Foul weather in fair climate

The atmosphere in HP environments is in turmoil this year. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are everywhere, as the winds of change blow constantly around desktops, networks and servers. But as an HP 3000 customer, you shouldn't confuse foul weather with your fair climate. One is the state of the atmosphere at the moment. The other is the average condition of the weather over a period of years.

Weather is what we all talk about. It's in our face, outside our windows. Climate is what we accept and live with, because our perception of it comes from a broader viewpoint.

Out on the Internet, some of the most dedicated HP 3000 customer s have been talking about the weather in the MPE marketplace. There's a lot of discussion about the HP 3000's future in the face of HP's Unix sales tsunami. It's raining promises out there, a deluge of hype from trade magazines and marketing departments. It's a hard rain, and some people are worried the water might strand their investment in the HP 3000.

Some people even see the desktop storms over market share as a barometer of the coming weather in the server atmosphere. Windows 95, they say, will kill the Macintosh. Microsoft is raining on the Mac's innovation, catching up. We hear the same things said about HP-UX and MPE/iX. You should not they are often said by the people who have wrapped themselves around a new technology, considering it as the silver lining in their storm clouds of change.

Here's a tip: weather doesn't matter, unless you're stuck in it. Last night was one of the most pleasant we've had in Austin. Dry, cool, with a teasing breeze. But just outside Montgomery, Ala., a hurricane sank my friend's boat, and nearly drowned him along with it. He lost his wallet and escaped with his life.

Did I worry about the weather here in Austin? No, I knew the climate. Hurricanes at their worst bring rain here, 150 miles inland from the Gulf, and little else. The climate for HP 3000 customers is far better than the weather they face from the doubters. You bring to your atmosphere what you perceive. If all the news tells you that the Unix lunacy will pull the tide over your position, it probably will. If you look over the atmosphere and believe some rain must fall before the sun gleams the next day, that's likely to happen too.

Nothing in a trade magazine or a marketing sheet can change what 's working in your HP 3000 environment. The only thing which that weather can change is your perception. There will always be a place for innovative, reliable, easily maintained computer products. Only when the HP 3000 loses its characteristic traits will HP-UX usurp it. Maybe when the sun comes up in the east...

Some people who fret about HP 3000 market share do so thinking their concern will change it. They don't want to be stranded, watching their vendor abandon them for a newer opportunity. They want confidence, and they look to their vendor to supply it via advertising and promises. The confidence they need must come from inside them, from the success they show with their HP 3000 systems. There are no magic slickers to waterproof your environment. It takes work and experience to succeed. Wearing what's working instead of the latest resume-building fashion isn't hip, but it is responsible computing. This is what companies should invest in.

Marketing matters, more than it ever has. But it still doesn't mean more than how well something works. Look at everthing that's being promised. Look harder at how well it really works, and its actual costs. Don't confuse promises with performance. And consider the climate that you live with the next time you see foul weather blow around your desktop or server.

- Ron Seybold