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Building manufacturer joins MPE, Windows

MDFPlenty of migration stories put HP 3000s to rest, either outside of the production circle or off the premises entirely. At Victor S. Barnes, which fabricates plastics, MDF, and fiberboards, the MPE/iX server which continues to run does both kinds of duty. It's an archival system, but for one key client, the 3000 continues to process orders.

"As a company we have moved on to a Windows Server package to run our company," Tom Hula reports. "The HP 3000 is largely used for reference. With that said, we are still relying on the 3000 to process orders for a large customer."

The newer Windows server package doesn’t yet support the needs of that customer. When the needed changes have been made, than the 3000 will be reference only, and eventually not used at all.
The route of migrating to a package has it’s pros and cons. I would say that the largest drawback is a loss of flexibility... of having to depend on others for making needed changes, or even having to tell someone something can’t be done because of the software's constraints. On the other hand, we see the largest advantages as new capabilities on the Windows package, ones that were never going to be possible on the HP 3000.

The fine-tuning of a business application happens over decades, when a company remains stable with its IT plans. Hula took note of that kind of dedication. "I looked at moving our old applications to a new platform," he said, "but we are talking about home grown systems created in the late 70’s and early 80’s."

The day will arrive when a good reason surfaces for turning off an older system. It's not easy to think of one for Hula's company immediately. MPE hardware is not tough to find, and not expensive, either. The custom-built application doesn't have to serve the needs of more than one customer. When those new Windows capabilities become essential to serving the large client, a full migration will happen. At that point, the IT manager will have to quell the desire to direct application changes — because replacement software packages are changed by the vendor, not the customer. It's the vendor's schedule that controls the app growth.

Every company juggles resource requirements. An HP 3000 needs someone like Hula to ensure the server's stability. He'd probably tell you he's not had much cause to intervene with MPE/iX production during 2015. In-house apps can be the hardest to replace, because of experts like Hula who understood the company and its practices, as well as the line of business.