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November 2011

HP will migrate best of HP-UX to Linux x86

No problem, HP says, if you're an HP-UX customer who's just purchased an Integrity server to replace anything else -- whether that's from an HP 3000 or just an older HP Unix system. The HP Odyssey project is not a signal of any new future for your Business Critical Systems server choice.

The popular belief among customers -- who still ask HP about it -- as well as the market and resellers is that "Oracle is turning the screws on HP-UX, which is dead anyway, because Itanium processors are now too far behind x86s to ever catch up." Okay, that last part's not completely fair to the Itanium systems. The big-scale customers love their hardware and OS. Well, they did until recently, but it now remains to be seen how good the solution looks in the face of HP's traipse into the Odyssey.

In the LinkedIn HP-UX users group, Steve Shaw, Chief Technologist at HP Canada, says

HP-UX and Integrity support and development are continuing, so Project Odyssey is not "designed to get your HP-UX apps and systems to HPx86." Rather, it is designed to provide an option for apps to either stay on HP-UX, or migrate to mission-critical x86 (Linux and Windows) -- whatever is best for the customer/app/situation, all providing the mission-critical experience that's been delivered by HP-UX over the years.

There's an echo in the mind of any HP 3000 customer who's made this odyssey before, however. After a formal announcement of Itanium tech work for HP 3000 users, HP pulled back. Dave Snow delivered the news that the 3000 wouldn't lead the way in such servers. In 2000 he said it wasn't needed.

The 3000 division isn’t going to lead in terms of moving to [Itanium's] IA-64. We don’t need to. We’ve got good-performing chips that provide us with the 30 percent per year performance increase — maybe even exceeding that — for several years to come.

That was a promise that a current HP technology will get continuing development and support. You could swap out "Shaw" for "Snow" and feel the same vibe. True, there's no risk of an overnight exit from Integrity and HP-UX, not like the deal done on 3000 sites one year after Snow's comments. We just heard a story from STR Software's Ben Bruno about one spectacular dump of 3000s within days of the exit announcement. It resulted in a migration to Sun -- and some customers are figuring Odyssey will trigger the same kind of exit to another vendor.

Continue reading "HP will migrate best of HP-UX to Linux x86" »

3000 team awaits one last strike, next year

NewsWire Editorial

By Ron Seybold

Scary and sad things can happen deep in the night. I learned that in Switzerland and again in Texas, both sets of news that arrived deep in the fall of seasons 10 years apart. But for each bad report, there’s the prospect of better news for a season to come.

Print-ExclusiveThe first scary news arrived on a pay phone in a rail station. It was in a November night beyond 9 Central European Time, back in the days when Daylight Savings ended by October. I’d already thrilled to getting the news that the Yankees lost a World Series in a Game 7. That’s the kind of news that can cut both ways, but it would take me another decade to learn that lesson.

The news on that Swiss night was that HP wasn’t going to build any more HP 3000s in 24 months, that they believed everybody ought to get off the platform. That Unix was the best solution, or Windows, anything but what you knew, built your business around, slathered all over your future, your training and career. It was damp and cold on that railway platform hearing that news. My boy Nick and I were on our way uptown to Lausanne and dinner. The report from my partner Abby Lentz sapped my appetite. I did my best to explain to my son things were changing for my business, but it would be okay. Sometimes there are things you just have to say and wait for them to become true.

At no time that night did I ever believe there would be another decade of work on the HP 3000 for my family. Ten more years seemed impossible on that night, in that month, anytime over the next few years. It seemed as impossible as being unable to get one last called strike in a World Series, twice, 10 years later. That happened far into a dark and cold night, too. Past midnight in a cold, damp ballpark in St. Louis.

But for every leading home run that my Texas Rangers could hit in an epic Game 6, their opponents the home team Cardinals could avoid that last strike my guys needed to win their first Series, ever. Not even the extra innings “Roy Hobbs homer” from straight-edge hero Josh Hamilton, swung out over a sports hernia that required surgery, could power the Rangers into the champagne and champions’ ball caps. So in 11 innings, they — or sometimes we 40-year-fans of baseball, we say “we” — lost that chance to win.

But just like the HP 3000 community, those Rangers have not lost all chance ever to stay in the game.

Continue reading "3000 team awaits one last strike, next year" »

Making it Easier, One Decade Later

Print-ExclusiveThe tools of my trade have come a long way in a decade of work, just as yours have in computing. Actually, there's an intersection there between us, since the tools of computing have changed the way I can tell stories. Journalism is sometimes called literature in a hurry, and there's nothing like the rush of big news to put a scribbler in a rush.

That's what was happening in November, 2001, when I got my rock-your-world report from my partner Abby about our newsletter and the HP 3000 and the future of both. We knew HP's future in the 3000 that night, when it was likely to wind down and how serious they were about ending it. We also knew there was another side of the story to tell about the community that the vendor was leaving. HP was already at work telling their tales about migration and a declining ecosystem. We had to get busy to catch up.

It all seems so antique now. The long ride on the train with an open notebook on the Eurostar table, writing out question after question. Getting a hotel with a good phone system booked in London, for HP had promised a con-call to brief me less than a week before they'd tell customers. Shopping for a portable cassette tape recorder, plus an acoustic mic pickup, to make recorded notes for such a crucial story.

