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September 1999

In training for Internet, Chapter Three

NewsWire Editorial

The early grey of the day wraps around our house, and we kick off the covers to rise to our pre-dawn alarm. Dottie and I stretch and center before sunup, performing old practices in the near-dark: her with yoga, me with qi gong. We strap on a stopwatch, lace up hiking shoes and head out to the cool asphalt streets of our neighborhood. Our big poodle Gracie is by our side, just as the sun offers up its first rays. She is in training too, learning to heel without a leash. While Gracie won’t make the climb, our goal is to hike the Crest Trail in New Mexico’s White Mountain Wilderness this month, more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Getting up to the Crest Trail takes training. It’s a climb in the spirit of those we’re watching you make with your HP 3000s, the kind that demands practice.

There are millions of computer professionals taking this training this year. We reveled in our reunion with them at HP World, taking notes alongside them in sessions and roundtables, all of us stretching ourselves. Amid the dazzle of e-everything at HP World, we found a comfort for HP 3000 customers. Like the two of us preparing in the cool darkness, you are training for something new with something very old — and yet inside that something old is something new.

It’s like the training for our mountain hike. The trails in the wilderness will be new to us, as different a terrain as the world of e-services might feel to 20-year experts in MPE/iX. But we are training with old practices, the ageless yoga and the ancient qi gong, and then, simply walking for miles. You are training with the next chapter of the Internet, the HP 3000.

It took an older viewpoint to help me see this, one delivered at HP World. Alfredo Rego was nearly speechless when he won his Outstanding Contributor’s Award from CSY General Manager Harry Sterling. But even in his surprise, Rego managed to voice what must have been on his mind through the circus atmosphere that week. He said Chapters One and Two of the Internet belonged to Unix and Windows 2000, respectively. “Chapter Three, HP 3000,” he said, to the applause of the audience.

Making a statement like that is as much a dare as it is a boast or a prediction. It’s like sitting here at almost sea-level in a Texas August and saying “We’ll be able to climb to the Crest Trail, working our way up the mountainside, gulping the thin air of New Mexico.” Some might say it will be tough, looking at where we’re starting — fighting off editor’s spread, walking in the thick oxygen of Austin. We just smile, perhaps like you do, and think of our training, the practice that wills us toward new heights.

Training is essential to any climb. After the show ended, we stayed over one night in San Francisco but didn’t go far afield. We crossed the street to the IMAX theatre and watched a movie about climbers challenging Mt. Everest. In that marvelous story was a scene with the son of Tensing Norgay, the first Sherpa to scale the peak. The young Jamling was following in his father’s footsteps with training, high-stepping through snow up to knees, preparing himself for the challenge ahead. He climbed with the confidence that his father’s legacy would be helping him along the path.

I thought about all of us who are preparing for climbs into new heights, and how much easier our training is when it contains the legacy of proven practices. Your HP 3000s are the old element within the new challenge of delivering e-services. But even within that old element is something new: the 3000’s ability to serve over the Internet.

There’s no doubt that we owe the birth of the Internet to Unix. The experimental time was a neat fit with the environment where rolling your own tools was the norm. In much the same way, the proliferation of the Internet is the spawn of NT (which Microsoft wants to call Windows 2000 now, to be trendy and leave behind memories of high-maintenance environments.) Windows 2000’s affordable servers have made the network big enough to deliver service everywhere.

But it takes a different kind of platform to bring the reliability to the Internet, and so pass us on to its Chapter 3. A platform brought up on remote services, a business where each minute connected earned revenue. This was the 3000’s strength long before the Internet was real enough to have a flyleaf, let alone entire chapters. The old time-sharing success of the 3000 — being able to stay running with little fuss longer than anything — is going to make your e-training easier.

These days there are standard networks circling the world, something unheard of in the days of time-sharing HP 3000s. Java advocates at the show were excited about seeing HP 3000s serve up animation and sound. Such experiments proved more than the 3000’s flexibility in its age. They asserted that anything old can feel new again.

Watching veteran 3000 customers get excited about the system’s potential at HP World was as invigorating as I expect the mountain air to feel in a few weeks. Even HP showed off the newest style in one of computing’s oldest companies, as CEO Carly Fiorina piggy-backed her introduction onto Ann Livermore’s e-services keynote. Where once there was but one keynote at HP shows — memories of Rego at a Madrid conference challenging HP come to mind — now we can have a mini-keynote within a single keynote. At such time life feels like it is only change, or waiting for change to occur.

So it was with great relief we heard Sterling, who has emerged as the conscience of HP’s customer-first movement, dedicate Rego’s award to the spirit inside the 3000 division. “It’s important to note how much these people have contributed to our success,” Sterling said. “As the 3000 experiences new growth and success and we welcome new customers, we will remember how we got here.” Spinning an everlasting favorite toy, the yo-yo, Sterling reminded us all how legacy can assure success.

The training is required, but new opportunities for the 3000 were plentiful this summer in San Francisco. As you roll into the dim light while extending your 3000’s reach into e-services, don’t keep your legacy advantage to yourself. Speak up and share. Dottie and I will see you up along the crest of the century, eyeing the 3000’s vision for a new millennium, ready to write the Internet’s newest chapter.

— Ron Seybold 


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