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A Baker's Dozen More Years of 3000 Use

AmetekArrays I may be at full US Social Security retirement age, 66, when Barbara Nimmo retires her HP 3000. The IT manager at the Chandler Chandler Engineering unit of Amatek Process and Analytical Instruments, Nimmo is in charge of an Series 918 -- smallest system that can boot MPE/iX 7.5 -- and says the company plans to migrate to Oracle.

In 2023.

"I hope it's still running by then," she reported today as we chatted about the longest-range IT plan I've ever seen. She only got the migration date this week.

For the HP 3000 customer, long-range plans never used to include a date for changing a platform. For Amatek, this server could well have no effective changeover. After all, MPE/iX itself is supposed to have a date problem that could stall the environment in 2027. Nimmo is doing her own MPE/iX maintenance and using BlueLine Services for hardware support.

Don't be thinking this is a tiny customer site, either. Ametek is a $2.5 billion manufacturer of aerospace components and assemblies. There's a massive array of Ametek business units around the world, a field of companies that looks as big as the solar array above, one of the company's markets. Just today Ametek announced it bought a manufacturer of linear actuators and lead screw assemblies. Ametek paid $270 million in cash for the new subsidiary. Nimmo says there are four other HP 3000s running in the company besides her 918. But that little 3000 is more than proof of the lifespan of MPE/iX.

The reason this matters is not to prove the 3000 is never going to expire. Instead, it seems that Ametek is a candidate for an HP 3000 emulator, because it doesn't matter if such a product surfaces next year, or in 2012. It's the applications that never die, not the hardware. Just imagine how much business process detail needs to go into software that manages the manufacture of these products -- at Nimmo's Broken Arrow, Okla. site alone.

High pressure and high temperature (HPHT) cement consistometers, ultrasonic cement analyzers, fluid property instruments for drilling, fracturing, stimulation, and reservoir fluids, phase behavior PVT systems, damage testers, drilling fluid simulators, testers for drilling penetration rates and Quizix pulse-free, high precision, metering pumps.

There's always been a lot of curiosity about the size of the HP 3000 universe. What's known is only a portion of what's running out there. Third party software makers with popular tools have data points. Nimmo's 3000 runs Minisoft and Bradmark's software, plus some tools from Cognos. Since Ametek does its own MPE/iX support, BlueLine knows they're a 3000 site.

Third parties and support partners are the best and most current resource on how many HP 3000s are running -- except for data on the customers who are doing all their own hardware maintenance, plus no software support contracts. To accomplish the hardware task, you need to order and store components. That makes the 3000 hardware resellers, a few of which we mentioned yesterday, another place to measure the breadth of the 3000 world.

I don't have retirement plans for the 3000 Newswire, not even 2023 at the moment. As long as it remains this much fun to uncover stories like this one, I hope to be writing about Ametek's plans to leap beyond the MPE/iX 2027 date hurdle. Somebody is bound to work up a workaround for that one, so anybody who needs to avoid retirements can keep working on a 3000.