A Day That Will Always Be Marked in Red


Back in 2005, November was still a month bleeding in the red ink of memory. You can use shorthand and say "November 2001." Or you can say the day that HP's 3000 music died. The date of November 14, 2001 still marks the start of the post-HP era for MPE/iX as well as the 3000 hardware HP sold. It took another two years to stop selling the PA-RISC servers the company had just revamped with new models months before the exit-the-market announcement. PCI-based N-Class and A-Class, the market hardly knew ye before you were branded as legacy technology.

For a few years, I stopped telling this story on the anniversary, but in 2005 I cut a podcast about the history of this enterprise misstep. HP lost its faith in 2001 but the customers hadn't lost theirs and the system did not lose its life. Not after November 14 and even not today. Not a single server has been manufactured since late 2003, and even that lack of new iron hasn't killed MPE/iX. The Stromasys emulator Charon will keep the OS running in production even beyond the January 2028 date MPE/iX is supposed to stop keeping accurate dates. 

Red Letter Days were so coined because they appeared on church calendars in red. They marked the dates set aside for saints. In 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer included a calendar with holy days marked in red ink; for example, Annunciation (Lady Day), 25th March. These were high holy days and holidays. The HP 3000 came into HP's product line during a November in 1972. November is a Happening read the banners in the HP Data Systems Division. No day of that month was specified, but you might imagine it was November 14, 1972. That was a Tuesday, while the 2001 date fell on a Wednesday. A total of 1,508 weeks of HP faith.

Something important happened in that other November of 29 years later. Hewlett-Packard sent its customers into independent mode. Those who remained faithful have had a day to mark each year, logging the number of years they've created their own future. It's 20 and counting as of this year.

It's always a red letter day today

You can use shorthand and say "November 2001." Or you can say the day that HP's 3000 music died. November 14 still marks the start of the post-HP era for MPE/iX as well as the 3000 hardware HP sold. It took another two years to stop selling the PA-RISC servers the company had just revamped with new models months before the exit-the-market announcement. PCI-based N-Class and A-Class, the market hardly knew ye before you were branded as legacy technology.

For a few years I stopped telling this story on the anniversary, but 12 years ago I cut a podcast about the history of this enterprise misstep. (Listen by clicking the graphic above) HP lost its faith in 2001 but the customers hadn't lost theirs and the system did not lose its life. Not after November 14 and even not today. Not a single server has been manufactured since late 2003, and even that lack of new iron hasn't killed MPE/iX. The Stromasys emulator Charon will keep the OS running in production even beyond the January 2028 date MPE/iX is supposed to stop keeping accurate dates. 

Red Letter Days were so coined because they appeared on church calendars in red. They marked the dates set aside for saints. In 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer included a calendar with holy days marked in red ink; for example, Annunciation (Lady Day), 25th March. These were high holy days and holidays. The HP 3000 came into HP's product line on a November in 1972. November is a Happening read the banners in the HP Data Systems Division. No day of that month was specified, but you might imagine it was November 14, 1972. That was a Tuesday, while the 2001 date fell on a Wednesday. A total of 1,508 weeks of HP interest.

Something important happened in that other November of 29 years later. Hewlett-Packard sent its customers into independent mode. Those who remained faithful have had a day to mark each year, logging the number of years they've created their own future. It's 17 and counting as of today.

Hear tips for MPE iron to protect and serve

Podcast: Ending the Reruns

Podcasts have become more popular than ever. We started recording and sharing stories about 3000s back in 2005 when blogs were just taking off along with the audio content that people think of as free. It's free to listeners, and the good companies sponsoring the NewsWire take care of the expenses. Thanks to the backing of firms like Pivital Solutions (support service) and Stromasys (emulation) and Hillary Software (file sharing software that's 3000-savvy) we can bring audio about MPE to you.

DDStapeI call it MPE Audio because it's told by voices, my own and those from experts in the field. Some of them gathered at this summer's 3000 Reunion. A chalk talk out there in the Bay Area, across the street from the former HP campus, examined what homesteaders need to succeed. In this case success is overcoming the age of HP's 3000 iron. And storage. And so on.

There's a new wrinkle in the watch-out category. Not that the old disks have started running more reliably. It's just that other media is a failure point too. DDS has gotten older, along with managers who know MPE. Companies are treasuring the latter. The former is turning into trash.

Still migrating after all these years

Project-scheduleI began writing about migrations only in 2001, after HP decided that moving was the way forward for 3000 folk. I already had 17 years on the 3000 beat by then. Much has happened over these last 16 years, and yet, less than you would think in some places. Companies began in earnest to move away from MPE/iX, sometimes for very good reasons. For example, if your application vendor starts sending you end-of-life warnings for your software, it's a good time to plan for a trip away from an HP 3000.

At other kinds of companies, migration seemed to be the safest way forward. Starting sooner than later was part of the 3000 ethos, too. That ethos might be one reason why some 3000 customers were working in their second decade of departing the 3000. The apps that were not broken didn't have to replaced right away, did they?

Eleven years have gone by since I produced this 8-minute podcast about one of those customers. From the very first year of the Transition Era we knew about the Speedware shop at Virginia International Terminals. VIT was a success story HP shared with its uncertain customers. VIT made the move to HP's Unix and all was well.

However, more than four years later (in 2006) not everything was moved off the 3000. Earlier this year we heard from someone at VIT about replacing their final MPE/iX app. This year. An interesting thing happened on the way to the exit. First they found the job bigger than they could handle themselves. To their credit, their IT management saw a bigger picture. Why just have a functional migrated application? You want it as efficient as it can be.

Back in 2006 VIT thought that way. It tested its migration about 18 months later than expected. Not everything made its way through that assisted migration process. VIT must have found a way to let migration pay its way, permitting a bit of functional MPE/iX to be left alone. Our 2006 podcast talks about the Why of a migration, as well as what happens when that Why changes.

Start to finish from 2002-2017 might be the longest term of any migration. A good 3000 manager doesn't care how long it takes. They care if it's done right—and on the schedule that best suits their organization. The podcast made a point back then which continues to be true. It's your calendar that matters.

