went through “Mount All Volumes” it complained about a duplicate volume. My 3000 now shows this replaced drive in an "UNKNOWN" state. How do I resolve this partially mounted volume issue?

Gilles Schipper replies

You should use VOLUTIL's suspendmirrvol command. After you've replaced the drive, you simply:

replacemirrvol IT_UV:member2 (plus volume number)

There’s really no need to perform a store-to-disk or buldjob stuff. But if really want to do that, there are a few steps that are needed.

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The Payoff of Being a Pricer, Not a Cheaper

Recent news about Microsoft's end-of-support notice for Itanium could be read as another nail in the HP-UX coffin. How does a Windows Server 2008 end-game trouble the future for HP's Unix and its proprietary processor? By people thinking short-term and adopting mass market strategies for enterprise computing. It doesn't have to be this way, but you need to think different than a Cheaper, if you can arrange any way at all to afford it.

What's a Cheaper? That's the manager or consumer for whom the price is the most important concern. They look at today's cash flow instead of the coming five years of ownership cost. They buy $299 netbooks with glee until the slab of plastic is better suited to prop open windows than run Windows.

You could be a Pricer instead. This kind of pay-what-it's-worth thinking made the HP 3000 the best value in enterprise computing, circa the 1990s. So long as HP put its engineering muscle behind a platform that was a walled garden, adding features and embracing new tech, you couldn't buy a business computer that was a better investment than a 3000. When HP bagged its responsibility, you got left looking for something else. Cheaper looked attractive, being just stung by the top-shelf expense of dropped promises.

Then came Unix, and the promise of everywhere adoption, cheaper than a BMW-grade MPE/iX OS. Then Windows, tuned up for running an enterprise with Windows Server and SQL Server. Each cheaper than the last. Oh, except for that SQL Server piece, which MB Foster's Birket Foster points out has become a lot less cheap since it must perform for enterprises.

Foster says that despite Windows Server 2008 being the last version to support Itanium and Integrity, he likes the outlook for HP-UX and the only server which runs it. It all depends, he says, on how far out you're looking to expect an environment to deliver value.

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School District Goes Native for Migration

By James Harding
UNICON Conversion Technologies

Second of two parts

When Oregon's Medford School District looked at a long-term plan for the student information systems on its HP 3000, MSD looked at options to purchase a new student system application for another platform, homestead on the 3000 for the foreseeable future, re-write the system in house, or hire outside help to re-write.

MSD ultimately selected what UNICON calls its ‘native’ approach. FUJITSU COBOL .NET was chosen as the target programming language running on Microsoft Windows and utilizing Microsoft SQL Server for the database. VPlus screens were converted to Winforms using Visual Basic as the code-behind.

MSD said the the benefits of going native were immediately apparent. From a staffing perspective, IT Manager Keith Brabham would on the one hand be able to retain his HP COBOL programmers along with their invaluable knowledge of the applications and business rules — since transitioning from programming in HP COBOL to FUJITSU COBOL was relatively straightforward, But when these staff members moved on, replacement would no longer be a concern.

“When staff turned over, we wanted to be able to select from a large pool of qualified applicants,” Brabham said. “We wanted a system that would be viable for at least 10 years or more. By migrating to native Windows .NET. further development could be achieved in any .NET-compliant language.”

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School District Learns to Migrate

By James Harding
UNICON Conversion Technologies

First of two parts

Medford School District 549C (MSD) serves 19 K-12 schools with over 12,000 student enrollments. Over the years, MSD has developed a highly customized Student Information System (SIS) written in HP's COBOL for the HP 3000. In 2001 MSD upgraded to a new HP3000 N4000/200 to resolve performance issues, but a few weeks after installation, HP announced its ‘end-of-life’ decision for the platform.

Over the next few years, MSD took a very close look at all the options available and reviewed five main paths

1: Purchase a new student system
2: Stay on the HP3000 for the foreseeable future
3: Re-write the system in house
4: Hire outside help to re-write
5: Migrate the existing system to a modern language and platform.

MSD’s IT Manager Keith Brabham explained, “While many companies panicked and spent vast sums on reactionary measures, we knew we were okay for a while and just kept on drilling down to identify the solution that made most sense for us, both technically and financially.”

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OpenMPE restarts its meeting minutes

After the arrival of two new board members, the OpenMPE advocacy group published its first set of meeting minutes in more than 18 months. Many topics were discussed in a meeting that ran more than three hours on April 8, but the group is discussing more than it is making motions to accomplish at the moment.

