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Chris Koppe
Director of Marketing


March 2004

Keeping 3000 Strategies in Motion

Chris Koppe is spreading a message that’s 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 group’s board of directors, following in the lively footsteps of other MPE- vendor-related board members such as API’s Jane Copeland and HI-COMP’s Denys Beauchemin, both of which chaired the board.

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 migration’s 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 group’s 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 improving it?

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. There’s 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.

How’s the relationship today between the Compaq user group Encompass and Interex?

It’s much better than last year. We had an experiment last year with HP World, and both sides have learned from that. There’s more communication, and that’s one of the main goals of Interex: to work better with Encompass and HP.

Will this year’s HP World conference be a joint meeting like last year’s?

That’s still being ironed out. I don’t 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 today’s cross-vendor world?

There’s still a need for a sense of community, a place to turn where someone is creating events and publications tailored to platforms. That’s 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 group’s national meetings should be admitting HP’s competitors to the vendor exhibits floor?

It’s a balancing act. Interex cannot do things that upset HP to the point where HP doesn’t like working with Interex. That’s 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 Interex’s existence is the user, not the other two. We have to keep everybody happy.

We’ll continue to see other vendors at these events, but they will be with HP’s 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 Speedware’s purchase of AMXW had on Speedware’s 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 we’re selling it directly now, too. It’s had a positive impact on our business, and we’ve 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. It’s been a big shift for us, and it’s 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. We’re doing some migration projects today, but we’re seeing a lot more budgeting and analysis right now. The majority of those who will move — and there’s going to be a lot of them who homestead — are still planning today.

Why did the rate of migration slip so far behind projections?

The customers who are now on the 3000 have systems running well. Change is the enemy, and if you change it too much, you’re putting all that stability at risk. 3000 customers are risk-averse, and they’re more careful. Getting the budget approved in many companies requires board-level approval. That can be a painful process.

How long do you think you’ll be doing migrations?

The way things look today, I would say more than half of them will be after 2006. I don’t think people have enough time. They’ll start in 2005. We’re at the beginning of that adoption curve.

So do you think HP’s still getting out of the market by 2006?

HP’s 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 won’t be the case.

How much longer do you believe companies can use HP 3000s for mission-critical applications?

I don’t think there’s a useful lifespan, but I believe after 2006 it’s going to get progressively more difficult and more expensive to maintain. In 2007 there’s going to be a slew of companies offering third party support.

So what’s the risk in waiting? Is your migration services group fully engaged?

We’re seen a lot of bench time for our resources. But I already see where that’s 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?

It’s 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. There’s two downsides to it, and they’re pretty big. It might send the wrong message to users that HP is flexible about its 2006 date. For software vendors it’s the wrong thing to do, because it’s 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. We’re 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 don’t 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?

It’s 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 don’t have a specific agenda; we’re not there to sell you a tool or a service, and we’re able to play a role of helping the customer do what’s best for him. The big customers get HP’s attention, but a lot of the smaller customers don’t get HP’s attention — and there’s less people at HP to give them attention.

How much attention does Speedware want to pay to homesteaders’ needs?

Homesteading is viable. We are firmly entrenched with support beyond 2006. They should think about when it’s the best time to migrate, now or in 2010. As long as we have customers on the 3000 platform, we’ll continue to support them. As the migration market is rolling out slower, our commitment is stronger and stronger. Lots of people won’t be off in 2006.

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