Taking a Closer Look at 3000 Emulation

Emulate Rubik'sEmulation solutions have pro’s and cons. We caught up with Birket Foster this morning, after his company had suggested that emulation deserves a closer look. In our 8-minute podcast, I talked with him (over speakerphones on short notice, thank you) about how emulation really can be a solution to keep legacy applications vital. Companies, especially the small ones that still rely on MPE environments, want to protect their business investments. After all, investing in emulation solutions that can support your MPE legacy applications — well, it's critical to the future success of your organization. It can also be a key to greater efficiency, innovation and growth.

Throwback: A Zealous Emulator Wonder

ZelusFive years ago this week, Stromasys announced the launch of its project to emulate the HP 3000's hardware set. Emulation was a quest for many years before 2010, though. The OpenMPE advocacy group was founded on the pursuit of an emulator for 3000s that would not be built after 2003. By 2004, the community was hearing about the timeline for emulator development. It did not promise to be a short journey.

We revisit those days to remind our readers about a time when then-recent 3000 boxes were standing in the way of making a virtualized 3000. Our podcast for this week includes comments from one of the first emulator vendor candidates, as well as the ultimate developer of a product that marks five years on 3000 planning timelines.

Along the way, the tracks on the trail to making HP's 3000 systems virtually unneeded followed the hard road HP learned about migrations. More than half the systems that were turned off between 2003 and 2008 went to other vendors, according to one report from an emulator vendor. That period saw Hewlett-Packard lose many customers while they departed the 3000, according to the Chief Technology Officer Robert Boers.

What's remarkable about the emergence of Charon from Stromasys is the persistent dedication the vendor showed for the concept. It demands patience to be in the world of emulators. In 2004, nobody was even certain about the best release date for an emulator. HP-branded 3000s in that year were still commonplace, and all had falling price tags. By the time Charon made its debut, that hardware had become seven years older, and used systems were commonly more than a decade old. Time has not enhanced the vintage of these systems. An evergreen emulator, first announced five years ago this week, changed all of that.

Listen, COBOL is not dead yet, or even Latin

MicrophoneIt's been a good long while since we did a podcast, but I heard one from an economy reporting team that inspired today's return of our Newswire Podcasts. The often-excellent NPR Planet Money looked into why it takes so long to get money transferred from one bank to another. It's on the order of 3 days or more, which makes little sense in a world where you can get diapers overnighted to your doorstep by Amazon.

Some investigation from Planet Money's reporters yielded a bottleneck in transactions like these transfers through the Automated Clearinghouse systems in the US. And nearly all automated payments. As you might guess, the Clearinghouse is made of secret servers whose systems were first developed in the 1970s. Yeah, the 3000's birth era, and the reporting devolved into typical, mistaken simplication of the facts of tech. Once COBOL got compared to a languge nobody speaks anymore, and then called one that nobody knows, I knew I was on to a teachable moment. Kind of like keeping the discussion about finance and computing on course, really. Then there's a podcast comment from a vendor familiar to the credit union computer owner, a market where the 3000 once held sway.

Micro Focus is the company raising the "still alive" flag highest for COBOL. 

But while every business has its language preferences, there is no denying that COBOL continues to play a vital role for enterprise business applications. COBOL still runs over 70 percent of the world’s business -- and more transactions are still processed daily by COBOL than there are Google searches made.

You might be surprised to hear how essential COBOL is to a vast swath of the US economy. As surprised as the broad-brush summary you'll hear from Planet Money of how suitable this language is for such work. To be sure, Planet Money does a great job nearly every time out, explaining how economics affects our lives, and it does that with a lively and entertaining style. They just don't know IT, and didn't ask deep enough this time.

Have a listen to our eight minutes of podcast. You can even dial up the original Planet Money show for complete context -- there are some other great ones on their site, like their "We created a t-shirt" series.  Then let me know what your COBOL experience seems to be worth, whether you'd like an assignment to improve a crucial part of the US economy, and the last time you had a talk with anybody about COBOL in a mission-critical service.

Listen for the sounds of a post-HP season

In less than 10 minutes of our latest podcast, we're connecting the dots on Steve Jobs, his reverence for HP, the company's PC reverse-march, and how much Hewlett-Packard lost while it exited the 3000 market. It all points to a chilly off-season while HP  works to get back onto the field of enterprise computing, carrying its PCs, and take another run -- like the Texas Rangers -- at the Number 1 spot.

FurcalHitPost-HP? For awhile, anyway. On this first day of its 2012 Fiscal Year, HP is working away from a year when it couldn't seem to get a strike when it needed it, either off the bat of CEO Leo or from the arms of its TouchPad. Maybe it's time that we stop looking back at what HP didn't do a decade ago -- like stick to a profitable, small HP 3000 business. Or stay out of a slim-margin dogpile like the PC business. Or remain focused on enterprise computing. As they say in baseball -- especially here in Texas -- there's always next year.

The Charms of Pretty Computer History

This fall's HP3000 Reunion is meeting at the Computer History Museum, a building where the roots of your industry are on display. The HP 3000 doesn't stand in any major sector of the Museum, but one of the system's best historians also volunteers a a docent at the Museum. Stan Sieler's tour for a group of 3000 veterans in 2008 illustrates what treasures await anyone who attends the Sept. 24 Reunion.

  743000AdIt's surprising to learn how many 3000 vets have never visited the Museum. About 35 who participated in a day-long 3000 software symposium got Sieler's tour that evening in June. (At left, one of the first ads for the system that in 1974 sold for $170,000, "about one third less than the cost of comparable systems." Click to read that nascent marketing pitch.) That tour 34 years later was a remarkable hour-plus in which the tour group not only appreciated nearly all of Sieler's references -- think of high-grade magic patter and you get the tone -- but the tourists could contribute stories of their own.

That's what's awaiting the Reunion's attendees. Organizer Alan Yeo reported yesterday that the meeting has not only has attracted close to 60 subscribers to the event's blog, but a surprising number have pre-registered, more than two months away from the Reunion's weekend. The meeting, which now has Friday and Saturday socials for CAMUS and 3000 users, is nearly free. Sieler will become part of the festivities, since he lives and works in the Bay Area, a region that includes the Mountain View site of the museum.

Cray1 To give you a taste of what a computer devotee delivers who's got humor and history on his side, listen to this 2-minute segment of that 2008 tour. Sieler explains why the Cray-2 supercomputers, which included seats around the main processor, was the "prettiest computer ever built." It's all about the bubbles, he explained.

