Looking Forward from a Peaceful Wake
HP 3000 software license transfer: still $400

3000s a-Wake, become Saints, then Souls

SoulAngelsI grew up a Catholic boy, right down to serving Mass at an altar. The start of November was holiday time for us, even through we might have to don our cassocks and surplices and sacrifice part of our days off. While our church was doing Mass in Latin, both Nov. 1 and 2 were days off from school. The first one was All Saints Day, the second All Souls.

This is the time of the year when the dead are celebrated in story. Last night, while I took our little granddaughters to Trick or Treat, there were plenty of zombie costumes around. Some MPE servers might as well be zombies, for all their attributes: they're tough to kill and survive on brains. And even cannibalize each other, as the older 3000s give up their parts for those still roaming the earth.

But despite the anniversary of the World Wide Wake yesterday, the 3000 has become more of a saint in some places, as well as a great soul in many others. A saint can't be annointed until he or she has passed away. Then they live in heaven and inspire us all, plus have a special gift. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. St. Joseph is the patron saint of workers, patronage that he shares with a computer that "just works," as so many of its fans say.

Apple Product SalesBut when someone or something becomes a saint they fade from the mortal realm. They join a pantheon of holy entities. Some might call the 3000 a saint because of this. It's happening to Apple's Mac, too, or at least its operating system. If Mac OS can head toward sainthood, then another OS based on Unix is on its way, too. HP wrapped up its fiscal year yesterday. Apple released share numbers for its lines of business this week. Both periods showed that once-critical platforms are being dwarfed by newer business lines. The Mac is maintaining its sales numbers but has a smaller percentage than in Apple's sales mix. Every HP quarter, including the once that just ended, that's also true of the Integity Business Critical Systems unit. Oh, except for the maintaining the numbers part of that statement.

As a Mac manager, and an HP reporter, I'm here to note that if you're not finishing as a saint, then your fate is to become a soul. It's not so bad, especially if you get devotion and prayer cards for your protection.

HP might not be protecting its Integrity business like it once did. The roar of Unix was once so loud at HP that its CEO gave the OS a Valentine's speech. Lew Platt was reaching out for business when he spoke at Uniforum in 1996. "Good morning, Unix lovers," he began. "I don't use that term because it's Valentine's Day, but because Unix is near and dear to my heart.

As well as to HP's bottom line, way back then. It's hard to imagine that Platt gave a talk eight years earlier with the title Maintaining Momentum: Can Unix Make It? HP was serious enough about that momentum that it spent much of the '90s feeding 3000 customers into its Unix ovens. Those were the days when Windows was little more than a Microsoft experiment, instead of today's dominant business platform.

Apple released that chart that showed the trend of its business growth over the last two years. You might want to dismiss a Mac as a consumer platform. But I think the only genuine consumer platform today are the $100 Android tablets sold as movie viewers and Pandora players. Companies are running their businesses on phones -- at a certain size of enterprise.

BCS-HP-rev-shareIf HP were to make such a chart, one of its most recent bars would look like the one at the left. Notice that tiny slice of HP's revenues? Look hard, because it's been diminishing by about 10-20 percent per quarter. That's the business that drives a great OS, Unix. HP's giving in to Linux on that front, as slowly as Apple is creeping on Macs. There's a difference, though. A new release of the Mac OS, Mavericks, brings us Mac managers even closer to the white-hot business of Apple, mobile iOS.

Is HP pushing HP-UX toward its own next-generation products, the ones that make up the biggest and growing share of business? (Oops, sorry: HP's business isn't growing, except for a few pockets that remain to be identified. We'll hear about the pockets in a few weeks.) Enterprise servers won't become printers, and the growth at HP isn't in any environment, but the total HP experience. It's just that you can't get month-end reports done with an experience at the heart of the datacenter.

Mavericks will make Mac OS better in some ways, but the best attribute is that it brings our environment closer to the corporate love, the kind Platt expressed. HP's Unix hasn't experienced its Wake, but one Integrity facet will shine less bright before long: OpenVMS. For the DEC faithful it'll be a saint, and perhaps even inhabit a successor as a soul. The 3000's soul lives on in MPE when the OS runs on an emulated platform.

Is it All Souls Day tomorrow, the time we take to honor the departed? HP's business of unique environments is departing, one customer base at a time. Take a moment to appreciate the HP 3000 computer's afterlife. It is providing the holy card to clutch and read in the future, when the living environments pass through their wake, to be saints, or maybe only souls.