Early gravedigging surrounds HP solutions
Grow or Decline: What OpenMPE Counts On

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.

I don't want to discourage any other emerging missives from these volunteers. But under the heading of Business Plan, the minutes of the April 8 meeting say "This portion of meeting under executive session."

If you're unfamiliar with executive session, it's a term for private discussions usually regarding HR matters or confidential business negotiations. As of today's meeting, it's a term for "we're working on it." An update on these ideas very soon, even in draft form, might help attract some talent.

You can argue that commercial enterprises like Adager, Speedware, Pivital Solutions, Allegro Consultants, Beechglen Development and Terix, or tools and software-focused licensees like Ordat, Neil Harvey Associates -- all source code licensees -- have such business plan discussions in executive session all the time. But those privately-held companies don't need low-cost, volunteer talent to make their missions succeed. Revenues, expenses and profits rule their decisions and plans. All are established and successful companies. Many have done very hard work with tangible results for years, even decades.

In contrast, this month OpenMPE is still looking for contributions. It has a desire to sell access to its Invent3k access development server, a 3000 loaded with some tools to help build and test 3000 software. But immediate seed money for its operations is needed from companies using the 3000 for the immediate future. No matter how much OpenMPE might help any single software company smooth out the 3000 ownership in 2011, it needs to appeal to the entire community.

The problem in 2011 will be a set of workarounds and even patches created by seven companies. They haven't announced a plan to coordinate these fixes, to ensure any single company's software will operate without failure on a patched system. This is testing, the hardest part of development and support. Some of the testing for independent software will be done by support companies or developers who hold licenses. But a clearinghouse, to organize these patches so they don't crash into one another? That seems to be the best way OpenMPE can help -- and so a Community Resource committee dives in to build a clearinghouse.

(If you can't tell by now, this is just my business plan ideal for an organization I've reported on for eight years. What the board decides to do, or table, is whatever it will be. I'm on the outside like most of you looking in, but talking to board members for context.)

I list Communications first among committees because 105 words in minutes every week doesn't tell enough to attract much talent. You must look at OpenMPE's unique resource and missions to justify why anybody would bother to join this group's mission. I'll take a look at these, as well as what those committees might do to mature OpenMPE, tomorrow.