Continue reading "The Charms of Pretty Computer History" »

HP airs its cloud-speak at higher levels

Over and over during HP's Web-delivered messages this week, buzzwords ruled the airwaves. Apple's Steve Jobs, talking to people with deep technical chops, still knew how to direct messages to the mass consumer, plus the smaller IT manager. HP spent more than 90 minutes in one set of speeches about clouds. We figure that's worth about 11 minutes of our podcast (11MB, MP3 file).

“We're talking about being PC-free,” said Steve Jobs at the Apple developer conference, held at the same time as HP Discover. In contrast, HP talked about the best technology to serve the companies who operate clouds for corporate customers. And those companies will then sell cloud service to the masses.

It sounded like the masses got two messages this week, one aimed at a higher level of executive, the other at a higher level of computing. Jobs may not be the rock star that Sir Paul McCartney is -- but at least he sang the lead to people who want to lift their data needs into a cloud.

HP-UX Gets Hot Blasts from 3000's Past

Does the future for HP's Unix sound like the 3000's past? No, it couldn't be the same. More than 140,000 customers use HP-UX and Oracle. The trouble is the second part of that recipe, now falling like a cake dropped out of an oven.

In our Weekend Podcast (11 minutes, 11 MB) we hear the sounds of the competition between Oracle and HP, which is getting hot as the summer hovers. So are the complaints from HP's Unix customers who need Oracle. Some of these luckless sites got shooed off MPE and the 3000, only to find that their new ecosystem on HP's Unix will be barren of Oracle before long. At least HP's got one stalwart database vendor to count on in the HP-UX environment --  a partner making a product that behaves like the 3000's IMAGE.

Making note of OpenMPE in its quietest span

Sometimes an event becomes noteable when it doesn't take place. Like the sound of a tree falling in a forest when nobody is around, OpenMPE had no election news this month. It's the first March since 2003 that we haven't reported the changes on the roster of its board of directors, a group of volunteers that's ranged from six to nine members since 2002. More than two dozen have volunteered since HP announced its 3000 exit.

In this month-end podcast to commemorate that quiet -- OpenMPE is waiting on an April 19 court hearing over a lawsuit before it starts to elect anyone again -- we take a summary look at what steps lay before the band of plucky volunteers who still dare to care about MPE's future. There's no lack of things to do that might help the HP 3000 homesteaders. But in the economics of 2011, quite a bit more persistence and innovation will be needed to make a business out of these community benefits.

Tape drive controls lead to Looney Tunes

Duck Autochanging tape drives used to be the stuff of science fiction among 3000 managers, but those days passed by before HP cut off making its Classic 3000 MPE V systems. Just because an autochanger is a standard storage option does not make it automatic to program, however.

A question posed to the community by systems manager John Pitman of RYCO Hydraulics reached for help on "programmatically controlling such autochangers -- to select a slot, and load the tape and come to ready." Advice is at hand, including a detour to a Looney Tunes classic. As it turned out, Pitman didn't need his programming, but the advice can make some autochangers toot smoother.

HP's pass-through SCSI driver came up in some advice. The software built by HP's labs and "not for the faint of heart" can assert a program's control over autochangers, although third party programs such as the Orbit Software Backup+/iX do this work. If you've never seen an autochanger at work, OpenMPE's Tracy Johnson pointed to great theme music, a tune called Powerhouse you will know as soon as you hear it, if you've ever watched a Warner Brothers cartoon.

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HP boots Hurd after compromising plays

FisherAgeOfLove copy copy Hewlett-Packard assembled a hasty investor briefing late Friday to report that its CEO was being dismissed because Mark Hurd's "professional and personal behavior that compromised his ability to lead the company." The behaviour includes $20,000 in fraudulent expense reporting; his personal payout to "cougar" actress Jodie Fisher who has a "close personal relationship" to the married Hurd; and an agreement tied to a $28 million golden parachute for Hurd that he won't sue HP over his immediate resignation order. HP guarantees him $12.2 million, with the rest expected in vested stock sales.

The flash-fire departure eclipses the Carly Fiorina ouster of 2005, and chairman Patricia Dunn's spygate "pretexting" resignation of 2007 over the company's last decade of management behavior. Fisher appeared as shown above in two episodes of the NBC reality series "Age of Love", one of 13 contestants on an 8-episode program that aired the same summer that Hurd hired her. The NBC web site for the show said Fisher was trying to "win the heart" of a 30-year-old tennis player as one of the "Cougars" dating Mark Philippoussis. Internet prowlers over the weekend discovered a demo reel of Fisher's acting produced for her and posted it to YouTube.

But HP assembles its troops today for a private webcast to debut the newest episode for the storied company. The story is that business as usual is the order of this day and each one to follow. Business, said HP's leaders on Friday, couldn't be better.

"Mark's resignation was in no way related to HP's operational or financial performance, both of which remain strong as evidenced in the earnings we pre-announced today," said HP General Counsel Mike Holston. "Rather, it was the result of his professional and personal behavior that compromised his ability to lead the Company."

HurdTForumMug Over a swift 48-hours after that briefing, details of Hurd's indiscretions surfaced about the 50-year-old Fisher, whose personal relationship to the CEO which began in 2007. Fisher, who's been an actress over the last 20 years as well as a sales executive, said she was hired by Hurd to work "at high-level customer and executive summit events held around the country and abroad. I prepared for those events, worked very hard and enjoyed working for HP." She also added in a statement that she's resolved a sexual harassment charge against Hurd privately.

Hurd's ouster was never her motive, she said. "I was surprised and saddened that Mark Hurd lost his job over this," she said. "That was never my intention."

Today HP intends to find a new CEO and chairman to lead a company that was at the pinnacle of computer industry revenues when the compromising behavior surfaced. Analysts are awash in wonder over how a Hewlett-Packard leader, credited around the industry with the company's turnaround, could be dismissed as just another executive player. HP said the board knew nothing of Hurd's relations with Fisher, and that it "found numerous instances where inaccurate expense reports were submitted by Mark, or on his behalf, that intended to or had the effect of concealing Mark's personal relationship with [Fisher]."

Hurd has been silent in the tale of the affair and wasn't part of the Friday HP briefing. When he joined HP in 2005, however, I reported in a podcast that he came into the job sounding different than the Carly celebrity he was replacing. "I will do everything in my power to live up to the leadership integrity that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard set up for this company," Hurd said during his hiring press conference.

