Alas, Oracle, you've blown off HP's Unix
How a Database Keeps Apps from Stalling

Database supports Itanium, Intel, Linux

Marxmeier MugMichael Marxmeier wants to make migrations more than an exit from using HP 3000s. His company has sold the closest replacement for the IMAGE/SQL database for more than 12 years, as Eloquence moved into software vendors like Summit Technologies when their apps shifted to HP-UX or Windows. HP was touting his product as the cleanest and most adept choice for migrations nearly 10 years, when the vendor first started to advise customers about tools to make your massive IT shift possible.

Marxmeier has been studying IMAGE a long time. When the product was called HP Eloquence – it’s now an independent solution – it was employed by HP 250 business users who were being ushered off their super-PC business systems, where IMAGE was their database and the hardware cards were the same as those on the 1980s 3000s. Eloquence was born of an HP transition similar to the one the 3000 community has begun. That small business machine had a customer community much like the 3000’s and Marxmeier wrote a work-alike system to help his company move its applications onto HP’s Unix systems.

You’ve been one the earliest advocates and developers on Itanium. Does its future in the market, especially in light of the Oracle conflict, or its ability to compete on a tech basis, worry you?

We are not worried at all. HP uses Itanium as a viable option for businesses, and it works just fine. We certainly will continue to support it for the future. Unlike Oracle, it’s easy for us to make a commitment to it. We didn’t find it hard to develop for Itanium or to support it. We even support some exotic implementations like Linux on Itanium.

Itanium certainly has its users, and it’s hard to tell if it will make it or not. However, this shouldn’t be a concern to the customer. But if they’d like to move to something else, the proven technology of Linux is readily available. About half of our customers are using Linux these days.

The good thing about these open environments is that moving from one box to another is typically easy. Like in a COBOL shop, if you get another compiler and recompile your application, you’re pretty much there. Everything else works the same. Unix is a Unix is a Unix. If you’re familiar with HP-UX and you come across Linux, you will feel at home immediately.

When you first entered the 3000 migration market you said that Eloquence might have a role at a company as a bridge technology, before a migration to Oracle. Has your view changed, now that Oracle is battling with HP over support of Itanium servers?

Eloquence has a history of being a temporary solution that becomes permanent. Yes, we thought customers would use Eloquence as a temporary solution and move on to something else.  But we have not seen customers moving to Eloquence, then subsequently moving to another database. It seems there simply was no need for it. When we released the first version it was designed to work for two or three years to bridge the gap, while they re-wrote their applications in native Unix. But that was almost 20 years ago, and we’re still doing fine.

It’s certainly not getting easier going to Oracle. But HP was convincing customers that it was a business advantage to go to Oracle. They thought they needed it to be successful, but that’s and idea that’s become less popular recently.

We have two markets that we cater to. One is our existing Eloquence users, because we have a decent-sized user base. It’s most important for us that they have what they need to be successful.  By now the majority of that migration business is over, and that’s okay. ISVs have settled in place; they’ve probably already moved on. At the beginning they had to come up with a solution to keep their customers successful, and quickly.

But there also are quite a few end-users out there, and with all the knowledge we’ve gained we’ll address the needs of those users specifically. They will benefit from almost a decade of successful migrations. Things have become easier than they were at the beginning.

Customers are moving to other application packages. When they migrate and do nothing else, they can find out five years later it’s the end of the line for that package. This is even harder than the original migration. They are looking into heaps of hardware to do it, lots of consultants. Replacing a package with something that is standard like Oracle is not as easy as it sounds. Moving to something complex, just because it’s newer, is sometimes not worthwhile.

3000 people think of Eloquence as a database to stand in for IMAGE, but what other features and modules do such architects and developers overlook about it?

It has lots of interesting stuff beyond the database: a programming language, a user interface tool, patch integration and more. However, I think most of these functions are something 3000 customers will not use. Of more interest would be the PCL utility coming in the next version, which allows converting PCL output on the server to PDF or Postscript. Of most interest should be the database enhancements.

The continual improvements to Eloquence go beyond HP’s IMAGE functionality: replication, item masking, database encryption, auditing, FWUTIL [to access forward log file that holds archived committed transactions] — all integrated in the product and ready to use. Most of this stuff incrementally enhances existing applications. It works for migrated applications just as well as for Eloquence applications.

Next time: How a database can keep applications from stalling