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Alas, Oracle, you've blown off HP's Unix

3000 emulator cost queried, speeding certain

HPABootupSept11Yes, that's the total footprint of the emulator, sitting between Craig Lalley and the flatscreen TV monitor showing bootup of the beta-test Charon HPA/3000 emulator. 2012's releases could use VMware to simplify that boot screen to look identical to a 3000's, but in less than a tenth of the time the PA-RISC 3000s take to start up.

By now the expected rollout date for the Stromasys emulator for the HP 3000 is less than four weeks away. But the vendor who's promised to release the 1.0 version of CHARON HPA/3000 in January hasn't released any pricing for the product -- the kind of information that can get in the way of early-adopter sales.

New products need early adopters to bring news to the rest of the market. It worked that way for the 3000 NewsWire when we launched the first newsletter for the community in 1995. Our early adopters for advertising and subscriptions were able to report how effective we could be in campaigns and information access.

While an impatient group of hard-core 3000 experts and customers awaits the pricing, the speeds of the software appear to be following a much more certain path. The magic element in boosting performance of this virtualized server comes in a Dynamic Instruction Translation module. We've heard it's being tuned to match the performance of an A-Class 3000 by first release. This is one of the reasons why the HPA/3000 is being sold as a hardware (PC) and software bundle: an i7 Intel processor is needed to deliver the speed that will make a suitable replacement for a Series 9x9 or earlier 3000. That's the heartland of the marketplace for this product: companies with older servers and not enough budget or desire to move away from the 3000.

What's a reasonable price for the first edition of a product that will only get faster? Every price in the history of this kind of software-hardware solution might be different, kind of a Built To Order (BTO) model. BTO reflects the diverse environments that remain in the MPE world. Everybody deserves a fine-tuned implementation as well as price. Many of the smallest of 3000 sites are in most immediate need of an extension to the MPE application lifespan. Since they clearly don't have budget or plans in place, pricing under $25,000 seems a better early fit than higher entry points. When you go beyond that price, a ProLiant and Linux start looking to be worth the pain of doing a lift-and-shift of existing MPE/iX code.

Stromasys is aiming at full support utilizing VMware, too, according to its Chief Technical Officer Robert Boers. That goal was echoed by Craig Lalley of Echotech, who's become the go-to guy for Stromasys' MPE/iX experience. Lalley believes the product is "moving forward, and things are looking promising. This first release will do what some of my customers need it to do today."

The beauty of using virtualization for emulators is that they will always be able to leap across performance gaps. Not only does VMware have a product that lets an emulator be a guest on a host system like Linux, there's an even faster and more native option. VMware's ESX uses a Linux boot kernel, separate from the hosted environments -- so on bootup a user would see an MPE/iX prompt first. That's because ESX provides true access to the hardware's horsepower, according to Lalley.

The good news is that this is old tech news for Stromasys. The company's Charon product for the DEC marketplace already has VMware ESX capability. Company officials add that about 70 percent of the code in that DEC product is being used for HPA/3000. This is the kind of advantage that comes from selling an emulation solution for 12 years to enterprise customers. Next year becomes Year One for new HP 3000s.