CAMUS director Michael Anderson, an IT consultant in the Bay Area and a leader of that MRP/ERP users group, was an IT projects manager and applications manager at manufacturers Tencor and ThermaWave, both using HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard is off the radar at most of these manufacturing sites.
“As far as HP support for the HP 3000, I dropped mine a couple months after they announced the end-of-life,” Anderson said of the period in 2002 where he became Enterprise Wide Applications Manager at ThermaWave. “What are you spending money for at that point? Long term there was not going to be any meaningful development for MANMAN, so there would also be no demand from the application for new features in MPE or IMAGE. My employer was going through tough times and really needed the $58,000 in savings.
“As long as the old hardware continued to work and you had a good boot tape, what could HP provide that third parties didn’t already provide better for less? The damage is done and most of the HP support customers are gone. Maybe if they had announced there would be some support in the afterlife there would be more users holding on.”
User groups, which have some of the most seasoned managers in the community, offer a better application and system resource. “On the other hand, for the companies that still use MANMAN on HP 3000s, CAMUS is still here to provide a supportive environment and forum for knowledge exchange,” Anderson said. “But it’s getting pretty quiet.”
While HP’s not making much noise on these soft feints into a market that it’s abandoned, there’s no doubting the attempts will continue, however unsuccessful. MB Foster’s Birket Foster predicted back in 2009 that HP would become a non-entity in the support field by now.
Off the books, however, the HP methods and pricing are still being applied in some places. “They’re still doing support for some customers under nondisclosure because they don’t want the unwashed masses to know,” Foster said. “They’re willing to ensure there’s a body providing support to those customers. It’s something they’ve managed, to keep employees on for an extra period of time to cover some of the support needs for some larger, more strategic customers. But HP is also working hard to ensure those customers have a plan to move off.”
“They’re definitely there on the hardware side of 3000 support,” Foster said. “They’re offering support, but for certain devices. The list is growing smaller. When you get an HP renewal, it now says, ‘Except for these devices,’ with another set of devices falling off the list. For operating system support, I’m sure you can get it if you’re paying enough money.”
“Some of the people who used to work on the 3000 are still working inside HP. They’re very experienced and support certain customers. But I would say HP’s definitely reduced the number of personnel skilled in HP 3000 support.”
The departure of HP from the field follows a pattern of receding that started long before the vendor closed up its 3000 labs. At the MANMAN and 3000 support provider The Support Group, “We felt like we were supporting legacy products already in 2001,” says founder Terry Floyd. “Most of our MANMAN customers were off of applications software support anyway, so it didn’t change our plans much.”