HP advises transition plan from 3000
Recommendation includes five-year support guarantee, two
more years of new sales
Hewlett-Packard proposed a new chapter for its oldest
business computer on November 14, one that advises customers to
transition away from the HP e3000 over the next five years. The
announcement from 3000 division general manager Winston Prather and
marketing director Christine Martino included news of a confirmed
date for end of HP support and a halt of new sales in a little less
than two years time.
said it will stop selling new systems on Oct. 31, 2003, ending its
distribution of more than three decades of the most reliable business
computer in the HP lineup. The companys contract with North
American distributor Client Systems - a company doing business
exclusively in the HP 3000 line - has been extended for two more
years. The computers will clearly be in service for quite awhile
after that date, however, as HP is promising full customer support
for the systems through the end of 2006.
This really is about concluding that its time
to advise customers of the long-term trend, said Prather.
It has nothing to do with cost savings or downsizing. This is
an advisory type of announcement.
briefed the NewsWire several days in advance of the worldwide
announcement to the general press. The announcement included news
that HP will provide free unlimited HP-UX licenses for all customers
who own the new A-Class and N-Class servers, and transform those
systems into equivalent HP 9000 computers. And in the meantime, HP
intends to continue selling the system, and upgrading it with
projects that have already been announced. It will present papers and
communicate with customers at Interex conferences during 2002, and
continue its Webcast series with a January broadcast on
From a CSY perspective and a support perspective,
its business as usual for the next two years, Martino
said. Its time for customers start their planning to move
to a platform that will serve their businesses better in the future.
HP recommends that customers begin transitioning off the HP 3000 to
alternate HP platforms. HP will be releasing an overview White
Paper in the first of a series, HP e3000 Migration
Considerations, from its Web site. More detailed white papers
on transitions to HP-UX will be released in the future.
Theres even a silver lining in the announcement for
some HP 3000 customers. The end of support date for MPE/iX 6.0 has
been extended by six months to October, 2002, making it easier for
companies using the HP 3000 9x7 systems to remain on the platform. HP
stops support of that hardware in April, but software support for the
systems has been extended as part of the transition. Series 939 and
959 system support has been extended to December of 2003.
The company is also notifying all of its customers on
current support contracts by letter. Prather said the division
started to brief its top-tier customers on November 9. They
were not surprised, and they really appreciated HP being able to tell
them what we see as the future role of the platform, he said.
At the same time they really love the platform, so there was
some sadness in transitioning from the platform. Prather said
these top-tier customers already have a multi-OS strategy, so
theyve been evolving their applications over time. It is a
stake in the ground, but the CIOs I talked to were appreciative of
hearing what the future holds.
layoffs or downsizing in the CSY division is being planned, nor are
any additional technical development operations going to be shifted
away from the California 3000 labs. The product has often been
pointed to as a profitable part of the HP lineup, but CSY officials
said profits didnt enter into the decision to stop selling the
systems two years from now.
The end of the CSY division seemed even fuzzier, despite
its announcement of a date for the end of support. When we get
to the point where HP doesnt need a CSY organization to support
the 3000 customers, then we wouldnt have a division,
Prather said. We will staff the division to make sure we have
whatever resources we need to meet our commitments, and we are
committed through December, 2006. We will ensure from both a CSY
perspective as well as our support organization and field support we
have the staff we need.
will also be helping continue the transition after the end of the
support period. After that, [CSY] employees will transfer to
other businesses to continue the transition as well, Prather
said. HP hopes to capture HP 3000 business in its NetServer and HP-UX
platforms, but recognizes that competitors will be targeting the
customer base. We will need to earn their business,
HPs plans on database migration were less specific
at the announcement. Prather mentioned HP Eloquence, a revision of
the HP IMAGE database thats been running on HP 9000 servers for
more than a year, as an option for companies migrating their
home-grown systems. Other customers should look to their application
providers, Prather said, for advice and support on how to transition
away from the platform. Martino and Prather said a decline in
the ecosystem surrounding the 3000 prompted the move - and
denied that the impending HP-Compaq merger had any effect on the
decision to write HPs last chapter in the 3000 community. CSY
made the decision sometime after the last HP World conference,
according to Prather. The general manager, who has spent his entire
career managing technical and business advances for the platform,
said he was saddened by his decision.
Im sad, because Ive been involved in
this forever, he said. But I feel confident were
doing the right thing for customers. I can stand up in front of any
customer and explain why were doing this, Prather said.
Its a recognition in general that were not going to
be able to reverse the trends. Martino said sales have been
declining for the product, although the month of October, HPs
close of its fiscal year, was a record one in North America. She
added that the divisions staff has been going through
stages of grief over the decision. But despite CSYs
melancholy approach to the news, the division remains well in place
trying to sell new 3000s to the community over the next 24 months.
The immediate future holds no changes for companies relying on the
system, HP said.
We picked these dates that well guarantee
availability for customers, and we dont have any plans to
review those dates. We knew that the next question customers would
ask is, How long will this be a safe environment?
Thats why we gave them these dates. As proof of the
safety, HP plans to continue with all of its announced enhancements
for the system except moving it to the IA-64 platform. The ongoing
PA-8700 project, which is delivering a chip that is expected improve
performance another 30 percent over current top ends, will be
delivered as promised. HP will also release new A-Class systems
during the next two years, offering a performance bump for those
low-end servers as well.
will also be releasing MPE/iX 7.5 next year, although the future
releases of the operating system will be limited to Express updates
beyond that, according to Prather. Native Fiber Channel will still be
released, along with support for the new Ultrium tape systems and
va7400 disk arrays. Possibilities of selling the business to another
company and helping to create an Open Source movement to extend
MPEs life still may hold some potential for Prather. We
have a very diverse set of customers, he said, and in
briefing our top-tier accounts, this doesnt come up. I
dont believe doing any of that [Open Source] will change any of
our recommendations for customers. I feel strongly that the ecosystem
is starting to erode, and that right thing to do is move to another
platform, hopefully an HP platform.
But having said all that, we will try to understand
how we can help the evolution of MPE. If it is valuable to customers,
we want to understand how we can help them. Selling the source
code for the operating system, as HP once did for the earlier
generation of MPE, is also a possibility, but I want to
understand to who, and for what purpose.
the meantime, HP expects that a lively market is about to emerge
around migration consulting and tools for the platform. I have
a feeling the third-party community will spring to life quickly to
develop tools to help with the migration. I think a number of the
partners in the ecosystem will look at this as an opportunity. This
could bring the ecosystem to life for the transition period.