Tangible progress has been made on naming two members to officer posts. Keith Wadsworth has become the vice-chair of the group, after earning his first term on the board during last month's election. Tracy Johnson, whose diligent efforts made these latest minutes surface, has now taken over the group's secretary duties.

Wadsworth and Johnson have drafted a business plan for the group which has met since 2002 but has not yet released a product or sold a service to the 3000 community. No vote was taken as a result of a discussion about how to bring revenues to the group. The group has made one cosmetic change to the language in an updated Web site: references to "donations" are now being called "contributions." As for fees, the group is looking toward billing support companies for virtual lab work to create patches.

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How HP's Unique Enterprises Stay Alive

The HP 3000 launched Hewlett-Packard's groundbreaking computer community. Designed as an enterprise-grade solution, the environment's technology was unlike any other at its bones. Internals and intrinsics shared little with other computing choices for a long time -- even the connections with Unix starting in the '90s were not essential. But by the '90s the vendor's competitors had a slur they used for the design that once powered all enterprise computing: proprietary.

Today the most sophisticated enterprise replacement for the 3000, at least from the HP stable, qualifies for the same title. HP-UX is Unix at its bones, albeit a distinct dialect of the OS. Choosing UX has become a more serious matter by now because it only runs on one processor, created by HP and Intel and becoming more of a niche choice with each year. We're talking Itanium here, and the Integrity servers and blades, an ecosystem for HP-UX that can be best kept alive by HP's contributions.

That's not a hopeless task for the long run. IBM continues to achieve this for its AS/400 environment, now called Series i in its 2010 incarnation and running on the proprietary POWER chips. HP achieves the same thing for OpenVMS, although much of the sustaining power is generated from outside the vendor from an installed base of hundreds of thousands of systems. Remaining in the HP-UX community after accomplishing a migration, or joining it if you're making a decision on where to migrate, should include some review of community in any proprietary world which HP still develops, sells and supports.

OpenVMS, whose future is also tied to Itanium, is being enhanced by its advocates this week, this fall, and throughout 2010. HP has not said anything about an end-date for its OpenVMS business. In fact, there's a revival of the OpenVMS Boot Camp this September 12-16 in Nashua, NH.

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Microsoft closes another Window on Itanium

Microsoft has reported that it will no longer develop its Windows Server software beyond the current 2008 version of the product for Itanium. Some analysts see the development as another step away from the processor that powers the only servers which can run the HP-UX environment.

In a Microsoft blog, the company reports

With the increasing scalability and additions of mission critical features of the x86-64 server platforms, customers are taking advantage of these new technologies available for industry standard servers, such as those coming to market built on both the newest Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors. In response to these changes Microsoft is streamlining our product portfolio. Therefore Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 will be the last versions of these products to support the Intel Itanium processor.

Per Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy, these current versions will continue to be supported via Mainstream Support until mid-2013 and Extended Support until mid-2018.

If you thought you'd left the phrase "Extended Support" behind you while migrating from the HP 3000, you have a rerun of the experience if you've moved to an Integrity server and are operating under Windows Server. This might be a small slice of the migrated 3000 community -- many have chosen Xeon or Opteron systems. But this is a troubling sign for a chip that grows deeper into a niche with every year.

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Middleware, QSS tech breathe life into 3000

Editor's note: Minisoft's Mollie Greenup offered us this vendor-reported customer case study of renovation and migration at K-12 software provider QSS. We've covered the QSS migration for many years, from selection of operating environments to tools and servers. Minisoft reported on how its products impact the QSS mission.

When Hewlett-Packard announced that their future plans did not Include the HP 3000, Duane Percox (QSS senior partner and a company founder) developed a two-phase strategy for moving the company’s suite of applications off the 3000 in a manner that would minimize customers' risk of running mission-critical applications (think payroll) on servers soon to be obsolete. The solution would at the same time modernize the QSS product offerings.

The first step involved replacing the HP 3000’s VPlus screens with a Windows GUI developed using Visual Basic and .NET. This new GUI would connect to a similar COBOL application server and use the same IMAGE databases. This step was labor-intensive and represented the most dramatic changes for the end users. This is the stage of the migration where most QSS customers are today.

The second phase of the project was to replace the 3000s with Linux servers, running SQL Server, or an open source relational database as the back-end. Netcobol was used to migrate COBOL program changes and the associated retraining of the COBOL development team. This phase requires customers to purchase new servers and to potentially retrain IT and application maintenance staff; however, end users would see few differences. But some challenges stood in the way of minimizing customer risks.

