Your silver bullet is already loaded
We all want the silver bullet. That's the new technology that
solves problems without extra effort on our part, the software that makes
you say "Cool!" when somebody shows you a demo. A product can be a silver
bullet in the early stages of its life. MPE was a silver bullet once, when
the computing world was ruled by white-coated mainframe programmers and
wizards. After some fits and starts, HP showed companies that MPE could
mothball the lab coats and let customers order a computer they didn't have
to battle to perform the slightest information task.
current season we work in a hailstorm of silver bullets. There's a new one
to consider every few months, as the rate of change, improvement and
experimentation continues to leap. It's as much a problem as a promise of
ease, because our existing commitments get no time to mature anymore.
Investing in anything just ensures you'll be comparing tomorrow's silver
bullet to today's purchase.
Unix was supposed to be a silver
bullet. From the perspective of HP's shareholders, it has been just that.
The company's new customers consider it so. Its existing customers --
that's you -- see the arrival of this commercial operating system
alternative as both a problem and a promise. Your view of Unix depends on
how well MPE is working for your career and your company. This newsletter
has a mission to improve that working relationship with education and
information. We want to show you how to do more with that tremendous
resource that's matured in your IS environment. The alternative is to bite
that silver bullet.
Companies that have bitten off Unix have
acquired a new set of challenges along with the bounty of tools and
applications it delivers. Nothing's perfect, and this is what gives rise to
those silver bullets. Now Unix advocates and secret fans have a bullet
flying over their shoulders: Windows NT.
Customers who embraced
Unix are discovering this year that their operating system is subject to
radical changes between versions. The current 9.0 to 10.0 shift in HP-UX is
so profound you must re-install the operating system. HP's engineers
estimate they'll specify 23 hours of consulting time simply to plan an
installation and subsequent modifications for the upgrade. Unix might be a
godsend for HP, but it's clearly a work in progress. Throw in the
significant differences between vendor's versions and you've got a great
opportunity for a bullet.
A no-longer-modest software company in
Redmond, Wash. has risen to the opportunity. They'd like everyone to
consider Windows NT -- not 95 -- as a better enterprise software platform
than Unix. While NT is not new, what is new is the HP belief that the NT
opportunity and its Unix passion must play together better. Previously
autonomous operations like the Personal Computer Organization and the HP
9000 General Systems division have a mandate to work together, to the
dismay of some Unix zealots in the company.
The zealots aren't
all inside HP. Some are customers who have bought their HP-UX silver
bullets, and are looking over their shoulders at the NT lead flying from
Microsoft. NT disturbs these customers as much as Unix bothered the MPE
faithful. The Unix fans quote chapter and verse of the NT shortcomings,
overlooking the very thing that made their Unix popular: lots of
applications and tools, and rising market acceptance. As a trump card, they
play the belief that anything not built on a public standard will fail at
serving the open computing mandate.
Open computing has had a
nice long ride in the marketplace, and it's brought some benefits along
with the messes like 23-hour planning sessions. MPE now has the industry's
best-designed POSIX shell, as well as compatibility with the latest storage
devices. One of the gifts it never accepted is the gotta-reinstall
mentality of Unix. For that efficient and cost-effective difference, the
still-modest companies in the world that use HP 3000 can give thanks this
They can also be thankful that someone powerful has
begun to identify the target that Unix has missed: system consistency and
reliability. Microsoft isn't busy slamming Unix. Instead it's selling an
alternative designed by a single company instead of a committee. If you
think that sounds a little like MPE/iX, you might also recognize that
you're ahead of the NT bullet, too.
More than two decades of
maturity and refreshes are what puts the HP 3000 beyond the range of
Microsoft's silver bullet. If Unix can be cut down by a "proprietary"
operating system (that's what zealots call Windows NT), why not let that
system be MPE/iX? It's a question for HP to ponder when it funds
improvements to the product. The ongoing investment in those refreshes
makes the HP 3000 a silver bullet once again, this time for problems
-- Ron Seybold