Adminstrator to Architect, Aided by 3000s
July 12, 2017
LinkedIn reminded me today that Randy Stanfield has moved up in the IT management at Vertiv Corporation. The company in Carrolton, Texas is a Fortune 500 firm with 8,700 employees, $8.3 billion in revenue, a leading provider of packaging, print and paper, publishing, facility solutions and logistics. Stanfield has been there for 20 years, working with HP 3000s and going beyond the MPE/iX engines to broader fields.
Prior to that you can read in his LinkedIn profile other 3000 shop experience. Amfac, Wilson Business Products, places where MPE/iX and its resources made companies much smaller than Veritiv run smooth.
Managing HP 3000s can build a special kind of bedrock for a career. When you read the rest of the company description for Veritiv it sounds like the 3000's missions for the last 20 years. "To serve customers across virtually every industry – including more than half of our fellow Fortune 500 companies. We don’t just encourage an entrepreneurial spirit, we embody it."
The company also has an eye out for the future. Back in May, Stanfield said the company needed a plan that reached out farther than 2027. It's the kind of mission an architect takes on, a move away from the four high-end N-Class servers working at Veritiv. Ensuring value for money gets amplified while replacing HP's 3000 hardware for a long run. "We don't need to ignore the issue of hardware," Stanfield said while investigating migration partners. "We need to put together a better long term plan than staying on the HP 3000 for more than 10 years."
The decade to come might be the final one for the MPE/iX, although it's pretty certain some companies will keep 3000s in service beyond 2028. The issue isn't a CALENDAR workaround; we're pretty sure the market will see that emerge in 2027, or maybe sooner. The requirement that can move any company, no matter how devoted they're been to 3000-style computing, is application savvy. Whoever will be supporting MANMAN in 2028 is likely to have that market to themselves. By some accounts, MANMAN only has a handful of working experts left in the market.
Architects like Stanfield, who come from 3000 bedrock, will understand that moving away from such MPE/iX apps takes patience and detailed study. They'll benefit from application expertise while they migrate, too. Stanfield had a list of questions for the 3000 community architects who've already migrated, to help in re-architecting Veritiv's IT.
1. What system did you convert to (Unix/Windows/Linux)?
2. What system did you convert from(HP3000 A-class/N-class?) and how busy was the system? Number of users?
3. Are you still running that system?
4. Did you convert to using the Eloquence DB?
5. Performance after conversion: good or bad?
6. Any Do's or Don't's?
7. Primary Code base (Speedware/Powerhouse/Cobol/Fortran)? Amount of code converted?
The issue might look like needing to be off the system before MPE/iX stops date-keeping in 2028. But as another savvy veteran of application services said to me this week, "The experts will fix the date issue, but it will be too late—because the app always drives the ecosystem, not the hardware or OS."
One takeaway from that prediction is a homespun app suite stands a greater chance of remaining in service by 2028. The IT manager has long been told that applications can be peeled off into production like aces off a deck of cards. As much as software's commodity future has been promised, though, there's always been customization. Some IT pro must stay available to IT to tend to those modifications of commodity software. Those kind of mods are not the same kind of problem the MANMAN user faces, where source code mods will kick some systems offline on the day all of the MANMAN experts finally retire.
However, future-proofing IT goes beyond choosing a commodity solution. Most companies will want to be "shaping our systems and processes to support a successful and sustainable future," like Veritiv says in its mission statement. Systems and processes were at the heart of the 3000's initial business success. The experience is good bedrock to build a future upon.