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Untold technology carries MPE toward 2023

We're celebrating the US Independence holiday with a podcast. This is just another of the list of technologies and designs we didn’t have 13 years ago, but ours for this weekend is only five minutes worth of listening (MP3 download, 5MB -- about the size of some of the early thumb drives, ones that didn't exist in 1997).

When we're done thinking of what we didn't have back in 1997, roll ahead to 2023. There’s still an HP 3000 running a factory in Oklahoma 13 years from now. Technology just emerging today is going to help the customers who want to carry their MPE computing deep into the second decade of the 21st Century, even 13 years beyond this weekend.

We're taking Monday off to celebrate the US holiday, but we'll be back with our reports about the 3000's future on Tuesday, July 6. If you're celebrating, have a safe and glorious Fourth.

See how to seed MPE's future via OpenMPE

Mar12 Webcast-1 You can watch our first video broadcast online this morning, six minutes of screen time that sums up what the numbers mean this month at the OpenMPE brain-trust. The group's board of directors election ends today; vote if you are a member, and join for free if you're not a member. The directors running will be seated later this month, and we will report the tallies next week. There's not much mystery about who will be a director for this year -- five candidates, five open positions.

What's unknown is another count, the total of money received as contributions for the MPE source code license which OpenMPE has been granted. It's a matter of paying HP's bill this month, and the group needs corporate and individual monies to pay HP for this license. As we've said before, we're stepping up with a modest check. We invite you to do the same, and I make a case for why you should during my six minutes of close-up. (Click on this link to go to the NewsWire's YouTube channel to watch.)

If you're got a bit of budget on hand, in checks as small as ours or even bigger, this revenue for OpenMPE could make the entire eight years of its work matter so much for the future of the system. Any company or individual who wants to invest in the OpenMPE license can send checks (made out to OpenMPE, Inc.):

OpenMPE, Inc.
c/o Treasurer
PO Box 460091 San Antonio, TX 78246-0091

If you've pledged already, today is more than a deadline for casting votes. It's time to get your investment working if you plan to use the 3000 into 2011 and beyond.

Carlyfornication revises HP's history in race

 Carly2010 For somebody holding a medieval history degree, Carly Fiorina has made a life out of rewriting reality. Mrs. Fiorina is a sharp part of the HP 3000's history, poking the air out of a storied balloon that had three decades of service to its credit. This week marks the five-year anniversary of her ouster from HP. She's celebrating by throwing a demon sheep into the Internet and tossing aside truths about her legacy at Hewlett-Packard.

Who else could spark anybody into creating the demonsheep.org Web site overnight? There's so much to say and report on the Carly for California US Senate race -- and how it reflects HP's fiscal policy of today -- that written words alone won't tell it all. There's a 9-minute podcast we've put online, with thanks to this exiled CEO-turned-politician's poor judgment in message and approach. At no extra charge we're including some history about her HP reign without the added revisions. But as she says herself in less than three minutes of HP revisionism, "This isn't about talking. It's about getting something done."

That approach will sound familiar to any 3000 customers who remember the HP corporate decision to end its profitable HP 3000 business. In 2001, while the stock languished and her beloved merger with Compaq loomed, Carly's leadership simply ignored any talk from customers and got the one thing done that changed your lives. No matter what former general manager Winston Prather says about having the ultimate decision about cutting off HP's 3000 life, he wasn't even a VP at the time. Getting something done required Carly's trusted circle to approve the move, the one that put everyone into Transition.

DemonSheep Carly has been through a transition herself, as the above photo shows. She beat cancer last year, and now she is beating the drum about how wrong everyone is about an institution she wants to join. It sounds so much like her mantra while dismantling the HP Way. This isn't working anymore, she'd say, and whenever anyone talked back, she didn't listen. Don't mistake this report for a US Senate political statement -- except to note that politicians behave like Carly did for more than five years while grasping HP's reins. The five that followed her forced resignation have shown the fault didn't lie in the stars, but in this brute herself.

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Not a word from HP about extensions

We're well into the first full week of December, so customers are asking if HP will consider extending its support deadline into 2011, or even beyond. This has been the month of the year when customers, some running migration projects, have found a gift of extra time delivered by HP.

When we got this year's call about this perennial holiday wish, a podcast was born. Our 6-minute report might have no news from HP, but it describes the kind of deal to keep 3000 customers in a relationship once they migrate away from the server. Taking a page from HP, customer credits play a role. Have a listen and see if there's another place to look for stimulus to your support and supplier relationships.

Migrations lift, shift, exchange commands

Speedware announced the third phase of its online tool transfer from HP yesterday, as the migration partner rolled out the old MPE-to-HP-UX utilities on a new Web resource. The tools include a Commands Cross-Reference, an MPE to HP-UX Programming API Cross-Reference, as well as a cross reference for MPE to HP-UX System Administration Functions. All are in sync with the most reliable means to replace a 3000 application, something Speedware's Chris Koppe calls lift and shift.

At this year's e3000 Community Meet, Koppe related the story of how essential it was for a client to retain the logic and architecture of its 3000 apps in a move to HP-UX. ScreenJet's Alan Yeo, a provider for tools for do it yourself migration projects, said that some customers making a migration have asked "I'd like my bugs migrated, too."

In our video from the Meet, Koppe reveals background from the migration story of Australian insurance firm ING, which Speedware helped migrate during 2008. The alternative to lift and shift is replacement applications. The ideal situation for minimum change is the same third party app hosted on a new environment: more often Windows for the typical 3000 user, but sometimes HP's Unix.

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Serve Up Yourself - Connect to a Community

RonBigAtCoast     If you want to be connected, social networks will link you into whatever you need to know right away. The world’s wildest and widest social net, Twitter, can put you in direct and immediate contact with anyone who’s a member. Millions of people, posting all around the wide world, can make you smarter, funnier and richer. (Sorry, not thinner. There’s only so much an electronic medium can do.)

    If only there were more HP 3000 community members on Twitter. I can see the eyes rolling for many of my readers at this moment. They believe don’t have the time to plug in to social networks like Facebook, Linked In, the Connect User Group’s community, or even others. “I have enough to do already,” they argue, and then might add a quip that they have a real life.

