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August 2003

An update from the 3000’s OpenMPE organization

By Jon Backus

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Open Opportunities, the NewsWire’s OpenMPE column. I’m Jon Backus, and I am chairman of the Board of Directors for OpenMPE. I’ve been involved with the MPE operating system for more than 21 years and with the OpenMPE community since it began. I’ll be writing this column on a monthly basis to keep you as informed as possible.

You might be asking yourself “What is OpenMPE?” and “Am I a member?” OpenMPE is the community of MPE users that intend to use the operating system beyond the end of 2006, when HP ends its support for it. It doesn’t matter if you intend to use it on native hardware, known as the HP 3000, or in an emulated environment (We’ll have more to share on this emulation effort soon.)

Now, to the matter of membership. You may be part of the community we just described, and you may even be part of the organization’s e-mail discussion group (OpenMPE-L). But you are only an official organization member if you have completed the membership application on the Web site at www.OpenMPE.org and received your membership number in reply.

What does “official” membership get you? While it will evolve over time, for today it gets you the ability to vote in the organization’s annual board election, the ability to hold board or committee positions, and to be included in the head count when we talk to HP about the size of the community.

OpenMPE sprang to life the very day that HP announced that they would be ending sales and support for the HP 3000 platform, MPE/iX operating system, and associated sub-systems. Our mission and charter is to work with HP to find a stable, supported path forward for those companies that choose to stay with the MPE operating system, for whatever reason and timeframe. In our first year we worked with the user community to define a list of needs that became known as the “Gang of Six.” We presented these needs to HP and worked with the vendor during the course of the year to find solutions.

For example, one of the items resulted in a licensing policy that has been defined by HP which will allow for the MPE operating system to run on non-HP 3000 hardware for the first time ever. Granted, a non-HP 3000 environment that will run MPE does not exist, not yet. But the first step toward creating one was to clear HP’s legal hurdles.

This year we have been working on the creation of an OpenMPE funding model that will allow the user community to collectively cover the cost of creating a PA-RISC emulator. We have also formed an Emulator Committee, headed by Mark Klein, to generate a Request for Proposal (RFP), revaluate the responses, and then select the best solution for the pooled financial resources of the community.

We are also working on the design of a “Virtual Lab” (we like to call it the vLab) that will allow the community to take over responsibility for the maintenance and up-keep of the source code for MPE and associated sub-systems.

There is a lot of work to be done, but we need you – the OpenMPE user community – to be involved. If you have not already done so, please visit the Web site, submit your membership application, and join the OpenMPE-L discussion group. We appreciate your support and involvement and look forward to making great things happen for the common good of our community.

OpenMPE Chairman Jon Backus (JMBackus@TechGroupMD.com) is president of Tech Group, a Maryland-based consulting company specializing in project management, contract programming, system management, training, and all things MPE. Backus can be reached at 301.988.0614.

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