Whats to Hide?
HP tells Interex to bar press from 3000 Roundtable; meeting
covers prospects to extend HPs support of system
[Publishers Note: We have many social and business
contracts that we observe automatically every day: what side of the
road we drive on, stopping at red lights, hours of business
operation. With our readers, we agree each month to deliver
information that concerns the 3000 both as a product and as a
community. In return, we expect you to read our publication, pay your
invoice and mention us to Sponsors that you may contact. Well outside
of our contract was to have some of you stand up for us at HP World
Reporting news is our job, not being news but
when Interex staff barred all press from attending the e3000
Roundtable, it was you, our readers, that made the difference and
enabled our editor to stay in the room. While Interex staff had a
moveable mountain of a security guard instructed outside the door to
remove that man, many of you were inside standing up for
freedom of the press. You deemed the flow of honest, independent news
more important then continuing with your questions to the HP
Members in the meeting spoke out in protest and
support, and the right thing was done: the press was admitted and
allowed to stay to do its job. Readers stood up representing all of
you who could not be there, so that you can read the following
independent report on the e3000 Roundtable.
Our thanks to you all. More than ever, we appreciate
Inside HPs e3000 Management Roundtable, the
vendor acknowledged it will work to provide support for the HP 3000
beyond 2006 to customers in the US on an exception basis. HP also
explained why it turned down offers to sell off the 3000 business
The support statement from Bob Floyd of HP Services
Americas Customer Support was one of the few eye-openers in a meeting
scheduled for 8 oclock on the morning after HP Worlds
hospitality suite parties. In addition to Floyd, general manager of
Service Delivery Operations, the panel included HP e3000 business
manager Dave Wilde, Jim Calton of HPs Enterprise Systems
Operations to address migration issues, Loretta Li Sevilla from the
3000s marketing team, and 3000 R&D manager Ross MacDonald.
Birket Foster of Platinum Migration partner MB Foster served as
Floyd responded to a query from Duane Percox, one of
the founders of QSS, which sells and supports an HP 3000 K-12
administration package for US school systems. Percox, whose 3000 app
supplier was one of 19 which HP had noted the day before as planning
to move to other HP platforms, said theres a category of
customers who wont be able to migrate by 2006 because of their
They just cant marshal the forces to
make the actual migration, Percox said. In discussions
with other ISVs, we think it could be as long as two additional
years. There really is a need to extend that support under an
Floyd said that the more extensive HP support
resources inside the US make extension of support for the 3000 a
We understand that, and we will not support it
globally because we dont have a presence in all
countries, he said. However, in the US we do have
critical mass, and we can do some things we cant do in other
countries. We can make some exceptions to that and we can do
some things on an exception basis to extend the support life of the
product, but not on a broad basis.
Floyd added that HP needs to consider the
availability of technical expertise in deciding on the exceptions.
I dont see any reason why we
couldnt probably extend that, he said. But HP Support
makes a one-time buy of parts to support that product
once HP sets a date to end its support. Today we have enough
parts, based on the history of the product and the failure rate, to
last us through 2006. Consuming all these parts by 2006 means
HP wont have the parts to provide extended support.
One additional, expanding source of parts will be the
3000s retired by customers as they move up to newer models, or shift
to other computers. For customers to get extra years of support,
There are exceptions we will entertain, Floyd said.
Wilde, as leader of HPs business operations,
said the extension of support shows wed like to work
towards addressing these needs. Its a matter of what we commit
to, versus what we try to do. I hope that our comments up here, and
the announcements weve made, speak to what has up to now been a
fair amount of frustration.
HP announced the day before the roundtable that it
will enable licensing of MPE for an Intel-based 3000 hardware
emulator, including the creation of new MPE licenses. Other OpenMPE
initiatives which HP is supporting include distributing patches for
certain releases of MPE/iX beyond 2006 and making HP documentation
available outside HP Web sites, if needed. HP is also investigating
the role that one or more third-party partners might play in
providing HP 3000 support beyond 2006.
HPs intentions and efforts
A customer asked the panel when he could expect HP to
make promises more firm than those subject to change
announcements made at the prior days OpenMPE meeting. Wilde
replied that HP needs to move forward with less formal promises to
provide the extra resources which its homesteading customers and
lengthy migrators need.
