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Dave Wilde
e3000 Business Manager


September 2004

Calculating the 3000's Complex Answers

Dave Wilde took the pointer at the front of the 3000’s room more than two years ago when he became HP’s “go-to guy” for the HP 3000. They have been years where Wilde has been busy working up solutions for the complex problems of transition. This year he marked his 20-year anniversary with HP, nearly all of it spent in the service of HP’s 3000 business and its MPE community. At HP World in Chicago we talked with him about the company’s decisions for the platform and what HP expects in the transition era. From an hour’s discussion we distilled these answers, which Wilde reviewed before we went to press. We spoke in a press room deep in the heart of McCormick Place on the day after his “HP e3000 Business Update and Feedback Session.”

Can you elaborate on your HP World business update regarding the strategic requests from the System Improvement Ballot?

For most of the strategic SIB items, our current answer is unchanged from previous responses. Yesterday, we discussed the fact that the SIB ballot results are certainly factored into our current planning and investments. For example, the strategic SIB item on SCSI disk drive firmware is a factor in determining our continued investments in the storage area, as Jim Hawkins discussed here at HP World. We also discussed how these items have a very rich set of parameters around them — in terms of the impacts to the community, and the drivers from HP’s perspective. A lot of thought is required to determine if, how, or when you’re going to take action on them.

There are also partner elements to these requests, elements from varied segments of our customer base, manufacturing and support implications, etc. Most of these strategic items have all those things, and more associated with them. It’s easy to make decisions that one part of the 3000 community would benefit from, and other parts would dislike, and we have to be careful so as not to send confusing or mixed messages to the community. For example, take our eventual decision regarding conversion of HP 9000s to HP 3000s, one of the SIB items. An earlier status update on our investigation was misinterpreted by some members of the press — not the NewsWire, of course!

Your goal isn’t to please everybody with these decisions, is it?

Often we cannot please everyone, or even anyone, completely, so it’s often not practical to try. But we do strive to identify and implement the best overall solutions. If we focus on just satisfying some of the partner stakeholders or just one segment of the customers, or just HP from a short-term perspective, it would be easier. Like multiple variable/multiple equation linear algebra problems, it can be tedious and complex to find the best answer to some of these problems.

So help me sum up HP’s replies to these requests. Do you have answers for any of them?

We absolutely continue to factor the strategic SIB feedback into our plans. We’ve answered the conversion question very specifically this summer. Then there are the requests regarding 9x7/7.0 and un-throttling. We’ve said “no” to those. We also said that we will be addressing the source code question during the second half of 2005, and we provided updates on work we are doing to put us in a position to continue to implement future business decisions regarding the strategic SIB items.

Do you ever see any of those answers changing?

Over time, we will consider doing some of these things. That doesn’t mean that we have plans to change anything in particular. Over the years, we’ve been asked to reconsider things, and in some cases(such as the recent decision about the HP 9000 to e3000 conversions), we have changed our plans based on community input. We get new data, or requests, and we could look at some items again in the future. I’m not a big fan of answers that sound like “no, not ever.” That sounds totally inflexible.

Who would be opposed to un-throttling A-Class and N-Class 3000s?

For example, customers who made purchasing decisions based on the value they saw in the systems, and partners who set licensing and pricing, with a specific pricing model in place. If we change the dynamics eight months after we stop shipping systems, there may be serious issues for customers and partners who made decisions and investments based on the original model.

How do you feel about your visibility into the 3000 market? Do you think there’s no one in the world who has better information on the 3000 market’s needs?

I’m not so arrogant as to think that there isn’t anybody who has better information about parts of our installed base or business, but I am confident that we do have the information we need to help us plan. In fact, we try to spend a lot of time at events like this listening, and in general throughout the year asking lots of questions of our HP team, partners and customers exactly for that reason. We have physical metrics as well as anecdotal information. We don’t rely on any one source, and over time we get a pretty good picture.

So working from that information, how much of the customer base do you think is going to be off the 3000 and MPE by the end of 2006?

“Are you off the e3000?” is a difficult question to answer analytically, because that’s not a simple yes or no question, even for a given customer. For example, a customer could be running a significant part of their manufacturing enterprise on the e3000, and they have mission-critical systems running ERP/MRP. They may have archive data and regulatory data they are keeping, and they may have secondary or tertiary applications they are running. In that environment, a customer may have moved all or most of their mission-critical applications, but may have secondary or support applications still running, or have a need for access to decision support or archive data. It also varies by segment, large enterprise customers and customers of our ISVs, how they receive support, etc.

Any way you cut this, I could answer your question differently. I don’t have a magic number in my head. I don’t think about it that precisely, because I’m combining quantitative data with qualitative data. I do believe that most customers have, or soon will have, a plan that makes sense for their business.

Do you think the deadline of Dec. 31, 2006 is going to work for the customer base?

I believe there’s enough time for most customers to plan and implement their decisions on what needs to be migrated off the e3000 by December, 2006. What can remain is unique to each customer, and the individual customers are in the best position to make those decisions. But I’d definitely suggest a sense of urgency for any customer who does not have a plan, or at least a “plan for a plan.”

So the majority of customers will have their planning and implementation done by then?

Their planning, and the appropriate implementation, based on what they’ve determined they need to do. It’s not up to me to judge whether a business is taking the right actions or not. We recognize some of the challenges people might have — and so we continue to work with Interex and OpenMPE, and with our customers who have a challenge migrating in time. We want customers to talk to us and the partners about those issues.

