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Another migration looms for HP's users

Hewlett-Packard has put its enterprise users on the migration road in several ways over the past decade. HP 3000 customers saw the platform lose its place in HP's lineup. HP-UX users have weathered a change from PA-RISC servers to the Itanium-based Integrity line. Now the HP support team is migrating the company's entire computing customer base by the end of next week.

Bill Hassell, the HP-UX guru who tracks support for Source Direct now, reports that HP's June 18 migration from the ITRC is so profound that customers better get their critical patches and analysis done before next weekend. On the HP-UX Users forum of Linked In, Hassell -- who once worked support for Unix at HP -- said next weekend will be a watershed, but maybe not all gloom and doom.

The migration of the ITRC -- not just Forums, but patches, firmware, patch analysis, call tracking -- is still scheduled for June 18. I would not recommend doing and patch analysis or other critical tasks for a couple of weeks after June 18 -- this is a big move. The good news is that a separate company (Lithium) which specializes in social media will be maintaining the UI, search engine and other major components for the Forums.

Veteran managers on the forum say that HP's search engine keeps losing steam with the changes up to now. "Every time a new version of the ITRC search engines was released, it provided less and less," said Simon Elias Brito. HP 3000 support companies in the independent market are usually serving HP-UX system users as well -- and probably better than the vendor's Web resources.

Hassell, who's seen the new ITRC replacement, said he's heard from the HP liaison to the Connect user group, "the current user interfaces should not be significantly changed once you navigate to call submission or patch analysis sections. The forums will definitely look different, but will be adding a much better search engine and a much better UI for text entry. Problems with word processor copy/paste should be resolved -- but I have not tested any of this yet."

Lithium has a significant footprint in large corporate social media. The company's software powers the Home Depot How-To Community, for example, to allow 25 in-store associates to create content for use across the company. They're a hybrid of sales associate and help desk operator; they maintain regular contact with customers. Good social media tools are a essential element in community help. But there's no expectation or history with Home Depot's How-To. The ITRC has a track record, and it is a crucial element in HP system ownership.

Steven E. Protter, a systems administrator who's so prolific on the ITRC he's got "2-Star Olympian" status after 10 years, said the current ITRC needed an overhaul. Now that it's at hand, the user of HP support must accept and embrace it, Protter said in a discussion you can find (for now) at the ITRC Forums.

We the community have been demanding change. From what I found out in a conference call, the current applications and infrastructure were orphaned. Nobody who knew them well enough to make changes still worked at HP. It might be fun to finger-point, but it was a reality and it happened.

The current system is great, but it is hard to search, and legacy content is not always in great shape. We demanded change. Well, we got it. The thing to do now is to participate and provide constructive input.