    That’s a more current argument if your professional life doesn’t span a world any larger than your county, state or province. As an IT pro, your field is as wide as your ambition and desire to grow and learn. If you don’t network using the tools of the Web, you’d better be traveling to meetings and conferences.

    I enjoyed the glee of mixing both in-person and online networking this fall. At the latest e3000 Community Meet I sat in the front row of a Hyatt hotel room to listen and ask questions. I also spread Twitter tweets in pretty-much live broadcasting. I get excited about that broadcasting prospect because of my dad’s work while I grew up. He engineered broadcasts for WSPD-TV. That was my first taste of being a part of the media. At the Meet I got to shoot video which is up on the NewsWire's YouTube channel. It's another way to podcast, one where the speakers are featured instead of your host/editor.

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HP's 3000 legacy includes A, N-Class details

In our recent report on the seventh anniversary of HP's 3000 exit notice, we referred to a shining moment for the community. We captured the first-ever introduction of A-Class and N-Class HP 3000s on February 7, 2001. Although HP introduced its final generation of 3000s over and over for the next six months, that spring morning showed off the new design in extensive detail.

Product Manager Dave Snow is introduced by General Manager Winston Prather at the e3000 Solutions Symposium in our video, waltzing down the meeting room's aisle with an A-Class server under his arm. He's borrowed one of the few that were testing-ready that day from HP's MPE/iX labs. In a separate movie of 5 minutes, Snow leads a tour of the advantages the new design still offers over the 9x9 and 99x 3000s. HP pulled the covers and cabinet doors off to show internal hardware design.

HP hasn't manufactured these N- and A-Class models for more than six years, but they remain popular among community members who need to upgrade 3000s. They were built to a standard of reliability and durability that gives the computers a longer lifespan than many business servers. It's not easy to find this video's level of configuration detail here in 2009, even while the servers continue to be bought and sold

Snow discusses the length of that 3000 lifespan as he starts his advantages tour. The term of useful service of an HP 3000 gave customers an advantage in the short term -- but some say that that same service level contributed to HP's departure from your community.

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A New 3000, to Mitigate Risks

At this fall's e3000 Community Meet, ScreenJet's Alan Yeo shared an unexpected story. His company helped to establish a new HP 3000 customer site within the past year. While there's a lot of talk about the risk of remaining on the HP 3000 due to the vendor's exit in 2010, this company saw a 3000 app as a way to avoid the trouble of falling behind.

In our 3-minute video (click on the embed above, or view it on our YouTube channel), Yeo related the case study. A 3000 solution beat out IBM iSeries apps and outlasted the promises of a migration too often postponed.

They were in a position where they hadn't been allowed to do anything for years — because the answer to everything they wanted to do was, “wait until the new ERP system comes in.” They said they needed to do something, so they looked in their group to see who was doing what. The best systems they had in the group happened to be HP 3000 systems. Even though they had IBM i5 apps running.

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HP's history becomes a phenomenon

HouseMemoir The company which created the HP 3000 is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Perhaps it's the coincidence of a zero-numbered commemoration, but history that relates to the 3000 seems to be in the air this week. Most of it represents snapshots of an era we'll never return to, and some community members are thankful for the departure. But what's been left behind could be much more valuable than histories and manuals.

Today Forbes has an early review of the first book by a retired HP executive, Chuck House, who knew and worked with the HP 3000 business. The HP Phenomenon earned praise from a reviewer who's written his own HP book, George Anders. But the reviewer of Phenomenon wrote a more upbeat take on HP's changes than House's clear-eyed memories. Anders wrote the Carly Fiorina saga Perfect Enough, a kinder view of the changes that CEO inflicted on the HP which House remembers.

MPEPocket House still reveres the HP of the Sixties through the 1980s, just like the 3000 community venerates the MPE Software Pocket Guides of the 1970s and '80s. A current thread on the 3000 newsgroup has floated into memory lane about that era of the 3000. Like the guide itself -- and the HP computer management which House admires in his book -- the world has changed enough to make its best days appear to be behind it.

Continue reading "HP's history becomes a phenomenon" »

OpenMPE searches for source money

The OpenMPE advocacy group is looking for investors. This all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization has passed HP's examination for a source code license. Now it needs money to pay for this license, along with some administration funding to make the knowledge available to its members and its virtual lab.

Above, the group's director Matt Perdue explains the situation in a video of two minutes, recorded at last month's e3000 Community Meet. He's assisted at one point by OpenMPE chair Birket Foster (pan to the right), who explains some circumstances under which HP could terminate these licenses.

A terminated MPE/iX license hasn't ever happened to customers, because they weren't using source code. But the read-only MPE/iX source is for development of patches to the 3000. This is new territory here. No third party has ever asked a constituency in public for funding to open a lab. This is the new turf of volunteer, advocate-based development. OpenMPE at least wants to assemble an independent organization more extensive than a Web-based code forge, the vehicle most open source communities use.

But because HP's license prevents anyone from discussing the terms in public, the source license doesn't have the ironclad, tangible rules and policies you'd expect for an investment in a product.

Continue reading "OpenMPE searches for source money" »

Just A Minute: Eloquence Update at the Meet

Eloquence database creator Michael Marxmeier gives a presentation at the recent e3000 Community Meet in this video, shot handheld from the front row of the SF Airport Hyatt hotel meeting room. Presenters had to limit talks to 15 minutes or less; most were even briefer. We grabbed a minute of his talk for the camera.

Marxmeier's slides are not yet part of the Meet's archive page we reported on earlier today. In this video he has a slide up which describes the following overall technology enhancements for the latest release of Eloquence 8:

  • Implements new thread model for Eloquence database server (improving on the default HP-UX threading)
  • Provides base for future enhancements
  • Aligns Eloquence technology to newer hardware and OS capabilities including multiple CPU cores, CPU core speed increases made more moderate, and larger memory sizes.

Continue reading "Just A Minute: Eloquence Update at the Meet" »

Partners assemble at Community Meet

In another era we might have called them vendors, but the attendees at this month's e3000 Community Meet came together as partners. The 40 people who assembled at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt have been working together, or have that potential in the years to come when the terms users and vendors don't fit like they once did. Only three of the group could be called "users" in the old term. But those terms are "being deprecated," as old software like Java/iX has done. When HP steps out of the 3000 room in about 15 months, the phrase third-party won't even be accurate to describe the companies and experts who talked and listened all day on Sept. 23.

