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December 2001

Time to imagine thinking on your own

NewsWire Editorial

For most things in life, there’s more than one way to see them. On the face of it, my 18-year-old son Nick’s choice to buy a truck built before he was born — as his first-ever vehicle — may look like folly. But it appears that Nick will have the energy and optimism to overcome the challenges and enjoy the benefits of owning a Classic.

As a 3000 owner, you know how Classic applies to computers. To be sure, the Ford F-150 is a classic vehicle. But the one Nick got for his $1,200 is going to need some work: parts to replace, providers to locate. It’s the same kind of work that’s in front of every one of you now, whether you’re Migrating to another platform, or Homesteading by sticking with your HP 3000s. By announcing it won’t be in the 3000 business in five years, HP changed your ownership community forever. It’s up to you to make it a change it for the better.

You will have to do some thinking on your own. We’ll provide things to consider, and prospects you might make come true.

It takes imagination to see one ending as another beginning, a challenge as an opportunity. You have to put aside the fear and uncertainty and get really aware of what’s out there, start hunting for resources. We believe we can help you, no matter what you choose to do.

Nick chose his 1977 truck because it fit what he wanted to drive: something sturdy, safe, and yeah, a little sexy. Pickup owners will understand that last comment better than others, who might think a truck is a car without a back seat and too much trunk. Owners of “open” systems — what a sham that label is — might wonder about owning an HP 3000, too. The 3000 might not be for everybody, especially those who need lots of company in their choices.

You’ve got company, even if you’re going to be losing a 3000 company in HP. There’s no reprieve from their decision, so it’s time to face it and make some changes. They’re scary times for some, but you’ve got a community to rely on as you make your move. I’d rather have a community than a corporation any day.

It’s the same kind of choice Nick has made buying a truck older than he is. The F-150 of the ’60s and ’70s was so popular that parts for it are carried by several sources independent to Ford. One catalog lets him buy everything in the truck, down to the last stray wire. And oh, there’s support aplenty. Mechanics who work on trucks get a glaze in their eyes when talking about this vehicle. Nick bought his from a fellow down the street I call a “motorhead” with some admiration. My older brother is one of these, a guy who knows everything there is to know about Corvettes, in his case.

No question, you will need to find a motorhead if you’re Homesteading with your HP 3000. They’re out there, plenty of them, the bounty of three decades of business success. They need you now as much as you need them. We’ll do our best to help you find them, so you can watch their eyes glaze over. It’s a great gaze that can validate owning something different.

I realize that all of this flies in the face of HP’s recommendation for its customers: move to something newer, something else. We don’t entirely disagree with HP’s position — we just think it isn’t right for the majority of the 3000 community. We have a broader view of that community than HP. We call this newsletter The 3000 NewsWire, not The HP 3000 NewsWire. We see it’s important to recognize those companies who haven’t bought much 3000-related from HP in a long while, except a support contract.

If you’re not in that group, and you’ve approved a 3000 purchase in the last three or four years, congratulations. HP can see you very clearly as their customer. They believe you cannot get what you need for your business success from the community they can see. They have advice about fixing that forecast which might suit you: buy another HP system at a discount, and begin to migrate. There’s years to get that done. How many depends on what 3000 model you own today. Upgrade now, and you buy even more years to migrate.

Getting steely-eyed for a moment, some of you have already had the Migration decision made for you. You’ve been holding off on turning your 3000 off, because in the near term it still does great business. You own something that people will buy from you years from now, like a 25-year-old truck, simply for its parts.

Migration can be challenging, and you need help in doing that too. We hope to provide you with analysis on that choice, and offer options in picking products and providers to help you park that cooling pickup you have loved so much. Like the motorhead who sold Nick his truck, we want you to find a good home for all that business logic you need to move, the databases with your company’s precious assets inside.

If you don’t know it by now, you need to understand that the computer business thrives on change. One of our partners calls it churn, but makes a living at it, too. We respect those who help people stay afloat through the churn. We plan to spend time talking with people they have helped, and see how waterproof the claims and technology were through the change. Nothing is perfect, especially migration. Getting the right partner, one who knows your 3000’s nuances, is critical to success.

One of those partners can be HP. In the months to come we hope to have some reports about what’s available from your vendor to Migrate. We’ve heard a little about a bit of HP software that helps you see everything on your 3000. The concept isn’t new, but anything that can give you better visibility is essential to your success in riding the churn.

On the other hand, your vision of your system might be 20-20. You might be wondering what kind of ecosystem HP referred to as “eroding,” when everyday your 3000 runs without a worry. What you can’t see yet are the places to buy new parts, or support people to call, when HP hangs up its 3000 jersey. That’s going to be a sad day for some people inside Hewlett-Packard. Some of the best might decide to Homestead right along with you, and join a company dedicated to preserving the 3000’s operating system and database.

We don’t yet know if that company can emerge. HP has that power in its hands, a way to serve the companies who have believed in the HP Way for decades, simply by giving MPE a chance to continue. There’s been a lot of loss this year. I like to believe that people inside HP want to do the right thing for all of the 3000 owners, not simply the ones who have been regular customers. There’s a way to exit a business with grace and dignity. That’s my bit of imagination, like my son seeing a truck that’s a quarter-century old as a “sexy beast, Dad.”

There are firms in the 3000 community today with technical resources who have that kind of passion about your platform. Others will carry you, like people wandering from a disaster covered with dust, to a place where you feel safer. We will help you get to know solutions from both Migraters and Homesteaders in the years to come. Change is about possibilities as well as problems, two ways to look at the same event. I’m writing this just past 6AM, and it couldn’t be darker outside. That’s December for you — in summer the sun would already be up. In these days of the shortest light, use your imagination to find your way through the shadows to a future that’s bright.

— Ron Seybold


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