Writing Down a Life with the HP 3000
IBM's experiment begat 3000's first SQL stab

Continuing support key to homesteading

In a webinar last week the makers of the HPA/3000 Charon virtualizing engine (read: emulator) took questions from attendees about licensing. Not the license of MPE/iX (already in place from HP) or licensing their product with customers (something they'd love to do once a customer commits. Soon, we were told.)

The licensing issue in play is how to get a software vendor to embrace use of their product on HPA/3000. For some companies this is an automatic. They generally don't charge for upgrades and haven't created anything that needs special handling inside MPE/iX. Terry Floyd of the Support Group sells software that his company has crafted. His customer, Ed Stein of Magicaire, is on the short list for early adoption of HPA/3000.

"I don’t write any tricky stuff," Floyd said. "We don’t have anything that needs testing. If Ed could get a box with Charon running, our test would be a full month-end close (dozens of jobs) and an MRP run. I think he’ll do a very thorough job – that’s his nature."

Some vendors, especially app suppliers, might have a different approach. The key to getting software from HP iron onto the emulator may well be keeping up support. 3000 software support contracts can be left behind while trimming budgets. This can present a problem that can be fixed by restarting support -- which is a good idea anyway, if the 3000 is mission-critical.

The flow of support money is tricky. For some 3000s this expense will need to be justified. Floyd sketches out the issues, both from the customer's point of view as well as software vendors who still support 3000s.

Nobody who's on support will have any problems with a vendor. So the real crux is: are you on support with each vendor? If not -- in Ed’s case we can use Cognos for an example -- they probably are not going to be very concerned that they intend to charge you to get back on support. Perhaps a considerable amount. As someone who lives on support income, I guess I can feel their pain, But we have never charged anyone extra for back support if they left us, then came back later. 

What is somewhat comparable in our arena is charging higher rates to do any work for MANMAN users not on our support contract. That is our policy and we haven’t broken it yet.  I guess some would think that is hard-nosed, but if Ed has been off support for, let’s say, 10 years on Cognos' Quiz and now wants to go back on support with them, they might begin the negotiation with a charge of the full 10 years back support, Just to get his attention. I can see -- for some HP 3000 users not on support with some vendors -- why this is going to end up being an “every man for himself” negotiation process.