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Replacing precedes virtualizing in migration

At the City of Sparks, Nevada, the HP 3000s are working in their last complete year of service for the municipality of 80,000. Migration is scheduled to be complete sometime next year, a period when some of the PCs in the IT picture may be virtualized -- that is, taken off desktops and into the cloud.

Well before that begins, the tools from HP 3000s must be replaced with counterparts on the Windows target platform.

Steve Davidek is waiting on a courts building remodel before the virtualizing proceeds. "It's been held up for six months, waiting on funding to get the remodel done," he told us late last year. "We can't do the virtualization until we rewire the building, and they don't want to rewire until they've moved all those walls."

Davidek calls the virtualization "my nightmare project that I want to get done, but don't know if I'll ever get it done. It'll be my first true foray into desktop virtualization." The city's courts found funding for a new server and software to enable thin clients. These virtual PCs will live on the server at the city's IT shop, connected over a private network. "It'll be the start of the cloud, and if they need to run court over here at IT because there's a problem at the courthouse, they can do that. Their desktop lives wherever they can connect to it."

HP 3000 tools have been replaced even more slowly, in some cases, even while the city's migration has moved forward over five years' time. The Cognos PowerHouse language is still in place -- Sparks has been using it since the late 1980s -- but the PowerHouse release is so elderly that Cognos doesn't want to sell the city a support contract for the software.

"We haven't paid support on it in years, and Cognos just allows us to run it. I bet there is not a soul at Cognos, or whatever it is today, that has the knowledge of the HP 3000," Davidek said. IBM purchased Cognos in 2008, mostly for the company's business intelligence product line.

So while the cloud PCs are on the horizon, other parts of the 3000 ecosystem at Sparks have been replaced, although Davidek is not enthusiastic about how robust some of the Windows the replacements work.

Windows scheduling, for example, is one case of "it being odd to find replacements for things on the 3000," Davidek reports. "When you go towards a Windows environment, a lot of what you used on a 3000 is just part of Windows. But scheduling is really a pain. Nothing like the old SLEEPER jobs of the Contributed Software Library."

Windows scheduling is "not as pleasant as it could be" in its native functionality, Davidek admits. (MB Foster released a Windows-based enterprise scheduler in 2010 that's built to include all of the functionality of MPE/iX.) Reporting based on 3000 tools has been replaced by Crystal Reports at the city, Davidek added.