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Speedware kicks off HP 3000 migration for Top 10 insurance supplier

Nearly nine years after HP announced the end of its HP 3000 business, one of the world's top 10 insurance suppliers will be kicking off its migration away from the server. Speedware, which has already turned off about 730 of the systems in migrations, will work in a $2.5 million engagement for services and product licenses. Speedware calls the work it will supply "legacy modernization services" for one of "many organizations, including this insurance company, [which] rely on mission-critical enterprise applications and databases that run on the HP e3000."

Speedware needs to be circumspect about naming the company, which is based in North America. Such are the restraints of 2010, when technology choices and contracts are considered trade secrets by enterprise IT customers, executives who don't want their names in the press. But Speedware's marketing director Chris Koppe did confirm that the insurance firm has many other enterprise environments in operation already, and the company has been an HP 3000 user since at least the 1980s.

Accepted wisdom about who's migrated out of the 3000 community has pegged these largest firms as the earliest to transition. News of a Fortune 100 company just launching its journey away from MPE/iX runs counter to the concept that big IT shops could make their moves soonest.

“Even with the end of vendor support scheduled in December, this contract demonstrates that many large organizations are still finalizing plans regarding their HP e3000,” said Andy Kulakowski, President of Speedware. He added, "We know this market so well we would have been very disappointed had we not been awarded the contract. Our migration team is looking forward to helping this company achieve success as well." Speedware's migration pitch includes a message that every one of its projects has been a success.

The number of projects Speedware has completed is more than 130 by this year, after seven years of work. The engagements are often bolstered by the AMXW emulation suite, purchased by Speedware in 2004 for Automated Migration to Unix and Windows, and reworked and enhanced on a regular basis. As an example, AMXW includes software to transition a company's MPE-based job scheduling, Koppe said.

When Speedware completes its 15-month project for the insurance giant, "This will be the first piece, for these guys. They went for Oracle as a target database, and ScreenJet's EZV (a VPlus migration and enhancement suite from ScreenJet)," Koppe said. COBOL will be moved across to Micro Focus, a job scheduler must be migrated, and PowerHouse needs to be moved to HP's Unix servers from the 3000.

Of the $2.5 million in the project, only licenses for Speedware's own AMXW and ScreenJet's EZV are part of the total. The rest is services such as code migration and project management. The large corporation "has been looking at this [HP 3000] problem for as much as seven years," Koppe said. Inquiries to multiple vendors took time over the years, then commitments to projects which were then postponed -- a typical project profile for the largest of HP 3000 shops.

"This is actually our longest sales cycle for a customer," he added, going back to 2003. "They're a big organization, and there's always shifting priorities at those. You have to tackle things when the time is right. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Eventually the infrastructure becomes somewhat fragile, and the skillsets to maintain it get challenged over time. Those are the things that ultimately escalate the urgency of dealing with these things. For this company, it's gotten to the point where they have to deal with it."