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Taking a Glance at 3000s: where to get it

Vendors mull emulator tool, app licenses

Even while we await the announcement of the first installation of the Stromasys Charon HPA/3000 emulator product, we're even more eager to get updates on related software. Third party software -- we like to call it independent products now, since HP's stepped away from the party -- still needs a model to license the use of tools and applications.

By many estimates, four out of five HP 3000s in the homestead world are running their own in-house packages. Or they're using commercial vendor software that's modified so heavily it may as well be a custom system. There are licenses of MANMAN from Infor to consider, as well as the remaining installations of Ecometry and a few others. But it's a rare thing for a company to be charging a support fee for an application on a 3000.

Surround code, and third party tools, are a very different territory. Products like UDA Link from MB Foster, Speedware and PowerHouse, Robelle's Suprtool and Qedit, VEsoft's MPEX, even a bedrock tool like Adager -- all are vital parts of the 3000 community that must mull over how their licenses on the HPA/3000 should work. The tool providers usually sustain themselves with annual support contracts, but some have used license transfers while products were moved from older to newer HP 3000s. Several of those vendors have tested their products against HPA/3000 for compatibility.

One such vendor is MB Foster. When we checked in recently with founder Birket Foster -- a Q&A with him is coming in our printed February issue -- he mentioned licensing for emulation as an issue that was resolved by HP, but is still in play at independent software vendors.

"What do you do about software licensing for all of the vendors out there?" he asked during our hour-plus interview. Foster was not only involved in getting the terms on HP's MPE/iX emulator license hammered out in work with OpenMPE. His work goes back to the days when indie software vendors, then called ISVs, gathered in a Special Interest Group he chaired for Interex, SIGSOFTVEND. HP worked through that group to ensure tool makers and app vendors had early tech access to fresh MPE/iX releases.

In the face of a new system model where Stromasys will be selling a USB key, equipped with a valid HPSUSAN number for a replaced 3000, "We still have to charge for all of this," Foster said. "We still have hundreds of customers running our UDA series products on the HP 3000." As development continues on the products -- both for new platforms like Unix and Linux as well as 3000s -- "we have to pay people to do that work, and they in turn pay on their mortgages, their kids going to school and more. We still have to charge for this to keep the engineering in place."

"That's a concern for all of the vendors as they walk into an environment where they'll be on an emulated HP 3000," he adds. "It's not going to be free. But I think most vendors realize that it's got to be reasonable."