Leading HPs Way to Not Fade Away
Floyd has a mission over the next year for HP 3000 sites to
ensure the servers users dont want their link with HP to
fade away. Floyd manages delivery of HPs support services for
North and South America, including HP 3000 support, and its his
product that will remain HPs primary deliverable to MPE shops
after HP stops selling the 3000 on Oct. 31. He comes to the task with
an intimate knowledge of how HP 3000 support used to work. Floyd
started with HP as a Customer Engineer serving HP 3000 sites in the
Cincinnati, Ohio region since 1977, serving nine years in all as a CE
before moving into more executive posts with the company, moving from
district to area to regional services manager.
Floyd now directs more than 7,000 HP Services personnel in
the Americas, from staff in the IT Response Center to the field
engineers who still visit HP 3000 shops that remain on HP support. He
is responsible for operational excellence in HPs delivery
capabilities, and ensuring customer satisfaction and delivery expense
goals are met and exceeded. Last year we spotted him on an HP 3000
roundtable addressing the future of HPs support schedule, and
noted a frank comment that support might remain available after 2006
on a case by case basis. This year Floyd returned to HP World on the
new e3000 Customer Needs panel. We wanted to ask him how he expects
to keep up levels of support to satisfy 3000 customers, and whether
HP support might offer a goodwill bridge to an installed base still
smarting from HPs exit from the market.
steps is HP taking to retain the MPE expertise in its support
centers? How is the company encouraging the veterans who know the
operating environment to stay in a part of HPs business
thats not growing anymore? Will HP protect these experts from
We do several things around benefits and rewards for our
employees. Employees with MPE expertise participate in stock options.
Even though they are supporting MPE, we also give them opportunities
to increase their career path, map out training requirements to
achieve that. Thats so they dont come up to 2006 and are
left without something to support. We want to migrate those
individuals, because they have a lot of HP experience.
HP have a plan to reduce the cost of system support for 3000
customers over the next two years? Will HP continue to provide as
many MPE enhancements as it has in the past?
Were in a very cost-competitive environment these days.
Within the Services organization of HP we are doing some dramatic
steps to reduce our costs so we can become more cost-competitive. Any
reductions we make would be reflected on the e3000 as well our other
Regarding MPE enhancements, HP will continue to leverage the
advocacy groups and processes such as Interex, the SIGs, and the SIB
process to get input from our installed based of their prioritized
needs. HP will then review and inform the SIB group of our decision.
HP will continue to proactively monitor both customers needs
and HPs future peripheral roadmap offerings.
HP 3000 customers see onsite support that knows about the system? At
HP World you mentioned that the customer is likely to be visited by
an HP Services staff member who knows less about the 3000 than the
We are seeing less services activity in the support centers,
as well as on-site. The on-site delivery is a distributed factor, so
we cant build a unique group of engineers there like we can in
the support centers. The expertise of the on-site resources might
decrease over time. However, we continue to invest heavily in
retaining the highest level of expertise in our remote centers. They
become more involved in directing the actions of the on site engineer
who may not be as skilled.
We have a higher level of expertise that is available to go
on-site, our escalation engineers. We have retained this highly
skilled expertise to go on-site for critical or complex situations.
This has been a model that has been extremely successful for other HP
products as they have reached end of support life.
what level of support must a customer buy to get access to that HP
Its actually any level of support. If we cannot solve
the problem in a timely manner, we will escalate that problem through
our technical resources. A customer who has a higher level of support
we have more knowledge of them and a better relationship with them.
We can anticipate problems and react quicker to them.
third party support options continue to emerge for 3000 sites, can HP
get more cost-competitive against these options?
We are in the best position to provide support due to our
access to the source code, support and lab personnel. HP has provided
high quality, cost competitive support services on the e3000 and we
will continue this practice until the end of support date.
half of the HP 3000 customers are using a version of MPE/iX that is
going off support at the end of 2004. Do you think HP should extend
the support life of this 6.5 release?
We should do whats best for the customers. If we are
able to support the extension at the same customer experience level
that we have been, I think we need to take that into consideration.
your group work with any authorized HP resellers who want to
establish an independent 3000 support practice after 2006?
We will evaluate those resellers and partners out there. And
if we feel they can deliver the same customer experience that our
customers demand from HP, and that will make them successful going
forward, well certainly look to work with them to make them
We believe that HP is in the best position to provide
customers with quality support, and that it will be very challenging
for a reseller to provide quality software support beyond HPs
end of support date. We may be open to working with HP resellers that
have the right business model and support capabilities to potentially
provide HP e3000 support after HPs end of support date.
Its going to reflect on HP even after 2006 if a customer gets a
bad service experience.
year you mentioned that some customers might be able to buy HP
support after 2006 for their 3000s, so long as parts are available.
What has the last year shown you about HPs ability to extend
3000 support on a case by case basis? How is the parts supply holding
Its going about as we expected. We have enough stock
and parts in place to definitely support to the end of 2006. As parts
get older, they tend to experience a higher failure rate. Were
going to have to continue monitor this. I think well be able to
add some clarity in a year or so. The supply of parts to support the
e3000 server families continues to be manageable.
will you do to put 3000 administrators in quicker contact with MPE
specialists on a support call? At HP World several customers said at
the Customer Needs Panel that it was taking too long to reach a
3000-trained support staffer.
Based on the feedback we received from HP World we were able
to resolve that customers particular issue. Additionally we are
implementing a direct connect program for our customers to more
easily connect them with our technical MPE resources. We went and
followed up with the customer from Longs Drug who was having
the problem, and it was a problem we had with the entitlement system.
Direct connect means when an e3000 customer calls us and comes
through the voice recognition tree system, we understand what their
entitlement is: high-level support, basic support, and well
connect them with a service engineer at that time instead of having
to go through a separate entitlement process. It should mean an
online connection, instead of a call-back connection.
you forecast that youll offer the current range of support
products for HP 3000 customers, both PSS and CSS, through 2006?
HP will continue to provide a comprehensive portfolio of
support services, including PSS and CSS, until e3000 end of support.
criteria will HP Services use to qualify third party firms that can
take the place of HP Support after 2006?
We may be open to working with third parties that have the
right business model and support capabilities to potentially provide
HP e3000 support after HPs end of support date. At this time,
we have not developed any specific criteria. Its parts,
its technical expertise, quick resolution for the
customers business needs.
you empower these people with source code to do this?
We have a lot of degrees of freedom in what we can do.
Its a matter of waiting for the right time to look at that. You
dont want to make that decision until youre close to that
event, because things change.
can HP Services help 3000 customers remain loyal to the vendor as
they change operating environments? Is there a business case to be
made for making HPs support a gateway into a new future with
Absolutely. Thats our business intent, to give the
customers the very best level of support. By building customer
loyalty and a relationship with that customer, it will make that
customer a repeat buyer of HP hardware, software and services. HP is
working hard to ensure the transition off the e3000 platforms to
other HP solutions is as smooth as possible. We will continue to
listen and respond to needs brought to our attention, work to provide
both HP managed services and HP education services as we are doing,
along with strong partner programs, loaners, trade ins and conversion
kits. Its a matter of how the customer wants to transition, if
they want to transition, and what we can do to help them as they go
you make exceptions to extend support for customers who cannot finish
a transition by HPs end of support?
On a case by case basis, absolutely. We probably will not
have the resources to do that on a worldwide basis. If a customer
commits to us, and is 40 or 50 percent through a transition,
were certainly not going to leave them out there on their