In a unique beginning, the master of ceremonies Alan Yeo invited everyone present at the start of the day to introduce themselves. We got almost everybody on our hand-held video camera to record the players who were taking the stage. We're introducing this video resource via a fresh 3000 NewsWire channel on YouTube, the world's steaming pile of entertainment, advertising, comedy, and frothing dissent. Of those four, only good humor was on tap in the e3000 meeting room. (There was dissent, but of the kind that doesn't end discussions or ruin chances to partner.)

Brian Duncombe started off the introductions, traveling out of his retirement to attend after he created performance and clustering software in the 1980s and '90s. Consultant Bruce Hobbs in his trademark beard was also on the front row, along with consultant Jim Snider. Then we caught up again with Michael Watson's introduction. Watson reported he's still developing in COBOL, as were several others on that front row.

Continue reading "Partners assemble at Community Meet" »

Old HP face reveals newest cloud forecasts

Picture 5 The HP 3000's legacy continues to float around HP, most recently in the work of Christine Martino, the GM and Vice President of the fresh-faced Scalable Computing and Infrastructure Organization. Martino, who's been heading some of HP's Linux and open source efforts, is now general manager of Hewlett-Packard's cloud computing promises. 3000 customers and veterans will remember Martino's marketing work at the end of the vendor's 3000 futures, promising up to the last about the 3000's place at HP.

But one of the market lessons you customers taught HP might have been carried onward to steer those cloud promises. Listen to our 7-minute podcast to hear what sounds thin, what's familiar and what's still-forming in the HP cloud cover. Remember, no matter how you choose to move onward from HP's 3000 era, the vendor still only has eyes for you.

HP, Microsoft ally for unified communication

Our intrepid at-large editor Birket Foster just called to point out a new alliance HP announced at today's Interop conference. The vendor will partner with Microsoft to spend up to $180 million (together) on Unified Communication (UC). If UC is new to the migrating HP 3000 user, HP summarizes it thusly in its press release:

It will enable customers to improve business output and reduce travel, telecom and IT operating costs. This would be accomplished by streamlining communications across messaging, video and voice with connected applications and devices.

Foster, calling from in front of the HP booth, sounded like he was awash in a wave of excitement. The solution runs, of course, using Microsoft Windows.

Taking a Tour of IT History

2120Disk The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. has a wonderful gallery of gear on its floor, but tonight may be one of its more special evenings for HP 3000 folks. VEsoft founder Vladimir Volokh is in the Bay Area, visiting customers to consult on one of his multi-week tours. He's planning to meet with Allegro Consultants co-founder Stan Sieler after-hours at the museum, where Stan volunteers as a docent.

A member of the Interex HP user group's Hall of Fame, Stan will lead Vladimir tonight as two of the 3000 community's leading technology lights walk through the CHM's aisles of history. For any of you who wish they might be alongside to hear some of Stan's histories, we've got a few minutes' worth recorded from a tour he led last year. Take a moment to measure the passion in Stan's voice as he touts the merits of the most technically-advanced personal computer of 1974, the first year that the HP 3000 advanced enough to do serious computing. (He goes on to mention the CHM's donated Apple I — not anywhere near as superior, but the foundation of a company analysts are eyeing as a new member of the Dow Jones 30 blue chips.) What made the Intel 8008-based MCM-70 PC stand out was included software, the same kind of bundled resource behind the 3000's success.

Sad to say, as Stan notes, that technical superiority does not ensure commercial success. Hewlett-Packard created many advanced computing products during the 20th Century, including your community's server. As a for-profit business, HP measured its return on investment for each one. The company has a history of dropping low earners. But the 3000's value to the owners is higher than the value to HP. Your success with the 3000 doesn't require commercial embrace of your computer to continue its return on your investment.

Continue reading "Taking a Tour of IT History" »

OpenMPE extends 3000's broadcast day

Indian_head  OpenMPE has announced another board election, which makes us consider if the end of the 3000's broadcast day will ever arrive — or if that signing-off concept is just too creaky to carry forward. In our podcast for today (5 minutes, 5MB) we talk about the election and broadcast endings. Back when television was the only mass media and the HP 3000 was new, TV stations would end a broadcast day. In the US they’d play the national anthem and the screen would switch over into a test pattern.

50 years ago tomorrow marks "The day the music died," deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, an event commemorated in the song American Pie. By coincidence, American Pie was a No. 1 hit the same year HP introduced the 3000. People wonder if any day anytime soon will be the day the 3000 dies. OpenMPE gets its vote in to proclaim it won't be this year.

The group's election kicks off one week from today, your chance to choose volunteers to advocate for your needs as a 3000 owner who will operate the system beyond 2010. Why care? There are items and issues that still need to be resolved and addressed. And OpenMPE recently scored an important concession to keep 3000s in service. Hear about it on the podcast.

The people have spoken

And in 3000 country, your community, they have been speaking about this all year: Yes, you can count on using your 3000 until your migration is finished, even if HP will be finished with the 3000 business much sooner. In our post-election podcast (7 Minutes, 7 MB) we listen to the voices of those who chronicle 3000 changes, establish new resources, and work for the hope of more development tomorrows.

No matter what your values for your 3000, either migrating or homesteading, anyone who still has a 3000 running is in this together — and we have at least that much in common. Working together with new ideas and resources is the key to a can-do future. There's plenty of help to hear about in our changing world.

Managing US easier than HP?

If you're feeling a little disconnected from the US Presidential campaign, good news: A former HP CEO has made it more interesting for you, the HP 3000 customer who has seen their system sent to the exits by that very same CEO's management.

Carlycampaign Of course, we're talking about Carly Fiorina, the only woman on earth who can be called a former CEO of HP. Naturally enough, her name surfaced during her campaigning for Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. In what may first look like a joke at Palin's expense, the TV network Current TV said in its comedy show Campaign Update that Fiorina stepped out to claim nobody running for either party is sharp enough to run HP. Because it's so hard, she explained.

The layoff — oops, restructuring — of about 25,000 employees won't make running Hewlett-Packard any easier in the near term, now that EDS is a part of HP. But the acquisition of a $44 billion company fulfills one of Fiorina's dreams: To become a services provider on par with IBM, or better. Although she couldn't get the HP board to swallow up PriceWaterhouseCooper, her successor served up EDS instead. Like a Lance Armstrong of the Fortune 50, though, Fiorina isn't riding off into the sunset, instead popping up on TVs and comedy routines this week. Have a look at the last 45 seconds of the network's latest "Campaign Update" to watch a lighter look at the high-flying CEO's latest.

