More than nine years ago the HP 3000 world experienced the sort of system news that's is due to emerge from this week's HP Technology Forum and Expo. When announcements of new HP Converged Infrastructure elements, covering blades and storage and more spill out in press conferences scheduled for the end of today, 3000 owners might do well to recall how sweeping HP made its upgrades to the line back in the spring of 2001.
"At no time in recent memory has the lineup for 3000 ownership been reset so," I wrote. "It is now composed entirely of systems just announced with a new architecture, or computers whose end of support date is already known. The HP 3000 division expressed enough confidence in the new offerings to sweep everything else in the 3000 product line aside by the year 2006."
The architecture transformation came in the IO and network subsystems, not in the main CPU. And there may have been a coded message HP sent to the installed base by making 2006 its end of support date for the Series 9x7 through 9x9 3000s. Within nine months this entire HP 3000 line, including the carpet of brand-new systems, was to experience that same end of life date. Customers were only starting to assemble budget to buy the new systems when HP pulled the plug on the 3000's future.
But for a sweet period of late spring through late fall, the outlook for a hardware renaissance was bright, and the 3000 had attained parity with its Unix brethren. Viewing the feeds and speeds of that last decade's hardware, it all seems built of another era of technology. However, it would be hasty to assume the '01 revamp was the last of the 3000's architecture. There's another path to evolution, building in the wings.
The moment you hear about fresh HP blades, whenever you hear it, you might be like me and recall the scene from The Empire Strikes Back. (Forgive this sci-fi nerd his devotion to ancient cinema, released when the 3000 was in its prime.) Luke jets off in his fighter to save his friends, before he completes his Jedi training. Obi-Wan despairs in the wake of the engine roar.
Obi-Wan: That boy is our last hope.
Yoda: No. There is another.
Another, you scoff. How could there be another generation of HP 3000s, when HP ceased making them in 2003 and is shutting 3000 operations entirely this December 31? There's the emulator project, or as Stromasys calls it, a "cross-platform virtualization" software product.
With the right combination of 3000 community support and development advice, along with elastic pricing to suit budget-challenged homesteading sites, new hardware as sweeping as the 2001 release could provide another. We'll have more on that project's timeline tomorrow, one of the few pieces of 3000 homestead news we expect to emerge from the Tech Forum.