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October 30, 2014


The formula above translates into an appeal for budget reporting. IT managers of HP 3000s can complete this formula. YOLO is the ubiquitous You Only Live Once, sometimes broadcast in a tattoo. When added to 3000 IT managers' experiences, the formula may yield some of the most crucial costs of the CHARON virtualization engine for emulation.

Elder-tattoosThe daring of YOLO is required because there's plenty at stake, even at MPE's advanced age. 3000 owners are often working with reduced budgets. Cost-effective computing is one good reason why the MPE/iX apps survive in a company. But some managers could acknowlege you'll only live once through homesteading your MPE/iX applications. It's not the hardware you're saving with Charon. The operating environment, your TurboIMAGE/SQL data, and the apps with their software helpers -- those are the orphans being rescued from any failing HP-branded computer.

So it figures that managers with nothing to lose can help other homesteaders get better information on the costs to virtualize. Costs can be fatal to a project. Many managers know they have something significant at stake: their relations with the software vendors who supply the help for HP 3000 operations. Surround code, it's been called. Some vendors are everywhere, like Robelle, Adager, Vesoft, PowerHouse, and so on. Add in the suppliers of key data transfer tools such as MB Foster. Everybody's got virtualization licensing practices in mind, if not executed yet.

The above list of vendors can include a show-stopper, by some customer reports. PowerHouse products, even something as fundamental as Quiz reports, have still been quoted at rates that can shelve a virtualization project. We recently heard about one at a 3000 manufacturer. The COSTINFO specifics were not forwarded. But in a budget-conscious community like the 3000's, even such prices in the low five figures can cause a HALT.

Then there's the manager whose operational best practices include lowering a profile with vendors. "I'm not old enough to retire," we often hear -- meaning that high visibility on vendors' radars could invite higher costs. Not good for any career built on economic prowess. No, not every vendor operates by watching for such an extra-fee opportunity. But enough do; some can be hungry for back-support revenues when they bring a customer back onto vendor support. Then there are the applications. Update fees for virtualizing an Ecometry installation, or something from the Infor stable of manufacturing apps, are not common-enough knowledge. Not for HP users.

We have battled to learn the figures for a forward-motion project that puts MPE/iX onto fresh, Intel hardware. The costs for the Stromasys software are always going to be obvious to a prospective customer. This exercise starts with an emulator price. Where the community can be helped is with all other software costs.

For example, there's no official pricing from Infor for moving MANMAN to the Charon-virtualized 3000. Each such migration -- it's really a transfer -- is being managed on a case by case basis, according to Infor's Jeff Straw. He's the manager who sometimes appeared before customers at events such as CAMUS meetings, explaining how MANMAN would go forward. More than three decades after it rolled out, MANMAN is still running some companies. Good things die hard.

Things have changed a great deal in the 30-plus years I've covered the HP 3000. Not just the technology. The changes have come from strategy and operations management. People used to be glad to go on the record and share what they knew. Pricing was always sensitive, of course. I remember frustration about getting prices for minicomputer software, during an era when PC programs were priced in public. Going public with what you know is now a business decision not often taken. Legal departments get involved. And in today's markets, vendors can negotiate a no-talking rule to keep the dealing on the down-low.

That's easy to understand and a valid way to cut the price on any product. You fly in a jet and sit among a hundred passengers with probably 50 different seat prices. But it's early days for the flight plan of selling emulation and virtualization for 3000 servers. OpenVMS managers have had Charon powering their applications for more than a decade. The practices and even some costs of doing what one customer called an "update" -- those are better known by now.

One successful IT manager says that flying a pattern under the update radar is good business. "I'm doing my best to keep my profile low with the software vendors," he said. He didn't want to be on the record about that. "That's been my policy for the past 15 years. And I'm not ready to retire yet." Such an impending retirement might be what's needed to trigger a YOLO attitude and complete the formula.

06:18 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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