The latest news about cloud computing for HP 3000s came from Stromasys. The company selling the Charon virtualizer (many think of it as an emulator) announced a new bundled offer as well as announcing that any public cloud can run Charon. Sites that employ the Oracle Cloud to host their virtualization systems get un-metered cloud services as part of that deal with Stromasys. Oracle Cloud is one of the newer players in the cloud market. There's no place to go but up in market share for Oracle Cloud, carving out its business among providers dominated by Amazon's Web Services.
Emulating HP 3000 servers, however, is a job that's not often suited for a shared Intel-based server. There are exceptions, like light-duty 3000s or those in archival mode. Those are the best profiles for 3000s in the cloud running Charon, according to the Stromasys HP Product Manager Doug Smith. 3000 A-Class systems — Stromasys calls this Charon model the A520 — can be run from the cloud.
Many of the cloud's typical servers make memory and CPUs available on an as-needed basis, swapping processor power and RAM in and out. This is in contrast to dedicating a highly-threaded CPU and all available memory to a task like emulation. "Charon requires dedicated resources," Smith said. "If I say I need a 3.5 GHz CPU response, then I need that 3.5 GHz in the host itself, not being shared among other virtual machines."
It's safe to say there are 3000s in our community that are good candidates for a cloud profile. A-Class systems running the one last MPE application, some app still critical to a datacenter, for example. Better to have this sort of foolproof hardware service chain using virtualization, instead of stocking redundant 3000 memory sticks. (The better option to stay with the 3000 hardware from HP is an independent support company.)
The cloud — a term that doesn't have much traction for classic 3000 pros like Smith — might evolve to the point where dedicated CPU performance at any level could become affordable. Not even Hewlett-Packard knew how to price and sell its HP Cloud so its Unix customers could host datacenters in the cloud. Integrity chips were the next generation of PA-RISC, so emulating any chipset with that pedigree is no small matter. Smith, like any other analyst in IT, considers dedicated performance from a public cloud as cost-prohibitive.
Any company can arrange to use an offsite, networked host for MPE/iX apps. This seems more like timesharing to the 3000 pros than Infrastructure as a Service. Cloud computing is supposed to reduce costs, and it does so by sharing resources. Sharing is not a great match for emulation at multiple levels. When you use a VMware host to create the Linux cradle on one level, which then virtualizes PA-RISC with Charon, that's a more intense CPU requirement than public clouds can handle. Pull out the VMware and you're fine for a smaller datacenter.
Cloud computing users definitely are shifting their expenditures from capital expenses to operating expenses. OpEx can be easier to place in a budget than CapEx, especially for legacy systems like the 3000. We'll never see a day when there's no more CapEx spending in datacenters like those in the 3000 world. OpEx is on the rise, but like the Paperless Office of the 1980s strategies, CapEx will always have some benefits. One is the constantly dropping cost of HP's hardware, if you can arrange for enough backup components and parts.
"The big thing is that customers now have a lot of choice," Hoysa added. "We know people are moving to a wide range of public clouds. We're making our solution on all of those public clouds." Dave Clements of Stromasys said the company's got an insurance firm running Charon in the Microsoft's Azure cloud, for example. It's not a 3000 site. The cloud is all potential for 3000s today.
There are all the software and license arrangements needed to put a 3000 onto any of those public clouds using Charon. Stromasys went to a software-based licensing arrangement two years ago, so the need for a USB stick with HPSUSAN data has been swept aside. The 3000 customers using N-Class systems might have an interest in cloud computing in the future. For now, however, Smith said the security, control, and command of on-premise hardware is preferred by larger manufacturers. The interest has been from smaller manufacturing companies.
It's safe to say—given the competition for customers among a growing rank of cloud companies, we will never see a future with zero HP 3000 cloud computers. It's coming, and companies like Oracle will drive down pricing in ways we've never imagined. The 3000 datacenters will hang on long enough to see that day, because you can never say never when it comes to failures of hardware that's 14 years old and aging.