Newest HP song of server exits same as old
How 8 Years of Web Reports Changed Lives

The Last 5 Percent, and Toughest Surprises

HomeguidesFor more than 10 weeks now, the offices and headquarters of the 3000 Newswire have been under siege. We're doing battle with a project, the largest one that Abby and I have ever faced together -- since launching the Newswire, at least. We're re-engineering our home with a whole-house remodel. This afternoon, our general contractor said "Well, you're basically rebuilding your home, except for two rooms."

It started more simply, of course. A little patch of the house, which serves as a yoga studio and writing classroom, had its older wood floor ruined in a flooding rain nearly two years ago. The rot crept in and so it became time to replace it. This might be the kind of "it's broken" event that triggered a migration or two -- back in the days when living in the comfy house of MPE built by HP was still an option. When Hewlett-Packard tossed its pail of water onto the floor of your community, the vendor started off its campaign with success stories about transitions.

Sadly, these were as disingenuous as the ones HP offered to VMS customers this week. At the same time it was tolling the bell for its VMS business, HP's added that OpenVMS is great enough to power Accuweather and the Singapore Stock Exchange. Except the vendor doesn't want Accuweather to run on OpenVMS more than seven years longer -- because the OS support is not scheduled to survive beyond 2020, according to HP's decree. Perhaps just long enough to collect support money for another seven years. After one VMS user noted that Accuweather was an old story placed in odd context, said Neil Rieck,

Yes, that Accuweather blurb in the middle of the announcement was very much like a corporate version of the Jedi-hand-wave ("These are not the droids you are looking for.") In HP's case "we have no intentions of spending another cent on OpenVMS, but continue feeling good while running a has-been OS." What I'd be more interested in finding out is how the Singaporean stock exchange --- which only a few months ago moved to VMS --- is feeling right now.

We heard similar stories in 2002 about the likes of Ceridian and even Summit Technologies' Spectrum credit union software. Neither company was on the timeline of the 3000 community, but yes, they had done migrations. One company started six years before HP's announcement, and the other began more than two years earlier and then didn't finish for another three years. Meanwhile, 3000 server sales continued apace. People bought new HP 3000s even after HP's announcement, because their floors of IT with antique servers were rotted. They wanted to stop at that level of their project, however.

So here at Newswire Headquarters we're weathering the last five percent of a project that will require more than three months of displacement, losses and unexpected expense. Unlike the efforts that migrators are making, all we're doing is working to keep open three businesses' offices -- the Newswire and our Something Elses, Heartfelt Yoga and the Writer's Workshop. The project was something that we asked for, which makes it easier to bear than any migration that might have been needed, but was never desired. As anyone who's done a migration or a Y2K project will concur, that last 5 percent of something large takes four times as much energy. You're worn down after weeks, or months, or even years. 

Our salvation -- and perhaps yours and one for the VMS faithful -- is to act in phases.

Our project came in at an astonishing initial budget. We could never hope to succeed with that kind of beginning, because anything this big only expands its expenses. There's the unforseen and under-estimated in improving anything beautiful, elegant and old. We loved the praise for our house's pre-transition look. Unique and purposeful and a statement about us as artists and creators: those are the things we rolled around in, when we thought of the value of our house.

So with a colossal budget at our start, we divided up the dreams. Like perhaps a lift-and-shift, and then a revitalization, and finally a re-engineering, we had Phases 1, 2 and 3. Master Suite, Kitchen, and All Else, they became known as, concurrent with a Phase independent of all, pool and landscape. Connecting all the interior parts was the flooring. Yes, the floor that started it all.

The VMS community, like yours that precedes it, will probably look out over the next 7 years and divide the time similarly. The period to stock up with the latest hardware. That's a time to start the analysis and inventory of what's running their companies, toting up every VMS system that's far less obvious than a weather forecasting website. Then the necessary effort of replacement, pushing their Itanium and PA-RISC servers into archival and emulated modes, respectively.

For some in the 3000 community, who are now homesteading as their best business choice, there will come a day when the pail of water hits their wood floors. They have the advantage of expertise from migration services companies, better tools than a decade ago, plus the sympathies and cautions of everyone who's already done it. It won't make the last 5 percent easy to accomplish. But knowing that others have survived a calculated calamity helps you sleep on the nights like this evening, when there are no doors hung on the jambs of our house, and the scent of oil paint is heavy in the air.