Artisanal Computing: A Future for the 3000
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2012 Items That You'll See More Of In 2013

Some news signals an end, and other items signal starts of trends. HP probably won't be shedding 43 percent of its market cap in 2013. The HPA/3000 emulator has already had its only debut. But some other 2012 developments will continue to evolve this year to make the 3000 ecosystem appear changed and fresh.

Crystal-ballSupport interests will continue to make a clear path for indie providers. The HP 3000 owners and the system's managers will move even further away from HP-supplied support contracts, even for hardware. In many of the cases where we've uncovered HP support in a 3000 environment, it's the HP hardware such as disk units that remains under the umbrella of a site-wide service agreement. HP continues to move farther away from a comfort point with spare parts -- something that doesn't worry indie support companies.

It might be commonplace, but HP's exit isn't yet universal. Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions told us that when he does run across HP trying to sell 3000 support, "it’s on a sales office-by-sales office basis, because that’s who’s doing support at this point. When you get your supported equipment list from HP today, there’s three things on it. HP’s being very selective about what they’re actually covering."

Tablet access signals a growing BYOD era for 3000s. Bringing Your Own Device creates new management issues for system administrators, but even HP 3000 users want to connect to the server via tablets and iOS phones. Allegro Consultants came out with the first management tool to collect 3000 data via an iPhone, iAdmin. Managers traded techniques on connecting to a 3000 via Telnet. As tablets replace laptops, expect to hear more about BYOD as it relates to MPE.

Archival servers for 3000 services continue to emerge. Even though 3000s were pulled out of production service in 2012, a company's need for an MPE server to run historical data remains on hand. The vendors who invested in many a 3000 to create and maintain products, or those in the support business, are keen to run archival versions of those servers. We saw AICS move into archival service during 2012, after that vendor spent decades selling QueryCalc. The Support Group, Fresche Legacy (nee Speedware), and many others will host your 3000 code and data. There will be even more of these vendors in 2013, expanding the concept of offsite-but-important 3000s, linked well beyond the old-school timesharing roots of MPE.

MPE expertise will become more available, ready and willing for contracting. One 3000 customer wanted to contact prospective contractors to manage a 3000 installation in December. We found dozens of them with just a simple notice to the 3000-L newsgroup and a story in the Newswire. The prospects ranged in size from companies booking several millions of dollars in business to individuals who weren't certain how much longer their employers would be using the HP 3000.

This would be a good place to look back at our predictions for the 3000 world of 2012. We did pretty well with the trio of developments we could see in the near future: Decommissioning, emulation and virtualization, and computing in the cloud. Those latter two showed some prospects for combination, but that mash-up remains a coming-in-2013 story.

Emulation was the biggest story of 2012, and it didn't take much crystal ball mojo to see that one coming. We didn't predict a freeware version of HPA/3000, but it's good news for a community pinched by budget restraints to see a better bridge to any 3000's tomorrow, even if that 3000 is being migrated. A freeware emulator product gives the community the best way to see a pilot in production.