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So now it's 50 years

3000's legacy tales now include tax fraud

From the 1980s onward, one software vendor was able to go toe-to-toe with Hewlett-Packard. A recent verdict from a US federal court shows the vendor used a win at all costs approach: cheating.

The Lund Performance Solutions still include a defragmentation product, Defrag/iX, for HP 3000 servers. That software is now sold by its creators, Allegro Consultants. Defragging a 3000 disk set becomes important when B-tree links clutter. But measuring and adjusting 3000 systems performance was a higher-stakes game starting from the 1980s. Now it looks like the stakes were high for Robert Lund, the founder of the vendor who faces a sentence for nearly 30 years of tax fraud.

The news convicting a 3000 vendor of a federal crime is not unique. During the years of the early Noughts, executives of HardwareHouse and Computech earned jail convictions for illegal transfer of HP 3000 hardware licenses. The cause was so celeb that another 3000 vendor, Phoenix 3000, tried to shoo away business that was going to the illegally licensed systems and their brokers.

The story of the tax fraud reads like an epic out of the excesses of the Eighties. A private landing strip, a 7,000-square-foot home, a trailer park with rentals, a health food store, and Medicaid fraud are among the details in a US Attorney’s press release. “On his food stamp and Medicaid applications, Lund boldly claimed to be a part-time handyman earning just $810 a month. In total, Lund stole approximately $70,000 in public benefits, most of which were paid by the federal government.”

The maximum sentence Lund faces is a 27-year prison term and a $950,000 fine. He’s making restitution payments of $1.7 million to the IRS.

Lock-in brings profiting

Some legacy systems owners might remember heady days when such software seemed to come at soaring prices. Systems were captive to vendor hardware like the 3000 and the rest of the HP Enterprise server line. Excesses are accepted, begrudgingly. Once the hardware gets moved to a non-essential track, though, the pricing from commodity markets starts to settle in. There is still lock in with legacy. It starts and ends with the operating system, though.

Lund was a powerful resource for hardware resellers. Proving a system was maxed out meant replacement systems, or at least memory upgrades. Meta-View from Lund measures 3000 system horsepower. HP has its own entry in that performance derby, Perfview. Many managers were skeptical about any performance reporting software from a hardware vendor selling new systems.

Lund’s clients included large businesses, school districts, and health care companies located throughout the US. After an indictment charged Lund with tax evasion, failure to file personal income tax returns, obstructing or impeding the IRS, and theft of government funds, Lund settled in a plea agreement. He will hear his sentence on Oct. 21.

Legacy was big business compared to Intel-based servers during the 1980s. That was the era when many legacy owners took their systems online. Then the x86 architecture gained its speed as well as commodity advantages. There remain many legacy programs that deserve continued investment from owners. The need for special performance measurement isn’t among those, now that Intel servers can work as if they were HP legacy hardware systems.