The HP 3000 pulls even with all of the other Hewlett-Packard enterprise servers this week. All of these business systems are losing their free patch download service tomorrow -- which makes today the last day to download yours without charge.
Patches have been an included part of the HP computer experience since the 1970s. But like so many other aspects of Hewlett-Packard -- its R&D spending, boardroom ethics and morals, or the focus on products versus service-based business -- things have changed. Starting tomorrow, a paid support account will be needed to download fixes for bugs, enhancements to operating environments such as HP-UX, MPE, OpenVMS and NonStop. The charges apply to customers both migrating and homesteading. For the record, nobody else has the right to create an HP-branded patch, although there's been plenty of independent 3000 patches built over the last decade and more.
HP calls this move an "alignment with accepted industry standards for software practice delivery," but that's a canard that follows the wrong standards bearers. Oracle-Sun (Snorkle) has grubbed deeper into customer pockets for paid-only patching, to be sure, after rescuing the Sun servers from a steep dive. But IBM, which has outspent HP 2-1 over the last 10 years in R&D, does not charge for any patch repairs to its products, including those caused by manufacturer defects in coding. Calling these practices accepted is like telling an electric utility customer they're accepted higher rates. There's always going off the grid, isn't there?
Visit the HP IT Response Center website today, or download a full set using the Patchman utility, if you think you'll ever need a patch for an enterprise server. Patchman, created by former HP engineer Mark Bixby, is a script that uses the soon-to-be-defunct FTP patch portal to grab needed and recommended patches from HP's servers. Patchman is still available at Bixby's personal site, bixby.org, at www.bixby.org/ftp/pub/mpe/patchman-2.2.sh
Tomorrow starts the era of paying for downloads, even if your HP system will no longer receive official HP support starting Dec. 31. HP's allegedly not writing 2011 support contracts for MPE/iX -- more on that in a bit -- but its very special Time & Materials purchase prices will go into effect tomorrow. HP has also said that it is considering an extension of its faulty standards alignment to its enterprise products outside of the Business Critical Server unit -- looking at the Industry Standard ProLiant line. However, how HP would manage to charge for Microsoft's Windows patches, or those for Linux, is as baffling as how long-term business success can be a result of a 2.5 percent R&D budget. There are customers with unlimited support budgets who will pay extra to have a single point of support supply, of course.