Organizing a New Orbit of 3000 Experience
Doug Felder is working to bring a quartet of veteran 3000
companies into a cooperative orbit. The new Chief Operating Officer
of ORBiT Software, Felder took the COO post directing the datacenter
and backup provider this summer. His move came not long after he
began talks with Allegro Consultants Steve Cooper about forming
a new consortium of 3000 companies to fill the service and support
void created by HPs decision to quit the MPE business. ORBiT,
Allegro, Lund Performance Solutions and Ideal Computer Services will
make up Resource 3000; the group has held several meetings since its
inception and will be firming up its brand message and Web site this
In his work with Resource 3000, Felder looks like he
is re-creating the project he has been tasked with at ORBiT: to
patiently nudge a collective of companies into a single corporation.
Felder says his mission is to make a focused corporate entity out of
ORBiTs operations, which include separate companies in France,
Germany, and the UK. ORBiTs founder Joerg Grossler took the
companys CEO post in 2003 after buying out his partner Peter
Ackermann. Groessler engaged Felder to analyze the company later that
Felder is returning to a marketplace where he began
his career. His first job out of college was working with
Hewlett-Packard in what was then called the Dymec division, the group
that created HPs first computer. The HP 2114 was on the
companys boards back then, one of the 3000s predecessors.
It was a time, Felder says, when founders Bill Hewlett and Dave
Packard would send employees a card and a gift on
Felder and the alliance partners want to aim the
Resource 3000 consortium at that level of care, a kind of
relationship that the oldest customers in the 3000 market recall
fondly. Before a short stint with consulting firm InterVenture
Partners, Felder worked for companies such as National Semiconductor,
Seagate Software and secure networking supplier Hifn, often managing
alliances between companies.
We wanted to know about the need for a consortium to
serve the 3000 customers still using the machine, as well as how
ORBiTs future looks in the Transition era. We spoke by phone in
the week before the US Presidential election.
Why organize a consortium for 3000 homesteading customers?
This consortium is the key for thousands of e3000
users to receive, now and in the future, timely, expert support from
people who have hundreds of years experience with the e3000.
Do you think a smaller company can offer HPs former
level of service today? Can the 3000 customers ever hope to get that
same kind of experience from smaller firms?
I would certainly hope so. We are making it our
mandate to provide the best and we have assembled a team with the
capability of meeting that mandate. I still believe in the
fundamentals that HP was founded on, to treat the employees and the
customers right, and provide the best technology and support
In fact, HPs philosophy had a tremendous impact
on the way I have approached business during my career. I started my
own company and ran it for seven years based on the same principles:
treat employees right, share the equity with them, provide your
customers with the best service possible. If you make it the focus of
your business, I believe you can treat the customers and employees
the way Hewlett-Packard did years ago.
Are those the goals you want for Resource 3000?
I believe we need to provide more timely service,and
better support, more timely service and support, in a more efficient
way than HP has done recently. I know that the consortium members
have more people with more experience than does HP at this time. We
will be here for the customer base far beyond the period that HP has
set for end of service.
What is ORBiTs role in the consortium?
ORBiT plays a key role. We are an international sales
and marketing company, as well as technology company that has
provided a proprietary backup and restore product to the e3000 user
for 12 plus years. We have European offices in the UK, Germany and
France. We have been growing by reselling other peoples
software and services. It makes sense for us because we have highly
technical people in Europe to take on the front-line offering of the
services and products associated with the Consortium companies.
HP probably still has the majority of the backup and
restore business. When HP discontinues support, we will offer the
customer support on a superior product.
Our ability to sell products and services in Europe
could in some cases be beneficial to our Consortium partners. For
example, we will be taking on Allegros services and
representing them in Europe and the US.
Do you think the consortium companies will maintain some
I think that is entirely possible if a partner offers
a product or service outside of the e3000 environment.
A couple of your consortium members have not done much
marketing. Is that one place where ORBiT adds value?
Absolutely. I hope that our international reach and
technical experience will bring value to our partners. At ORBiT
Germany, we have a manager [Bernd Olthoff] who has 20-years
experience with Orbit and the e3000. Bernd will provide front-line
support for Allegro in France, Spain, and Germany. All our European
managers are very optimistic that they will expand Allegros
support business in Europe in a short period of time.
