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October 2000

Prather delivers HP execs’ promises for 3000 future

HP World address includes look at platform’s future role

HP’s Winston Prather took his first steps on an HP World stage as Commercial System Division (CSY) general manager last month, toting a pair of video commitments from top HP executives as he mapped a path for the HP e3000’s future.

Although named to his post more than a year ago, Prather was stretching his presentation legs in his first HP World as CSY chief. He wore the mantle of leadership easily during a one-hour presentation and almost two hours of management roundtable discussion. Two HP Vice Presidents gave video testimonials for the benefit of the installed base customers at his plenary talk, “Powered by HP: HP 3000.” The officers who report directly to CEO Carly Fiorina expressed their views on where the 3000 fits in HP’s strategy.

HP’s President of its Business Customer Organization Ann Livermore appeared in a taped segment. Livermore, responsible for HP’s sales, marketing and support, compared the HP 3000 to a Volkswagen Beetle — a product which was more beloved by its customers than its manufacturer for some time.

Livermore said, “It’s a great product, and our customers love it. That’s just one reason why HP will continue to invest in the e3000. But the main reason is you. We know and appreciate that you’re very dedicated customers. We’ll also continue to invest in the e3000 because we want to serve your business needs. You’ve maintained a strong loyalty to HP, and we intend to be the best vendor possible when you expand or transition to the e3000 platform.

“We want you to maintain a leading position in the new Internet economy,” Livermore added. “We know that IT infrastructures are being asked to accommodate e-services and e-enabled solutions. That’s why the HP e3000 has already moved into this new era, and is able to meet many Internet demands. My colleagues and I have heard that many of you are concerned with the commitment to the HP e3000 and the MPE/iX operating system. But rest assured, this platform is nothing short of amazing, if for no other reason than its longevity.”

But Livermore noted that HP needs to adjust the scope for the platform. “What we need to do now is set the right level of customer and partner expectations for the platform — because as you know, the HP e3000 is many things to many people. For instance, many of the current customers are taking advantage of the Internet, by using their e3000s in new and innovative ways. We also know the HP e3000 is running mission-critical applications in many of your businesses today. In fact, over half of the top 25 of our Fortune 100 customers are using it in mission critical environments.”

The HP president also said that “we continue to gain new HP e3000 customers, customers who are building new solutions with our strong partners in key industries such as finance, healthcare, and e-tailing. Even with this diversity of uses, we realize the HP e3000 cannot meet everyone’s needs. That’s why HP continues to provide a wide range of server technology choices.

“So are we committed to the HP e3000 platform? The answer is absolutely yes. How do we demonstrate this commitment? By having a five-year roadmap for product development. By having many of the latest Internet technologies on the platform. And by gaining new customers through vertical applications. In the end, we know that it takes customers like you to demonstrate the power of the e — e3000.”

Livermore’s comments segued directly into a message from Duane Zitzner, HP’s President of Computing Systems, responsible for computer products and systems.

“This is your product guy,” Prather said in introducing the video messages. “He’s a technologist, and has responsibility for all product generation with Hewlett-Packard.” Zitzner had a more personal comparison to show how he regarded the 3000.

“Last month I was on vacation in Wisconsin, visiting my mother on the farm where I grew up,” Zitzner said. “Probably like most of you, my mother had a list of chores she wanted me to tackle while I was there. I had to hang some pictures, so I grabbed a hammer from the tool bench. It was the same hammer I used more than 40 years ago to fix the fence to keep our animals in. This is the same hammer my dad was using in the years before I was born.

“Now that hammer may not be ergonomically perfect, it may not have the latest and greatest in safety cushion handles and all the bells and whistles, but it was perfectly adequate for the job I needed to tackle. In many ways, the HP 3000 is much the same. It’s a great tool for many jobs. In fact, many of you have told us it’s the perfect tool for you and your business.

The new HP e3000 logo
“Recently some of you have asked if we’ve reached the end of the line for the HP 3000. My quick answer to that is no, definitely not. It is true, you’re going to hear a lot more in the news about our latest servers and newest software. That’s because the press is always interested in the latest and greatest. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be developments and improvements with the program. So long as customers like you find the HP 3000 a trustworthy and valuable tool — just like my father’s hammer — we’ll continue to work on them and continue to sell them.”

Zitzner also validated the platform’s contributions to HP’s computing foundations. “In the very best tradition the 3000 was developed entirely from the ground up inside HP. We learned a lot from the HP 2100, our very first computer that started its life as an instrument controller. The HP 3000 was singlehandedly responsible for making HP a leader in the minicomputer business in the following decades. It was the HP 3000, along with Digital VAX machines and systems from companies like Data General, Burroughs and Wang — boy, where are those companies today? —that collectively mounted a serious challenge to concept of mainframe computers locked in glass-enclosed rooms.

