promises elude OpenMPE in 2004
Campaign for 2005
revenues nets few sites; group focuses on source turnover
OpenMPE came courting the HP 3000 homesteader in
2004s final quarter. But a customer base that moves slowly as a
habit wasnt ready yet to commit thousands of dollars per system
for what the advocacy group offered: a development future for MPE/iX
during 2006 and 2007.
The groups chairman and its treasurer confirmed
that less than a handful of sites could deliver a purchase order or
letter of intent to fund OpenMPEs MPE/iX development plans. The
response appeared to hang up on a lack of HPs post-2006 license
promises. 2004 was simply too early to ask for funding, according to
customers and some OpenMPE board members.
There wasnt enough interest to support
this kind of venture, said board chair Birket Foster. He pushed
for financial commitments this fall from the homesteading customers,
as well as any 3000 owners who need more time to migrate, to fund
services he described as a subset of the maintenance that
HPs been doing all these years for MPE/iX.
Most of the customers who plan to stay with their HP
3000s dont see a need yet to fund an outside maintenance lab.
This operating system is so reliable, and thats what
people have been focused on, he said.
The group of seven volunteers who make up
OpenMPEs board had a goal of 100 systems they wanted to sign up
for post-2006 development services.
Despite the lack of response, customers who intend to
stay on the platform see a need for OpenMPE to get access to the
3000s operating source code. Like the emulator proposal that
dominated OpenMPEs 2003 agenda, the future of MPE source looks
vital to some sites.
Hopefully, an MPE emulator vendor will find it
commercially feasible to develop an emulator that runs on the Wintel
platform, said Hong Huynh, a systems administrator at the Santa
Monica, Calif. Rent Control Board. And most importantly, MPE
will live on if HP is willing to license the source code to
Board members said this summer that customer
investment in OpenMPE was important to the groups image with
HP. Not all were in agreement about the timing of the first offer,
but Foster said that working capital to contract for engineering
might have to be available as early as July, 2005. Most HP 3000 shops
budget during the last quarter of the year.
Few could even say they were asking their management
for an OpenMPE expense item. A 3000 NewsWire poll of customers showed
that many seemed to misunderstand what OpenMPE was asking them to
fund. Managers replied that they were planning to move to third-party
support, but not yet from OpenMPE.
I love the 3000, but I dont think
well be able to justify much money for post-2006 support,
said Nick Saner of e-commerce and catalog retailer Gaiam. Inc.
We have not budgeted for OpenMPEs post-2006 support
Nearly all customers had heard of OpenMPE, an
organization thats been lobbying HP for three years on issues
to operate the 3000 past 2006. But many sites say they can run their
systems with no enhancements to MPE/iX, the kind of service OpenMPE
was trying to sell.
I do not expect a need for enhancements of MPE,
just technical support on existing versions, said Charles Benil
of the Maryland Higher Education Commission. His site plans to use
their HP 3000 at least through 2009, while it continues to migrate
applications off the platform.
Although OpenMPEs campaign in 2004 fell well
short of its goal, the group isnt done working yet. Its next
milestone, according to Foster, is to work in cooperation with HP to
plan the handover of the MPE/iX source code. Even though HP
hasnt committed to such a handover, Foster sees such a move as
a way to protect HP.
HP should still go through the process
anyway, he said. They should see how they can reduce
liability for HP, to know that people couldnt come back and sue
HP under any circumstances for anything, including past sins in
A formal plan to stay on the HP 3000 might
include thinking about OpenMPE as your insurance policy, Foster
said. This would put things in place to assist them if they
needed to get a change done for MPE.
OpenMPEs message was being carried by some
third party support providers this fall to their customers, but the
effort during the latter part of 2004 did not find a ready market.
The customers must have a need to go help
support MPE, and its not there, said board member and
treasurer Paul Edwards. Im not convinced people have the
urgency right now to perceive that need. Were in a Y2K kind of
situation at the end of 2006 but theres not the same
kind of urgency.