Wayback Wed: HP's Oracle-MPE discounts for 3000s hoped to spark new applications
October 12, 2016
Go back 20 years this week in the history of the 3000 and you'll find cheaper Oracle as a lure for application growth on MPE. Hewlett-Packard sank human resources and money into making Oracle a more attractive and affordable option for 3000 owners. By October, 1996 the pursuit of new applications was at its most ardent peak. HP would bring down the cost per seat of Oracle 7 by 25 percent just to get a company to install it on a new HP 3000. What the deal was seeking was places where Oracle might sell into a community that grew strong on IMAGE/SQL.
The deal, plus Oracle's applications, was trying to overcome three barriers to implementing Oracle. First, sites had data in IMAGE databases with no straightforward way in 1996 to move that information to Oracle's format. Second, site managers experienced higher management demands while using Oracle on other platforms. Finally, the price barrier for purchasing a second HP 3000 database (since IMAGE was bundled, even in 1996 after HP's efforts to split it off) kept sites from adding Oracle to their database mix.
HP's offer reduced one portion of the last hurdle. It offered Oracle's 7.2.3 version to 3000 sites at prices starting at under $1,200 per seat with an eight-seat minimum. Purchasing Oracle for an HP 3000 for under $10,000 hadn't been possible before. The price per seat increased based on HP's CPU tiers—the $9,600 price was available only for the lowest HP 3000 tier.
Oracle was always at arm's length from the 3000 user base, though. During the 1990s when HP was promoting HP-UX as a complete enterprise solution, the many Unix-based apps relied on Oracle foremost. In the middle 1980s, when Oracle was just rising up, a VP of market development asked me, "Why would I want to offer a database to a market where they already have a free, bundled database?" The question was a good one that never got a good enough answer for existing customers. HP and its Oracle allies had a good answer, but it was one that didn't matter much to the installed 3000 base.
We summed up HP's motivation on behalf of all customers with two words.
Applications available. Those two words have been harder to associate with the HP 3000 over the past few years, as companies continue to press their systems into service for new business needs. Implementing Oracle on the HP 3000 gives sites a path to the collection of Oracle-written applications for the HP 3000. It's another way to let companies continue to host programs natively under MPE.
Oracle has lined up its applications of Internet Commerce (an EDI gateway) financials for government sites and other enterprises, human resources, project control, manufacturing, and data warehouses in its stable. The 10.6.1 version of these hit the 3000 market this month. The latest improvement in the Oracle application saga is the use of "smart clients," which balance the logic an application needs between clients and the HP 3000. SmartClient is supposed to keep network traffic down while your clients remain completely responsive.