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HP Ready to Renew VMS, Like It Did for You

Even after HP stopped making HP 3000s in 2003, it did not stop selling the servers. No, not those holdover orders placed at the end of '03, computers which were not delivered until the spring of 2004. Cast your memory back to 2005 and 2006, when servers and their MPE licenses were advertised from the company's used computer unit, HP Renew.

SoyonaraNow there's another chapter to this song of sayonara. Customers using OpenVMS systems built on Integrity can buy older machines from HP Renew. "HP Renew helps you to develop, migrate or augment your IT infrastructure at your own pace, without impacting efficiency," says its website. The Integrity 9300 series i2 blades and rackmount servers are on sale, only slightly used.

HP 3000s are not offered in HP Renew any longer. They once were, at the same time as independent resellers and brokers sold this iron. HP iron is "the monkey on your back," according to virtualization vendor Stromasys. You get the monkey off by going to Intel servers that run Linux, and then MPE in that cradle. The monkey is PA-RISC servers.

But the vendor still sells HP 9000 PA-RISC systems through HP Renew, servers built with identical hardware as the HP 3000 iron. There's an HP-UX license sold with these HP 9000s, computers that are 10 years behind HP's latest HP-UX Integrity servers. Today the HP 3000 iron, with its discs of varying age, comes from the resale markets. You get them from vendors like Pivital Solutions (one of the last authorized 3000 resellers), or the MPE Support Group, or even on eBay. HP's turned away from the 3000 customer, as it will for nearly all of them except those who use industry standard environments. Right now that looks like it will be Linux and Windows -- but we're not that certain about the latter, for the longest run.

Whatever the length of its promises which have passed away, the current HP CEO has passed on an ideal that HP never did lose its customer focus. At a recent conference, Meg Whitman gave a speech that concocted a company that would never leave a customer out of its heart. OpenVMS users have already been told their OS will be left off of the next generation of Itanium. There's no other chip that runs OpenVMS, just like no other iron will run HP-UX. Oh, except those 10-year-old PA-RISC systems. Is that resold iron better than nothing when a customer needs a replacement system?

Speaking as the keynoter at the Nth Generation Symposium -- at Disneyland, no less -- the CEO said

Customers have always been at the heart of HP. We're one of the only companies, maybe the only company, equally strong in devices, infrastructure and services.

But the unraveling of strong strands with customers has already begun for VMS. HP is demonstrating it's not strong enough to pull OpenVMS into the next generation of Itanium. It's a path similar to the one the vendor took for MPE and the HP 3000, failing to keep a HP-created business server relevant.

Relevance is even more important than being at the heart of HP. Relevance is like being in the soul of a vendor's futures, maybe even in its DNA. The HP 3000 was probably only at HP's heart for about 7 years -- that period before the rise of Windows and Unix, when a customized and proprietary OS was the way to keep customers strong. Like IBM's continued to do with its System i. You might know it as AS/400, as its loyal customers do.

But such vendor-loyal customers aside, then the rest of the HP customers are "at the heart of HP." She said that HP's focus on customers was always a part of the corporate DNA, something she said came from Bill and Dave. "Despite the acquisitions, the boardroom drama, it's hard to kill the culture," she said. And then added that since the company was founded, it is hard to kill the DNA of its founders.

That's an ideal that would be a genuine way for HP to Renew.