New Face for a
Legacy of Spirit
is hosting hope for the future of MPE. The HP 3000 systems manager
and technical help resource won himself a seat on the OpenMPE board
of directors last month. He ran twice for a spot on the Interex board
of directors, narrowly missing, after more than a decade of
volunteering for the organization. Now Ciesinski has succeeded in his
third attempt at extending his volunteer service to the HP community.
He began his volunteering with a modest position as a session host at
the Interex 1991 conference. Now hes signed on to help HP find
its way to a decision about the post-2006 life for MPE.
organizations have been a big part of Ciesinskis career. He is
one of the few HP 3000 experts along with fellow director Paul
Edwards to have made efforts toward both the Interex and
OpenMPE boards. His volunteer work has ranged from program committee
efforts for Interex to chairing the groups High Availability
Forum, the latter in an era when RAID arrays were just emerging for
HP sites. Hes been a steady presenter at Interex conferences,
and his postings are a regular source of instruction on the HP IT
Response Center Web forum.
stepping down new paths, just like many HP 3000 veterans, as HP 3000
opportunities grow more scarce. He came to data processing, as it was
called in 1980, after taking a communications degree in advertising
and PR. Hughes had him join their DP group, where he met his first HP
3000, a Series III. After nearly a quarter-century of work to manage
HP systems at several Hughes units, he accepted early retirement when
the companys needs for dedicated 3000 management declined. Like
3000 pros who are exploring new futures this year, over the last
several months Ciesinski pursued contracts to continue his career,
landing an assignment just before we spoke for this interview. We
wanted to ask him about his outlook for the future, both in his own
career and for MPE. We talked by phone just after he had participated
in his first board meeting after OpenMPEs 2005 elections.
How does it feel to join OpenMPEs board of
Its an awesome responsibility for me to join this board
and represent such a large number of users on an international scale.
Id like to thank those who voted their confidence in me at this
time. This board is somewhat similar to being a member and chair of
the High Availability Forum where we had to deal with international
issues, multiple platforms, a wide variety of issues.
And it feels like a lot more after my first
board meeting than Id realized. It will be a large scale task
to accomplish all the goals of the organization.
What do you think OpenMPE can accomplish this
Initially I was thinking it was going to be just opening up
the MPE environment and getting the source code available. After the
first board meeting, I think theres a lot more to it than that.
There is a considerable amount of work that needs to be done by both
OpenMPE and HP to just get to a position where decisions can be
Hopefully we can expedite HPs decision,
and muster the resources that both HP, the 3000 customer and OpenMPE
need to make good decisions. Once the resources are in place,
hopefully HP can either A, release the software to a third party at
the end of support, or B, sell the software to a third party support
organization. Or you never know, HP might just say theyre not
going to do it.
We have to give them the tools and the
criteria to make a decision.
your experience in looking for independent MPE assignments over the
last six months?
There are jobs
and assignments still out there. However, the value of an HP 3000
professional has diminished in the eyes of a potential employer.
Ive found that most of assignments are
in the migration area for development, and in operational support.
Most companies have a system manager already on the new platform and
they dont want to hire a system manager on the old platform. On
the HP 3000, a lot of people are going to stop-gap measures for
Can you draw a link between preparing for disaster
recovery and migration?
For both of these, you have to know what your application
does, what tools you need to run it, today and tomorrow, in the event
of a disaster and when you migrate. Disaster recovery gets you back
up and running, while migration prepares your company for a change.
Preparing to change is bigger, like from a MANMAN organization to an
SAP organization. You have new education for your end-users. Most
users are not too kind toward changes in how they do business.
One first, then the other but
If youve done a disaster recovery project, you are
better prepared to start a migration project. You have an inventory
of your applications, hardware, tools ahead of time. Youve
already done a lot of your homework. You have to know what
youve got: business procedures, hardware and software, people
What areas of technology that are new to you are
you starting to explore?
Personally Im going HP-UX and Linux. Those are the
prime areas where people want to go, the areas where HP 3000 system
managers should focus on if they want to continue their employment.
Ive already taken several SAP basis administration classes.
Oracle database administrators are going to be very marketable in the
Employers want Cisco certification and
Microsoft certification. For the HP 3000, you must call somebody
whos experienced to really get the job done. The 3000 manager
with these added skills is that experienced person to get your
company from point A to point B if you choose to transition.
Whats the role of a user group for the HP
customer versus an advocacy group like OpenMPE?
