During HPs Last Period
time winds down for HPs participation in the 3000 market, Dave
Wilde finds himself calling plays for a 3000 community gathered in
varied huddles. The former R&D manager for what was once the
Commercial Systems Division (CSY) developing HP 3000s, Wilde was
promoted on May 7 to lead HPs efforts at customer satisfaction
with the platform. Most of HPs activity of the past half-year
has led to a better-defined migration path away from the system. Far
fewer questions have been answered for the customer who wont be
heeding HPs advice to compute on another platform.
Wilde, whos now reporting to an HP marketing
organization since CSY has been absorbed into other HP operations,
expresses a desire to do right by all of the 3000 customers,
regardless of their destinations. The Illinois native came directly
to HP from a computer science program in 1984, but first encountered
the 3000 as a high school student in the 1970s, doing data entry on a
3000 at Crawfords Department Store in Chicago. He took his
degree to HP and worked his first two years in the Electronic
Instrument Group, where his first project was to create a VLSI IC
Wilde made the transition to software as the R&D manager
of HPs Allbase core database and interoperability project. Ten
years ago he entered the HP 3000 division, when Allbase made the move
into CSY labs alongside the more pervasive IMAGE database. Project
management and more R&D with some of HPs biggest 3000
accounts led him to a post as lab section manager, handling the
growth-related designs for the next generation of 3000s. In 2000 he
was promoted to R&D manager, after Winston Prather was named CSY
Now Wilde takes the position of go-to guy, as his
former boss Prather described him, during an era when the 3000
customers are still actively deciding where to go. The team
represented by his customers is huddled around Unix solutions,
inexpensive Intel servers running NT or Linux, non-3000 choices such
as Sun and IBM, and the HP 3000 status quo. The last group is a
huddle where Wilde and his 3000 management has only just begun to
take signals, admitting their visibility has been limited to the
larger 3000 sites. We wanted to find out what plays HP will call
during its last 14 active sales months, with the objective of keeping
3000 customers satisfied. Our interview, conducted as HP was readying
for a closed-up week of July 4, spent a good deal of time looking for
HPs near term solutions for long-term plans of homesteaders
a field which HP will not survey with undue haste.
Hows your chain of command working in the new
organization, with more than one manager up the line?
Ill be part of a team in Mark Hudsons marketing
organization focused on understanding the needs of our installed base
and customer retention programs. Ram Appalaraju, whos been a
manager for quite awhile in Marks organization, will be leading
this Customer First Team across the Business Critical Systems
organization. Ill be reporting to Ram, as will the marketing
part of what was CSY.
HP now has quite a few varied business critical systems, and
we want to make sure we understand the needs of those installed bases.
platforms will the Customer First Team serve?
The BCS platforms: HP-UX, MPE/iX, the Alpha programs
including OpenVMS, and the NonStop programs. Its quite a
does HP manager Barbara Bacile, whose operations include the MPE lab
members, interact with you?
The 3000 R&D team, with Ross MacDonald leading, continues
to report directly to Barb. Were managing the 3000 business,
working closely with the same team that was in place before for the
3000. We obviously keep Mark, Barb and Ram informed of decisions and
provide regular updates. But I think that they all have a lot of
responsibilities, so they depend on us to manage the 3000 business.
you wanted to make a decision to speed up the A-Class systems, would
those upper-level managers be involved?
That type of decision would be made by us as the 3000
management team. I think the managers above us pretty much give us a
lot of leeway, with the traditional HP management by objectives.
decision have you made on how HP will work with OpenMPE for your
customers who are unable to move off their HP 3000s?
Were working on understanding the needs of that
community, both post November 2003 and after December of 2006. Mike
Paivinen has the lead on post-2006 issues, working closely with
OpenMPE, and Kriss Rant has the lead on value chain issues on
post-2003 issues that come up.
Whats an example of a value chain issue?
That would be something like what sort of things will be in
place if a customer has a need for a new storage device after 2003:
what we think the environment will look like, and what customers
should plan on for that environment. Or things like a license
transfer in the post-2003 timeframe.
A lot of the post-2003 issues have to do with manufacturing
and supply chain issues. Beyond 2006 will be basically what are some
of things that OpenMPE and Interex are advocating, issues around
long-term supportability: if a customer wants to run systems beyond
2006, what sorts of things will be available for that type of
you want to license MPE so people can create a 3000 hardware emulator
on Intel systems?
Thats one of a number of issues that have been brought
up, and those are decisions that we havent yet made. Were
trying to not make individual decisions like that one-off. We just
had an announcement where we extended hardware support for platforms
that were due to come off support between now and the end of 2006. We
also decided on customer feedback and needs that were going to
extend 6.5 support for a year.