The more we have to say things in terms of
legal agreements, the harder its going to be for us to do those
things, Wilde said. Theres a tradeoff between
trying to signal intent so we can move forward, and the other extreme
of a legal agreement. Thats going to make it harder to move
forward on those things.
If you start getting into signing things, you
have to have all the details worked out, he explained.
Thats the tradeoff we face. Its not to be
wishy-washy, or to leave ourselves an out. Its to make forward
progress faster, and do it in a way that doesnt leave us or you
in an awkward spot.
Wilde also addressed HPs decision to decline
the business offers of last fall to buy the 3000 operations outright.
I wouldnt say the discussions got to the point where
there were very concrete proposals, he said. People made
a high-level case about why their organization might be interested.
We concluded that was a direction we were not
interested in pursuing at that time. We felt and we feel very
committed to continuing to stay in the product business, continuing
to execute our roadmap. Were very interested in moving forward
with our partners to involve them in various parts of the business.
Looking out here I see Michael [Marxmeier, owner of the Eloquence
database], as well as Client Systems and Phoenix Systems in terms of
the remarketed systems area.
Wilde admitted that people feel the right thing for
HP to do would be to sell the business and have somebody pick it up,
and there are some segments of the business where that would be
the right answer. But with our business priorities of working hard to
retain customers, [selling the business] wasnt something that
would be a good use of our time.
Floyd added that HP feels from a support perspective
we have more capabilities than any of our partners, from an
overall standpoint and an escalation standpoint. We will have that in
place as we get closer to 2006.
Wilde said that HP talked about the issue with its
partners and ISVs and large enterprise accounts. We got a lot
of feedback that HP should stay in the business for the next several
years, and not selling off the business, he said.
Bar the door
The Interex attempt to bar the press from the meeting
was a result of a direct request from HP, according to the user
groups Executive Director Ron Evans. We did this for HP
in exchange for a favor they did for us, he said the day before
the management roundtable. I cant get my editors in
Ken Sletten, an Interex leader of a Special Interest
Group and this years co-winner of HPs e3000 Contributor
Award, said the no-press policy needs to go.
We need to nip this in the bud, he said.
It shows a total lack of awareness of the sense of the MPE
community by whatever current senior HP manager it was
that came up with this brilliant back-room plan. Any of
us could have quickly educated them on what an astoundingly dumb move
this was both on HPs part for asking in the first place,
and on Interexs part for agreeing.
Another Interex member at the conference said
HPs no-press requests might hurt the user groups
conference. Keeping the press out of the meetings interferes
with the flow of information, said John Clogg, a system manager
at Coldwater Creek. Now that HP is in the business of killing
products, maybe it has decided to kill HP World as well.
HPs Wilde said that the model of full access
for the press has worked well in years past.
At press time, Interex posted a letter to its members
admitting that the press was regrettably excluded from three
roundtable meetings out of 250 sessions at the request of HPs
PR organization. The letter didnt identify the HP PR
staffers making the request, or clarify why Interex changed its
access policy of more than 25 years.
The user group defended its actions at HP World by
saying that full transcripts of the roundtables have been available
in prior years. Interexs advocacy organization records,
transcribes and communicates verbatim proceedings from all such
roundtables to all Interex members as a matter of course, Interex
felt that agreeing to HPs request would not keep members from
learning what took place.
The user groups board chair Bob Combs said the
organization would be drafting a resolution that would admit the
press to all meetings, but will require a non-disclosure agreement
preventing any reporting on the meeting for
confidential sessions hosted by HP and/or other speakers.
Several members said such a non-disclosure agreement wouldnt be
Because the Interex letter was first distributed over
the Internet, comment on the organizations response was swift.
Wirt Atmar, president of 3000 software supplier AICS Research and an
MPE and IMAGE advocate for many years, said its a sign the user
group is weakening its advocacy.
This is clearly indicative of what has been a
fundamental failing in Interex for the last 10-12 years, Atmar
said. Interex is no longer a user-representative organization.
Rather, it has become nothing more than a sycophant for HP.
Atmar pointed out the trademark HP World, used by the
user group for both its show and its publication, is owned by HP.
Other user group members said the press exclusion
policy appears to be flowing from the Compaq side of the new HP.
Former Interex board member Greg Cagle invited readers on the
Internet to look over next weeks ETS conference, which is
sponsored by the pre-merger Compaq folks. They have lots of NDA
sessions which may be why this has come up now that we are