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March 2011

Making note of OpenMPE in its quietest span

Sometimes an event becomes noteable when it doesn't take place. Like the sound of a tree falling in a forest when nobody is around, OpenMPE had no election news this month. It's the first March since 2003 that we haven't reported the changes on the roster of its board of directors, a group of volunteers that's ranged from six to nine members since 2002. More than two dozen have volunteered since HP announced its 3000 exit.

In this month-end podcast to commemorate that quiet -- OpenMPE is waiting on an April 19 court hearing over a lawsuit before it starts to elect anyone again -- we take a summary look at what steps lay before the band of plucky volunteers who still dare to care about MPE's future. There's no lack of things to do that might help the HP 3000 homesteaders. But in the economics of 2011, quite a bit more persistence and innovation will be needed to make a business out of these community benefits.

Learn about migration's best practices today

The 3000 Transition Era has been underway for more than nine years by now. That means there's plenty of user experience to tap while planning a migration of applications away from the 3000. Today at 1PM Eastern time, Birket Foster shares some best practices based on years of helping customers make a move.

The founder of MB Foster leads a 45-minute webinar on Migration Best Practices. While you're looking at slides and listening to the presentation, you can be forming questions to ask and hear the other participant questions. That last part can be useful to help think through the many aspects of getting mission critical apps to run on a new platform.

You don't need to have made a commitment to migrate. The webinar is designed for "organizations that are thinking of migrating legacy applications," according to the company's summary of the event. You can register for free at the event's web page.

According to MB Foster's planners, more companies are taking a harder look at making a transition than the analysis of the past. Resources and budget have been harder to find, so justification has to be more considered. "Migration projects are challenging and different for every organization -- there is no one size fits all plan," the company says. MB Foster sees the choices as to build, to buy, or to migrate.

Webinar replay tracks newest HP storage

P4800 G2 HP has poured billions into its storage business over the last two years. While HP 3000-ready products are still tied to the XP line of disks, there's a huge array of products that are a full generation newer. These are well-fitted for Windows server installations, not to mention Unix. Migrators should be tracking these options while they configure their target platforms. At left is the p4800 G2 SAN, a brand-new array that HP says is integrated with its blade servers.

Given these new players, it's not easy to embrace such a broad scope of products. We've found a WebEx webinar replay that does a good job of explaining the differences between 3PAR utility cloud offerings and HP's own brands of disk. It looks worth the time to review it, even if the audio is a little sketchy in places.

"HP Storage: The Path Forward" was hosted by the Connect user group earlier this month. The PowerPoint slide deck can be downloaded separately from reviewing the streamed WebEx presentation. (You will need to be a Connect member to access this, but if you're working on a migration and don't belong yet, it's inexpensive enough to simply join.)

The commentary attached to the slides is extensive, much more so than lots of slide decks. You could almost make an article out of it, but we're checking in with HP's Lee Johns, who led the webinar, before you can read it here.

Continue reading "Webinar replay tracks newest HP storage" »

Transition timing flows from manager savvy

Managers of HP 3000s sometimes have full control of what's to become of their systems. The most fortunate have management's faith in a skill set that has kept company business running for many years. Some of the best-situated IT managers see succession as a key element in sustaining business critical computing.

Enter Dave Powell, the prolific and veteran manager at MM Fab, a Southern California fabric manufacturer. Last week he gave the community notice of a potential job opening at his company. Powell was suggesting that learning the firm's 3000 environment might be a good first step in take over his own duties, someday. It takes a confident manager to start a job search for their own replacement.

Powell's story looks like a tale of savvy that's keeping his company on the 3000 -- and if they had a replacement to cover his retirement, maybe they'd delay a migration. He adds that MM Fab has not "picked a package yet. They've sent out an RFP and are in the early stages of evaluating a bunch of proposals."

Powell is proposing a plan to sustain the company's knowledge about a totally custom application, written in "some pretty horrid COBOL" in some spots. While he's still on hand to help, he'd like to see somebody else learn about that business logic.

Continue reading "Transition timing flows from manager savvy" »

Phoenix police pull over its N-Class 3000

One of the earliest users of the N-Class 3000s has become one of the latest to pull its server off the road. The Phoenix Police Department shut down its last remaining 3000 this month, a system that Senior IT Systems Specialist Robert Holtz reports was an N-Class server.

Phoenix was among the major US cities that counted on a 911 dispatch software package written for MPE/iX. In the years that led up to HP's exit announcement, 911 installations were a point of pride for the platform. HP even said that 90 percent of large cities were using 3000s for law enforcement. These cities tapped an application from PSSI. One replacement, Sentinel, employs Windows. But that solution from the Motorola subsidiary doesn't use the term PC, Windows or even "the computer" in its data sheet. 911 has become computer telephony.

Holtz said the 3000's application, rather than MPE/iX or the 3000 hardware, triggered the shutdown of the system in Phoenix. "We replaced our Computer-Aided Dispatch (911 application) and support for our computers in the police vehicles with a new vendor," he said. "That vendor was to recommend new hardware, too -- hence, the retirement of the N-Class."

Not many HP 3000 N-Class servers were already installed, as the one in Phoenix was, before HP backed away from the platform's futures. Holtz said the department owned its server while HP was still promoting a future for the newest generation of 3000s.

Continue reading "Phoenix police pull over its N-Class 3000" »

OpenMPE gets notice of its day in court

The OpenMPE volunteers have reported their first scheduled court date to hear motions on the Nov. 23 lawsuit against the group, one filed by former treasurer Matt Perdue. The volunteers' counter-motion to dismiss will be heard April 19, according to vice-chairman Keith Wadsworth. The venue will be the 407th Texas district court in Bexar County, where Perdue filed his suit pro se, representing himself.

OpenMPE's board has been sued, along with Wadsworth and chairman Jack Connor individually, for allegedly not dealing in OpenMPE's fiduciary interests during 2010. (In something of a puzzle, Perdue was a member of the board that he is suing during the period of the alleged injuries.) Perdue's suit claims that Wadsworth contacted a co-location service in San Antonio where Perdue had been denied access to his equipment, a rack that included OpenMPE’s donated servers. Perdue claims in his suit that Wadsworth took a hand in keeping OpenMPE out of the dispute between Purdue and his vendor.

The group had been paying Perdue to host the equipment, a step on a year-long quest to create a new Invent3k server and Jazz outlet. Perdue is suing the co-locator, CCNBI, for turning off the 3000s and other computers over a disputed invoice. Invent3K went online last fall on servers outside of Perdue's control. The board removed him on Nov. 12.

OpenMPE is seeking declaratory judgement -- a judge's dismissal -- to confirm that Perdue "has no rights or interest in, or authority to act on behalf OpenMPE; and the HP Source Code license is owned by OpenMPE."  It has hired a San Antonio lawyer, as well as relying on another attorney, one who Wadsworth retains for his own business matters.

Continue reading "OpenMPE gets notice of its day in court" »

Oracle steps off Itanium; Intel stays on rails

There's no love lost these days between Oracle and HP, a pair of vendors who are serving more than a few HP 3000 migration customers. Oracle's often the database that corporate IT HQ dictates to 3000-using divisions. For a serious share of the transition-bound customer, HP's Unix drives the apps bought off the shelf to replace MPE software.

Oracle announced yesterday that it's ending development for the processor line that drives HP-UX, curtailing work for the Itanium 2 chips inside HP's Integrity servers. Just a year ago the Itanium clan was pleased to announce Oracle's Business Suite 12 was ported to the latest Itanium chips. Twelve months later Oracle has completed its Sun acquisition, sells systems to compete with Integrity servers in a group by former HP CEO Mark Hurd -- and wants the world to believe Intel is stepping back from Itanium, too.

Intel says that's bunk. "Intel’s work on Intel Itanium processors and platforms continues unabated with multiple generations of chips currently in development and on schedule," said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel. “We remain firmly committed to delivering a competitive, multi-generational roadmap for HP-UX and other operating system customers that run the Itanium architecture."

Oracle wants to believe that something it heard in an Intel briefing spells an end of life for the chip that holds the future for HP-UX. More to the point, it wants the customers who invest in HP's Integrity servers to believe that. Some software experts say that Oracle's probably lost the tech resources needed to keep up with Itanium.

Continue reading "Oracle steps off Itanium; Intel stays on rails" »

3000 products remain on sale at Quest

Quest Software is sticking to a steady path with its software for the HP 3000. The company which created the NetBase clustering software (sold as SharePlex by HP through 2007) continues to offer its 3000 products on a web page dedicated to the company's 3000 business.

Quest has a much bigger presence in the database utility market today, but its product manager John Saylor pointed out that disaster recovery for 3000s has remained among the company's ongoing businesses.

"We continue to provide the homesteaders continued support for all MPE products," he said. "None of products have been end-of-lifed. Many customers have blended together multiple HP 3000s into clusters to create the horsepower necessary to support their business and to create a highly available disaster tolerant environment."

BridgeWare, a solution to synchronize IMAGE data with Oracle databases, is a much newer Quest product than NetBase. Nine products, plus several spinoffs, show the heritage of Quest development. The company's even got an NFS network file system version for HP 3000s.

Continue reading "3000 products remain on sale at Quest" »

Framing Wires for 3000 Management Plans

CFAWireframe Last week we reported the plight of Connie Sellitto, an IT manager at the Cat Fanciers' Association who's the 3000 expert at CFA. The association is just starting a move to Windows and using a contractor who's most comfortable with "wireframe" maps of systems. Sellitto had just a few days to create one of these diagrams that outlined its 3000 databases.

Sellitto got a lot of advice from the 3000 community to help solve her problem, a challenge that began when the Microsoft Visio charting tool wouldn't work with 3000 information. She reported back to us at the end of last week. "I've gotten the Minisoft ODBC driver to work with the 2003 version of Visio. Really a major time saver. When you select 'Load Automatic Masters' in the ODBC definition, Visio even draws the relationship lines. Some tweaking is needed, as for primary indexes, but all in all, this is a good solution."

Wireframes like the one above (click it for detail) are common planning tools for website designers. Sellitto says the contractor's primary business is websites. But just because websites seem like an odd match with enterprise IT doesn't mean that wireframe diagrams are ill-suited to 3000 planning. Sometimes you need that 30,000-foot view to start -- or to sustain.

Continue reading "Framing Wires for 3000 Management Plans" »

Itanium Chips Into Its Second Decade

ItaniumRoadmap2011 The best vehicle for HP-UX to grab any new system sales crosses the 10-year mark this month. Itanium made its debut in HP servers one decade ago, arriving just as HP was ready to cross out its futures in the HP 3000 line. HP started its migration mantra with a serious push toward Itanium servers and HP-UX. But that was long before Linux and low-cost Intel Xeon systems fractured HP's world domination plans. If this were golf, the current decade would be a chip shot after an errant drive off the tee of 2001, and iron-work to get HP's customers closer to the cup.

It's hard to remember that when this chip started, both Intel and HP predicted a hole in one: there would be little else to purchase by the early part of last decade. Itanium didn't even have a separate server line until Hewlett-Packard rolled out the Integrity servers, but a few HP 3000 sites adopted those initial Itanium systems anyway. These were the rx7xxx servers, and it didn't help their popularity that they were only marginally faster than PA-RISC systems for several years. Itanium 2 started to change all that, but by the time that next year's Poulsons got promised and today's 9300s had a shipping date, the markets had moved on to the other Intel chipset, x86-compatible Xeons.

It's now old-school thinking to believe that any hardware can spark sales on its own. IT managers need to see an ecosystem to invest, although they're good at sticking with technology that's efficient and not yet obsolete, with some growth options. Itanium still offers all of those, but its Unix software prospects are on the decline, with Linux taking in all the new enterprise installations which aren't Windowed. Linux runs on Itanium, but there's a spotty future there too, with the largest Linux vendor RedHat backing away.

HP's got an Itanium fan club in the Connect Itanium Solutions Alliance, a user group outpost where vendors (mostly) and users trade news and prospects for the chip ecosystem. One year ago the Alliance announced that Oracle's E-Business Suite Release 12 was being certified on the HP-UX Itanium platform. HP shipped off its latest Integrity servers running the 9300 Itanium, and this spring chip supplier Intel showed off a peek (above) at the future for a chip nobody figured would become so niche so quickly. The Alliance has its own newsletter online, plus a Twitter feed if keeping up with your migration target's only HP-UX platform is important to your planning.

Continue reading "Itanium Chips Into Its Second Decade" »

That Sound You Just Heard, Post-Hurd

Guest Editorial

By Brian Edminster

In truth, "the sound you just heard" in HP's CloudSystem rollout this week was HP realizing that being in a commodity market isn't where they want to be -- because that inevitably results in a price-based (and therefore profit margin) race to the bottom. My only question: what took them so darn long to figure that out?

Over the years that included the reign of Mark Hurd and Carly Fiorina before him, we saw that race in decreasing quality of hardware, decreasing quality of support services, increasing reliance on 'outside sources' for both operating systems and applications, and increasing occurrences of having to purchase their 'innovation' from outside companies. I hesitate to even mention the apparent decreasing quality of senior management's ethics.

The only problem with this model is when (in reality) you're only competing on price, there will always be someone willing to operate with a smaller margin. The larger the company, the harder it is to operate on razor-thin margins that are ever-decreasing -- especially in a down economy. For a large company, it's just too hard to be nimble enough in such an environment to remain competitive. Even IBM had a hard time teaching the elephant how to tap-dance.

This commodity approach worked to some degree in the early days -- when HP could cash in on its historical reputation for making bullet-proof systems that were well-integrated like the HP 3000. Unfortunately, as they continued down that commodity hardware path, HP would end up no different than any other hardware vendor, and were being chosen only on price. 

I believe HP saw the writing on the wall and realized that soon enough, Linux-based hardware would have eroded any difference in 'value added' for their HP-UX based systems. In short, why buy a HP-UX based system when you can get an ever-increasing level of value and capability from a Linux-based competitor? It's a shame, but I predict that Linux will do to HP-UX, what HP-UX did to MPE/iX, with regard to what server operating systems they'll support.

Continue reading "That Sound You Just Heard, Post-Hurd" »

Schedule time for a scheduler webinar today

MB Foster will offer a webinar on the scheduling challenges for Windows managers today at 2 PM EDT. Migrating to Windows, or just pushing more production work to these ubiquitous servers, includes solving problems with what Microsoft doesn't provide -- the IT tools that HP included with MPE/iX. Birket Foster explains that his lab and company discovered Windows' shortcomings in this enterprise essential.

"The scheduler that comes with Windows doesn't understand how to start the next process, or how to send an email to someone to say something completed, or it didn't," he said. "We take all of that for granted because we've been in the 3000 business." He goes on to say that once you have a whole collection of processes called Day End, or Month's End, "how do you stop them all from starting at once?"

If your migration planning, or that push toward Windows, does not include answers to those questions, then about 45 minutes this afternoon, with a chance to ask questions, could be well spent. Concepts that have been in HP's scheduler like JOBFENCE have been migrated, if you will, into a product that's been in the field for more than a year now. Register and dial in and have a quick briefing. It may be well worth the spot in your schedule.

CloudSystem fuels HP's exit from systems

CloudSystemSlide Fifty percent higher and 100 million more points of integration: These are the numbers Hewlett-Packard used to get the industry's attention in a presentation yesterday. Even though HP remains in the systems business, it will define system as "software and networking" over the next four years. HP calls its new strategy CloudSystem. But the fact that the plan was unveiled about a week before HP's annual shareholder meeting might show how much weight the strategy carries in HP's top offices.

First, the 50. HP announced it will be increasing its dividend from 8 cents a share to 12 cents. The 50 percent increase in dividend returns might help keep skittish institutional shareholders in HP's investment club. Many technology companies don't pay dividends on stock anymore. The investors would be happier with a company trading at IBM's record levels, or at Apple's, of course. But since HP can't do that overnight, it can at least raise dividends. (Investors sold the stock down 56 cents in day-after trading, despite the dividend boost.)

Then, there's that 100 million. It's the number of computing devices HP plans to ship each year which can use webOS, the operating system built by Palm which HP owns. HP said it will be shipping desktops and laptops, phones and tablets, as well as printers by 2012 ready for webOS. "HP ships two PCs and two printers a second. That gives us an enormous install base that is going to grow," said CEO Leo Apotheker. "The fact is, people like working on PCs and that isn't going to go away." He added that HP won't be dumping Windows in favor of webOS. But the company is hawking its shiny new OS.

The tech outlook for webOS is cheery, but its market prospects are cloudy indeed. That's where CloudSystem hopes to create a compelling strategy for the Number 1 vendor which could use a thunderbolt of a software leap. HP wants to leverage enterprise demand in building a webOS world.

That sound you just heard was HP pushing its hardware into the back seat in favor of driving with its software and web services. Sure, there's always going to be millions of HP laptops and printers shipping. But there will always be enduring relations with customers who are tethered to a vendor via software. After all, the MPE/iX OS still holds HP 3000s in place at thousands of companies, more than seven years after Heweltt-Packard ended its manufacturing of the hardware. The newest HP operating software is now the best candidate to double company profits by 2014.

MB Foster's founder Birket Foster, who pointed us to the webcast of the summit, said the CloudSystem strategy is still building its parts needed to play a role for remaining 3000 migration candidates. Apps, the crucial element in webOS, are still on the way.

"This is a new infrastructure," he said. "You're going to have to wait for the cloud applications to actually show up. Larger companies will be able to take advantage of it because they already have staff who know about things like Java. The small and medium enterprises will have to wait for the finished apps to be there. There's some assembly required right now, and data integration is not included yet."

Continue reading "CloudSystem fuels HP's exit from systems" »

Architecture Toolbelt Emerges for 3000s

When Connie Sellitto of the American Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) asked for help preparing for a migration, the 3000 community hacked out suggestions and pointers. But much of the toolset designed to identify what's to be migrated off a 3000 can also be put to use in sustaining projects. Sustaining is what a manager should be doing to homestead, if they are not migrating. As the word suggests, sustaining is an activity that goes beyond glancing at a console to see if the 3000 is running, plus ensuring there are enough backup tapes.

The advice from 3000 managers and experts was aimed at Sellitto's deadline of tomorrow; she needs to present a "wireframe" diagram of the system's database architecture by March 15. The document will go into the hands of a web design company the CFA's board has chosen, one which has won the right to migrate its HP 3000 to a Windows environment.

Wireframe is architectural terminology for the map of website design, page by page. In the environment at CFA, databases and applications take the place of website pages. Alan Yeo of ScreenJet, which has built the EZ View modernization kit for 3000 user screens still in VPlus, said the ubiquitious PC tool Visio that Sellitto was learning quickly might be overkill.

If you have Adager/Flexibase/DBGeneral, or already have a good schema file for the databases, just generate the schema files and import them into Word or Excel and give them to [your migrators]. If they can't put together the data structure from that, no amount of time you can spend with Visio is going to impart any more information.

A schema file isn't difficult to understand, and if they can't, there isn't much you can do to help them.

Yeo added a few pointers on understanding the schema file.

A Primary Key is a sorted key, and indications that a specific numeric has (n) implied decimal places should be the most they should need, plus a couple of pages from the IMAGE manual that describe the data types. IMAGE structures aren't complex.

But 3000 consultant and developer Roy Brown wrote us to advise further, with detailed pointers on how anyone who needs to chronicle and maintain the architecture of a 3000 can get the job done -- whether they're migrating, or sustaining.

Continue reading "Architecture Toolbelt Emerges for 3000s" »

Why webOS Matters to Migrating Customers

WebOS-HP-Slate-Palm On Monday, HP's new CEO Leo Apotheker will spin stories for the press about the new HP. He will doubtless make many references to webOS while explaining Hewlett-Packard intends to regain its soul by pursuing such projects. The March 14 event will be widely reported as a breakthough for HP's software business, if Apotheker is lucky.

But webOS, first pumped up in early February and at the very top of Apotheker's Q1 comments later in the month, can mean so much more. Especially to the 3000 site which wants to bet HP can continue to create software as unique as MPE/iX, a breed apart.

Hp-webos-tabletHP made waves last month with this Web operating system splash, but these were ripples that some 3000 vets squelched quickly. The responses might be premature reactions to webOS initiatives. Launching something different, designed inside HP, is an element of capitalism that’s been in short supply in HP’s world.

  JournalAug89Cover No matter how slick the TouchPad (above) looks while it carries webOS into the enterprise, you can’t blame the observers in our market for being skeptical about the effort. HP has often failed at software. Its last attempt to break ground in OS software was NewWave. NewWave was technology ahead of its time. But you will be able look to today's Web to find any reasons to believe in webOS: partners to join the effort. HP says its putting webOS on PCs during 2012, on top of Windows. NewWave offered the same spread on Microsoft's OS. HP wanted app developers to work with objects in 1989. It laid out the basics of the architecture that year in several HP Journal articles (PDF of the issue), hoping to attract industry adoption and partnership. (This may have been the only time in HP's history the company devoted an entire issue of the Journal to one software product. If there's a time when HP's heart thumped with software, the late '80s would be its most soulful period. MPE's new 32-bit version was just taking hold. HP was pushing open systems with HP-UX environments.)

For webOS, the product that was part of Palm when HP bought the company, HP’s also got to gather app partners to give the OS any market share that can be taken seriously. This OS is important to any 3000 customer who continues to invest in Hewlett-Packard’s technology after leaving MPE/iX.

Continue reading "Why webOS Matters to Migrating Customers" »

HP's leader puts company's soul on notice

LeoApotheker An interview at BusinessWeek quotes HP's CEO as saying the company "has lost its soul." HP 3000 advocates and experts may not count that epiphany as news. MPE/iX, after all, became viewed as a liability to Hewlett-Packard instead of an OS asset. The company started to think that the iron was what held customers in thrall, instead of what the iron carried.

Leo Apotheker impressed so few people on his debut at HP that the stock actually dropped on the news. That's the first time that ever happened, but look how the other CEOs turned out after being lauded by shareholders during their premeires. Carly Fiorina drove a wedge so deep into HP that the founder's son battled her and lost. Mark Hurd remains in the news today, more than a half-year beyond his ouster, because his search for integrity still appears like it came up short in the company of a pretty woman.

Apotheker didn't spin anybody's pinwheels when he blew into the CEO's office. But when a leader talks up software and equates it to HP's soul of innovation, it could herald a sparkly day for customer futures. That's especially true for the customers still building upon HP software, rather than Windows, to replace 3000s.

Continue reading "HP's leader puts company's soul on notice" »

A 3000 Family Member to Turn Out the Lights

NewsWire Q&A

Dfloyd David Floyd ensures that somebody in the 3000’s family tends to the lights. Perhaps the youngest member of a community which started in the early 1970s, the 34-year-old is president of The Support Group, the firm that caters to needs of manufacturers using HP 3000s and MANMAN. He’s leading a company his dad Terry founded in the 1990s. (The elder Floyd's 3000 experience goes back to the beginnings of the system.)

David can say he was at the console in those early years, even though he wasn’t born until the Series III was shipping and ASK was enhancing MANMAN. He first used an HP 3000 at the age of the age of five, in 1981. Print-Exclusive He says he would “connect our kitchen phone to a 300-baud acoustic coupler modem to dial a terminal into one of the ASK 3000s. There I could play Mystery Mansion, Adventure, Dungeon, and other games.” He started doing paid work on one in 1991, at the age of 15. His first project was creating a MANMAN report called the LSR/3000 (Labor Summary Report). He continued working summers in high school programming and providing MANMAN support, got a job at Belvac Production Machinery in 1995 as a MANMAN programmer, and became a consultant in 1996. 

He’s worked his way up through the ranks of The Support Group until he took over as president in 2007. The Support Group partners with BlueLine Services for overall 3000 support contracts. Together the companies have offered enough service to supplant HP and give MANMAN more years of productivity. The question, in this first year without HP support, is how many years?

Your dad’s started the ball rolling on your family’s MPE experience, and you believe there's another decade left for MANMAN users. What would another 10 years of MANMAN mean to your family?

