First Flashes of 15 Years Ago
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3000 support firms still competing with HP

It doesn't matter what HP has told the marketplace about its march to exit the 3000 support business, says one independent 3000 support company. Hewlett-Packard is still taking steps to win support for 3000 installations large and small in 2011.

This is not an official worldwide HP position, notes Pivital Solutions president Steve Suraci. But all the talk of Dec. 31 being the absolute end of HP's maintenance for 3000 sites is a message that's not accurate in more than a few places around North America.

"It's very location-driven, but we're still competing against HP," he said. "Florida must be an area where HP feels they've got local resources, and can continue to support the 3000." His company specializes in 3000 support, so it's not like HP's bidding contracts which go up against Pivital's Windows and HP-UX support as well as MPE. The HP bidding extends to single-system, single-site customers, he added.

Other support companies confirm that HP is sending letters to 3000 sites to confirm 2011 support. It's a matter of inertia for HP to reel in the business it swears it will drop in December.

"For these customers it's easier to stick with HP, no matter what they want to charge them [for 2011], than it is to move to someone else's support. Like everybody else in this economy, HP is continuing to find ways to make money off the 3000." After "end of life" extensions in 2005 and in 2007, the reach of HP into the customer community continues. "To me, it's a little disappointing once again that they're finding more ways to complicate this." Suraci said. "I was looking forward to the day when I wouldn't be competing with HP for 3000 support. I'm still looking for that day."

HP said eight years ago that it would be supporting some 3000 customers after its official end of support date. But at the time, that end of support was the end of 2006. Brokers are also reporting that HP has supplied sites with HP 3000 servers, even cutting third parties out of deals with a competitive price for a server the vendor hasn't built in almost seven years.

"There are still a fair number of customers doing hardware upgrades these days," Suraci reported, "one more go at it for whatever the next number of years might be for them."

One official way to engage HP in 3000 support during 2011 will a Time & Materials call, something used to revive a fried CPU board or something as simple as download a patch. But a call into HP's support department for a 3000 has a good chance of getting misdirected these days, according to reports from Suraci and customer sites.

"Try placing that support call for a 3000," he said. "If you don't get into their printer support or their camera support -- those are products where they have 3000 models now -- you find that HP 3000 support isn't readily available anymore. The contacts that a customer would have used in the past are no longer there, and if they are at HP, they're doing something else nowadays."

Another support supplier and hardware reseller said answering a hardware call in 2011 would be easy for an HP tech, who could swap a part into a 9x9 or later and get the machine “working” from a hardware perspective. "They are all just Unix system parts," he said. "But what happens when a hardware problem causes an issue that is not related to hardware, like a corrupt file? Who's going to walk that end user through the process of getting their 3000 back online?"