MB Foster keys on 3000 application support
NonStop note flows from 3000's eliminator

3000s' IDs protect independent SW vendors

With HP now leaving your community in less than two months, extra focus is turning toward the protection and transfer of HP 3000 ID strings. In particular, the HPSUSAN numbers for 3000s are getting fresh attention. These are the numbers reported from your system to almost all of the server's independent software, from tools and utilities to off-the-shelf applications.

Some independent providers and supporters of 3000s -- companies that will be the primary source of 3000 aid in just 60 days -- have been noting that HPSUSAN numbers can be transferred to fresh systems without any help from HP. (Hewlett-Packard would like to prevent this, but that's a matter that cannot be controlled by technical restraints; HP thinks you're bound by a license, but it's changed the terms on that without customer consent.) Customers consider these servers to be an asset their company owns. It's listed as such for federal tax entities, so reporting it as a "licensed" product won't fly very high in the accounting offices.

But that HPSUSAN is in place for better reasons than to satisfy HP's Development Company (holder of 3000 license rights). This unique string is checked by just about every third party piece of software on the 3000. That fact seems to fly in the face of a bald question posed to the community on the 3000 newsgroup.

Does anyone know what one of these softwares [sic] are SUSAN-number-specific? I have an end user that wants to buy a better 3000 box, but wants to know which ones are locked to his old box via the SUSAN number: Speedware, Suprtool, DBGeneral, TurboIMAGE, Omnidex, Vesoft.

Reseller Jesse Dougherty of Cypress Technology asks this question because a customer wants to know how much protection is on these tools and utilities which are essential to the 3000 experience. These are important numbers to protect an endangered species: Reasonable revenue for the software and support licenses paid to 3000 vendors who will outlive HP's interest in the server. Cracking these numbers -- which so far nobody has advertised -- would harm the very companies still dedicated to keeping the 3000 productive.

However, there have been "we can re-configure like HP" claims out in the community from Independent Recovery Solutions (Captain GREBs) which could be used to eliminate fresh fees for software. Move an HPSUSAN number from an older 3000 to a new and faster one and you might be able to overlook that call to the vendor who can charge you at a different license or support rate.

To answer Dougherty's question, only HP's own software included in the Fundamental Operating System doesn't check HPSUSANs. From the list above, "I believe all but [HP's] TurboIMAGE are looking at HPSUSAN and, in at least some cases, HPCPUNAME," said OpenMPE director Jack Connor of Abtech.

Another OpenMPE director, who's maintaining the new invent3k2 public development server, was even plainer in saying this question is between the customer and their software partners. "Aside from TurboIMAGE," said Tracy Johnson, "it sounds like a project for the customer to pick up the phone, call the vendors, and ask."

Johnson adds, "I know of one piece of software (not shown) that cares whether your clock is wrong. I know of another (also not shown) that checks the number of CPUs. For example, if you lose one CPU, but you have an N-Class and the N-Class doesn't care."

Our Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper, whose GSA firm is also in the post-2010 support business, added that "Some also require HPCPUNAME. And I believe Omnidex also requires HPUSERLIMIT."

Some 3000 vendors have been even-handed about upgrade pricing, recognizing that five-digit upgrade fees are going to force some companies to try to get around reporting their upgrades. But other vendors still have hopes of pulling a last few tens of thousands of dollars right at the end of their customer relationships. (Like the reports of Cognos license tracking, which might be compared to a $300 dinner you'd buy just before your girlfriend or fella meets to dump you.)

As this community moves into the New World of HP Maybe in 2011 -- when Time & Materials engagements are the only way to let HP adjust HPSUSAN -- a new wave of ethics and relationships will seep over the community still using HP 3000s. Many vendors are learning that 3-5 more years of 3000 use -- all beyond HP's business lifespan -- are a common strategy among those who haven't already migrated.

Customers can redouble their respect for any vendor still selling, supporting or enhancing a 3000 solution like those mentioned in the Cypress question, along with so many others. Taking responsibility for using a server means owning up to what you owe, within the realm of a healthy relationship. A growing number of suppliers will have identical tools waiting on the day that you do migrate from that 3000. Technology that might skip over revenues to these most responsible 3000 vendors -- well, that's dark magic indeed, something to consider on this day after Halloween.