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August 2002

Boosting your e3000 productivity

Third Party MPE Support for Homesteading

By Neil Armstrong

With HP announcing the end of their support for MPE, customers who decide to stay with the HP 3000 will be considering third-party OS support. This is not unreasonable, since there are already at least 10 firms willing to offer this service (see www.openmpe.org/mpephone.htm for a list).

However, when you start working on plans and solutions for alternative support for your HP 3000s it is important to make note of those people who have been in the business of providing independent third-party support for many years. One of those people is Gilles Schipper of GSA Inc. (www.gsainc.com, 905.889.3000), whom I have known and worked with for nearly 15 years (“gulp”).

I had the pleasure of working with Gilles during my days in Toronto. I learned a great deal from Gilles — not just technical things and system management, but also how to deal with customers and provide excellent customer service.

My favorite Gilles story is from the early days. Gilles was recently out on his own, having left HP, and a customer called him in frustration, dealing with some performance problems.

After having recently bought some more memory, HP had come and installed the memory, but the promised performance gain had not happened. They asked Gilles to take a look. Gilles quickly found that the memory was installed, but the system had not been re-configured with the new memory size. The attention to detail that Gilles taught me when approaching a problem and in dealing with customer concerns in everyday business, has helped me to this very day.

I recently interviewed Gilles to bring myself up-to-date on what services he offers, and how November 14 has impacted him.

Can you describe the services that you offer?

We offer software support and system administration services for HP 3000 and HP 9000 customers. This includes 7x24x365 telephone support, on-site visits, OS update and patching installations, performance consulting, network configuration, database optimization, third-party software support, disaster recovery assistance, and virtually any systems administration and software support activity associated with the customers’ HP systems.

All of this and more for one low monthly fee — with the assurance that the customer need never spend another nickel for any activity related to our system administration and software support while covered by our service.

You have been in the HP support business for 19 years; to what do you attribute your success?

We have been totally focused on customer support and service since we started business in 1983, after having worked at Hewlett-Packard. Our target market is very narrow, and we like to think we are big fish in a very little pond.

We are also fortunate enough to work with outstanding partners who also have many years of experience in the HP marketplace. These partners include an authorized HP reseller, as well as several third-party software vendors whom we represent.

You are located in the Greater Toronto area; do you only work with clients in your area?

Our customers are located across North America. Specifically, they are in California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New York in the US, as well as Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Alberta in Canada. We visit our customers regularly, and with modern communications capabilities, we are in direct communication at a moment’s notice, even when we are absent physically.

Have many of your HP 3000 customers moved to HP-UX?

None as of today. And no plans to do so that we are aware of. Clearly these plans will change as the future roadmap of the HP 3000 product line becomes more visible in the months ahead.

Of course, with our HP-UX knowledge and experience, we are well positioned to offer our HP 3000 customers appropriate guidance and direction should they choose to migrate to the HP 9000 platform.

Has the November 14 announcement adversely affected you and your company?

Not at all. In fact, we have gained more customers since the announcement. We can only speculate as to reasons for that, but the bottom line is that our business has expanded since November 14.

We hope to see that trend continue as HP 3000 customers look to alternative support providers that are service-oriented and can meet the very specific and focused needs of HP 3000 users — and who can assure their customers that they will support them for many, many years to come, beyond HP’s announced EOS date of 2006.

What do you recommend for customers to do who are looking for alternate support services?

I want them to know that when deciding upon which HP 3000 software support provider to choose, it is important to consider the history, stability and track record of that provider. GSA Inc. has been offering software support services to HP 3000 users longer than any other third-party support provider in existence anywhere — since July 1983.

We have many well-established companies, large and small, who have utilized this service and can testify to its quality and reliability. 

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