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HP 3000 Future
Jim Sartain listens, in order to build relationships on behalf of the HP 3000. The leader of one of two Cupertino-based R&D sections in the HP 3000 division (CSY) lab, Sartain manages engineers expanding some of the 3000s newest technologies, as well as some of its oldest. Solution teams covering Internet and interoperability along with HP databases report to him, as well as groups exploring datacenter solutions, application development tools and customer support. Sartain may be best-known in the 3000 community, however, for work he led in response to a customer revolt. Once customers expressed their displeasure at a waning emphasis on IMAGE, CSY had to respond with improvements. Sartain was directly responsible for HPs offering of an SQL interface for IMAGE, the first advance that signalled CSYs commitment to a Customer First strategy. Sartain worked with a revived IMAGE special-interest group to revitalize the database at the heart of 85 percent of 3000s, showing a level of dedication and response matched by few CSY managers before or since. Dynamic detail dataset expansion and third-party interface work also began on his watch.
After bringing a revamped IMAGE/SQL to the customers, Sartain took an educational retreat to advance in the HP management hierarchy. Sartains move in 1995 from front-line IMAGE work resulted from an education opportunity he won, nominated as one of 10 HP employees in a new Masters degree program for Management of Technology (MoT). The academics were a return of sorts for him; he began his HP career after leaving an associate professors post at the University of Oregon in 1983. Sartain emerged from the MoT program in 1997, acting as the US based manager of CSYs new Bangalore, India engineering resource. CSY R&D manager Winston Prather named Sartain to his current post later that year.
Sartain has always showed strength in his ability to listen to customers and HP solution suppliers. Wirt Atmar, one of the 3000s strongest proponents and a key advocate of IMAGE, credited Sartain with single-handedly restoring a profound sense of trust between the users and HP. The change in attitude that Jim helped foster [as director of the IMAGE lab] was one of the primary driving forces that very much helped resurrect the HP 3000 from the grave.
In plainer terms, we believe Sartain is
a leading reason the 3000
enjoyed the renaissance that led to its
second 25 years as a growing
HP business. We decided to turn the tables
on the CSY manager
and listen to him at the recent IPROF
conference, as CSYs labs
outlined the advances that will be
delivered in that quarter-century.
While the scope of Sartains duties
prompted questions across
many technology and policy fronts, all
could well be summarized
into one: how he will use his position to
make superior listening
result in superior solutions.
Software delivery is a pretty hot
issue now with the confusion
over Express 3 and PowerPatch 4 packaging
and instructions. What
can you say about how much better the
process will be for Express
5 and PowerPatches?
Were definitely listening to all
the feedback were getting from
the [3000 Internet newsgroup] on the issue,
and we want to evolve
this process. Even the media were
sending will be changing over
time. [Ed. Note: CSY managers referred to a
new HP corporate directive
that software updates should migrate to
CDs, possibly in DVD format,
by the turn of the century.]
We hear the need. The COBOL compiler is
used by a majority of
applications on the 3000. Its a major
tool thats required to
maintain the customers investment.
You should expect to see more
progress on the COBOL plan by HP World.
Were not happy with the
progress weve made. Weve had a
lot of other things to focus
on, like the MPE growth plan.
Its exceeded our expectations in
terms of the quality. For the
time being, were comfortable with the
level of support. As time
goes by, the customer base that uses it
will continue to grow,
and we may want to revisit [the support]
question. There will
come a point where it might make sense to
provide support from
Theres a sizable lab team, and I cant comment on the exact number. The majority of the team is in India. We have a strong team, and you can tell by looking at all the things that were announced as having been done. [SIGIMAGE chair] Ken Sletten mentioned there were 11 things either done soon or finished. We saw presentations by Bharati [Desai of the database lab] of all the TPI enhancements, and by Tien-You [Chen] of all the IMAGE scaling going on. We also make use of third-party developers.
Basically, I say measure us on what we get done relative to needs. I think were doing a very good job of meeting needs, even in the IMAGE/SQL area. Theres going to continue to be things that need to be improved, to evolve in SQL and relational databases. You see improvements in those areas: the packed and zoned and signed issue that was mentioned. When an issue comes up and that particular one has been there for eight years, by the way it gets covered when theres more users it impacts. I feel were addressing the issues as they come up, and even anticipating some of them.
With all that said, the major area youll see the database lab focusing on in the near future is performance and scaling. We have some major opportunities there to grow the 3000. Its critical the database scales along with the operating system. Weve done this before. In 1990 we did a huge number of performance improvements, and a lot of those have carried us, and we were able to coast in some areas with such a superb job in processor scaling, for example. We need to go back and make some more investments in that area. Im convinced we have the resources we need to get the job done, and if were not meeting expectations, we may invest more.
We dont think of the database lab
as being independent of the
rest of the 3000 team. We look at the whole
range of user needs,
and invest in the areas that have the
biggest needs to keep them
in balance. It does us no good to have a
superb database if the
operating system isnt scaling, or if
the core networking capabilities
arent there. Were constantly
tuning the balance of resources.
The customers still have the ability to
communicate directly with
HP. Anyone whos been around people
like Jon Bale and Bharati
Desai can see that they make themselves
very available. We have
people interact directly with us all the
time, even though theyre
not on the committee.
Its nice to have a conduit, but
its not the only vehicle for
getting information. Theres the
Response Center, where people
can file an SR and a lab engineers
going to see it.
In fact, often those numbers dont
reflect the real world. Theres
a big investment to do TPC benchmarking in
hardware and people
resources which has marginal customer
Were taking a serious look at JDBC. There are areas where we actually anticipate needs and lead the vendors and users. ODBC was one of those areas. There are a lot of ODBC drivers today, but HP had one before other vendors knew what it was. JDBC is in the same possible category. Its an emerging standard that may or may not make it. It may be like ADAPI, or it may be like ODBC. We think its very promising, but were not sure whether it should be something provided by HP in the beginning or whether we should work with a third-party to provide, or whether we should have a shareware solution. Were evaluating all three alternatives. We dont know where we want to start out on this, but we want to have something.
Inevitably, its better that you
end up with multiple suppliers
of this kind of solution. Even if HP
produces something, theres
going to be some third-party out there
which does this as their
core business. Theyll do it better
than us, theyll do it cheaper
than us. Some people, then again, will want
an HP solution. We
obviously prefer to dedicate our resources
in core areas that
nobody else can address.
We can continue to evaluate and tweak
the program if we want.
What we should do in these cases is get
something out there, see
if it meets peoples needs. If it
doesnt, we can tweak it some
In the case of ODBC, its a huge
investment for some benefit,
and it doesnt seem to make economic
sense. We have an almost
infinite number of potential customer
needs. We want to trade
off and invest in those areas that have the
biggest bang for the
buck. Theres plenty of other things
people bring up that other
suppliers dont have. Let us work on
We have met those unspoken needs in the past. One example is PA-RISC. Nobody told us they needed a RISC architecture, but we anticipated we could have a dramatic change in the architecture that provided huge price performance improvements. People could do much better computing at a lower price. SQL is another example. People didnt tell us they wanted relational databases. In fact, they told us quite the opposite. Quite a few customers were unsure if we should make the IMAGE/SQL investment. We carried folks along on that.
JDBC is an example of an unspoken need
from a vast majority of
customers. Its something were
following and investigating. By
the time we decide to have something, it
will be there when people
finally figure out they need it.
Thats what we try to do.
Copyright 1998, The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved.
Copyright 1998 The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved