HP's customers push back on paid patches
Everyday patch needs surface for UX, MPE

Emulator's customers: Plentiful, says Pivital

Suraci-04May Steve Suraci is the CEO of Pivital Solutions, a company focused on HP 3000 support as well as system sales. Pivital was one of the last HP-authorized resellers of the system and continues to sell used servers to clients. But Suraci, whose roots began with the GrowthPower and manufacturing communities of the 3000 world, sees great prospect for newer hardware to serve 3000 sites: The Intel-based emulator that's taking shape at Stromasys over the coming 12 months.

"I know a lot of customers who would be interested in an emulator today," Suraci said. He added that hitting the limits of existing 3000 system performance won't even be necessary. "Forget about the fact that hardware may run out of gas. I think they'd be looking at it from this standpoint: by running an emulator, you're putting [MPE/iX] on something they know."

Stromasys has said its product has run on Intel systems, under a Windows console, and has booted Linux already as if Linux was running on a PA-RISC system. That puts PCs and Windows in the hardware driver's seat, a familiar set of technologies.

The emulator customers that Suraci knows would "get away from this situation they have in house, where their programs are running on a proprietary HP 3000 that nobody wants anything to do with," he said. "You put it on a server they recognize. Yes, it still has its set of issues in the kernel where it runs, but now it's not the lame duck of the IT department."

There are issues to resolve for an emulator to satisfy the needs of the customers Suraci knows in the manufacturing sector as well as other businesses. The one he mentioned first was price, something that Stromasys has been looking for input on with core sponsors this year.

"I haven't seen anything as far as pricing goes," Suraci said. "Is it $1,000, $10,000, $100,000? What factor of 10 is in their pricing scheme?"

Stromays' CEO John Pritchard said the pricing elasticity, as business planners like to say, is still being determined. The company sells an emulator for the Digital marketplace that's priced from $5,000 to $200,000.

Another issue that Stromasys faces is the license transferal of everything except MPE/iX, which is already worked out. Vendors might transfer licenses to maintain their support revenues going forward; others might insist on extra license fees to cover the expanded performance an emulator is sure to provide, given enough revisions and boosts in Intel chip horsepower.

An emulator priced at 25 percent of the cost of a migration could be attractive, Suraci said, depending on other factors.

"There will be hardware costs (for the emulator's host), and installation costs; I don't know how seamless the migration is going to be," Suraci added. "But that being said, a threshold of 25 percent would be something to consider. What that number is, that 25 percent, is another issue as well."

"But being able to do something, and extend what they have -- well, I don't think a lot of 3000 customers right now are unhappy with what they have. Especially in this economy, I don't hear that very often anymore. Yes, customers are still moving off the platform because of acquisitions and mergers and the like. But I rarely see a customer moving off nowadays because it doesn't work. They keep getting what they expect to get out of their ERP system."