I think the missions are very similar. The user group in its
truest form is always going to be advocating for its customers.
OpenMPE is advocating strictly for the openness of the MPE operating
system to its membership. Interex wants to see its roots survive and
continue. The OpenMPE group wants to see the 3000 survive because
thats where weve made our livelihoods. Interex may be
better off if OpenMPE can get HP to release the source code.
How far do you believe HP is willing to release
Thats where the board of OpenMPE relies on the skills
of Alan Tibbetts, and what he did with HPs RTE environment. How
it was done in the past, will lead us to our future.
What kind of impact do you think Resource 3000 can
have on the homesteading customer?
This consortium has some really great talent in its
organizations. Its a really strong group. I think it would be
nice to see some other companies join into it, like a Cognos or a
Speedware to provide additional services at the application level.
Do you think Resource 3000 is a prospective place
for HP to license the MPE source?
I havent been in any discussions about the players, or
who HP may look at, so I really dont know. From a personal
perspective, I would love to see Allegro involved, because of their
past transition experience from classic MPE to MPE/XL which has
become MPE/iX. Theyve got the background, the knowledge, and
the skills to continue with MPE. To me it would be a great fit.
Do you think OpenMPE and Resource 3000 can work
My initial reaction is possibly. Resource 3000 is a
commercial venture, and theyre still in it for profit. OpenMPE
is not in it for profit, but rather advocating to HP for all of the
3000 customers. Until 2006 comes along, I dont know if that
could work. The consortium is out there trying to make money, and
OpenMPE is just out there trying to get HP to release the source
Was it significant to you as a customer that
OpenMPE failed to get 100 systems signed up for its post-2006 lab
I think that fell on a lot of deaf ears because of the
economy. People were still able to run their businesses and get HP
support. As support gets nearer to falling away, OpenMPE will
probably be able to generate the revenue to do the things we need to
do. A lot of it is the economy, and whats important to each
Do you expect changes from HP as it acquires a new
Since the makeup of the HP board of directors hasnt
changed, the new CEO is probably not going to be in a position to
make a lot of changes right away. In my opinion it will take him a
good 5-6 months to make any changes.
I think the new CEO of HP needs to talk with
his customers and get a feel for where the customers are at, rather
than the internal strategists.
The most profound change would be for HP to
reverse course about the 3000. Does that make any sense to
I would love to see them do it. Its going to depend on
groups like OpenMPE and Interex providing a strong enough business
case for the powers at HP to realize that we arent just
customers but also business partners. There are a large number of
small shops who partnered with HP and big sites, too, like State Farm
and Southwest Airlines. Id hope that HP will want to review how
those partnerships are today and what theyll be like
Do you think too much has already been done to
push along migration?
Migration is still a long term objective for these companies.
Doing it overnight is not a possibility. But the resources to support
MPE are dwindling, as people move on. Its a Catch-22 for the
3000 engineer. HPs engineering resources for the 3000 are
moving on, too, as they move to other assignments internally.
So whats more important about OpenMPEs
priorities: source code license, or getting HP to review its 3000
Ideally, Id love for HP to change their mind, but we
need to muster the resources to get a decision on the source code as
a top priority in my opinion. Will they make a decision today or
tomorrow? Probably not. Will it happen this year? My best guess is
Whats the biggest misconception the world
has about the HP 3000 and MPE?
That its dead. The 3000 is not dead, its alive
and its well and people are still running their businesses on
Since you led a big storage SIG for
Interex, what role can RAID play at a 3000 site?
A lot of the growth in storage options for the 3000 is due to
the pressure of OpenMPE and the MPE Forum of Interex, which jointly
pressured HP to provide new drivers. The technology has changed
dramatically. People need to have sufficient storage capacity to
archive data. Storage is a good market for HP as it continues to
support its 3000 partners.
Do you think HP should be offering an extension to
its end of support date to everybody?
HP, in my opinion, should offer an extension of support to
everybody. It would be a great customer relations action on their
part, to say they realize they still have a lot of customers who are
still partners. I say partners because thats how we were
treated by HP when I started my career over 23 years ago.
If HP doesnt license MPE to an outside
entity, does that spell the end of the 3000s
No, it wont be the end. If HP decides to cyber-freeze
the 3000, the community will continue. The 3000-L will continue to
stay there, alive and well as it has been these many years. I feel
that the 3000 community is as strong as it was during the 1990
Interex Conference in Boston, when we as a community last got HP to
reconsider its course about IMAGE.