Fiorina was never appreciated for her candor while HP's CEO, and her comment put her in the McCain doghouse. She was booked for several TV interviews over the next few days, including one on CNN. Those interviews have been canceled.

Continue reading "Managing US easier than HP?" »

Blades on parade

One of the big advantages of conference-style learning is the ability to see, touch and ask questions interactively. Like, "How do these blade servers look and work, anyway?"

Bladesposter That's the question I asked HP at the latest Technology Forum. A movie of a couple of minutes gives a rundown on HP's latest blade servers, as well as a tour at the C7000 enclosure the blades need to operate. Have a look at the two minute blade demo movie from the HP booth on the Expo floor.

The cinematography on this movie won't rival The Fall, (excellent film, that one; go see it soon on the big screen.). Unlike The Fall, which will have a really brief run in theatres, blades are going to be playing for a long time at HP. Your vendor hopes they will play a part in your transition away from the HP 3000 hardware.

Continue reading "Blades on parade" »

HP's 3000 voice sounds like silence

We could almost call this entry "A lack of news outta HP," but even no news is notable. It's not good news for 3000 customers that HP's gone so quiet, the subject of our podcast for this month (6 MB, six minutes of 'cast.)

Notice how quiet it has become out there? When an advocacy group for MPE hears no HP answers to the big questions, when the vendor speaks up only in a room of 50 people or less, when the messages in forums show up less than a handful a month, you get the picture HP wants to deliver. “We’re curtailing our 3000 work,” the vendor says to anybody in earshot. Been saying it for some time now.

The voices which know the answers sit very still inside the HP Services group. More often than ever, the HP 3000 group at Hewlett-Packard issues increasing sounds of silence.

New Endeavor hopes to create community

In our podcast (5 minutes, 5 MB) for a February weekend, we look at election season and the alliance of three HP user groups. There's good reason to join forces in 2008, but the benefits might extend to more than just a louder, more representative voice to Hewlett-Packard. Take five minutes to listen to our podcast and hear what the alliance wants to do — maybe for you.

HP always wanted a single group to talk with and listen to, and the new alliance — which might be called Endeavor — wants to leave nobody out of the bigger picture. Encompass president Nina Buik even said the new group could advocate for the 3000 homesteader. There's interim homesteaders, like the customers who won't migrate until 2013, and the permanent ones. Endeavor wants to help both. It's a good reason to join this now-free group, even if you're part of the 3000 community whose voice is fading in HP's ears.

Continue reading "New Endeavor hopes to create community" »

Who cares about HP's endgame?

Okay, we admit it. We went off on a bit of a rant today in our podcast, letting off steam about the stream of sniggering at OpenMPE. A few sniggers, maybe, but deserving of some response. After all, who else is taking care of the relationship between HP and the 3000 customers who will remain, relying on the system, once HP exits this community?

Maybe another vendor in the community, one that hasn't raised its hear. But for now, OpenMPE is the best you've got. Listen to our 15 minutes on the subject (its download time probably takes a fraction of the download as the latest Vista Service Pack). This is still a good market, for the homesteaders using the system as well as the migration experts who want to help a good share of the community exit. Going into 2008 with an incomplete migration, well, that qualifies as a homesteader.

End games need to have plays drawn up, and this game has been going on for more than 30 years. The 3000 deserves an end at HP as admirable as its success for the vendor which created it.

Anniversary advice, and appreciation

In our first podcast in many a moon (7 minutes, 7 MB), I looked for a subject close to my heart. September is a month that calls up anniversaries. One for Hewlett-Packard, one for the 3000 NewsWire, even one for the family which founded the 3000 NewsWire. Me and my partner Abby Lentz are celebrating our wedding anniversary this weekend — 17 years together as friends, lovers and business partners. Just about all of the engagements two people can have, really. My life is richer, believe me, in more ways than I can say since this very day in 1990.

Anniversaries are a good time to look back on the times we loved. Or remember the lessons we learned. But you can rush to review too quickly. Carly Fiorina, the CEO who pared back HP so it could gobble up new business, she probably deserves credit for starting the changes in HP. How well have those changes worked out for you? Different people have different answers this month. Let us hear about yours, after you listen to our September song.

EER and You

In our first podcast of 2007 (7 minutes, 6 MB) we talk of the early retirement program offered by HP during this month. Many HP 3000 advocates inside the company — some say nearly all of the most prominent managers and engineers — got an offer in a Fed Ex envelope a little while ago.

   Inside HP, the highest-minded talk is about “giving this system the finish that it deserves.” But that finish is taking longer and longer, as the vendor lingers around support money you’re still paying. So that exit of the experts, those best-versed in how to make HP help its 3000 customers — that’s what the community is facing this month.

   These are experts who told customers in 2003 that “HP intends” to make an emulator license of MPE available. There were a host of other intentions in that springtime statement, most made by people who got a Fed Ex envelope not long ago.

Continue reading "EER and You" »

Regional results from a radio report

In a podcast report (5 MB MP3 file) that's an homage to the great broadcast voices of CBS News, we hear that customers backing an HP 3000 party were sweeping toward the Gulf Coast tonight. The staunch resistance to obsolescence was carried on a wave of strong turnout for this weekend’s first HP 3000 conference. The meeting begins at the University of Houston Clear Lake campus just southeast of Houston Friday morning. As if the 3000 experts were not enough, there's the Gizmo Guys on campus Saturday night, at just $10 a seat at the door.

DR for HP's PR

After sinking to historic lows in misjudgement and ethics, HP is doing its best to dig itself out of its PR trench — but it needs to use its legendary engineering discipline to uncover the sources for the mistakes. In the second part of our weekend podcast (5 MB MP3 file) we talk about why the examination can be good thing for its customers, especially those going forward from 3000s to HP Integrity systems. The remaining partners and customers of the 3000 community, while privately saddened about the clay feet HP’s shown — well, they’re standing behind the company they’ve worked alongside for decades. A customer who cares about HP’s future can only hope that HP can assemble some image recovery, kind of a PR-DR, in IT-speak.

