Advocates tracking down contributed gems
Apple buys HP 3000 campus to return home

Thanksgiving, wherever you are in Transition

No matter where your HP 3000 experience is this week, you can give some thanks whether you're migrated, homesteading, or in transition someplace between the colon prompt and an open Window. A few of the more recent blessings come to mind this morning, the day in the US where we follow overeating at holiday feasts with conspicuous consumerism at Black Friday sales.

Solutions built from pioneer arrows: A long time ago HP said there might be a renaissance in 3000 software because migration was underway. That was a 2002 prediction that continues to be correct eight years later, a lot longer than anyone but 3000 IT managers expected. One example is ScreenJet's EZV, a product that's moved into its third generation of modernizing VPlus user interfaces. Like some of the best of these products, EZV can be used to sustain a homestead site as well as move a few dozen colleges' 3000s onto a Unix system.

Deals delivered to beat back competition: The 3000 Transition has gone on so long by now that big parts of the ecosystem outside of MPE/iX have morphed as well. Open source solutions like Linux have grown fast enough that HP's got to make much better deals to sell Unix gear. Free blade servers until April of next year, just for trying out HP-UX, toss up to $12,000 of incentives onto the table.

Renovation of resources: HP 3000 advocates -- okay, some might call them fanatics -- are taking the future of their shared software into new hands. OpenMPE spent six years arguing with HP over what the vendor would leave unlocked on the 3000, but now the group has its first tangible resource: a donated server relocated from HP's source code labs, serving up contributed software during the year to come at a $99 price.

Experience in exchanging resources: With every passing year it's evident that the companies who waited to migrate their systems got better deals than the early birds. Not only have many more questions been researched on how to keep production systems running in nouveau environments, but the answers have been tested. In one case, a migrating customer had great test suites ready for their migration -- because they'd already built them in a previous attempt to turn off their 3000s.

Wide range of 3000 experts: It may be a challenge to hire someone as deep as the fellow in the City of Sparks, Nevada shop who's worked with the HP 3000 for 32 years. But contracting with a consultant is easier than anyone would expect. One of the many lists of consulting resources is online at the OpenMPE blog.

Cross-platform tools: By now, several HP 3000 vendors have polished their products to operate as well on non-3000 systems as on Windows or Unix. MB Foster's UDALink got a renovation onto the latest HP Unix hardware earlier this year. Electronic forms and distribution products like byRequest not only have versions ready for post-Transition use, but they usually have licensing crossover deals to limit the cost of continuity.

Independent 3000 internals resources: HP is leaving the support business in about a month, but the experience you need to keep system boards alive and shuffle licenses isn't confined to Hewlett-Packard Time & Materials contracts in 2011. More than a few experts have found the expected back doors to reconfiguring 3000 hardware and are selling this service. It's not advertised, but you can find it by asking around.

You might not consider these developments as much of a deal as the Black Friday "Doorbusters" on offer today around the US. The Transition away from HP, or from the 3000, is a bigger challenge and project than any Y2K endeavor. You might recall that Y2K sparked a massive wave of tools and expertise while 3000 owners solved that problem. But these solutions for Transitions -- finding steady alternatives to HP, or tools that can modernize as well as migrate -- these answers are going to fit many more problems in the years to come. R&D innovation has well declined, by share of revenues, at HP. But just the opposite has happened in the 3000 world, where revenue spent to create something is a rising percentage of what's spent around the system.