Then afterward, at 8 PM Euro time, when it was just lunch in California, I trek off to the EasyNet Internet Cafe. A spot that any tourist or pilgrim could use the Internet to write stories I would email to Abby, via AOL, so she could set them in print for our newsletter. We'd held the presses, yup, and it all depended on how fast I could get quotes out of that tape recorder and its cheap earphone, writing up the news I'd heard, and then another piece on what I thought it meant.

I got lucky that night. There was a problem with the Cafe's billing, so everybody's Internet time was free. It was one less thing to think about, so I could let the muse lead me to call the non-migrators "homesteaders." When you create something that's swell and durable, you must thank the gods for good fortune that rewards the practice your craft.

Continue reading "Making it Easier, One Decade Later" »

HP relents, aims Unix sites at x86 futures

It wasn't exactly an announcement while you were sleeping, but HP slipped in the news of its Unix migration during the very slow Thanksgiving business week. For some customers it might be a turkey, and for others who want to get onto Unix for the short term, or stay there and see an HP future, they may be thankful. 

Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 7.01.05 AMHP will start development of a next-gen platform for the future of HP-UX users, one that runs on Intel's Xeon x86 chips, the company announced Nov. 21. HP's Unix will continue to run on the almost-proprietary Itanium chips inside Integrity blades and servers -- and as recently as September HP said it wouldn't port HP-UX. It's Unix is still not making the x86 jump, but the things that make HP's Unix special will make a leap to Linux and Windows. There might be a lot of Unix application rewrites going on, although the GM of the HP Unix unit, Martin Fink, will insist otherwise. For awhile.

HP's new CEO, the need to halt the slide in the Business Critical Systems sales, and flat HP sales overall must have done the trick. "The BCS business is a declining business," said CEO Meg Whitman last Monday in Q4's briefing. "It is a slow decline, but I don't think you're going to see an accelerating growth rate in that business. And so we just have to manage that as best we can and invest in R&D so we get to a new platform as fast as we possibly can that allows us to service the clients that need this kind of power."

The project that HP is calling Odyssey will "redefine the future of mission-critical computing with a development roadmap that will unify Unix and x86 server architectures, to bring industry-leading availability, increased performance and uncompromising client choice to a single platform." What this amounts to is the migration path away from HP-UX to Linux, something many of HP's Unix customers have seen in their futures for some time. An intensive article with the tech details of how HP's going to leverage its latest Itanium sockets into x86 is online at The Register. "We are systematically evaluating the arsenal of intellectual property for HP-UX and mapping that to x86 platforms," the article quotes the BCS chief technologist.

"Some of the technologies that make HP-UX and its Integrity and Superdome platforms rock-solid will end up being donated to the Linux kernel," the article adds.

What's not stated in that HP press release is the future of Itanium in the HP server line. A "single platform" signals that the Intel Xeon chip family is going to win out in HP's near future. This probably means the end of the Itanium developments from Intel, after its next two processor rolls become a reality. Perhaps sooner, if the demand for Itanium servers keeps sliding.

Continue reading "HP relents, aims Unix sites at x86 futures" »

Apple ready to overtake HP in PCs

BestBuy DoorbustersIt's Black Friday here in the US, a day when retail outlets prod consumers out of bed with "doorbuster" prices that launch with a handful of rock-bottom-priced electronics. Silly things like $50 tablets jostle with $79 HDTVs and $329 HP 17-inch Pavillion laptops at Best Buy.

But Apple's going to be offering its gear at retail stores pretty much at list prices. The vendor insists its retailers don't do much of the come-ons for Black Friday, where 10 or so units at each store get sold starting at midnight. (Tickets for the BestBuy midnight entry were passed out last night). The retailers like it, but it can't do much for the vendor's sales at such small quantities.  A report just released by analyst Canalys shows that Apple is poised to take over HP's position in PC sales soon, if not in the current quarter. That's the No. 1 position. HP's got no tablet to sell, while the iPad 3 is expected next spring.

Canalys reports the overall PC market is growing by 18 percent this year. The growth has come at HP's expense, considering how fast Apple is overtaking the vendor. HP doesn't need to be No. 1 any more than Apple ever did. But it needs profitability out of its PC business, something Apple hasn't struggled to attain in the last decade.

As holiday looms, research migration today

The US Thanksgiving weekend -- the only guaranteed four-day holiday all year -- will be upon IT departments in just a few more hours. Watch the "out of office" auto-messages pop up on your email replies. But if it's before noon on the West Coast, or just short of the traffic jams on one of the worst commuting days of the year, you can learn more about data migration from an MB Foster webinar today. (Thanksgiving is an October holiday in Canada, where MB Foster is headquartered.)

The vendor reminds us that it's been in the migration business for decades by now, since migrating data has been a principal enterprise there. "Data generated and consumed by applications is driven by multiple business requirements, which in turn are supported by business processes. The approaches taken to the migration depends on those requirements. Data migrations and associated tasks are usually performed programmatically to move and map old system data to the new system," MB Foster says in an invitation to a 11AM PST / 2PM EST webinar, Data Migration, Conversions, Integration.

