Ways to Boost the HP 3000’s Effectiveness
Website's silencing adds to holiday quiet

HP opens patch, diagnostics door for 2011

We're taking Dec. 24 off this year in celebration of the Christmas holiday, but will return to our reports on Dec. 27. In the meantime here's something of an unexpected present from HP's support group.

Hewlett-Packard has posted a fresh web page for 3000 users who'll run their systems on Jan. 1 and beyond, identifying a procedure for obtaining free patches, using 48 beta-version MPE/iX patches and employing the 3000's built-in system diagnostics.

However, HP is requiring users to contact the company's phone-in support center (which used to be called PICS) to get these system patches, both those in beta and those HP has general released. In September the company terminated access to its patches on its online ITRC website, unless a customer purchased a support plan from HP. The vendor explained the 3000 exception in its update, posted during this week just days before HP's Christmas break.

It is recognized that in the case of MPE, HP intended to make patches available through December 2015, even after the Worldwide End of Support on December 31, 2010. Therefore, an exception process has been implemented for users requiring MPE patches after December 31, 2010. As of January 1, 2011, MPE users should contact their HP Call Center to make their patch requests.

Reading these tea leaves -- HP didn't provide any phone numbers in the announcement -- it appears that after the end of the month, patches can be obtained by calling PICS and reporting that you're a 3000 site. The need for a support contract requirement is being waived, according to HP's message. The company included a reminder that customers can contact HP to request 2011 support for the 3000, but the service is not available worldwide.

HP has used this period of the year -- one of the quietest for IT professionals -- to announce 3000 developments in the past. The extension of HP support for the 3000 was announced on Dec. 21 in 2005. This year's news was distributed to the community by way of a HP support pro's message to the HP3000-L mailing list, about 550 subscribers.

But the pointer to fresh content on www.hp.com/go/e3000 by Cathlene McRae illuminates the 2007 intentions of the 3000 group in HP to serve users by releasing tested patches, beta-level fixes and enhancements, as well as the means to use 3000 diagnostics without a password. HP 3000 advocates, including OpenMPE, campaigned for all of these developments during the years HP said it was marching toward the system's "end of life."

HP described the 48 beta patches as "the majority" of what was built and tested inside HP, patches which are also available from the phone-in support center. A spreadsheet with limited descriptions is also available from the HP web page. HP hasn't published a list of what's on offer for more than three years; the beta test list of enhancements once included more than 60 fixes.

HP wants to be certain the 3000 user understands the nature of these fixes and enhancements which HP built by user request.

After [HP's] worldwide MPE support ends in 2010, releasing “Beta” Patches ensures that those of our customers remaining on the HPe3000 platform will have the most complete pool of remedies then currently available for those issues that may arise. Since support will have ended and the release will be “Beta” Patches, Hewlett-Packard (i) will be providing these patches on an “as is” basis without any representations or warranties of any kind and (ii) cannot guaranty the performance or results of these Patches.

As for unlocking system diagnostics use during 2011, HP has already provided the means for this in updates to the CSTM online diagnostics. If a customer has the General Release patch ODINX19A (for MPE/iX 6.5), ODINX19B (for 7.0) or ODINX19C (for 7.5) installed, CSTM use won't need a password for use after Dec. 31.

HP said these CSTM patches were released in 2008, but at that time it failed to mention their ability to unlock CSTM for 2011 and beyond. The company only said in the fall of 2008 "HP will put in place a process that will allow customers to access CSTM without requiring passwords after HP Support exits the Mature Product Support w/o Sustaining Engineering phase."