3000's Complex Answers
took the pointer at the front of the 3000s room more than two
years ago when he became HPs 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 HPs 3000 business and its MPE community. At HP World
in Chicago we talked with him about the companys decisions for
the platform and what HP expects in the transition era. From an
hours 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
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 HPs perspective. A lot of
thought is required to determine if, how, or when youre 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. Its 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 isnt to please everybody with
these decisions, is it?
Often we cannot please everyone, or even anyone, completely,
so its 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
HPs replies to these requests. Do you have answers for any of
We absolutely continue to factor the strategic SIB feedback
into our plans. Weve answered the conversion question very
specifically this summer. Then there are the requests regarding
9x7/7.0 and un-throttling. Weve 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
Over time, we will consider doing some of these things. That
doesnt mean that we have plans to change anything in
particular. Over the years, weve 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. Im not a big fan of answers
that sound like no, not ever. That sounds totally
Who would be opposed to un-throttling A-Class and
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 theres no one in the world who has
better information on the 3000 markets needs?
Im not so arrogant as to think that there isnt
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 dont 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 thats 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,
Any way you cut this, I could answer your question
differently. I dont have a magic number in my head. I
dont think about it that precisely, because Im combining
quantitative data with qualitative data. I do believe that most
customers have, or soon will have, a plan that makes sense for their
Do you think the deadline of Dec. 31, 2006 is
going to work for the customer base?
I believe theres 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 Id definitely suggest a sense of urgency for any
customer who does not have a plan, or at least a plan for a
So the majority of customers will have their
planning and implementation done by then?
planning, and the appropriate implementation, based on what
theyve determined they need to do. Its 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?
Weve worked hard to get information out, so customers
and partners can make decisions based on their business drivers.
Its up to customers to determine whats right for them and
to act on that. If you look at deadlines that have not moved, like
Y2K, youll see that people make decisions based on their
business drivers and priorities, not HPs.
Do you see yourself making decisions to benefit
the customers who wont 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
weve been asked about in favor of being flexible and supportive
of the different needs out there. Since 2001 weve changed some
of the end of support dates, made decisions about documentation
availability, said wed remove diagnostic passwords, made
decisions about Jazz availability, said wed support 9000 to
3000 conversions in select circumstances, etc. Weve shown
flexibility on hardware add-ons, conversion kits, license transfers.
Weve 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 havent
started their planning are waiting for the options and solutions to
improve: Things like a decision on source code, or OpenMPEs
future, or a stop-gap support offering from HP beyond 2006? Do you
think the fact these are undecided is stopping customers from
I hope not, but I do think there are some people who are
waiting for more information, even though I believe theres 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
Are some people using that as a reason to not
probably are, but I wouldnt 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 wasnt being broken apart. Do you think youll have
the flexibility you need over the next year to hang onto the
This question comes up every year. First of all, the
organization has been virtual for several years now, as
weve pointed out before. Theres a lot of management
support across HP for our virtual team, and very dedicated
contributors to the business across HP, so weve 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 its
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 HPs transition
planning for its customers? Is the survival of OpenMPE something
youre planning for?
Yes, in the sense
that OpenMPE is a group we have a good working relationship with. I
dont view OpenMPE as an extension of HP. Its 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
organizations engineering services?
I dont believe that its in the overall
communitys 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.
Weve learned that lesson on numerous occasions over the years.
Rather than try to influence the market response, well
try to understand the markets needs. It does not mean that we
will or we wont 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,
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. Its rewarding when you meet
with customers and partners and hear about their successful
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 Id 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. Its
like a lot of things in life. There are certain things youre
thankful for and appreciative of, and things wish you could change.
If you think everything should be perfect, and its not,
thats a good formula for making yourself unhappy. I try to
focus on the positives and what we can control or influence to make
With that in
mind, 90 percent of the time Im happy in my work. Like most
people, I deal with frustrations and disappointments and understand
thats part of life.
Do you hope youll be the HP business manager
who will carry the 3000 community into 2006?
This [transition] is one of the bigger challenges Ive
worked on, and not the type of challenge most people have a chance to
work on. Ive 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 theyve 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.
thank you Ron. As always, its 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!