In a pair of interviews with 3000 veterans -- IT pros who total more than 55 years of MPE experience -- I've learned that even the most embattled managers employ a surprising tool. It's a sense of humor, reflected in the tone of their descriptions of mothballing the likes of 25-year-old third party apps during migrations. They have to laugh, and get to do so, because their attempts to advance might seem like folly at first look, or even in a second attempt.
Really, putting Transact code into an HP-UX environment? Or working around financial application software from Bi-Tech -- who "really stopped developing it for the 3000 10 years ago," said Operations & Systems Administrator Steve Davidek -- to keep the city of Sparks, Nev. finances running? There's some really old stuff still doing everyday duty in HP 3000 shops, but the age of the applications is usually in line with the tenure of the project management. Davidek counts his experience from the days of the HP 3000 Series III, while Bob Adams of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has 40 years of IT experience, 30 with the HP 3000.
These pros typify the definition of veterans, a term we'll use liberally in the US tomorrow on the day that celebrates their sacrifices and courage. Facing battle and bullets is not at a par with understanding aging code and logic. But they have something similar at heart. Veterans have been tested and know how to improve the odds of success in a conflict. Youthful passion is important to bring fresh energy to any engagement, military or technological. What earns the peace is experience, however grey-haired it looks next to Windows warriors.
With each mission accomplished -- from what looks like a relatively simple Y2K effort of 10 years ago to embracing Unix in place of MPE's integrated toolset -- the veterans move forward in their careers. "Our knowledge base is renewed with this work," Adams said. "We're on the latest products."
Leaving a familiar environment means enduring risks. But a tone of "yeah, that'll happen, but we'll manage through it" is what I hear from the 3000 pros marching into the dark of 2011 and beyond. Thank a veteran tomorrow for serving, if you encounter any. (I had a thrill of being thanked last year in San Antonio by a passer-by in that military town.) Some of us were only standing by in cold war service, waiting to be called into hotter conflict. Others flew, marched or sailed into genuine crisis.
And if your migration is happening during this year and next, or the years beyond, you might want to thank a colleague -- anyone whose IT battles have promoted the knowledge that creates veterans, marching in the ranks of both managers and vendors alike.
Les Vejada worked with HP 3000s for more than 20 years at HP, then moved on to HP's other enterprise platforms until the vendor cut his job. "I don't work with the 3000 anymore," he told us while joining the Linked In HP 3000 Community. "I also was let go by HP last year along with the thousands of others, and have been wandering around looking for a new job. I know the 3000 is dying, but it brings back a lot of great memories, I probably would still take something on a MPE machine if offered."
Whether it's in-house, or in-community, the motto remains as valid today as it did after any conflict: Hire a Vet.