After 25 years serving 3000 customer needs and expansions, MB Foster became an HP Platinum Migration Partner right out of the box a decade ago. It arrived amid the fresh chaos of that 2002 springtime along with Speedware, MBS and Lund Performance Solutions, and only Speedware remains in the 3000 business among those three cohorts. As his company celebrates 35 years in the 3000 market this spring, we asked founder Birket Foster about the start of the migration era. He notes that hundreds of customers remain as devoted to the 3000 as they ever were.
When did the migrations start in earnest?
People started getting serious in 2006. But we still have customers that are running on an HP 3000 today, hundreds of them. They're doing what they need to do to stay where they are. I was talking to one yesterday running a very big contracting business. They were just getting their SAP live and now realizing they have to decommission their 3000. People get their replacement application but forget they have regulatory reasons to keep their data around.
It's really important that people think these things through before they start migrations, because they can do things during the migration that will simplify things during the decommissioning process.
What are the latest prospects, from the perspective of a company working 35 years in this market, for the long-term HP 3000 user?
We're just in the beginning of setting things up at MB Foster to work with Stromasys, benchmarking the access of our ODBC and JDBC access to data. We're making sure our UDA product line will run in the Stromasys 3000 emulator environment. That environment was cleared by a little side project I did as a volunteer: helping the 3000 world deal with Hewlett-Packard from an advocacy point of view. OpenMPE was something I chaired, after being recruited by John Marrah of Amisys.
A little while ago, in addition to your ventures in Storm.ca wireless Internet and Canada's Stay at Home assisted living services, you got more involved with a local restaurant to help out a friend. What new tricks has that taught you that can apply, 35 years later, to the HP 3000 market?
Two years ago I got into an investment for a friend who wanted to run a restaurant. I put a management team in place in 2011. When I got more involved to try to recoup some of my investment, it taught me some technologies that I'd had no exposure to. When you have a 240-seat license, you need to fill the room. So I learned a lot more about Facebook to put up a page for the Kemptville Pub to drive events. Once Facebook users Like us, they automatically get messages that tell them about us.
From that Facebook piece I'm applying what I learned back to MB Foster. We've done our first page for MB Foster Associates. Not so much because people buy from that page, but it's a good placeholder - if they're buying our Windows scheduler, they'll find us on Facebook. It's a different twist from the days when you'd go to visit people in person, back in 1977.