Emulator Promise, 3000's Security, Invent3K
Making Resource Management Social

Early Comments on Emulator's Pricing Plans

In the first few days after Stromasys rolled out its emulator strategy for 2012, the commentary has been sparse. You'd think it was a holiday week, and many people have stopped paying attention to anything but the threading traffic to the shops in time for this week's celebrations.

From our view, going for the kind of higher-dollar home run sale will net a lot more strikeouts in the first half. The technology is evolving, of course. In the longer term Stromasys looks to be taking a cue from Taurus-Quest-Abtech. They put together a software-hardware bundle for $25,000 that's a turnkey data migration solution. All based upon proven and existing technology Even at the lower end, however, $25,000 (or less) is a hefty number for the customer who remains on MPE.

HPA/3000 could be a successful product in our market space, given the right entry. Based upon what we've heard from CEO J.P. Bergmans, the company would rather not be supporting dozens of customers using a new product right away, rather than just a handful.

Martin Gorfinkel, whose 3000 experience includes service to OpenMPE, said the pricing of the product won't be of personal benefit to him. OpenMPE pushed for a emulator as its first mission. He took the software-only less-than-$25,000 figure very literally. "I have little or no need for extra power and capability, he wrote us. "I have no HP 3000 running most of the time. About once a month it would be handy to have access to programs and files in order to help with a support issue. $25,000 is far out of the range that would make sense."

The challenge presented to the 2012 emulator market lies in the available replacement hardware that still has an HP 3000 badge. One consultant said that a customer could get a multiple-processor A-Class system with Fiber Channel attached storage in a 7410 array for under $15,000. What's more, those HP-branded boxes are now finding ways to escape their processor shackles after an indie vendor installs them.

But the earliest adopters for the product will be companies facing a much more expensive alternative in a migration, Bergmans said. "You go for the people who really need it and whose other choices are very expensive migrations. You learn with them and from them, by doing the implementation with them. Then you release it in the open world."

For an emulator maker, the longer the fresh hardware market goes unserved, the more value their product gains -- per customer, anyway. While the higher-priced entry fee will slow down the uptake, but they'll find somebody. Bergmans said the company already has customers waiting for a production release. We even heard a rumor that HP's got the emulator installed on its campus.

"Prices of emulators are something you could argue for hours about," Bergmans said. "We still have people paying significant money for our emulator for VAXes, and you can buy second-hand VAXes very cheap. Buying another new-old VAX is not necessarily the kind of solution you want for the next five years."

Nothing has been announced yet that changes the potential for this software. The new emulator sounds like it has incredible potential, once it gets its sea legs" said developer and consultant Eric Sand, "and we know what user loads it can hold up under in different configurations — especially under VMWare. It's a whole new future, and the investments that shops have made in MPE will be around for a long time to come."