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November 2003

After Malta founders on rocks, Ratingen rolls

Migration partners report at well-attended German venue

By Alan Yeo

After the cancellation of the European HP Migration Meeting in Malta last month, the European HP team led by Horst Kanert and Jurgen Probst bounced back and organized at short notice a Migration Partner Meeting at the HP Response Centre in Ratingen, Germany. Unlike Malta that failed to attract sufficient vendors and customers, Ratingen attracted more attendees than anticipated. With only a couple of days to go, the venue was moved to a local Holiday Inn to accommodate the meeting.

Ratingen, just outside Dusseldorf, isn’t exactly the best place to try and get to for an early morning registration if you’re flying in from around Europe — especially for me, as I had chosen to drive from the UK and fill the truck up with wine in France en-route. So Horst and his colleagues, realizing a lot of us were booked into local hotels the night before, organized an impromptu dinner in a local woodland restaurant for the attendees. I think this probably made it one of the first HP 3000 World Wide Wake events, as a collection of names and faces familiar within the HP 3000 vendor community in Europe over the last couple of decades gathered together to eat and drink.

The conversations ranged over subjects like “Do you remember?” and “Whatever happened to?” However, there were more serious conversations about the prospects for migrating this or that software, and the experiences people had had so far on their respective migration paths.

The morning of Oct. 23 dawned bright, if a trifle too early for me. The wine had been good, the night late, somewhat extended as a couple of us had had a night-time tour of Ratingen in the Dark. The Eloquence development team from Marxmeier Software, whose offices are located about 20 minutes away from Ratingen, had kindly offered to ferry us. Now I wouldn’t say we were lost, but after passing the Vodaphone Tower for the third time it took a helpful all-night garage before we got back to the Holiday Inn for the first drop off, before we headed out of town to the Marxmeier base camp in Wuppertal.

The format for the day was a series of Update Sessions from HP and various Migration Partners on progress to-date. Horst opened the meeting, giving everyone an update on those items that will remain on the HP Price List for a further 12 months, but reminding the vendors present that there were only six working days left to process new HP 3000 orders. He also mused if anyone was into gambling by ordering an N-Class system for stock — as surely someone over the next year or so was going to suddenly need additional processing power.

Olaf Schipper from HP then gave us an overview of HP’s Migration Centres’ experiences in evaluating different Migration Tools. The Migration Centre had taken an internal Response Centre HP 3000 application written using COBOL, IMAGE and VPlus, and utilizing all the tools they could lay their hands on, attempted the migration of the application to a variety of hardware and operating system combinations.

Even I was surprised at the combinations they’d had success with — especially as they had successfully migrated the VPlus components using my own company’s ScreenJet product without us knowing, to platforms even we haven’t yet tried. An unusual way, to say the least, to find out more about your own product.

The other HP update of the day from HP was from Gunther Wielman on some of the migration strategies and recommendations they had been working on with customers in Europe. To summarize their message and recommendations for migration: keep it simple. Look to do the migration as close as possible to a one-to-one from the HP 3000 to another platform. But make sure that what you end up with is a suitable base to develop from afterward.

Michael Marxmeier from Eloquence gave us an update on the progress of the TurboIMAGE replacement database Eloquence, and some updates on developments due soon. This included the news that Eloquence will shortly be enhanced to increase the number of supported users to several thousand, and that a replacement for Query was under development.

We also had news that the beta versions of PowerHouse with Eloquence support were now in the field, and Fabrice Viault from Cheops in France reported that they were working happily with the combination. The status seems to be that PowerHouse with Eloquence support will be available on HP-UX and Windows but there were no current plans for a Linux version from Cognos.

To finish, Marxmeier instead of showing how well things work under PowerPoint, replayed the live 5-minute migration that had been done at HP World. This migration moved a COBOL-IMAGE-VPlus application running on an HP 3000 to create the same application and data running under ACUCOBOL and Eloquence on a Windows server.

There were further sessions on the Migration Project experiences from companies such as Transoft, Cheops, Ordina-Denkart and Metaware. Almost without exception these were large and complex migration projects. The interesting comments to come from all the vendors were that they were now working on projects for companies that two years ago, after the 3000 announcement by HP, had declared that they would either be re-writing their 3000 applications or would be implementing large scale world class ERP-type solutions. These companies were now back working on migration as the quickest, lowest cost and least risky option for their organizations.

The meeting closed with the normal good-byes — but there was more than a sense that the paths of many of us, which had crossed if only infrequently over the last decades, may not intersect again as we set off in new directions.

Alan Yeo is president of ScreenJet Ltd. and the organizer of last month’s Irish-style World Wide Wake for the HP 3000.


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