Keeping 3000 Strategies in Motion
Chris Koppe is spreading a message thats full of
possibilities. The director of marketing for Speedware has been
associated with the HP 3000 for 17 years, from work in development to
sales and channel relationships for the firm based in Montreal. Last
year Koppe drove though the purchase of AMXW from Neartek, giving his
company a 3GL tool to broaden its 3000 migration solution set. He
also earned a seat on the Interex HP user groups board of
directors, following in the lively footsteps of other MPE-
vendor-related board members such as APIs Jane Copeland and
HI-COMPs Denys Beauchemin, both of which chaired the
Speedware is one of a handful of companies that stand
astride the migration and homesteading worlds for 3000 users,
offering its 4GL and Web development software, DBMotion database tool
and the AMXW suite. In facing a year of challenges for the user group
along with a slowly growing migration business for Speedware, Koppe
looks to have signed up for an interesting 2004. We spoke to him
about migrations promises and Interex prospects just after HP
announced two more years of support for the 6.5 MPE/iX release, and
about a month before the user groups Solutions Symposium.
You ran for the Interex board by saying you had a lot of
ideas for the user group. What are your favorite proposals for
Interex has to expand to survive, and focus on engaging new
users, Unix and those coming over from Compaq. It has to do what it
did for the 3000 community but on a broader level. Interex needs to
focus on HP better. Theres changing faces at HP, and lot of
those people may not know much about Interex. Interex has to go back
in and remarket itself. Interex needs to create communities for HP
strongholds like Compaq and Unix.
Hows the relationship today between the Compaq user
group Encompass and Interex?
Its much better than last year. We had an experiment
last year with HP World, and both sides have learned from that.
Theres more communication, and thats one of the main
goals of Interex: to work better with Encompass and HP.
Will this years HP World conference be a joint
meeting like last years?
Thats still being ironed out. I dont think
either group wants to fold into the other, so co-existence is the way
it will play out for now.
What kind of role should a vendor-specific user group like
Interex play in todays cross-vendor world?
Theres still a need for a sense of community, a
place to turn where someone is creating events and publications
tailored to platforms. Thats where Interex has its strengths.
When you look at the enterprise-type products from HP, you see a need
for that. Users need to find other expert users in the community.
Interex can facilitate that.
Do you think in the years to come the user groups
national meetings should be admitting HPs competitors to the
vendor exhibits floor?
Its a balancing act. Interex cannot do things that
upset HP to the point where HP doesnt like working with
Interex. Thats not productive or revenue-generating. The main
need is to satisfy the needs of the end-users. That being said, there
are multiple stakeholders in Interex: the end users, the vendors that
Interex depends on, and HP itself. The primary reason for
Interexs existence is the user, not the other two. We have to
keep everybody happy.
Well continue to see other vendors at these events, but
they will be with HPs knowledge and approval. We let them know
ahead of time.
What is the most important, currently-unmet service that
Interex can provide to the 3000 users?
Today, it can be stronger in its ability to be a knowledge
resource. Post-2006, Interex has expressed a desire to be the MPE
source code repository. The more important role is an HP 3000
knowledge center beyond the end of life date. Where will the users
turn for news and community information about MPE? It will have to
somebody other than HP.
How much impact has Speedwares purchase of AMXW had
on Speedwares migration services business?
Having the tool stay with a 3000 vendor was critical to
its ongoing life. It still has a worldwide distribution network, but
were selling it directly now, too. Its had a positive
impact on our business, and weve seen a lot more migration
opportunities leveraged from it.
Before, we saw maybe 25 percent of our migration business
from non-Speedware customers. Now the majority of our migration work
is centered around COBOL, Fortran. Its been a big shift for us,
and its broadened our ability to reach the market. There were a
lot of companies out there who saw us before as a 4GL company. Having
AMXW helps us clear that niche a little bit.
Has the 3000 customer base moved away from the platform at
an expected rate?
No, I think people expected it to be more linear, and people
to start projects a little sooner. I think people have regrouped
their expectations over the last 6-12 months. Virtually no one
migrated in the first year. Were doing some migration projects
today, but were seeing a lot more budgeting and analysis right
now. The majority of those who will move and theres
going to be a lot of them who homestead are still planning
Why did the rate of migration slip so far behind
The customers who are now on the 3000 have systems running
well. Change is the enemy, and if you change it too much, youre
putting all that stability at risk. 3000 customers are risk-averse,
and theyre more careful. Getting the budget approved in many
companies requires board-level approval. That can be a painful
How long do you think youll be doing
The way things look today, I would say more than half of them
will be after 2006. I dont think people have enough time.
Theyll start in 2005. Were at the beginning of that
So do you think HPs still getting out of the market
HPs committed to their walk-away strategy. HP is
willing to talk to you about post-2006 support if you present them
with a plan. But for the average customer, that wont be the
How much longer do you believe companies can use HP 3000s
for mission-critical applications?
I dont think theres a useful lifespan, but I
believe after 2006 its going to get progressively more
difficult and more expensive to maintain. In 2007 theres going
to be a slew of companies offering third party support.
So whats the risk in waiting? Is your migration
services group fully engaged?
Were seen a lot of bench time for our resources. But I
already see where thats going to change. People who wait will
have to pay more.
Did HP do the right thing by extending support for the
6.5 MPE/iX release?
Its the right thing and the wrong thing from different
perspectives. For HP users, I can see how they did the right thing to
give them breathing space to focus on their migrations. Theres
two downsides to it, and theyre pretty big. It might send the
wrong message to users that HP is flexible about its 2006 date. For
software vendors its the wrong thing to do, because its
going to require additional resources for us to test when we hoped to
drop 6.5 testing.
Do you believe that HP-UX will draw more 3000 migrating
customers than Windows?
I do. Were certainly seeing that in the analysis
services we do while interviewing customers. It might be as high as a
70-30 split. The most influential factor might be the size of the
3000 shop. Smaller shops are more likely to go to Windows than the
shop supporting two or three 3000s and 200 users.
How much of the 3000 customer base is able to make
migrations without services assistance?
I believe more than half can do it themselves. The issue has
nothing to do with the availability of tools. Doing it yourself is
very viable. It really boils down to a resource issue. A lot of 3000
shops are run on skeleton staffs, and they dont have any
resource to tackle a project like that.
How can a software supplier that operates a services
practice provide extra value to a migrating 3000 customer?
Its one-stop shopping for tools and services. We have a
deeper level of expertise, because we have the technology we built,
and so we benefit from a multi-disciplined practice. We also
dont have a specific agenda; were not there to sell you a
tool or a service, and were able to play a role of helping the
customer do whats best for him. The big customers get HPs
attention, but a lot of the smaller customers dont get
HPs attention and theres less people at HP to give
How much attention does Speedware want to pay to
Homesteading is viable. We are firmly entrenched with
support beyond 2006. They should think about when its the best
time to migrate, now or in 2010. As long as we have customers on the
3000 platform, well continue to support them. As the migration
market is rolling out slower, our commitment is stronger and
stronger. Lots of people wont be off in 2006.