OpenMPE gets notice of its day in court
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.

"The N-Class was here for a short time -- I think about a year if memory serves me right -- before HP announced their exit," Holtz said. "The application was moved one year ago to another platform, and the HP 3000 was no longer needed."

Retiring an N-Class in 2011, plus buying it in 2001, puts Phoenix in a special category. Few customers can count a decade of operations on the final generation of 3000s that HP built. By Holtz's reckoning, he purchased this one within months of HP's exit-the-market announcement.

When HP made that announcement more than seven years ago, the vendor pointed to a declining ecosystem as the chief reason it wanted to put away the server on an end-of-life sentence. Application suppliers like the one serving Phoenix had little choice after HP's notice. They had to put development and sales efforts into other platforms, because their customers were more likely to see the vendor's exit as an emergency.

It was something like tripping a silent alarm -- and then when the police arrived in the lobby, accusing the bank of being an unsafe depository. Phoenix police continued to trust the 3000's reliability for almost seven years after HP's alarm. Holtz, and other IT pros like him, are finding their 3000 futures handcuffed at last.