It's that data that is the most crucial element on 3000s still running companies. At the end of the process is decommissioning, a service the vendor is ready to help migrators prepare for.

In this webinar we will outline database migrations, data conversions and data integration approaches. We will also be reviewing data challenges that could possibly impede a successful migration and decommissioning.

There's still time to register online for the 45-minute briefing.

We'll be taking tomorrow off, with a little bit of coverage on Friday, to celebrate the holiday here and give thanks for your constant interest and our sponsors' support. Have a safe and sumptuous weekend

HP vows to get its R&D back on track

ESSN Q4 2011HP made the price very clear for its pullout of tablets and WebOS: 91 percent of its Q4 earnings evaporated, according to the quarterly analyst briefing delivered last night. But new CEO Meg Whitman says the company will be getting back on track to better profitability and growth in the year to come. Mergers & Acquisitions are off the menu for the next year -- unless something extraordinary comes by, under $1 billion, in the software sector.

Yes, even a CEO who's determined to turn HP back to its invention roots can have moments of distraction. For the most part, Whitman was clear on what the company needs to revive: Research & Development.

"If we're going to get out of big M&A, we're going to have to get our investment up in R&D," she said. HP posted sales numbers to beat analyst estimates, but the profits slid from $1.9 billion to $239 million during the period. HP booked about $1 billion more in revenues versus last year's final quarter, $32.1 billion (and $127 billion for the fiscal year). HP's Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) results included $755 million in a "wind-down of the WebOS device business for supplier-related obligations and contra revenue associated with sales incentive programs." The consumer side troubles run deeper than a dumped product, though. Printer sales, the firewall of HP's business, have also started to decline.

Then there was also a charge against earnings listed as "Impairment of goodwill and purchased intangible assets," $855 million. That turns out to be costs "associated with the acquisition of Palm Inc. on July 1, 2010 recorded as a result of the decision... to wind down the webOS device business." Whitman said HP's own actions impaired it during a quarter where it also toyed with spinning out PCs and axed its CEO. "One third of our challenges in 2011 were HP-specific," she said. "I had customers tell me they thought we were getting out of the hardware business entirely."

Another third of the challenges were "the distraction factor," she said. "There was a lot of drama in 2011." There was also a lot of silence on the cash register for HP's Business Critical Systems. BCS sales were down 23 percent for the group selling Integrity servers and the HP-UX, VMS and NonStop environments. These were the systems weighing down the overall results of the Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking Unit (click above for ESSN details.)

Continue reading "HP vows to get its R&D back on track" »

Coming soon: HP's year-end business report

HP wraps up its fiscal year in October, so its news of 2011 arrives today, three weeks after a tough year has closed. The fourth quarter results arrive in a webcast starting at 5PM EST. It's a period with a potential PC business pullout, the flameout of a tablet and a mobile OS, an ongoing war with its biggest database partner, and the ouster of another CEO.

Even with all those anchors dragging down the company, analysts expect HP to report flat sales -- equal to 2010's Q4 -- while profits are forecast at $1.13 a share. HP missed analyst estimates last time out, a quarter tougher than any other the CFO Cathie Lesjak ever reported. After shares fell into the low $20s, they're up 40 percent today trading around $28.

HP's business health means something to the 3000 site which has migrated to the vendor's other platforms, or plans to do so. But its Unix solutions are really becoming a choice for a very large customer. "HP has become a provider for the largest customers they have," said Michael Marxmeier, whose Eloquence database has exploited HP-UX at least as much as any supplier. He even engineered database components to outperform their OS complements. "The largest customers need scalability and the largest HP boxes," he added. "If you work in the low-end and midsize end of the market, you will hardly find an HP-UX box anymore."

The current state of HP's Unix business will be reflected in its details on Integrity servers and the Business Critical Systems numbers. This is about the only metric we follow closely; ProLiant sales for Windows and Linux (the ISS group) have been healthy. BCS includes OpenVMS and NonStop sales, but HP-UX is a very large share, too. The future for these environments relies on Itanium and any new customers HP can cobble up for its Unix.

Oracle Harm to 3000s & HP, Past and Present

Oracle has become a loud competitor to HP in the migration alternative game. HP took an hour's webcast this month to assert that the Oracle-Sun-Solaris action is mostly heat without much light to lead the way. But the database has certainly gained HP's attention now that ousted HP CEO Mark Hurd is leading the Sun attack. If some stories are to be believed, however, the current fracas is a long way removed from Oracle's blows against the HP 3000's futures.

At one point HP was eager to keep its 3000 customers buying Hewlett-Packard enterprise solutions. And by 2001, the story goes, Oracle wanted a clear path to selling Oracle hosted on HP's Unix servers. HP was going to cut something out of its merged product line with Compaq. The 9000s were never on the block, but there was the HP 3000, sporting tens of thousands of systems, nearly all of them running an IMAGE SQL database.

