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Candidate Carly looms like 3000 migrations

Carly on the Trail3000 community pundits and veterans will say Hewlett-Packard's pushing the server off its price lists was inevitable. Today that migration slog seems to hold the same charms as the just-announced candidacy of the HP CEO during that era: Carly Fiorina.

Announcing her run for the presidency will assure Fiorina of much attention, from the requisite Secret Service detail to a raft of coverage about being a female candidate running against another inevitability, Hillary Clinton. The attention will continue to mount upon her term at the HP helm, though, a period that even her fellow Republicans struggle to present as a success.

The similarities between government politics and tech business politics are now in the spotlight, though. Computerworld was writing a story about the intersection today.

Regarding the US presidency, citizens and voters can't go back for more Barack Obama. The 3000 owners couldn't go back for more servers after HP stopped making the computers in 2003, either. Everybody must move on from our current president, just like Fiorina's HP forced the 3000 owners to move away. So very many have moved. But so very few are using any HP product to replace their 3000 operations.

Showing off the hubris that would be echoed in her other attempts, first business and then political, Fiorina's HP alleged in 2002 that more than 4 of 5 customers would be off MPE within four years. Counting the unfinished or un-funded migration projects, close to 4 in 5 customers remained on MPE and the 3000 when that four-year-deadline rolled past. It was more complicated to curtail 3000 computing, just like it'll be complicated for Fiorina to paint her 5-plus HP years as a success.

But that doesn't mean she won't try. However, as the San Jose Mercury News wrote in an editorial, “She takes the Silicon Valley motto that it’s ‘OK to fail’ a tad too literally.” The paper's calling for more women in politics – except Carly Fiorina. The 3000 community only seems to embrace Fiorina's latest political jitney romp as an alternative in the last resort to a Hillary Clinton presidency.

"Killing the HP 3000 was a small pittance compared to the disaster she did to HP," said EchoTech's Craig Lalley today. "No, I would not vote for Carly. But then again, if the two final candidates are Carly and Hillary..."

Fiorina has inspired vitriol that remains vivid a decade after she left HP. It's hate for unneeded change coming from her detractors among HP customers. "I'd hate to think of her doing to the country what she did to HP," said Ted Johnson on the 3000 newsgroup this afternoon. 

Johnson was one of many around the country today who pointed to a web page that was filled with frowning emoticons. 30,000 of them, the number that Michael Link, assistant director of digital strategy at the Service Employees International Union, says Fiorina laid off at HP. Link adds that Fiorina said she'd only change one thing about those layoffs today: "I would've done them all faster."

A story in the Guardian said the oversight of grabbing such an obvious domain could hurt Fiorina's fundraising.

A campaign team that fails to purchase all permutations of its candidate’s name as even a potential redirected domain is not likely to have repercussions with voters directly, said Peter Shankman, a marketing expert and author of the book Zombie Loyalists. But it might be a more serious problem for backers trying to decide which horse to bankroll in the upcoming election.

“The people who are donating money will look at that as a clear warning sign,” he said. “It’s like spelling something wrong on a cover letter or a resume.”

3000 reseller John Lee said, "If I recall correctly, she didn't kill the 3000, one of her predecessors did. She could have revived it though. Instead, she bought Lear Jets and Compaq. And then tried to follow IBM and Perot Systems by forming a Services group?"

The jets were a sore thumb of a reality, but killing off the 3000 did happen on Fiorina's watch. She joined the company in the summer of 1999, when the vendor was still on the cusp of carrying the 3000 across the Y2K chasm. No killing of 3000s was done deliberately in a period when every customer was shouldering a bigger IT budget, and dot-coms were elevating customer count.

Fiorina claims that HP was a laggard in the computer industry when she arrived, but the company has the ninth-oldest web domain in the world. Where the company lagged was in low-profit computer sales. The Compaq buy-up took care of that lag, even while it drove off those tens of thousands of employees. 

Amid the reports on the reality of Fiorina's tenure — a time when HP nearly doubled its revenue but saw its profits drop by one-third, a time when she was sued by both the board of directors as well as the son of HP founder Bill Hewlett — there's some gallows humor afoot, too. HP was big on ending the 3000 while she served, after all.

"I'm ready to know this," said one 3000 manager who didn't want his name used. "When does Carly announce the End of Life for her bid?"