The smell of hubris revived again

After reading a fresh stirring of HP's messy cauldron on Page One of this week's Wall Street Journal, customers get reminded again about the HP boardroom's disregard for privacy — and its hubris in thinking company secrets trump the rights of reporters, board members and many others. In our weekend podcast, (8 MB MP3 file) the first 10 minutes of two parts, we listen to what HP's CEO says, review some history, and consider what Mark Hurd's words mean to the future of your system maker.

The end of HP's lessons on hubris?

    With the release and reviews of Carly Fiorina's book Choices, and former chair Patricia Dunn teeing off on the company's boardroom members, it's been open season on HP strategy and its targets.  HP is doing its best to dig itself out of this PR trench, and that’s a good thing for its customers, especially those going forward from 3000s to HP Integrity systems. (No comment on the irony in that product name, HP's replacement for the 3000, is necessary — except maybe to say that HP's iron has a better record now than the boardroom at the top of its maker.)

   It appears the revelations have tailed off now, and even those who’ve been fingered and vilified got their say on national TV. Bad judgment can crop up anywhere, but it often grows in the pungent fertilizer of hubris, the “we’re Number One” re-engineering of the HP Way started by Carly during the Compaq assimilation.

Listen up to our First Yearbook Podcast

It's been a year since The 3000 NewsWire posted its first podcast, so it's time for our first Yearbook Podcast (6MB MP3 file) We've had great fun and hoped to entertain you with the sounds of change in your community. We looked back over our sound files to find some favorite voices telling the transition story of your business computer.

This week, with our 33rd podcast, we take 13 minutes to share them with you. Stay tuned in the months to come for more sounds of surprise and unexpected explanations. Let us hear from you about your transition when we call. Everybody deserves some airtime.

Can a new turn help right 3000 pricing?

In this week's NewsWire podcast (4 MB MP3 file), we talk with Advant's Steve Pirie about the SSEDIT software service that can speed up A-Class servers, hack 9x7s to run MPE/iX 7.0, and perform other magic. All this and more is being delivered for service companies and their customers, folks who want a break on the cost of keeping 3000s alive while they get ready for migration — or homestead.

Have a listen to our memories of the lawsuit and lo-jack arrest days of the 3000 market and how much things might have changed since then. What will it take to free this market of 3000 owners? A good start might be a program like SSEDIT and the moxie to use it, along with some valid MPE/iX licenses. Let us hear from you, below, in a comment, or by e-mail, if your business might be harmed by third party changes like this — or helped to survive.

Keep pedals moving to give change meaning

In our podcast for this week (3MB MP3 file), I talk for seven minutes about how change can bring things together, and how less can deliver more. This spring I helped make change make good, in a world well outside of the 3000 community. Our Hill Country Ride for AIDS cycling route got shorter, but drew more riders, many trying to manage hugging shoulders on roads that can seem so narrow next to the traffic of 70 MPH SUVs.

Does the traffic toward 3000 alternatives seem faster to you this year? Listen to the sounds of developing the nerve, as we tell our new riders, to share the road. We are, after all, riding in the same direction, whether on bicycles or moving along in our careers. For any 3000 customer, it's moving toward the future, and its changes.

LIsten up: Tell HP support to look at the clock

In our weekend podcast (3MB MP3 file) we talk for about 5 minutes about the way time doesn't move fast enough in HP's support arm. We hear from 3000 customers like John Bawden of Qualchoice. John wants to test those 3000 patches, the ones that HP's 3000 group is asking about. HP won’t let him. John has moved on from HP support, like a lot of you. He represents the kind of customer who asked for enhancements.

Did HP tell Bawden and others that when they stepped off the HP support train, they'd lose the chance to get their enhancements on their systems. We bet not. But HP can reset its clock and start treating beta-test reports for 3000s different than the systems they're not cancelling. Ask HP to do this, now that it's asked you to test its enhancement engineering.

Why moving on quick is good for the future

Change can be scary, costly for customers. Software vendors hate it — until it opens up their markets. In our Weekend Edition podcast, (3MB MP3 file), I talk for six minutes about how options and imagination – those are essential to staying ready for the future, changing fast enough to make a difference.

Customers are considering where to go from their cozy 3000 world. A lot has changed in systems since they last made such a choice. You have to be sure your vendor — or the platform provider for your new system — has the commitment to follow through on change. In a couple of instances, HP's management couldn't, um, manage this for the 3000.

Try not to worry about whether the vendor is leaving some software vendors behind. Those that have the legs to maintain the pace, they will keep up. It's a lot more serious when your vendor cannot, or will not, keep up with what the market needs from a system.

Making that migration timetable yours

In our weekly podcast — a six-minute MP3 file — we hear from a early advocate of migration about how the job is taking longer than predicted back in HP's migration roundtables of '02 — but is being done on a 3000 level of service. That is, with an eye toward efficiency of code, ported by experts. The gurus happen to be from outside the 3000 customer's organization, but they are partnering with IT staffers who know the applications from the inside. That kind of partnership is extending migration timetables, so HP has expanded its migration timetable to match.

If you migration is not going to be finished in '06, don't worry. Do what it takes to make the timetable your own, based on your business needs. Oh, and to match the expected level of service your 3000 is giving your organization. Whatever you replace the 3000 with should last a long time — which might mean a migration will take longer than expected.

Opening up vote totals, then wallets

In our weekly podcast (5 MB MP3 file), we talk about the tempest over the details of the OpenMPE election results — and then move on to the more important matters ahead for OpenMPE. Putting the election results out quickly was a good move. Now the group needs to move on toward getting a budget assembled, to improve its visibility and impact. You might even be asked to pay to vote next year.

Change comes from different directions for Unix customers

Change in the computer business happens in little bits. A lot slower than mathematical formulas can predict. In our weekly podcast (5 MB MP3 file) we talk about how predicting the future on the basis of the past can be a trap. An HP rep explains how change works for the Unix customer, as well as your OpenVMS brethren. HP understands a customer base that wants to stay where it is forever. Now, anyway, since the vendor is trying to sell Integrity and Itanium servers anywhere it can.

Hear about how HP’s Unix customers will become Integrity users, putting PA-RISC to work right alongside Itanium in a server’s frame. If you wish your future might have been derived from a past of loyalty to HP, nobody can blame you.