That said, I would like to add that our partners have
plenty of marketing experience and very creative ideas. Jerry Mills
at Ideal, Steve Cooper at Allegro, Andy Herbert and Bill Lancaster at
Lund Performance Solutions have all made more marketing contributions
to the consortium than I have. For example, Andy and Bills team
created the newspaper, and Jerry Mills developed our first Web site.
Do you think you will be wresting business from the
third-party 3000 service and support suppliers, or replacing HP?
I would much rather win the HP business than go out
after the other third-party companies. HP is telling their customers
they will not support them after 2006, and they will need other
methods to support themselves. I would much rather go after an
abandoned market than one that is being serviced by a competitor.
Will it be tough to get companies who have been supported by
a big HP to consider a smaller entity like yours?
The consortium consists of over 75 people with
hundreds of years of HP 3000/MPE experience. We obviously have more
years of 3000 experience in this consortium than HP currently has on
their staff. If we can get that message across, then I do not think
there is any problem.
Is it easier to get traction for this kind of consortium now,
three years after HPs 3000 announcement?
I think that earlier it would have been more
difficult. The closer you get to a time of crisis, the more apt
people are to pay attention and look for solutions.
Will Resource 3000 benefit from HPs decision to release
MPE source code to third parties?
It most likely would benefit many third party service
organizations to have a license to the MPE source code. Im
unaware of any HP decision at this time to release the code.
Do you need to be that company that HP would license that
source code to?
We dont need to be, but it would allow us to
provide enhancements to the code for our thousands of e3000
customers. The consortium partners want to create a team of experts
providing timely, efficient, MPE support and service for our clients
and ex-HP clients. With source code we could enhance the
clients experience by offering MPE enhancements and bug fixes.
What will you be sharing?
At this time we will be sharing databases, a Web
site, and marketing plans. A newspaper will be forthcoming in
How many 3000 users can you touch across your databases?
Its in the thousands. We have 800-plus
customers ourselves at ORBiT. A preliminary evaluation shows
theres some overlap with the other companies, but not as much
as we thought.
Whats your guess on how big the 3000 market is these
We always throw around about 10,000 users. I
dont want to speculate on whether thats 10,000 licenses
for 3000s, or 10,000 companies.
Whats the next major milestone for the consortium?
Authentic Marketing, a marketing consulting group, is
creating a brand bible for us which will be the document that governs
development of all our marketing efforts and offerings. Once the
brand bible is complete we will launch the Consortium with a new Web
site, a newspaper created by the experts at Lund, an Executive
Summary, press release and advertisements.
What about ORBiTs future?
Im doing a new business plan for 2005 right
now. ORBiT has been a conglomeration of companies, and Ive
tried to bring them together as a corporation, so we can work better
as a team and provide our customers services, support and the right
products in a timely manner.
Ive instituted things like putting on Grant
Thornton in Europe to do the accounting so we get US GAAP-formatted
accounting. We have a corporate consolidated financial statement,
which we didnt have before unless you took a look at an Excel
Im looking for new products to sell in Europe
and the US. Im making certain our technical guys are top-notch
and can handle the new HP 3000 services and any new products we take
on. With our development capability wed like to be able to
create another proprietary product hopefully one as successful
as the Backup Plus product that Joerg Groessler developed.
Do you think ORBiTs future lies along HP 3000 products
and services as its primary offering? How long do you think the
company can ride the 3000 steed?
Im putting us in the best position I can to
take advantage of the situation. We do a lot of third party
reselling, particularly in Europe.
We plan to offer the e3000 community enhanced
products, services, and support for as long as the market demands. If
the majority of the customers say theyre going to migrate
sooner or later, that certainly is a message I should take into
consideration as far as my plans are concerned.
How does it look like things have changed for the 3000 while
you were away from the market?
If you look at the bell curve, youre down at
the bottom right-hand side of it. It isnt a growing
marketplace, but it may be a growing customer base for the consortium
because HPs abandoning the market.
In the HP 3000, theres a product that has a
legacy in what HP used to be all about. Evidence of that is that
people are using a computer first developed over 25 years ago and
its a viable, secure, reliable product. Thats almost
unheard of in todays market of disposable products.
The 3000 computer and MPE OS just keeps on
truckin along. You dont have to reboot it, like Windows
products. Its solid as a rock, secure, and reliable. Its
the old HP. Im kind of a nostalgia guy, so it makes perfect
sense to be in this market.