We also had made some decisions on some of those value chain
sort of issues. There were questions of whether there would be
conversion kits available after 2003, and whether boards could be
installed in systems after 2003 that came through alternate channels.
We committed to keeping our storage roadmap current, beyond
the specific commitments we made our November announcement.
Weve already announced some additional device support and
were continuing to update that roadmap.
Were trying to bundle decisions like these together, so
customers dont feel like theres a constant trickle of
news, and the message is darting around. Were trying to make
some longer-range decisions together, and group them around so
customers can get a cohesive picture.
much time have you budgeted to mull over all the options before you
get to the licensing MPE decision?
I dont have a very crisp timeline. Many people are
telling me, and I personally believe, that everybody is better off if
we can make as many decisions as we can relatively earlier, so people
can plan appropriately. I think theres a significant amount of
anxiety for people who are trying to plan, to know what the
environment is likely to look like in 2003, in 2005, and in 2008.
recognize that homesteading customers have planning to do, just like
those customers who are migrating, right?
Yes. As in any business, its always good to do scenario
planning. I think its appropriate for people to be planning
now. Scenario planning involves looking at the current situation and
possible future situations, understanding what the triggers are, what
you would do and what the current scenario is you want to be
executing. We would like to remove the open questions and concerns as
expediently as we can, making sure were making decisions that
are going to be durable and sustainable. We dont want to make
decisions that send incorrect messages in the long run. We want to
make sure what we plan and set up is something we can follow through
you feel that HP has its migration strategy in place, and can now
move forward on its plans for homesteading customers?
I feel thats not a binary, yes-no answer. Weve
made tremendous progress on our programs for our customers and
partners. Things like hardware conversions, programs to help our
partners in transition, programs to deliver services and programs to
help publicize tools and methods for migrating.
Im getting feedback from customers and partners that
they are seeing ways to evolve. Im feeling were able to
spend more time and focus on thinking about and planning for some of
the things that are being advocated by OpenMPE and by Interex.
I dont think well make all the decisions at once.
I think HP World is a good forum, and thats a good time to
communicate a clear, consistent message. I think it would be nice to
communicate some decisions, if we have them made, before HP World.
That would be a positive sign for people who are anxiously awaiting
Looking at all of the decisions out on the table, I
dont think theyll all be made within two or three months.
As we answer some questions, new questions will come up. Thats
been the pattern since November.
you expect to cross into 2003 with some questions unanswered for the
I would like to have enough questions answered for people to
be able to plan their futures with a high degree of confidence.
Its certainly my intent that people will have enough
information to do that planning by the end of this year. Its
certainly a priority for me. I want to be cautious on setting
youre in a marketing organization now, do you see serving these
homesteading customers as essential to retaining them as HP
It is important to me. I believe that the segment of
customers who believe theyll be running 3000 applications
beyond 2006 is an important segment of customers for us. These are
customers who have bought 3000 systems and other HP products over the
years, and I believe theyll continue to buy HP products in the
years to come as long as we work to address their needs.
What I dont want to do is rush into announcements that
today make it seem to those customers that things will be okay.
Mis-set expectations, over-promise, and then have anger, frustration
and disappointment, and lack of success a couple of years down the
you believe its riskier to maintain an IT operation with MPE
Theres no black and white answer to that. If its
a customer who decides later its the right thing to migrate,
and they can do that in a timeframe that doesnt put their
business at risk, then I dont think its necessarily a
risky thing to do. If they also feel theres enough of an
infrastructure in place through 2006, and they have ways to have a
dependable infrastructure without any of the things HP hasnt
committed to yet, then I dont think its risky.
However, if a customer would need to migrate, and would not
have time to migrate before 2006, and would find the current status
quo environment after 2006 unacceptable, then I do think thats
you offer HP 3000 owners of A-Class systems more performance by
eliminating the slow-down code in MPE/iX?
Thats something we do not plan to do right now. The
systems have been priced based on performance relative to other
systems in the past. Our customers have been very happy with the
systems we have. Theyre also priced relative to other systems
in the family, relative to the N-Class. They have a strong cost of
ownership associated with that. Changing the performance points of
one model starts to have other impacts that ripple through the system.
There will be a release of the PA-8700 systems, and there
will be a new set of performance points available when those are
released. The 8700s will be available in both the A-Class and N-Class
configurations. Theyre on target for the fall timeframe,
September through November. They will be tied together with the 7.5
you expect reductions in the HP 3000 staff by November?
Right now I cant say that I expect any. I would not
ever promise. Sometimes decisions are made at the high end of
organizations. With the early retirement programs that are being
offered, theres some impact to all organizations.
you had a lot of acceptance of early retirement among the 3000 staff
I wouldnt call it a lot. There has been some, as you
would have with other businesses.
plans are being developed to guarantee a minimum MPE support
infrastructure will remain in place at HP beyond 2003?
