Mapping a New Harbor for 3000 Data
Michael Marxmeier is creating a new harbor for companies who
must sail out of their familiar HP 3000 database waters. The most
recent efforts of his company have delivered a version of Eloquence
the database built for non-3000 systems that works like the
3000s IMAGE with value and speed similar to the database
at the 3000s heart.
Marxmeier, 43, has spent more than one-third of his
life creating and nurturing Eloquence. His company based in
Wuppertal, Germany has seven full-time employees, and after retaking
full ownership of the database from HP this spring, he says its
ready to grow even larger. The size of Marxmeier Software AG becomes
an issue when customers match it against the databases from competing
companies: Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, offering Oracle, SQL Server and
DB2. HP 3000 customers have long seen small software companies
deliver far better product and support than larger firms, however,
and Eloquence has an advantage over the big names: it sells for
little more than $7,000 per server, far less than the better known
products. Whats more, developers report that Eloquence includes
an awareness about IMAGE intrinsics that no other database even tries
Like so many of the HP 3000s developer gurus,
Marxmeier reports he got hooked on computers during high school. Also
like some, he started in a college program and then found the
business world more interesting than completing his computer science
and math studies. His computer career began working for an HP
reseller, introducing him to HP systems. Those were HPs Unix
systems, however, the computers for which he built the first version
of Eloquence in 1987. Hed already built up a store of IT
business experience, managing three different branches of a
medium-sized businesss computer operations at age 22.
In person Marxmeier still carries a youthful
enthusiasm. At last years HP World I watched him verify his
discoveries about the internals of IMAGE with HPs Tien You
Chen. His informal conversation that I overheard sounded like a
veteran speaking of HP 3000 database experience, as Marxmeier
explained to HPs top IMAGE expert his understanding of the
databases internal workings.
Eloquence was born of an HP transition similar to the
one the 3000 community has begun. The database was at the heart of
another business system HP stepped away from, the HP 250. That small
business machine had a customer community much like the 3000s
and Marxmeier wrote a work-alike system to help his company move its
applications onto HPs Unix systems. Forced to leave a
well-designed environment, the experience seems to have given the
company a humility in its 3000 transition mission that stands in
sharp contrast to the swagger of Oracle and the other alternatives.
It seems that the Eloquence alternative offers more for the typical
HP 3000 shop that has learned to be efficient with its resources.
Eloquence was sold to HP at first, but this year the
software and the future of the product returned to his ownership.
This step away from HP impressed as an independent move, one of the
few things that seemed to stand in the way of a broader future for
Eloquence as an IMAGE replacement. Marxmeier seems to direct the
development with an eye toward possibility, already moving his
software onto Itanium systems earlier this year. He moved Eloquence
to Linux in 1997, and believes it was HPs first software ready
for that environment.
In that same year the company took over sales and
distribution of the product, but this year marks the first that this
small company is truly out on its own. We wanted to know where
Eloquence can take 3000 sites with IMAGE applications that need to be
preserved for their business rules and where Marxmeier wants
to take the database that looks destined to harbor HP 3000 data.
What part of your business did HP 3000 customers represent 10
years ago? Is it fair to say nearly all initial customers were not
Eloquence was originally created to move HP 250/HP
260 applications to HP-UX. The HP 250 was a low end business system,
typically used for small business or branch offices and was
discontinued in 1990. The HP 250 was a success in the US and did
extremely well in Europe. You can find a few notes on the Eloquence
The huge majority of the HP 250 VARs and installed
base moved to Eloquence in the early 1990s. Eloquence managed to make
the transition painless by providing backwards binary compatibility.
A number of current applications based on Eloquence have their roots
on the 250.
There used to be little overlap with the Eloquence
customer base and the HP 3000, because the systems were aiming
towards different markets.
What made you continue to work on TurboIMAGE compatibility
for Eloquence before November, 2001?
We initially got started with TurboIMAGE
compatibility in a migration project with a well known HP 3000 ISV.
They investigated options to migrate their application to HP-UX.
Since we already had a similar IMAGE implementation available on
HP-UX we became part of that project. It worked well and we decided
to continue with this project.
When we started in 1999 it seemed to be an easy task.
Our IMAGE implementation was working for years and the difference did
not seem that big. With some hindsight its safe to say that its
always the remaining 10 percent of the work that takes 90 percent of
How much time have you devoted to learning IMAGE at a
It depends how you look at it. Anything between a few
weeks up to 25 years. I started with IMAGE on the HP 250 in 1979. We
implemented the first HP 250 IMAGE workalike on HP-UX in 1988.
While the HP 250s IMAGE differs from
TurboIMAGE, both follow the same approach. The TurboIMAGE
implementation has its own history and details that applications rely
on. In the development process I learned a lot about IMAGE beyond the