So here goes: HP didn't kill the HP 3000, Oracle did. Oracle made HP a deal they couldn't refuse. Stop selling competing database software, and Oracle would partner to sell HP-UX systems as Oracle servers.  Since MPE/iX is tightly coupled to IMAGE/SQL, this translated to the end of the HP 3000. The smoking gun was supposedly this: As part of HP's announcement on discontinuing the HP 3000, it included the end-of-life for Allbase/SQL on both MPE and HP-UX.

EllisonThe theory has some credibility. In 2001 there was a lot of growth potential for Oracle-plus-HP-UX. Oracle had grown up plenty in the decade before that fateful date (when its CEO Larry Ellison, left, was a tender 47 years old.) In 1991 his juggernaut was pretty much out of the game, even with 20,000 customers, because it was scraping the bottom of its cash barrel. Some reports said Oracle creditors were ready to call in their 1991 notes. Those 20,000 sites arrived in the fold because Oracle got ruthless about sales and promises and vaporware delivery. $80 million in cash from Nippon Steel in exchange for a piece of the Oracle Japan arm helped Oracle back from the brink, too. Then there was a forced restatement of sales all the way back to the company's first quarter as a public company. Booking nonexistent products and stretching future contracts as current revenues, it was all the kind of behavior old-school sales reps would chuckle about today -- a day when Oracle wants to rock the 2011 boat, charging that HP is paying Intel to prop up the Itanium product line.

Continue reading "Oracle Harm to 3000s & HP, Past and Present" »

Last Words from First Users on HP's Pullout

All this week we've been marking a tenth anniversary of HP's ill-fated decision to pull out of the 3000 community. There have been other things happening besides the remembrances. But there's little happening in the community today that has not been altered -- for better or worse -- by the Hewlett-Packard choice. We also have a package of pullout stories coming in our November print issue, along with photos from the community's first HP3000 Reunion. But we'll wrap up our Pullout Week with stories from two key community members. Jeff Kell started and maintains the HP3000-L mailing list at, where 3000 discussions and tech tips started in the early 90s -- and remain online today. Kell was also a SIG leader while volunteering for the Interex user group.

Then there's John Wolff, an initial board member of OpenMPE who first joined HP in 1968, and then became an HP customer in 1974, and started using the 3000 in the system's Classic days -- and so has felt some of the deepest disappointment. But he still watches the company for signs of hope.

Jeff Kell: As of the mid-1990s, essentially all of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's business applications were all legacy applications on the HP 3000, having evolved from the initial roots of the student/admissions/grades/records system developed in the mid-to-late 1970s. One was a third-party Library application added in the 1980s, but still HP 3000-based. At our peak, we hosted five production HP 3000s in our server room covering administrative, academic, and library services.

Academic usage migrated first to IBM, and later Sun-Solaris/Unix, but business applications remained intact. Traditional "internet" applications (e-mail, file transfers, Gopher and later WWW, etc) grew on Solaris and later Linux.

An initial investigation into a third-party student system led to an attempted "migration" in 1997, based on a large-ish HP-9000 quad-processor system with a sizeable disk array. Dissatisfaction with the software (relative to the 3000 legacy applications) led to a delay in implementation of all but the student financial aid and accounts receivable systems. At that time we began to "fortify the foundation" of the long-term viability of the 3000 platform. We were well into MPE/iX and the Posix environment, and there appeared to be some real solidarity given these capabilities (the lack of "Internet readiness" was often used to criticize the platform).

The 2001 announcement was a knife in the back of our long-term planning and objectives, from which we never fully recovered. The original Library application (3000-based) was moved to Linux/Oracle (where it remains to date). The partial third-party student implementation on the HP 9000 was moved to Linux/Oracle -- where it too remains to date.

Continue reading "Last Words from First Users on HP's Pullout" »

Some couldn't believe the pullout at first

Some of the members of the 3000 community had no reason to believe HP would pull out of the 3000 business. In this week that marks the 10th anniversary of that exit, community members are sharing their stories of where they were when they heard -- how much they felt they could believe -- and what's become of their careers since then.

Brian Edminster: I was subcontracting at a company that specializes in supporting medical information systems (primarily Amisys, but others as well). This was a new contract at the time, and came after a multi-year gig doing a Y2K conversion on a large legacy Retail Management system.
I almost didn’t believe the news — there were too many other big changes happening in the world — and HP management had recently redoubled their support of the platform, so I just couldn’t believe it at first. I guess I was still expecting the New HP to act like the Old HP.

My consulting practice has been stable, with slow but steady growth. I’d say that my career has taken directions that I’d not have been able to anticipate, just a few years before. I’d not have gotten into open source software on the platform if the ecosystem of commercial software hadn’t started drying up. I wouldn’t have been able to justify going to the last Greater Houston RUG meeting to present a paper, and I wouldn’t have started building a website to act as a central repository for free and open source software for the 3000 (

Robert Holtz: I was working away on the COBOL and FORTRAN programs that were the heart of the Computer-Aided Dispatch and Mobile Data Terminal programming that ran on the three HP N-Class 3000's our Phoenix Police Department had upgraded to -- just earlier that year.