Were doing the same things weve always done over
the years. We try to work with the team members to make sure
theyre confident and enjoying their work, with things like
cross-training opportunities; sharing responsibility so we have good
knowledge retention; making sure the dollars we have to invest can be
deployed to people resources, as opposed to inefficient IT processes.
Ive never seen an environment where retaining people
was as hard as during the years of the dot-com hysteria. Even during
that time people stayed with the 3000 business, because what they
valued are the culture we have, the customer focus, the teamwork we
have, the community and the ability to contribute. I very strongly
believe that culture is continuing to be very strong in the 3000
community. We have a very strong management team in place across the
community. I view it as a self-maintaining kind of environment.
you believe that HPs November announcement about the 3000 would
have more impact than the dot-com opportunity?
People could be more concerned but you need to look at
ways to structure peoples responsibilities, so only a part
focuses on things that are specific to the 3000 technology. Some
people in the 3000 business are contributing to many new
technologies, such as networking and Internet technologies.
When youre in a very large organization, youre
typically in a very narrowly defined role. You rarely get to expand
into other areas. In the 3000 business, its often the opposite:
you get to do things that far exceed what you can in other
organizations. I dont think I make these statements thinking
its a slam-dunk to retain talent through the next years.
Weve been successful in very challenging environments, and I
believe well be able to continue to do that.
Will there be an MPE/iX 8.0? Will 7.5 be a push
release, or one only available by request and on new systems?
8.0 is something that remains a possibility. Currently the
likelihood of having an 8.0 is dropping. The main driver for having
an 8.0 release is if theres some patch or functionality we need
to get out there that requires a mainline release. Its still
very possible, but right now the likelihood has dropped to 25-40
percent well need an 8.0 release.
I dont think our customer base in general would prefer
a large main line release. I think having a more stable environment
would be preferred.
Right now 7.5 is scheduled to be a pull release. I think of
7.5 as a mainline release. 7.5 is big, but not as invasive as 7.0,
though Fiber Channel is a big change. Making the change to PCI
systems was a very large one for us, relatively speaking. The main
things in 7.5 will be the 8700 support, Fiber Channel and support for
greater than 4Gb LDEV 1 devices.
you made a decision to support the Ultrium tape family for the
We havent. One of our goals is to exit 2003 with a very
up to date storage offering.
do you see in the future for HPs relationship with Client
Client Systems has been a great partner, and theyre
providing an essential channel for our products in North America.
Were actively discussing ways that Client Systems can continue
to play an active role in the 3000 business in the years to come to
the benefit of customers and other channel partners in HP. I also
think there are many opportunities for Client Systems to partner with
HP in other businesses in the years to come. I expect Client Systems
to play a role in the years to come in both the 3000 business and in
other parts of HP.
you believe they can play a role in maintaining a homesteading option
for the 3000 customer?
Theyre clearly in the 2003-2006 timeframe as we talk
about supply chain and value chain; there are opportunities there. I
also believe there are opportunities in the post-2006 timeframe.
there be any more Platinum partners for migrations?
We try to make sure to size the customer need and assess the
capabilities of the customers involve, and have a healthy competition
in the market but not so much competition there isnt
enough business to sustain the partners in that space. Right now, we
feel theres a good balance in the system.
Theres a need for customers to have help with
transitions. We believe theres a mix, a competition, different
types of offerings and strengths. Well be monitoring that over
time. Right now there are no plans to add more Platinum partners in
the near future.
is making a play for HP 3000 customers now, pointing to a healthy
iSeries market as proof that proprietary computing can be a
successful choice. How do you respond to keep 3000 customers inside
the HP fold?
Weve spent a lot of effort since our announcement to
make sure there are programs in place for customer transitions. There
are incentives like TradeUp credits, migration kits, and a migration
center. Were worked very hard on communication through white
papers, Webinars. Weve begun rolling out a very comprehensive
program to help customers get access to training programs.
We just completed a very successful event for our North
American HP 3000 partners to help them engage with other parts of HP.
All of those different programs are making a difference in terms of
customers seeing how they can effectively and efficiently evolve with
other HP solutions.
philosophically, an HP 3000 customer has more in common with the
bundled solution of IBMs iSeries, the old AS/400s, than
anybodys Unix. Does HP have a solution like that one, now that
its stepping away from the 3000?
Customers can use tools to have an environment thats
more familiar to them, to ease that transition as they migrate. They
can create more of the MPE environment after that transition with the
emulator solutions [from Neartek and Denkart], plus the HP Eloquence
If youre a customer thats bought an off-the-shelf
application, most of our partners are pretty far along in moving
their solution to another box. When youre running an
off-the-shelf solution, very often the change in the underlying
technology is less visible to you.
