Support firm hires engineers off HP's rolls
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.

You've been piloting commercial open source ERP with some customers. What's the latest on those options?

    OpenERP and OpenBravo are the idea behind the commercial open source solution. We've always felt that OpenBravo will be a good fit for the MANMAN community, because one of the special things about MANMAN is that it always shipped with source code. It gave them two benefits. One, they could modify anything they wanted. Two, we really learned the system and how it works from the source code. It's why we have such a great understanding of the internals, and how MANMAN works.

Speaking of how MANMAN works, its modifications work with a Fortran 77 base of code. How hard is it to find Fortran people? It's one of the technologies that's supposed to be fading, like COBOL.

    They are still teaching it, to engineers. They're not teaching it in computer science courses. My cousin graduated as an engineer from Texas A&M in the last 10 years, and he had Fortran courses.

So that's over a decade of Fortran support. Is 10 years a reasonable amount of time to think MANMAN will be viable?

    It's reasonable to think people will take MANMAN to 2020. It's because of a couple of things. Initially we thought, when we got HP's end of production notice, we'd have to consider a lack of replacement parts. That turned out not to be the case. There are apparently warehouses full of these things. They are for sale on the 3000-L all the time. People have purchased multiples just to keep a single 3000 alive.

    There's plenty of companies out there doing hardware support. We're partnered with BlueLine, and they're doing a tremendous job. We work with Abtech, especially on the OpenMPE side of things.

    On the software side, it's a combination of MPE support providers -- and yes, we are in that camp as well with BlueLine. There's so many independent consultants floating around that could solve problems as well. We're the people for MANMAN, and we've got plenty of resources behind us to serve that group.