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HP alters chiefs in enterprise business group

HP announced new leadership for the worldwide marketing posts in its enterprise computing group, the unit which sells and develops the alternatives for HP 3000 migrators. A former Siemens executive will now lead as senior VP of marketing.

David Shirk will direct the marketing efforts to sell solutions including the Integrity enterprise server line as well as the company's ProLiant Windows and Linux solutions. HP named him as a VP, while it also moved Deborah Nelson, who currently leads HP Enterprise Business Marketing, into a spot as chief of staff for the Enterprise Sales, Marketing and Strategy unit at HP.

Shirk and Nelson will report to Thomas E. Hogan, executive vice president, Enterprise Sales, Marketing and Strategy, HP. The company's Enterprise Business unit notched $54 billion of HP's sales in the past fiscal year, but that total includes all business servers, storage, networking, software and services.

HP explained that Nelson, who has overseen multiple groups' marketing efforts over a period of declining sales of HP's business-critical enterprise servers, is going to be focusing on HP's enterprise business.

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Popularity, Predictions, and Redemption

I just got done preaching how popularity works in the ad business to a couple of HP 3000 community members. I did my lecturing on Facebook, so not even 150 people have a chance to see the lesson. But the insights are important today to 3000 owners, migrating customers, and the people who make a living helping either group.

In a distant past we started the 3000 NewsWire when the computer was at one of its multiple low-water marks, like an IMAGE database. One expert told us we'd be so unpopular nobody would even pay $10 a year to read it. Another suggested free would be an apt price. A third was baffled about what could go into a second issue, after we produced the first. See, the 3000 was as unpopular a computer to HP as it made at that time, unless you counted the HP 1000. (The 1000 could be no more popular than the people who knew it existed, which was a lot less than its customer base. The 1000 was stealth, embedded, in thousands of sites and products. It never stood a chance of national acclaim.)

National acclaim, and the lack of it, sparked my blustery writing on Facebook. Being somebody who pays the mortgage with advertising revenue from beloved and devoted sponsors, I was interested in a news story about Glenn Beck and Apple participating in a boycott of Beck's network family. I've been in publishing so long that I started in a country weekly that went out of business 90 days after I got my first job. Ad revenues couldn't keep pace with costs. It was a hell of a lesson, fresh out of a 1981 journalism degree, to learn about popularity. What you have to report matters, yes. But how much it matters to buyers, and buyers of sponsorship, matters so very much more.

Anytimehp Everyone who creates something seeks compensation: a contract, a paycheck, a patron to pay the bills. HP has always pursued compensation to the point of Profit. People forget that the HP Way includes one of the industry's first employee profit-sharing plans. You need to succeed in a significant way, with major clients, to have enough profits to share with 30,000 employees. You need to throw a lot up on the wall and seek what sticks, which led to the stress-ball giveaway above from HP. This is where popularity comes into your life: how the lack of it through HP's actions made the computer a cast-off to the company, and how the migration alternatives should be ranked to ensure there's success enough to be shared for customers which remain.

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New 3000 emulator project opens tablet offer

After more than seven years of pursuit of a hardware replacement to run MPE/iX software, a consortium of systems and architecture firms is ready to unveil the first enterprise solution capable of carrying 3000 computing into the coming decade.

The inspiration for the Corporate CloudPad came from a project far-removed from the 3000's architecture. Tandy Renascimento announced a device which relies on cloud services and non-3000 peripherals and networking to process a COBOL derivative's programs for peer distribution. Renascimento, the CTO of the Godo Group, said the answer to emulation lay in moving off the server foundation of the 3000.

"The community might not be ready for this thinking, but we know they're on the move away from Hewlett-Packard or the 3000, or both," he said in an exclusive shared with the NewsWire. "The key for us was a proprietary processor in a device the market has long discredited. We've tested and proven a pilot to serve enterprise applications through a tablet array."

Developed undercover in a skunkworks that the Godo Group calls Cupertino East, the CloudPad taps the cast-off powers of the Alpha 4 chips, reworked from the Digital designs for the processor model that HP never shipped. Renascimento claims that the powerful HP Development Company overlooked the intellectual property of Alpha 4 to let it slip into public domain. Alpha 4 by itself doesn't make the Cloud Pad viable, however. HPE, integrated with a Nunbase data engine, takes 3000 environments beyond Hewlett-Packard's visions for the vendor's founding business platform.

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