“So here we are today, 28 years after the 3000 broke onto the scene — 28 years in the computing business is an eternity. In part of my computing product portfolio in HP, we have home PC models that have life cycles measured in weeks, or even in days. The fact that the 3000 has been meeting customer needs for nearly three decades is truly amazing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever thought of the HP 3000 as a Volkswagen Beetle, or even a hammer,” Prather said afterward. “But when I think about the analogies, they work well for me. For the Beetle, it’s been around forever and the customers love it. And the best thing I like about that analogy is that it’s been recently re-invented.”

In Prather’s speech, he used plenty of video dramatizations to show the 3000’s future — as a server for WAP applications to enable cell-phone shopping for a new pair of “Endeavor 3000” shoes; as a solution in a Channels On Tap offering to help a company get a new payroll application; and as a Web-enabled ERP application for the company manufacturing the Endeavor 3000 shoe. The future which the videos outlined is possible today, he said, with the current set of technology options for the platform.

Cell phone shopping is possible using Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) communicating with HP 3000s, Prather said. End-users like manufacturing managers don’t even need to know if an application is running on a 3000, so long as its Internet-enabled. And Channels on Tap can provide an Internet portal to choose applications, and HP “using relationships with ISVs and service vendors can hook you up with all the appropriate partners.”

“There’s no reason why this can’t be the future,” Prather. “Every piece of technology to do what we’ve showed you today is available now on the HP 3000. Who knew that the HP 3000 could provide all the technology and functionality you need to be an Internet-based Volkswagen Beetle, if you will. And at the same time have the rock-solid reliability of that hammer that Duane Zitzner mentioned.”

Many people still “think of the 3000 like that hammer,” Prather said/ “They have this opinion that it’s rock-solid reliable but doesn’t have the latest and greatest technologies.” HP has already integrated the WAP technology with the CSY division’s Jazz Web server as a demonstration of the cell phone communication capability, he said. “Jazz is WAP-enabled, with an Apache 3000 Web server to give you access to a lot of freeware.” Smith-Gardner’s Ecometry also offers WAP capability for its e-tailers and non-store retail clients on the 3000.

Speedware has an option in its Autobahn development tool to optimize Web page design for presentation on WAP cell phones, Prather added. “There’s lots of technology out there to help you move toward this Internet-enabled WAP appliance,” he said.

The GM also announced that HP is certifying service providers for the e3000 “so you can have the confidence to choose one” for outsourcing or remote system management.

And by letting the 3000 lean on the presentation capabilities of NT, or “if you want to front-end an application with Unix, the HP 3000 can play in this multi-tier architecture,” Prather said. “All of the technologies are available now.” More technology is coming in the future, offerings from “dozens” of 3000 partner firms which “have been scrambling over the last two years to provide this technology, because they know this is the number one trend in our customers: Internet integration.”

In more video, customers from Coldwater Creek, Chase Manhattan Bank, Knight Ridder and Lindauer-Dornier testified about how happy they are that HP has added Internet and e-commerce capabilities to the system.

The GM mentioned that the latest 6.5 release has “a lot of fundamental changes we did that you’ll never see, rewriting the memory manager and the kernel to scale and lay the foundation for the future enhancements.”

Prather also noted that in the latest Interex satisfaction survey, the HP 3000 “leads the way as far as reliability, quality, ease of use and support. That’s something we’re very proud of, and it doesn’t come for free.”

Winston Prather and
Bill LancasterThe GM awarded the division’s e3000 Year 2000 Contributor Award to Bill Lancaster, honoring his work for the platform and his initiative in sparking the new Solutions Symposium training event for MPE/iX. (See our June issue for a Q&A interview with Lancaster.)

“This award is one way we can show customers and partners how we really appreciate what you give back to the e3000 community,” Prather said. “Our honoree was responsible for the hugely successful Interex Solution Symposium last year. Bill is somebody I’ve known a long time, and he absolutely deserves it.”

Prather’s talk ended with thanks to the customers for their continued loyalty, and a way to sport that loyalty. “We recognize that you have a choice when deciding who you’re going to partner with for IT services,” Prather said. “We appreciate your choice of Hewlett-Packard, and it’s something we have to earn all the time.”

The division then passed out temporary tattoos with a new e3000 logo — a muscular arm lifting a weight.

The GM noted that the excitement and passion in the 3000 community exists inside HP itself. A support engineer in HP compared the community to users of Harley Davidson motorcycles, who tattoo the logo of their cycles on themselves. “Display it wherever you think appropriate,” he said.


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