Do you see that the rate of migration is moving slower than expected?

We’ve worked hard to get information out, so customers and partners can make decisions based on their business drivers. It’s up to customers to determine what’s right for them and to act on that. If you look at deadlines that have not moved, like Y2K, you’ll see that people make decisions based on their business drivers and priorities, not HP’s.

Do you see yourself making decisions to benefit the customers who won’t finish migrations by 2006?

Yes, I believe our track record indicates that we are listening to and responding to issues in what we feel is the appropriate timeframe. We have already made a large number of statements and decisions about things we’ve been asked about in favor of being flexible and supportive of the different needs out there. Since 2001 we’ve changed some of the end of support dates, made decisions about documentation availability, said we’d remove diagnostic passwords, made decisions about Jazz availability, said we’d support 9000 to 3000 conversions in select circumstances, etc. We’ve shown flexibility on hardware add-ons, conversion kits, license transfers. We’ve exceeded the expectations we set on continuity of our storage roadmap, etc. These are a few examples from a lengthy list.

Do you think the customers who haven’t started their planning are waiting for the options and solutions to improve: Things like a decision on source code, or OpenMPE’s future, or a stop-gap support offering from HP beyond 2006? Do you think the fact these are undecided is stopping customers from planning?

I hope not, but I do think there are some people who are waiting for more information, even though I believe there’s much information available, in terms of our business fundamentals and roadmap that I do not expect to change. I believe the decisions that are still out there will have a tactical, rather than strategic impact.

Are some people using that as a reason to not decide?

Some people probably are, but I wouldn’t recommend that. There are some companies where, if you drill into their needs, these decisions will have some impact. Hopefully all customers at least have a decision tree in place, timelines, scenario plans, and contingency plans.

You said here in your update that the HP 3000 team at HP wasn’t being broken apart. Do you think you’ll have the flexibility you need over the next year to hang onto the team?

This question comes up every year. First of all, the organization has been “virtual” for several years now, as we’ve pointed out before. There’s a lot of management support across HP for our virtual team, and very dedicated contributors to the business across HP, so we’ve been able to maintain an appropriate focus on the business.

Our rate of change and investment has been ramping down and continues to ramp down. It may be more or less steep than people thought it might be from their external perspective. But it’s consistent and carefully planned. Our management teams work to support team members contributing to the e3000 business while simultaneously trying to help them start to get plugged into different roles in HP.

Is OpenMPE an element in HP’s transition planning for its customers? Is the survival of OpenMPE something you’re planning for?

Yes, in the sense that OpenMPE is a group we have a good working relationship with. I don’t view OpenMPE as an extension of HP. It’s an independent group. If OpenMPE is to be viable, it should have a constituency and a business plan. Their current activities will help assess the interest in OpenMPE-related items.

Do you think HP could have an impact in whether OpenMPE makes its goal this fall of signing up 100 systems for the organization’s engineering services?

I don’t believe that it’s in the overall community’s best interests for HP to try to influence that goal. We focus on understanding the customer and partner needs. To the extent that OpenMPE as an advocacy group, or as a group that has resources to bring to bear, is able to marshal those resources, or collect feedback, it can be helpful to those needs. If we try to influence that, we could influence things in a certain direction, but it might not necessarily be sustainable or in the right direction. We’ve learned that lesson on numerous occasions over the years.

Rather than try to influence the market response, we’ll try to understand the market’s needs. It does not mean that we will or we won’t respond to or be able to support specific elements of what OpenMPE tries to do or advocate for. I think this [membership campaign] is a way for the market to determine what some of the needs are.

You crossed your 20-year mark with HP this year. Has your past year of service in the 3000 community been fulfilling, or frustrating?

Definitely fulfilling. There is much I enjoy and value in the job, like working with a great group of people inside HP, with our partner community and with our customer community. It’s rewarding when you meet with customers and partners and hear about their successful transitions.

Of course, it has also been difficult at times, with a tough economic and business climate, and a lot of challenges the community is working through. Sometimes I’d like to be able to solve problems by making a quick decision, and that is not always practical on more complex problems. When I talk to people in different roles, you realize that most jobs these days have a similar balance of things they like and value in their jobs — and things that are challenges. It’s like a lot of things in life. There are certain things you’re thankful for and appreciative of, and things wish you could change. If you think everything should be perfect, and it’s not, that’s a good formula for making yourself unhappy. I try to focus on the positives and what we can control or influence to make things better.

With that in mind, 90 percent of the time I’m happy in my work. Like most people, I deal with frustrations and disappointments and understand that’s part of life.

Do you hope you’ll be the HP business manager who will carry the 3000 community into 2006?

This [transition] is one of the bigger challenges I’ve worked on, and not the type of challenge most people have a chance to work on. I’ve been involved with the 3000 since 1978, with a six-year gap during college and my early HP days, and very few people can say they’ve been involved with something that long and seen things through that long of a lifecycle. One of the many things I value is that continuity — and the feeling that I can contribute, and add value. I expect to continue to work as part of our HP and partner team trying to help our customers through this difficult transition as long as I feel — and my management feels — I am adding sufficient value.

Thank you, Dave.

My pleasure, thank you Ron. As always, it’s been great to catch up with you, Abby, and many others from the e3000 community, especially here in the great town of Chicago where I grew up and first used an HP e3000 during my high school days — Go Cubs!

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