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Customers debate definition of licensed 3000

As soon as an independent vendor offers a 3000 for sale today, some buyers in the market judge the server's license pedigree. An offer of an HP 3000 N-Class server, hawked as "rolling and running," came up this spring. The server was offered no-license -- a status which can mean the prior owner never bothered to register the sale of the server to the independent reseller.

But can such a rolling and running system, this one sold by Brett Forsyth, require an MPE/iX license? Mark Ranft of Pro3K says a license doesn't define a 3000's status as a running server.

Who says it doesn’t have an OS? By “no license,” Brett surely means that the previous owner didn’t pay to have the license transferred.  

There are many valid reasons for this.  For instance, imagine the server wasn’t under HP support contract up until the minute they decommissioned it. As a result, trying to get HP to transfer the license would be so much work that you may as well pull your own teeth with a dull set of needle-nosed pliers by entering your mouth through your ear canal.

Forsyth reminded customers that HP always sold a 3000 with the MPE/iX OS included. People who are buying servers with no license paperwork. he says, are still running systems which can roll and run with the last version of MPE/iX HP licensed to the servers.

"Long ago we got into this argument," says Forsyth, who's been selling servers for several decades.

Since HP does not sell an e3000 without MPE/iX (check the price lists -- it ain't there) then by default a 3000 is a rolling running machine valid to run whatever version of MPE/iX it was last licensed with. [Using] IMAGE, software, and the like may be another argument.

Forsyth said that the HP Software License Transfer group has verified that opinion. His rolling, running system -- for DR, parts, ("hardware backup, since HP support is now spotty at best"), or app testing  -- was on offer last month.

HP tightened its licenses when it curtailed some support at the end of 2010. It eliminated a Return to Use license on Jan. 1; this was a product designed to put a 3000 back into licensed status. But place this up against HP's continuing work to retain 3000 sites for support and you get a puzzling picture. If HP's support is still adequate, why does a customer not get to Return a 3000 to Use any longer?

Jack Connor of the support company Abtech had an answer. "I’d say that eliminating the Return to Use encourages attrition/discourages growth in the HP 3000 world and -- my thinking only -- opens the door for HP-UX or other HP hardware solutions."

"On the other hand, the Support Division offers contracts on Sun, IBM, or other popular platforms and, considering the reliability of the 3000, doesn’t want to lose an existing cash cow.  In short, it would seem that different HP divisions have different views and approaches regarding the 3000’s longevity."