| Front Page | News Headlines | Technical Headlines | Planning Features | Advanced Search |
HI-COMP Sponsor Message

September 2000

Why the 3000 Business Belongs Inside HP

Guest Editorial

By Rick Gilligan
Computer and Software Enterprises

[Editor’s Note: During the recent Internet debate about HP’s lack of corporate-level recognition of the e3000, customers heard another call to spin off the Commercial Systems Division (CSY) from HP into a wholly owned subsidiary. An HP e3000 channel partner, who created the “e3000: Who Knew?” advocacy shirts in time for HP World, makes the following argument in reply.]

After some reflection, I think we should be careful about suggesting a spin-off of the HP e3000 division (CSY) from HP.

I am very satisfied with the commitment and actions of CSY over the past four years or so. My issues are with the appearance that higher levels of HP are out-of-sync with what CSY is doing and what CSY and its product can offer to HP (profits from HP inventions) and customers (reliability, and forward compatibility are two).

Here’s the major reasons I believe that a spin-off of CSY might not be a good thing.

1. IA-64. An independent CSY would probably not have the same resources for this project. Until IA-64 and MPE for IA-64 are ready, I think it would be shooting ourselves in the foot (or worse) if they actually spun it off. I am also not sure they would spin it off with enough resources to complete that promised project.

2. Hardware. CSY would still need to buy PA-RISC hardware from HP.

3. Support. CSY would need to buy the Response Center support. It would be a major undertaking for CSY to start their own call center.

4. Service. CSY would need to train more 3000-specific CEs or contract with HP for the service.

5. Major accounts. Would HP’s major accounts using the HP e3000 feel as comfortable with just the resources from CSY? As opposed to the much larger resources HP can bring to bear on an issue?

Conspicuously absent from the list is the sales force. What’s that, you say? An HP e3000 sales force? I believe that is the application software vendors, at this time. They are the people championing the e3000 and selling new customers. I’m one of them.

It seems as though HP is primarily working to keep the existing e3000 software vendors happy — but isn’t actively looking for new vendors in the markets where the platform’s reliability and ease of maintenance would be a great fit.

To reach the corporate developers and their management (high enough up where a 27-year track record like the e3000’s is attractive) would involve things like advertising in golf magazines, in-flight magazines, etc. Among all the noise, the message should be that there is a reliable mission-critical business server with an excellent, lengthy track record of forward compatibility unmatched by HP’s competitors..

Reaching vertical application providers (especially new developers) involves going through the common developers’ magazines, business magazines, vertical-market-specific trade shows, etc. Having some mention of the HP e3000 and MPE/iX at a corporate level makes it easier for them to hear the messages as to why the e3000 is a good choice, among the large number of other messages. (Developers: think how quickly you scan magazines and ads, looking to extract useful information.)

The “brand marketing” currently being practiced by HP does nothing to promote the features of the HP e3000 to any of these groups — especially when they don’t even typically mention the HP e3000, MPE/iX or TurboIMAGE. Someone in these organizations who even tried to champion the HP e3000 might be met with “HP e3000 who?” from management. As long as there is little mention of the HP e3000, this will probably continue to be the most common case.

Perhaps getting some of the existing HP e3000 developers to visit (with HP) some of the vertical market trade shows (where there isn’t already an HP e3000 developer), where the e3000 is a good fit might work. Visiting the booths where the software vendors are might work. Unfortunately the people who work the show are not always savvy about reliability and forward compatibility (and other important features of the platform they sell software for), but perhaps they could provide contact information for people who are the decision makers. In case they actually find real developers and informed managers, then the HP rep and an existing e3000 developer could pitch why they think the e3000 might be a good fit.

For new, start-up developers, it’s a different story. They are typically not very visible before or during development. Perhaps an HP e3000 specific booth at something like the Software Development conferences, or at some of the e-services conferences would be appropriate. But, I still think HP should bring a developer along for one main reason: credibility. It’s one thing for HP to say the e3000 is a good fit. It’s another for a developer to say that.

The message we want to get across to the management of HP above CSY: Please market your invention (MPE/iX and TurboIMAGE) more effectively than you have been.

I believe that suggestions to “spin off CSY” really had our frustrations with HP’s marketing at their heart, and we were suggesting a form of relief: Letting CSY do their own marketing, where they could present the “case for why the e3000 makes sense.”

I think that having HP spin off CSY may not be a good idea.

I’ve been developing banking software exclusively for the HP e3000 since 1980, interoperating with many other platforms. I also personally own a small number of shares of HP stock. The company I work for and its customers depend on the HP e3000 platform. I also depend upon it to earn a living. HP and the e3000 haven’t let me down yet. I look forward to the possibility of more aggressive and effective marketing of the e3000 by HP.

Copyright The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved.