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HP 3000 work migrates to India

Familiar Face Returns to 3000 Community

David.greer.tie David Greer is charting a fresh course in familiar waters. The Robelle president took a break from the industry in 2001, leaving Robelle after more than 20 years. At age 43 Greer recognized that “My wife Karalee and I had an opportunity of a lifetime. Rather than plunge back into work we decided to do something completely different.” He let the lift of his flexibility propel him onto a two-year cruise in the Mediterranean on his sailboat with his wife and three children, a trip he blogged extensively and looked to be the envy of many an overworked IT pro. Greer separated from the 3000 community less than a year before HP announced its exit plans, but he says he has never drifted far from his contacts and friends in spirit. Several times we talked about ventures in growing companies as well as life practices. Now he's returned to the market as MB Foster's Director of Marketing and Sales, extending a longtime relationship with that firm's founder Birket Foster.

In the eight years he was away Greer explored other ports of call in the industry. Once he got his land legs again, he returned to work as a director on boards of small start-ups, gathering experience that's not easily found in the world of the 3000. He worked as VP of Sales and Marketing at eOptimize, an enterprise resource scheduling vendor whose Microsoft Exchange products were installed at very large financial services companies. He helped start up MailChannels, an anti-spam company and Backbone Systems, a Software as a Service company.

The work took him into boardrooms for investment and promotion while the strategic efforts led to study of cutting-edge IT issues. We wanted to hear what experiences from his time abroad had taught him about the challenges and opportunities of the 3000 market. We spoke in early April just after Apple's first iPad shipments, at a time when Greer had worked at his new post for about two months.

What made you decide to re-enter the HP 3000 market?

Principally, my relationship with Birket Foster. It all comes full circle. Birket and I have known each other since we met at a conference in 1981. We've stayed in touch on a personal level: We met in London at the start of my Mediterranean trip, we've skied together, been in each other's homes. Then there were some things he wanted help with, so I did some projects for him over the past year. As we developed the relationship it seemed to make sense to take it to the next level.
    I'm back after a significant absence, but I still recognize the 3000 market. I even recognize many of the company names I'm calling.

YOU HAVE DONE MARKETING and strategic work for years now. Are you also doing direct sales engagements with clients?

Yes. When I wear my marketing hat I'm working to drive engagement with all customers and prospects. I'm also looking at all of our communication and messaging. In my account management and sales role, I'm responsible for reaching out directly to customers, finding their needs and how MB Foster can help.

How does the sales work feel to you?

Great. Almost all of my roles since coming back from the Mediterranean have involved sales in one form or another. Even in my investments and my board work with young start-ups, in most cases I was in other people's boardrooms selling stock - to convince people to invest in companies I believed in. This is another sales process.

It's outside the technical role I did at Robelle, but even at Robelle I would say my role was more in marketing than sales -- it was still creating belief in the company.

What has changed about this community in your absence?
The 3000 does what it does best -- run people's business. If I see any change, it's an ongoing one that I've seen for a decade, which is the clients' desire to integrate the 3000 into a broader IT infrastructure. I've been talking to a CFO, and she wants to take the data on her 3000 and replicate it to a SQL Server, because they have real needs there. She's crystal clear: don't muck up my data on my 3000 and don't impact my HP 3000 performance. The 3000 is still hosting her data and runs her business. That sums it all up.

Fortunately MB Foster has some intellectual property that replicates HP 3000 data in real time that has very low impact on the 3000. It makes sure the data is safe. What's driving this CFO is typical: they need the young people to come up and be productive in the fastest way possible. And that's not the HP 3000. By isolating them on an SQL Server it doesn't impact the main part of their business. For the senior leaders, this plan makes them feel more comfortable, because their 3000 is safe.

Have you already seen these data warehouses becoming important to 3000 sites?

Yes, it's amazing how these periphery things, which are fed off the data that's living on the 3000, have become an instrumental part of the business.  I talked to a MANMAN shop yesterday that started with a data warehouse application back in 1999. Their management was telling me how that warehouse has saved the company's bacon. The MANMAN app is still core there.

Part 2 of our Q&A with Greer covers the outlook on the 3000 community from a refreshed face.