Just as the final five months of HP's 3000 operations unfold, the community has started to ask itself what value remains in a license for MPE/iX installations. An HP-authorized distributor recently reminded users about the five-month deadline to buy HP's software, licenses and media.
But the veteran 3000 trainer, migration-development consultant and advocate Paul Edwards said the 3000 owners of 2010 should be thinking hard about license value. Last month a reseller offered an N-Class HP 3000 for $6,000. But that 2-CPU, 500MhZ system was selling without a license. "Yeah, $6,000 for a licensed box would be a great deal," said Cypress Technology's Jesse Dougherty. Resellers call these unlicensed 3000s "parts systems" for now.
Edwards said he's seen customers who are totally frozen on MPE and 3000 spending because of mergers. "They're trying to keep from spending any money at all on a system because they're trying to sell the company," Edwards said. He added that he knows of companies that maintain an HP support contract to get one set of tapes, then install the OS and programs on the rest of their 3000s.
That would violate HP's license agreements, which keeps some customers tied to license transfers and fees. "What is the value of an HP license these days?" Edwards asks. As a former Interex director and OpenMPE director, he's listened to a lot of customers over 30 years.
The license's value becomes more important as the Stromasys emulator product takes shape for a 2011 market entry. HP has said that only existing HP 3000 licenses can be converted to emulator licenses, and the HP 3000 hardware must be pulled out of service to comply with the license terms. It's hard to imagine a 3000 going out of service at every emulator user's site, but 2011 will be full of surprises.
But without support services in 2011, HP seems to have little more than an ownership badge to spark any licensing of a product it's described as at End of Life. Homesteaders can get caught in hard places at an end of service position, with little budget available immediately. Some HP 3000 customers cannot afford to make a migration in the near term; Edwards knows of two Ecometry sites in the Dallas area who cannot move to either the Windows or HP-UX version of the e-commerce suite.
Tight budgets, a vendor departing the market, ample used hardware availability: The elements don't seem to enhance the value of complying with HP license terms, especially starting next year. There's integrity of respecting a license terms, of course. But only HP's exclusive use of SS_UPDATE software to configure a replacement CPU board remains of any value to a customer's operations. A site manager wouldn't want to experience a CPU failure on an unlicensed 3000, unless they had the means for configuring replacement hardware with an existing HPSUSAN number. Third party apps and tools check HPSUSAN before running.
"There is software out there which will change HPSUSAN numbers," Dunlop said last week. "Surely HP would not be interested in chasing up anyone who used this software now, seeing as they have lost all interest in the HP3000?" Told that HP had just restated its forever-more control of SS_UPDATE -- the only 3000 support it will do on the record -- Dunlop replied, "I can't see why HP wants to retain control of this still, unless it's to try and milk a few more dollars out of the HP 3000 community."