Last week we spotted an HP 3000 N-Class -- latest in the server's line -- selling for less than $3,000. Zounds! The 3000 Discount Era has started at last, we figured.
Not so fast. Before you start your mind racing to calculate how many 3000s you might be able to upgrade at that price, be aware of what's being offered. Bob Sigworth of Bay Pointe Technology, which posts available system offers on the 3000 newsgroup, said the license status of a system can reduce the price.
Sigworth didn't want to toss rocks at another seller's offer. After all, these companies buy and sell from one another. The way that deal often works is a 3000 user approaches their favorite reseller, seeking a particular system. If the reseller doesn't have one in inventory, they attempt to procure it to complete the sale. Offering "an MPE license" makes him ponder, however.
"When I hear the terminology MPE license, it typically means that you have the HP paperwork," he said, "so that you can legally transfer an MPE license through HP's Software License Transfer to an end user or new buyer. All 3000s came with a MPE pre-loaded, so my guess is that for a low price, a system probably has MPE 7.5 pre-loaded and is a working machine."
He adds that the N-Class 220s and 330s (the numbers refer to processor speed) are coming down in price. But does "working machine" mean it has a valid MPE license? Perhaps not.
A reseller may quote a system by saying that it "qualifies for HP support." Drilling into the specifics of such an offer often requires a phone call. A "working machine" can mean it is a functioning machine, but without an HP license.
Sigworth's company offered one of these systems not long ago with full disclosure. His posting reported that the 3-processor N4000-550 "does not have an HP SLT for HP support. To comply with HP, I must list this as a 'Spare Parts' server."
But Sigworth is the first to report that "some of the smaller servers, 220s and 330s, are starting to really decrease in value. They only have one CPU, so they are really not worth much."
The value in a 220 or a 3000 N-Class comes from its IO connectivity and power consumption advantages over the Series 9x9 servers. Many Series 959, 969 or 979 systems are rated equal to or better than the 220/330's horsepower. The N-Class servers provide more options to connect to storage, as well as a smaller appetite for wattage. They can be a genuine leap up from a 9x8 system, however. Asking for proof of a license seems prudent for any company that wants to comply with HP's regulations.