February 2005


OpenMike is a guest editorial space and talking point for the 3000 community to express its views. We want OpenMike to be a forum for the way you feel about the future and what you believe is important to the 3000 community. Send your contributions to editor@3000newswire.com.

By Birket Foster

On a rainy night at the beginning of February, a group of folks got together at the County Line barbeque house on winding 2222 in Austin. They came together by way of a few phone calls and a desire to catch up with friends. The night showed us a few views of lives that are expanding beyond the HP 3000.

All of the attendees had the 3000 in common; in fact, they were all members of the vendor community. Some currently make their living in the 3000 market and some have moved on. Interesting that many knew each other, but several didn’t know more than one person at the table – I was the common factor for them.

The first out of the 3000 market many years ago was Tipton, who was once a partner in the company that produced PROTOS – a language that generated COBOL. He is off doing some legal work on IP law and software patents, mostly as an industry expert; and he is a dad to two kids in school and one starting a second software venture in Seattle.

Next out was Denise, who had many 3000 customers who considered her a friend. She is now, among other things, a “queen of eBay.” She is a highly-rated seller there and works occasionally on building Web sites on contract. Julie has become an editor and a freelance writer on travel and other topics. She has been published in Texas Monthly, quite a change from software sales, but a career that she felt was her calling.

We are not sure about Winston’s “retirement.” He seems to keep his hand in technical projects, but often he will be found these days working on his trains, or helping out a friend with their trains.

The rest of those enjoying ribs, brisket or beans at the table are active in a declining HP 3000 market. We are all trying to see where the market will go. Will enough companies send $5,000 or more to OpenMPE, so the transfer of MPE outside HP is possible – and there would be a possibility of providing patches to extend the life of MPE after HP’s End of Support?

Will customers move to other platforms, or “homestead” on the 3000? We wondered, if they stay, if they will fossilize their sites – freezing everything and not worrying about changes. Could an active, growing company use an HP 3000 into the future? Will there be enough resources to make changes?

Each customer is making choices, but the list of questions they face can be long. How much more investment in the 3000? How long to homestead? People have to consider what the risk profile looks like. I wonder if they have talked to their friends in the vendor community. If they have, that’s one way for them to know if there is anything new in the products and services vendors are offering.

Every organization represented at our table has hedged their bets by offering new products or services, both in the HP 3000 market and beyond. It is important to know what your friends are doing and what is new. Contact your friends in the 3000 market and see what is going on.

As the County Line’s trademark sauce and other BBQ delights flowed, we talked about vacations, trips and caught up on what was going on in our careers and families. There was a sense of satisfaction about getting together and seeing that we were all okay. No new technical gems were discovered, but some friendships were renewed. And that is priceless! Thanks to Terry, Ron, Michael, Sue, Vernon and Joe, other members of the current club of vendors in the twilight of the HP 3000 market. You sparked a lively discussion which inspired this piece.

Friends and companions on the journey through the HP 3000 market have been the hallmark of various folks. It has been a market of names – Alfredo and Rene, Bob and David, Vladimir and Eugene, for example — first names that mean something to thousands of members of the community. One day, Ron, we will have to write the book.

Birket Foster is Chairman and CEO of M. B. Foster – a software company offering cross-platform data access and delivery solutions in the HP 3000, HP 9000, Unix/Linux and Windows markets. He travels a lot and hopes that he has made a difference for many of the NewsWire readers over the years. If that’s so, he says, “drop Ron a note, or offer your own story about that occasion.”

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