Continue reading "Some couldn't believe the pullout at first" »

Things change, some 3000s remain the same

When we polled more than 30 customers of the HP 3000, we were surprised how many still employed their systems a decade after HP left the field. Some are using the same servers which ran on the day HP predicted the demise of the ecosystem, 10 years ago this week. Others have relegated their systems to archival duty. We heard from a few that've turned off 3000s completely since 2001.

At the Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, NC, Jim Dellinger said the center's 3000 has been decommissioned quite awhile. "The HP 3000 was discontinued here in 2004," he said, "and hardware services moved from LAB (my niche) to IT.  I'm sure there are no HP 3000 servers there."

Dave Powell, whose report on his 2001-2011 3000 experience appears in our November print issue, told the world more than six weeks ago that his company in the fabrics industry is moving off the 3000. "MMfab has decided to migrate," he said. "Buy a (gasp) package. Toss the system I've been working on for 30 years." But still run a 3000 in archive more for the next 1-3 years, once the real implementation work starts at MMfab -- and gets completed.

CatsBut for every report of a departed  3000, we heard two that were remaining on duty. At least for the next several years. Connie Sellitto, who had about two weeks to solve the problem of "wireframing" her 3000's app architecture for a migration in March, checked back in to say it will be several more months until anything based on .NET is running the US Cat Fanciers Association.

"I was working as Programmer/Analyst at the US Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) on our third HP 3000, a Series 937 RX, when HP announced its end-of-life," she said. "This really scared a lot of people, but I kept telling them we had third party hardware and software support, and not to worry. The company directors at the time decided to leverage the 350-plus programs with a migration to an HP 9000 -- and we in fact secured a used system, only to have them reverse their decision and opt instead for a newer A400 3000.
"The new HP 3000 remained in use in the New Jersey office until July of this year, at which time it was transported intact to CFA's new location in Alliance, Ohio. Plans were to (really, this time) migrate off the MPE platform entirely, with a complete rewrite on a .NET SQL-based system.  This project, originally underestimated to take 3 months, is still in the development stages, and although I've moved to a new job, the 3000 is still going strong. It continues to run the business-critical operations for CFA."

Continue reading "Things change, some 3000s remain the same" »

Now in an 11th year of post-HP: user reports

We're continuing with the community's first-person testifying about HP's November 14 pullout from the 3000 market 10 years ago. Today is the first day of the 11th year of the rest of your life, because HP's never going to go back on its decision to cease making, enhancing or, in most cases, supporting the HP 3000.

But we've heard from users who hoped otherwise. Many did in the first few years after 2001, because it was hard to believe from the beginning. At least difficult for users and suppliers who knew so many satisfied 3000 owners, or were making a good living off an ecosystem HP proclaimed as mortally wounded.

Why look backward at an event nobody will ever change or recant? You can get hope from the new ground which some of the users have attained. And you'll see how to manage such a sudden change of strategic direction from a supplier, though some of these stories. Plus you can believe that it can happen to any product controlled by a single-vendor. We asked: 1. Where were you when you heard the news, and what became of the 3000 you were using, and 2. What's become of your career and company over the last 10 years.

Bill Towe: I remember attending the HP World shows for 1999 and 2000 when HP announced it was opening its arms to the HP 3000 and would continue the line, and the future seemed safe. Then barely a year later, I was attending an HP Channel Partner conference in Las Vegas when I heard a rumor that the HP 3000 was back on the chopping block. I couldn’t believe it, because only months before, CEO Carly Fiorina had informed the HP 3000 collective that we would see the MPE systems line for years to come.

During that Conference, I learned  the HP 3000 was finished and would start a phase-out of equipment process followed by the End-of-support death march. I was simply shocked. My company, BlueLine Services, was only two years old at the time and 95 percent of our business was MPE system sales and support. We spent the next few years holding out hope that HP would continue to postpone or completely reverse their decision to end the HP3000 line.

Continue reading "Now in an 11th year of post-HP: user reports" »

One Decade Later, You Survived HP's Pullout

MigrationcartoonSo here we are, 10 years to the day since HP announced it would not be participating in the future of the HP 3000 anymore. It's still Nov. 14 in most places where the NewsWire's blog is being read, so here's a history that nobody's been dying to tell. It's about customers of a company that thought it was killing off a computer line. Instead, it killed off a lot of its customers, in the sense that thousands of them though HP was dead on arrival in the IT futures department after Nov. 14. There were careers and companies killed, too. But we've never called it the End of Life for the HP 3000. It's always been the end of HP's life with the 3000. By this year I think of it as a pullout, an act that signals a loss of will and faith, forgetting why you got into a relationship in the first place. HP had given up on a group that I was glad to dub "homesteaders." Everybody was one, until they could manage a migration, after all.

The shock and outrage on that Black Wednesday was astounding at the time, because HP didn't whisper a word about the customers who could never leave a efficient, vital platform. The first HP message was filled with warm concern about getting everyone onto the right computer as soon as possible. As if the bolts and boards of the 25,000 systems working worldwide were about to go toxic or something. HP couldn't even pin down when the closing date would for the 3000 division, CSY, then headed by Winston Prather.

From a CSY perspective and a support perspective, it’s business as usual for the next two years. It’s time for customers start their planning to move to a platform that will serve their businesses better in the future. HP recommends that customers begin transitioning off the HP 3000 to alternate HP platforms.

