HP Webcast aims to control transition
By John Burke
A cozy crowd of 54 people joined HP in cyberspace on
May 22 for the ninth in the ongoing series of HPs 3000
Transition Webcasts. Subtitled Controlling Costs, this
Webcast promised to examine the following questions:
Whats the quickest and least expensive way to
make the transition? Which tools will save me the most money? And can
I save money by simply staying on my HP 3000?
HPs George Stachnik hosted the Webcast, this
time with input from three HP Platinum partners: Birket Foster of MB
Foster, Chris Koppe and Nicolas Fortin of Speedware, and Frank
Calvillo of MBS. Featured in the Webcast were the Automatic Migration
to Unix and Windows (AMXW) tools from Neartek (www.neartek.com).
Representing Neartek were Leo McCloskey and Ernesto Soria.
The Webcast focus was on low cost
solutions, particularly on homesteading and rapid,
automatic migration using the Neartek tools. But HP first
reviewed several items from the recent Solutions Symposium.
Weve already reported on these, but one deserves repeating.
While October 31, 2003 still marks the end of sales for HP 3000
systems and chassis, just about everything else will be available for
sale after October 31. Note this represents a positive change for HP
e3000 customers from HPs original plans, because it can make
homesteading easier, at least until 2006.
While there is no universal agreement as to the best
transition strategy, all participants in this and every other Webcast
do agree on one thing: planning is the key to success, and lack of
planning is the most likely cause of failure. This was emphasized
repeatedly during the Webcast.
The Webcast started off with an examination of the
pros and cons of emulation mode vs. native mode when doing a
migration. In this context, emulation mode means using abstraction
layers for TurboIMAGE, MPE intrinsics, and so forth. Generally
speaking, emulation mode, compared to native mode, is faster to
completion, less expensive initially and requires less training. But
it requires ongoing license and maintenance fees, may prevent you
from taking advantage of emerging technologies and may just be
postponing the inevitable.
There was a brief discussion of the simplest
solution, using Eloquence as the underlying database. However,
most of the rest of the Webcast was devoted to the Neartek AMXW
solution. AMXW moves the entire HP 3000 environment to Unix, Windows
or Linux, utilizing ACUCOBOL or MicroFocus COBOL as the target
compiler for HP 3000 COBOL. The emulated environment includes HP 3000
intrinsics, JCL, and screen processing. Databases supported by AMXW
include Oracle, IBMs DB2, Sybase, Informix, SQL Server and
AMXW can be a do-it-yourself migration solution or
you can utilize a consulting organization to do it for you. Neartek
claimed that typically 98 percent of a migration can be automated.
Furthermore, they also said that 4 million lines of code can be
migrated by two engineers in two months.
Generally speaking, HP and its Platinum Partners have
not been fans of homesteading, even for a few years time. This
Webcast showed no different spirit from the vendor. The thrust of the
message from HP and its partners in this Webcast was that all
customers will eventually have to migrate, and it will be more
expensive the longer you wait, so do it now.
When HP started the Transition Webcasts, it cautioned
against trying to add functionality during a migration or port,
because this additional work added complexity (synchronizing the code
base, testing concerns, etc.). During the latest Webcast, as well as
this springs HP e3000 Solutions Symposiums, a different
strategy has emerged. In an obvious effort to help justify the costs
of a migration, both HP and its Platinum Partners now suggest adding
functionality as a way to show some Return On Investment (ROI).
The Q&A session during each Webcast is often the
most interesting because it is the only unscripted segment. This
Q&A was relatively tame compared to others, but there were still
a few surprises. One slide had suggested that in any emulated
solution with a TurboIMAGE abstraction layer there would be no need
for a separate DBA. This was clarified to mean if you are using
Eloquence (the lowest-cost commercial database) you probably do not
need a DBA but if you use Oracle or SQL Server as the
underlying database engine, you probably will need a DBA.
Another question was about mixed environments with
both 3GL and 4GL code. It turns out the automatic conversion approach
runs into problems in this kind of mixed environment particularly in
porting the database. However, the Neartek representatives suggested
there are ways to handle this situation, although it requires more
The presentation sloughed over the issue of migrating
the screen interface, so several questions addressed this. Apparently
the Neartek tools can work with such third party tools as edWin
(Ordina-Denkart), LookVP (Cheops) and ScreenJet (ScreenJet Ltd.) as
well as with the screen facilities available in the target
It also came out during the presentation that ongoing
support costs for AMWX average around $7,000 a year, but there were
no estimates for the products initial migration costs. I asked
about these initial costs during the Q&A but did not get a clear
answer, so I pursued it with McCloskey, the North American AMXW
Manager for Neartek. He offered purchase estimates of $25,000 for
100,000 lines of code and $50,000 for 1 million lines of code. AMXW
is sold based upon the number of lines of code and the number of