Having said all that, I do believe the environments of Linux,
HP-UX and Windows-based platforms are different. There are some
advantages you get with that in terms of choice. With that sometimes
comes a little to a lot more challenge in terms of integration.
If you upgrade your stereo system at home these days,
theres a lot of complexity. If you choose to take advantage of
that complexity, it often comes with manageability issues.
Whats the biggest chink in the IBM armor around its
IBM continues to be a very successful company, and the AS/400
is a very successful product. The AS/400 model is a lot like the 3000
in many ways.
But the market for those sorts of systems is shrinking. The
core hardware, storage and database markets are all moving to
commodities now. As they do that, its phenomenal to see the
prices dropping for those systems. To offer a completely integrated
system, which we understand very well, you need to be able to charge
a premium for those systems to maintain the R&D. As the market
share becomes smaller and the prices drop it becomes difficult to
fund the marketing and sales channel to keep a vertically integrated
system in place.
One thing thats going to happen is the margins will
drop for a solution like the AS/400. Their sales volume will drop
because of the differences. The other thing that happens is that a
channel partner doesnt want to test on as many platforms, just
one or two mainstream platforms that are an easier sell.
If Im a channel partner, I see that commodity process
happening, and the gap widening between what I pay for a platform
like the AS/400 and what I pay for a Linux- or HP-UX-based platform.
The volumes allow for lower price points. As that changes, its
going to be harder for the vendors selling the AS/400 applications to
be competitive. Thats a cycle weve seen in the 3000
community, and one that is continuing to happen for the AS/400.
While there are applications available to meet a number of
needs on the AS/400 right now, and I believe the installed base is of
a size that those will be supportable by IBM and the partners for a
significant period of time, I believe over time the number of
solutions and the amount that gets invested in them will drop.
you acknowledging that some 3000 sites will adopt the iSeries?
It may be a good solution for some customers with discrete
needs for a specific application. To be very honest, if you
cant migrate a discrete application in time and you look out in
the market and see a solution on the AS/400 or another platform that
is available today, and you understand the tradeoffs and consequences
of doing that, it may be a viable solution for some customers.
Knowing its a familiar model, I believe there are a relatively
small number of people for whom that will be the right business
Is the planning for homesteading a process you expect
customers will need to begin soon?
You should always have a plan, and that plan should include
different scenarios. If a customer thinks homesteading is the right
answer, then they absolutely should be planning for that right now:
considering the trade-offs and forks in the road, depending on what
things HP is able to arrange and commit to. People should make some
assumptions and plan for what they think is the most likely scenario
but also understand the risks, and have contingency plans.
Its not too soon to plan, regardless of what youre doing.
you acknowledge that the range of scenarios is incomplete for the
Yes. I think theres a significant amount of information
that people do have. You can look at whats happened in the past
in terms of people running systems, and there tends to be a value
chain of partners that work to support those systems. You can draw
some reasonable conclusions about what the environment could look
like if HP didnt do some of the things that are being advocated
by OpenMPE and Interex. I think there a lot planning right now
with some base assumptions.
you think OpenMPE can handle this without the participation of
I have been an advocate of Interex and OpenMPE working
together. While in some cases they are synergistic, I think they add
value in different ways. The teamwork they have together is very
positive. I would not say either of them is necessarily essential,
that there wouldnt be positive developments without either of
What do you want to leave behind of the CSY legend for
customers who choose to move to another HP platform?
I would like to think those new organizations would benefit
from the best practices that weve had. It would be nice to know
that some of the cultural things that CSY has stood for move forward
in other HP businesses. More and more, businesses like HP-UX are
trying to spend more time with customers.
Being part of this Customer First Team will give us a chance
to share some of those best practices. I believe there are
significant elements of the 3000 business that HP learned from. An
important legacy would be that people will see more of what they
valued in the 3000 community togetherness and the view of the
business and the customers in other parts of HPs
Youre likely to be the person who turns off the
lights on HPs involvement with the 3000. What legacy do you
want to leave behind for the homesteading customers?
Regardless of the customer needs, I would really like for
people to remember the 3000 business and the relationship with HP
very positively. Id like them to feel HP played a very
positive, supportive and constructive role in helping them move
forward. Id like them to remember HPs role as one that
leads to continued loyalty to HP. Id also like to know that
customers had successful transitions, and their business needs are
continuing to be met. If theyre not choosing to transition,
Id like to know people made good decisions on what the right
path was for them, and that HP helped them in planning and they want
to reward HP with continued business.