Customers were not surprised at the news, Prather said, "and they really appreciated HP being able to tell them what we see as the future role of the platform." Prather said these top-tier customers of late 2001 "already have a multi-OS strategy, so they’ve been evolving their applications over time. It is a stake in the ground, but the CIOs I talked to were appreciative of hearing what the future holds."

As proven by the reactions of the next two years, Prather had only talked to companies who could afford to migrate -- and were grateful for an infusion of truth from HP after years of everything else.

For the last week I've been asking the community members to tell about where they were on that star-crossed day that they heard the news — plus what's become of their careers, companies and the computers running on Nov. 14. We've got a massive feature coming in our November print edition, which went to press at 5:30 this morning.

The outpouring of memories and updates and resolve for the future has been profound and prolific. But this has always been a group that knew how to say what they meant, and how they felt. "I'd say we've all been a pretty good human chain holding the 3000 Community together," said Jack Connor, who just departed the OpenMPE board. He was kind enough to note that the stories and articles here "do a lot to make us aware that there's indeed life after HP, and a pretty full one so far." Considering the promise of an emulator and the state of virtualization today, the last decade could have unspooled a better future than what HP delivered.

Continue reading "One Decade Later, You Survived HP's Pullout" »

Take a search into our print issues, online

Ken-DoMar97Every three months, The 3000 NewsWire returns to its roots and arrives in paper and an envelope. It's a format that we first delivered 16 years ago. No matter how fast the Web can update us, there's a different pace of education and insight that comes off the printed page. We're fortunate to have the support of community sponsors to keep our print issue alive. (Frankly, it would be hard to get me to stop creating it, coming from a "stop the presses" heritage at newspapers here in Texas.)

But onward to my point: You can read those printed issues here on your PC or laptop, created as PDF files. The latest one is always available from a click at the top left corner of our main website page on this blog. We also have an archive which is summarized below, with links for downloads.

This month marks the start of our 17th Volume, as we old-timers say in the publishing business, each of those volumes one year of printed editions. Our volumes begin in the fall, when the 3000 NewsWire was born. As it turns out, November became a pretty important month for the 3000 -- but that's a story for next Monday, Nov. 14.

One advantage of creating a PDF file of these print issues is that they can be searched with a PDF reader. All of these articles are included in our blog, after selected stories get "Print Exclusive" status -- first available only in paper. But if you want to enjoy the print presentation -- a magazine style, if you will -- click below. If you'd like to have a copy arrive in your postal mailbox at the soonest date, send an email to me at the NewsWire and I'll ensure you're on the mailing list for premium paper. Be sure to include a mailing address.

So we'll see you in the papers -- you never can be sure whose picture or name was in the news on a page that's printed. It's worth a look; collect 'em all, as they used to say in the comic books. Maybe there's a place for a Ken-Do revival in 2012's printed NewsWires.

August 2011
May 2011
February 2011
November 2010

August 2010
May 2010
February 2010
November 2009

August 2009
May 2009
February 2009
November 2008

HP puts down Oracle, which puts up Solaris

Hewlett-Packard summoned a market analyst to tell its HP-UX customers "Unix is not going away in the near future," said Dan Olds, founder of Gabriel Consulting. "Probably not even past the near future."

OS qualityThese kinds of assurances are needed in a marketplace where Linux has all the buzz and Windows all the populace among environment choices. Sure, the apps drive the OS choices, but a company's got to ensure it can retain and train the IT pros who keep apps alive and moving, instead of stalled. As one example, the replacement-for-IMAGE database Eloquence keeps growing "to keep your applications from stalling," said founder Michael Marxmeier.

Eloquence runs on Windows, Linux and Unix. It the last arena it becomes a player in the ongoing saga of What Will HP Do About Oracle? Oracle sells one of the biggest competitors to HP-UX, Solaris. Last week HP said that Oracle's Unix, Solaris, is a distant third in customer support and deployment to HP's Unix. This week Oracle announced a Version 11 of Solaris, which will be marketed as a cloud-friendly OS. It's also got tighter integration with Oracle's database, a strategy HP once used to great effect in the HP 3000, with MPE plus IMAGE. Here's a telling passage from a Computerworld story on how the link-up works for Solaris: "By controlling an entire stack of software, the company can make holistic decisions over which part of the stack would be best suited to tweak to gain performance improvements."

That's not in the field to be surveyed today, and perhaps not even this year. The message during the one-hour HP webcast relied upon a 2010-11 Gabriel survey of companies already using some kind of Unix. Prompted by HP's Katie Curtin-Mestre, Olds said that Oracle is well behind HP and IBM in categories like OS Quality, Patching Quality, availability as observed by a user base, plus a lot more. Olds -- whose 15 years in IT includes nine years of marketing consulting for hire -- said it's a two-vendor race for commercial Unix, where "Oracle is not as competitive as they would hope, or we expected. In some areas, since Oracle took over Sun and stabilized it, they've lost some ground."