    My dad timed it so [the 3000] will be the entirety of his career. He had an HP 1000 right out of college, and within five years he had an HP 3000. If we manage to get another 10 years out of this, which it looks like we will, that’s his entire career on MPE and HP systems. He’s thrilled about that.

    That puts me at a point that if we get 10 more years out of this, I’ll be in my mid-40s, and I’ll have to find that next thing. I’m excited about that, and it’ll be a second career for me. It won’t be Unix or Linux, more than likely.

Continue reading "A 3000 Family Member to Turn Out the Lights" »

Manufacturing Options for a 3000 Future

NewsWire Q&A

Print-Exclusive David Floyd ensures that somebody in the 3000's family tends to the lights. Perhaps the youngest member of a community which started in the early 1970s, the 34-year-old is president of The Support Group, the firm that caters to needs of manufacturers using HP 3000s and MANMAN. He's leading a company his dad Terry founded in the 1990s. Given his age and the lifecycle of the 3000, the younger Floyd is pretty sure he's going to be on the scene to help give the 3000 the ending that it deserves.

     As the 3000 community enters its first year without official HP support, it seemed a good time to check in with the new-generation 3000 lifer who's got the best chance to be providing support whenever end-of-life takes place. We talked over a TexMex lunch just before this year's Macworld Expo, three weeks into the HP-free era.

Does the absence of a single, large support entity like HP mean as much in our modern world of 3000s?

    No, just like we don't watch the CBS Evening News as much. We have 16 news channels now. They're each smaller, and they have different flavors.

2011 migrators are making their moves for far less money than 2005 migrators. Why would you think that today's budget picture would be changed?

    These migrators have external deadlines, but even those are flexible. One example is a company that's been told by their corporate overlords that they're going to SAP. They have been talking to us about this for at least five years, and they are now doing it. They plan to be off of their 3000 by this summer, but they have been in migration implementation for at least six months now, and they've generated a one-year plan. The people who have waited may end up getting the best deal of all.

Continue reading "Manufacturing Options for a 3000 Future" »

Support firm hires engineers off HP's rolls

Print-Exclusive The countdown to an HP-free 3000 environment came and went on Dec. 31 with little anxiety among customers compared to the Y2K deadline. The calm transition took place because many customers have already moved to independent support, taking a cue from HP's own exit of US support facilities and engineering staffers.

    The independents are marking wins in the sector, according to Raul Guerra, VP of marketing at provider SourceDirect. 3000 customers are moving, Guerra reports, even while HP is trying to retain sites for support around the country.

    "We encourage customers to take a look at what they're getting for what they're paying," he said. "The underlying fact of the matter is that the equipment is so robust. With very low-level maintenance, they start assessing what they're paying. They're looking for alternatives."

Continue reading "Support firm hires engineers off HP's rolls " »

Legal matters may not matter for volunteers

NewsWire Editorial

A rough guide to the OpenMPE saga of this year: The group's website was hijacked for the holidays, then revived by fresh volunteers; it made a pitch for $50,000 of contributions; it has proposed new services; its source code was returned to HP by its ousted treasurer -- and the volunteers are arranging its return.

    There’s nothing quite like a lawsuit to focus attention on a dispute. In the hours that followed the OpenMPE announcement that it’s been sued by former board member Matt Perdue, more people commented and called about the volunteer group than any taking notice of any new services, files or elections. Somebody called to quip that any suit filed pro se (without a lawyer) is Latin for “you lose.” A lawsuit is sometimes a black and white battle over something that matters.

   Except in this matter, Perdue v. OpenMPE et al, the suit might not matter at all. Whenever this lawsuit gets a hearing in a courtroom, either for a chance to dismiss it or otherwise, the two sides will have genuinely joined in battle. Until then, the unprecedented suit of a volunteer board by a former member won’t settle much of the future for this volunteer group.

    It’s no fun to have to tell a story without an ending. Whenever a journalist is asked what’s going to happen, and we have to answer “it’s too soon to tell,” you can see the asker’s eyes roll. I’d be guessing to say I figure the suit is going nowhere, or that OpenMPE will do the same in 2011. The most interesting part of this dust-up is that Perdue says he’s defending the right to let OpenMPE make a difference to the community, and keep the group open. Lawsuit damages will kill OpenMPE. In a situation like that, you apparently need to threaten a life to make life-saving changes.

Continue reading "Legal matters may not matter for volunteers" »

Lawsuit simmers vs. OpenMPE volunteers

Print-Exclusive  Ousted treasurer Matt Perdue has filed a suit against OpenMPE and two of its directors, while the group seeks a fresh round of funding to launch services. But that suit is more than three months old, and although there's been a counter-motion written and served by a lawyer serving OpenMPE, the suit doesn't have any hearing date scheduled in Texas, according to one board member.

  The OpenMPE advocacy group has been in search of a mission ever since HP finally agreed to license MPE/iX source in 2008. The volunteers have a mission to survive this year, facing a lawsuit filed by a board member they removed, a matter that’s pending in a Texas court. At the same time, the six-person board has floated another kind of plea, for a fresh round of funding to pursue projects.

   The civil lawsuit was filed by former board member Perdue in November, just 11 days after OpenMPE voted to remove him from treasurer duties as well as from the board. The group’s minutes report that Perdue was voted out due to failure to pay a check approved by the board. Within a month after he was removed, board members say monies in the OpenMPE bank account that Perdue controlled exclusively were no longer under available to them.

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Zero-dollar prep cages Fanciers' migration

At the US Cat Fanciers' Association, Connie Sellitto needs help on a very small budget. The CFA got itself new leadership last year, top management that has voted its HP 3000 off the island. But at the moment it looks like the migration can't get off the sandy beach without a wireframe boat.

A wireframe what? Sellitto send a request to the 3000 community this week that asks for help finding a wireframe mapping tool to outline the 3000 system design that's been running CFA for more than 20 years. Wireframe is a term more often used in web page design projects, a way to outline everything that a page touches in a website. It's no wonder the term is in use there, since CFA's lead migration consultants are web designers by trade.

"CFA has just signed a contract to have a web-design company rewrite our entire business application on a Windows platform," Sellitto reported last month. "The timetable has been stretched from six months to something a bit more realistic, but as yet there are no firm dates. I have already met with the project manager of this formidable undertaking, and expect that I will be acting as 'technical coordinator' for CFA."

The most immediate need at CFA is for a wireframe application, of zero cost, to identify all of the 3000 apps and allied tools and databases. Sellitto needs to provide to the web designers a map of "several IMAGE databases, as well as the 350-plus COBOL programs that feed them. This will be used by the contractors who are planning our imminent migration off the HP 3000. I have already sent copies of the schema files, source code, COPYLIB layouts, and so forth."

On a zero-budget, can you recommend any software which might be of help to me? Otherwise, I'll be using QUERY or ADAGER to create copies of the schemas, capturing screen shots of all applications using Reflection and/or MS92, and fluffing up our text-based documentation.

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Legacy line means servers sing low notes

Orchestra Last week the Cleveland Orchestra offered its mothballed HP 3000 to the community. This non-profit group had been using 3000s since the 1980s, so its Series 987 probably still seemed relatively new, even in the back-end of the '90s when the N-Class 3000s were on the horizon. The system manager David Vivino only wanted a good home for the beast, which is why he posted his note with the subject line "HELLO HP3000.PLEASE/TAKEME."

The Orchestra has gone on to a newer movement for its patrons, making the transformation from the PACT/iX application to Windows-based Tessitura. PACT/iX, at its peak in those late 90s, was used by 38 symphonies, operas, ballets and arts organizations starting with the Dallas Opera in 1983, a user base that included ballets and symphonies in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Phoenix and Baltimore, as well as the Cleveland organization.

"Most all of the performing arts people have transitioned to Tessitura, a SQL based product that combines ticketing, fundraising, and marketing into one common database," Vivino said. "We moved there in 2006. PACT was in place since the '80s, I believe. Yes, we made code changes ourselves, but never really needed to adjust the core system."

An Ohio-based services company gave this 987 a new home, perhaps as a parts repository. Sustaining a 3000 until it's the right time to transition can mean buying backup systems. But sticking with a legacy can mean the hardware is nearly free. This is the second 987 that has been sold for a song. But hardware is only note to juggle to sustain a legacy.

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