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April 19, 2012

What Made the 3000 Great?

IMAGEmanualWhile HP 3000 hardware approaches emulation, and IT managers look at replacement software environments, it's worthwhile to study what made this server successful in a very competitive marketplace. Digital and IBM grappled with HP for business in the 1980s, and the 3000 won customers. It was simplicity and stunning costs which led to the efficiency of MPE, the 3000, and most importantly, IMAGE.

This week I spoke to a developer and software provider who put it succinctly. They said that more than ever today, they're convinced that the best part of the HP 3000 experience which the community created together was IMAGE. The database that was a common element in the community was good enough to make everybody better. "People with moderate skills could appear better than they were using IMAGE," the developer said.

It also helped the 3000's reputation that IMAGE was in use everywhere, so the add-ons were plentiful and the knowledge base was rich. The 3000 didn't labor under the differing camps of Oracle, SQL Server, Postgres and DB2, for example. If you wanted to hire a good database administrator or developer, IMAGE was -- and remains -- the common language of data in the community.

So how does the power of IMAGE make the transition to other platforms? One obvious way is through the IMAGE-like Eloquence, written and tested and working on Windows, Unix and Linux. But if you're not adapting an IMAGE schema for the new migration target, you're more likely to be following an app provider's replacement. For the lucky customers, that means running a Linux version of the app that was written to employ the IMAGE magic. Those customers have a vendor who knows the standard set by IMAGE. The less fortunate migrators are looking for a replacement app with database access as elegant and efficient.

How important that efficiency has become, here in the era of blade servers and cloud computing, is debatable.

They may need that magic less than they once did. IMAGE was first crafted in an era where resources were costly, while support was best provided by other users or very savvy third parties. In the early days, there was not even phone-in support as a universal option from HP. From the ground up today, CPU cycles are cheap, power consumption down, and expertise is easier to find. One note we'd like to hear from the community that's migrated: How reliable are your migrated systems, compared to the departed MPE-IMAGE apps? Our developer believes there might be very few who find the newer apps and systems less reliable.

06:18 PM in Migration | Permalink

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