HP would be happy to learn that continues to be true. The Gabriel survey was taken during the first six months of work by Mark Hurd, former CEO, who has led the Sun/Oracle rebound culminating in a fresh Solaris and refresh of the SPARC chips. How this webcast chest-thumping by HP will imact its wish to get Oracle to love Itanium/Integrity once again -- well, that's anybody's guess. But it's hard to portray the webcast as an olive branch.

Observed performanceOne thing feels certain: when you use red as the color to depict a vendor on a PowerPoint slide, it's never a friendly label. HP's customers are observing that Solaris is much slower than HP-UX, but HP's Unix is just 1.3 percent faster than IBM's Unix. This may be a two-horse race in observations and speed. But HP needs Oracle to keep its customers on HP-UX servers, and coloring the company red looks as combative as suing its rival to keep supporting HP's Unix.

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You've got the power, but you can use less

Last week we we tried to discover the power needs of an A-Class vs. a comparable Series 9x9 HP 3000. We were prompted by a roadshow talk that HP delivered today here in Austin. Part of the content touted HP's cooler hardware designs, and we don't mean "more hip" when we say cooler.

We mean power and cooling energy efficiency, a measurement that ranges from the wattage a CPU draws to the needs of a blade server or blade storage, up to the electricity required to keep a full server enclosure running. Austin was a good place to have the talk, since we've posted 82 days of 100 degrees or more this summer, blasting our own record from 1925.

PowerMeterHP's solutions "span across IT and facilities to optimize and adapt energy use, reclaim capacity, and to reduce energy costs." Sullivan's Steakhouse lunchtime diners heard about the latest advances in power protection, distribution, and cooling. HP showed the numbers on calculating operational costs "to help extend the life of the datacenter."

Datacenters are migrating in the 3000 market. We're polling the community about their career and company changes over the 10 years since HP pulled out of the market. Some switched off 3000s because of high power needs. A new case history by MB Foster about decommissioning a Series 969 3000 at San Mateo Health Care cites cutting power as a spark to get off a 3000.

Comparing power needs requires great access to hardware manuals, which are genuinely useful in PDF format. Before it pulled away from your market, HP always crowed about slashing the power needs of a 3000 with the PCI-based systems introduced in 2001. The power-efficiency of Integrity blade systems running in, for example, a C3000 enclosure (the smallest) is even more pronounced over those 9x9 servers.

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A decade later, Windows XP still in business

Last week an Internet tracking company reported that Windows XP, first released in 2001, was losing market share at a record pace. The decade-old software is now running on just under half of the world's market share of Windows systems.

The 2.5 percentage points which XP lost in October leaves the OS with a 48 percent share. It was running 55 percent of the Windows PCs as recently as August, according to Net Applications.

XP logoMicrosoft would like to insist that its customers stop using an OS that was last enhanced in 2004, with the arrival of Service Pack 3. But SP3 is what's keeping companies in the Microsoft fold, just like MPE/iX enhanced in 2007 continues to provide HP with some targets for limited support services. HP can't force a company to stop using an OS last updated, well, more recently than Windows XP. A solution that continues to get the job done usually remains in place, until an acquisition goes down, or something breaks.

What's most likely to break in Windows XP SP3? There's one element that's certain to stop running: Microsoft's patching service for the OS, in 2014. Yes, the formula performed by HP upon the 3000 is a plan familiar to the rest of the IT industry. Time marches on for software which the vendor considers outdated. Internet Explorer, not exactly the most robust calling card, will not include an IE9 for XP's users. Of course, there's other browsers available to the Windows user, such as Google's Chrome, or Firefox. IE is required to run Windows' interface, however.

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Emulator posts demonstration website

Stromasys announced that it won't take on any more North American test sites for the CHARON-HPA/3000 emulator. The company building the first virtualized hardware server that acts like PA-RISC systems wants to provide the best test experience for companies already in the program.

To properly support our HP 3000 Field Testers, we have stopped accepting participants in North America. We can still accept several test sites in Europe. We very much appreciate your support, and we received excellent feedback on problems. Most problems relate to configuration and installation procedures, so we are updating our documentation.

Starting Nov.8, the 0.3 version of the software will be available to download for test sites from the Stromasys servers. But most important to the rest of the community, a demonstration system is accessible via on the Stromasys website. "The system is available 24x7 and intended for general information," according to the latest field test newsletter.

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Several seats now open on OpenMPE board

It's been about six weeks since we had anything to report about OpenMPE. We've promised not to spread any more posts unless there's news. Several directors have resigned their positions in the volunteer group. Birket Foster has returned to the chairman's spot, due to one of the resignations.

ConnorFoster said that Jack Connor, who took on the chairman responsibilities early this year, decided he'd had enough of his volunteering for the homestead community. He joined the group in 2010 and led initiatives including a salable product and a spring fundraising effort. Connor's is one of three departures from the group this fall, starting with vice-chairman Keith Wadsworth in September. (Wadsworth came on board with Connor, as well Connie Sellitto.) Tracy Johnson is also not listed among the board directors on the group's website today.

Connor, who's been the most public to responding to queries about OpenMPE, updated the finances of an entity that wanted to raise $50,000 from the community this spring. "A great deal of the current funding has come from loans and contributions from the board members," said in March, when the fundraising was fresh. "This shows their commitment to the OpenMPE concept."

That concept has changed constantly over the almost nine years of its existence. It began with the desire to get HP to open up source code and technology about a server it was discontinuing. Then the mission was the creation of a 3000 emulator. MPE/iX licensing issues, as well as necessary but overlooked HP procedures for migration, because the longest-term mission.

WadsworthThis fall, the group is maintaining a 3000 server at Measurement Specialties, with a DR backup at The Support Group, a pair of donated Series 9x9 3000s that host useful software for homesteaders. 2011 was the Year of the Lawsuit for this group, legal action sparked by former treasurer Matt Perdue after he was voted out over a failure to pay a bill. He named Connor and Wadsworth in his lawsuit, along with the board as a whole. The legal expenses to respond in a Texas court were significant enough to consume much of the group's energy. A settlement was arranged, but its details have been sealed. Throughout 2011, monies listed as "contributions" were coming from these volunteers, in the majority. Some were considered loans, and some of those have not been repaid to the board members.

However, OpenMPE has more than board donations and resignations, an attempt to license its own source code copy of MPE/iX for development, and legal action as its legacy to date. This is also the group that pressed for the release of that MPE source code during 2002-08. Much more significantly, these volunteers made HP see the need for an emulator license for MPE/iX in 2005. That license is now essential to making the Stromasys HPA/3000 emulator a product ready for sale in a few months.

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Is it a test next Wednesday, or the real thing?

By Birket Foster
MB Foster Associates

Remember growing up where a test of the emergency alert system would periodically come on the radio with a piercing noise, and inform you that this was just a test, and in the case of a real emergency further instructions will follow? It's coming back, sooner than you think. We expect to hear it just minutes before our next webinar.

CivilDefenseFor the first time ever, the FCC and FEMA are conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). It will happen at 2 pm Eastern on Wednesday, November 9 -- just 2 days before binary day (you know, 111111, or November 11, '11).

Will our children even know what this is about, as they get home from school and have their favorite TV show interrupted by an emergency signal? Will housewives everywhere worry about the “national emergency” that will appear to be happening? Maybe it will have the same impact on society as the radio play of HG Wells  “The War of the Worlds,” a timeless science fiction classic of the invasion of earth by Martians.

Our live demonstration of MBF Scheduler, and the recently announced enhancements of HIPRI, RUNNOW and Subqueues, will take 45 minutes -- but during the first two minutes we will see how the world reacts to EAS, and then carry on from there.

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For big power savings, HP thinks smaller

Redstone_Platform_SMHP announced yesterday that it is testing chips from an Austin, Texas mobile processor company for use in Hewlett-Packard servers. Calexda is one of a host of chipmakers who produce ARM processors. HP said it believes these chips can provide the needed horsepower for server tasks -- while sipping power, instead of gulping it like anything from Itanium to Xeon chips.

HP is very serious about reducing power consumption at its enterprise customer sites. The vendor has a road show in play that addresses this benefit of moving off older HP 3000 hardware. The PCI-based N-Class and A-Class servers reduced power consumption (as measured by BTUs) by 30 percent over the 9x9 Series. And the Integrity 2660 class of servers, similar to an A-Class, use 567 watts at idle to support an entire server.

A mobile chip solution for enterprise establishes a fresh measuring tape for power usage. HP is calling the initiative to create a new server line Project Moonshot. It hopes to start selling these ARM-based servers by next year. The rollout at the Calexda HQ in Austin showed off the EnergyCore ARM system-on-chip (SoC) for cloud servers and on-demand processing.

Hewlett-Packard isn't planning to introduce hardware for its small to midsize customers anytime soon that utilizes EnergyCore ARM. The math on the pricing will not help HP's revenue numbers, if it was deployed all the way down the customer lineup. A load that normally requires a $3.3 million system of 400 servers, with 10 storage racks and 1,600 networking and power cables using 91 kilowatts of power, could be done in the new system for $1.2 million: using one-half a storage rack, 41 cables and 9.9 kilowatts. Those are enticing number for cloud compute suppliers like the emerging manufacturing alternative HP said these kinds of customers will be looking at system-on-chip solutions -- which could drive down the costs of cloud computing for the masses who might be migrating.

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Listen for the sounds of a post-HP season

In less than 10 minutes of our latest podcast, we're connecting the dots on Steve Jobs, his reverence for HP, the company's PC reverse-march, and how much Hewlett-Packard lost while it exited the 3000 market. It all points to a chilly off-season while HP  works to get back onto the field of enterprise computing, carrying its PCs, and take another run -- like the Texas Rangers -- at the Number 1 spot.

FurcalHitPost-HP? For awhile, anyway. On this first day of its 2012 Fiscal Year, HP is working away from a year when it couldn't seem to get a strike when it needed it, either off the bat of CEO Leo or from the arms of its TouchPad. Maybe it's time that we stop looking back at what HP didn't do a decade ago -- like stick to a profitable, small HP 3000 business. Or stay out of a slim-margin dogpile like the PC business. Or remain focused on enterprise computing. As they say in baseball -- especially here in Texas -- there's always next year.