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June 2005

Windows winning more migration choices

HP-UX meets fewer than one in three needs; other Unixes close behind in survey

Update: Follow the later results on the NewsWire's blog

When the vendor launched 3000 transitions, HP hoped to steer many of its HP 3000 customers onto other Hewlett-Packard platforms. But the largest share of migrating sites have turned to Windows for their 3000 replacement, according to a NewsWire survey in June.

Almost 50 percent of customers reported their replacement systems will run Microsoft’s Windows environment. The choice follows a trend already established by e-commerce application provider Ecometry. That supplier offers both Windows and HP-UX releases to its migrating 3000 customers. Ecometry, which counts more packaged 3000 software installations than any program but perhaps MANMAN ERP, continues to report a high level of Windows replacement for those sites leaving the HP 3000.

The company recently purchased Blue Martini, another software provider, one whose installed base relies on Unix-based applications. Up to now, Unix-based Ecometry customers have been almost entirely limited to new installations.

3000 customers reported their choices during the first week of June by e-mail. Less than 10 percent were undecided about their migration targets. Those moving to HP-UX frequently said they were following their app vendors, such as Amisys.

Larger 3000 sites made up the majority of early migration adopters, many of whom chose HP-UX to replace MPE/iX. Now the smaller sites are turning to a migration challenge they hope to meet on a familiar platform: Microsoft’s Windows.

While HP-UX has notched its victories among MPE/iX sites, the typical small-to-midsize 3000 customer is choosing a more popular platform.

“We have never learned Unix or Linux, only MPE and Windows, and it is a lot easier to hire and train Windows people,” said Dennis Boruck of CMC Software, makers of the Blackstone judicial application. Blackstone’s success in the Clark County, Nevada courts led HP to highlight the MPE/iX application in a success story.

Some customers express a reluctance to put mission-critical computing onto Windows platforms. But Windows’ familiarity has won it many converts. “We are moving to a Windows 2003 Server environment because it is the easiest to manage compared to Unix or Linux,” said programmer supervisor E. Martin Gilliam of the Wise County, Va. Data Processing department.

Carter-Pertaine, makers of K-12 software, said Speedware’s migration path to HP-UX is guiding the first phase of its customer migration strategy. But Quintessential School Systems, which is the C-P parent, is also working on a Linux option.

Linux ascending

Linux came in for specific praise from a surprising number of customers, considering how much open source software must lie at the heart of such a choice. Sierra Telephone will be moving to the MySQL database and Sybase’s Adaptive Server Anywhere, “because we needed fast, effective, inexpensive and easy to maintain databases,” said Matt Faulkner at the California-based utility.

The Linux cost-performance advantage is starting to catch on among 3000 sites which have the technical experience to handle the choice. “The reason for Linux is it has the best performance/cost of the available options — Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and Windows,” said Richard Gambrell, Director of Computing Systems and Networks at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. UTC had started using HP Unix systems during the early phase of its transition, but now Dell hardware running Red Hat Linux will host a package that will replace its custom 3000 apps.

Costs can outweigh the disadvantages of Linux when compared to the features of MPE/iX, according to John Korb. The 27-year IT veteran, who saw America Online shift its 3000s to Linux systems before the vendor eliminated his workgroup, said Linux can compare favorably if its cost of ownership is factored.

“When you look at the costs of MPE/iX compared to Linux, a company can very easily look past the weaknesses of Linux and concentrate on the dollar savings,” he said. “Linux doesn’t have the very stable, robust file system and transaction manager of MPE/iX with a very friendly command language.”

Linux systems executed the AOL applications “more than 14 times faster than they did on MPE/iX 7.0,” he added.

Sun’s and IBM’s Unix also emerged as more common alternatives to HP’s Unix in this round of our survey. The non-HP Unix choices often flowed from HP’s 3000 migration strategy. A nationwide candy maker is putting Sun systems to work in place of an MPE/iX application which HP once awarded as a creative installation.

“We didn’t go with HP’s Unix because of their failure to create a workable HP 3000 migration strategy,” said Greg Gibbons, IS manager for See Candies. “We didn’t select Windows due to issues with security, scalability and unclear .NET strategy.”

Windows choice follows apps

Some customers and other providers in the 3000 market pointed out that many migration targets get selected on the basis of what an application requires. Companies like Victor S. Barnes, a furniture supplier, will be waiting for their move to Windows.

“The hardware decision, for the most part, will depend on what software we move to,” said Tom Hula. “It will be well beyond the end of support date and will likely be to Windows, since the one package we have found so far that is closest to what we do runs on Windows NT.”

The real story of any computing platform is applications,” said Beechglen’s Mike Hornsby. The support company founder said “I think that on the high end IBM is taking more than HP-UX is gaining, and on the low end Windows is by far the leader.”

Even where HP-UX is taking a role in 3000 migrations, Windows is rarely far off the platform’s heels. Cornerstone Brands completed a migration off their 3000 version of Ecometry this spring. But the software vendor said its customer is using HP-UX as an Oracle database server, while the application runs on Windows 2003 servers.

This month at Ecometry’s World Conference, Cornerstone’s senior manager of business systems will report on the migration away from MPE/iX servers at Ballard Designs. HP got all of the hardware business at Ballard, with HP-UX servers and HP’s Proliant servers to host the Windows applications and related services.

“We knew we might have slight glitches along the way,” she said, “but that’s nothing when you consider the enormity of what we have replaced.” The company had to find a replacement scheduler and spooler, choosing Appworx for a scheduler and Report2web as their spooler. Ballard also mapped its Ecometry financial interface into an existing Lawson accounting system during the two years of transition.

Applications led some 3000 customers onto more novel alternatives. Cliff Keen Athletic, an apparel company that specializes in wrestling uniforms, has moved from its HP 3000 to a Mac running OS X Server with RAID storage. And IBM’s iSeries, a kindred spirit to the 3000’s integration, is gaining more converts from the 3000 ranks, the result of having a wide array of applications. At one company, a new iSeries customer still expressed confidence in the 3000 he was forced to leave behind.

“We actually found the software package that best fit our needs first,” said IS Manager Bob Knuerr of Midland Paper, “and that determined what platform we went to. I’d like to keep the 3000, but unfortunately that’s not an option.”


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