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3000 system census surprises in UK

CensusAt a recent 3000 webinar among CAMUS user group members, the Talk Soup Q&A brushed across the 2011 HP3000 Reunion. While the talk examined activity of 2012, one attendee on the conference call could be heard saying, "Not another reunion!" It's a tiresome but expected response to the scope of the 3000 population.

On one side stand the users and managers who employ an HP 3000 in everyday production. They're grateful for any relevant information to keep 3000s running well and updated as much as possible. These community members don't often ask how many systems are still running. For some, another Reunion would be a chance to attend an event they couldn't enjoy because of a 2011 conflict.

Other HP 3000 managers want to view the community as a seriously shrunken village. They've made the choice to migrate, or they can't find work any longer that taps their MPE and 3000 skills. Perhaps they do business in the community and haven't had new revenue in a long while. Other opportunities call, so they're eager to reinforce their choice to move away.

However, we sometimes encounter census trail-posts that lead away from the "too small to be relevant" viewpoints. In the UK one prominent community member had a trail blaze that opened their eyes about who might still remain in the homesteading populace.

 Like most of these reports, it came by way of a third party. One vendor said he saw a support provider's list of 3000 sites and spotted suprising totals.

"There were twice the number of customers on that single vendor's list as I suspected were in the entirety of the UK," he said.

One thing that might well stall migrations this year -- and sustain that populace -- is the emergence of the HPA/3000 emulator product. This virtualization engine won't even have to show much success at this point in the 3000's life. With a solution other than migration on the horizon, the lean-budgeted 3000 users will have something to use as a risk-aversion strategy. A company with concerns over hardware availability or costs will believe that hosting MPE on commodity hardware resolves those problems.

Whether that's reasonable or not remains to be proven. In the short term, the hardware suppliers to the community will survive, because the costs of shrink-wrapped replacement components will remain well below the fee to install HPA/3000. Even a cloud-based deployment will cost more than fresher hardware with HP's badge. Given enough time, the $25,000 entry to that commodity solution may seem a better long-term strategy.

It's a common belief that a 3000 emulator arrived too late to make a difference in the market. But learning that twice as many customers remain online as expected changes that formula -- especially for each customer who's remaining a homesteader.