Coming Back to
the 3000's Future
Bill Lancaster is
back in a changed 3000 community that is still pondering its future.
He developed the concept for an all-3000 conference that emerged in
2000, when the MPE Forum first served up content at the e3000
Solution Symposiums. The Symposiums were the first new 3000-only
event on the US calendar in more than five years. This summer
Lancaster has returned to the MPE and HP 3000 world after a
three-year hiatus, joining Lund Performance Solutions as Vice
President and Chief Technology Officer and leader of a homesteading
embrace from one of the communitys HP Platinum Migration
run his own consulting firm for six years, Lancaster took a break
from the world of IT in 2001, not long before HP tossed in the towel
on the 3000s future. He returns to a company where he was
general manager in the 1990s, one that has been a migration advisor
since HP started its Platinum Migration partner program in 2002. A
June reorganization at Lund led to the departure of the
companys president Scott Pierson and its Director of R&D
Jim Kramer. Now Andy Herbert is taking the Presidents reins at
Lund with Lancaster leading the new charge into homesteading
promoted the Symposium idea to Interex and to HP as a way to get more
training out to a customer base thats advancing in age. HP and
the user group honored him with the HP e3000 Contributors Award
in 2000 for special service to the community.
By the time
of his return, Interex had diffused the Symposiums 3000 focus,
while HPs steps away from the platform have been well-charted.
Lancaster says that Lund will recharge as a resource for the 3000
customer who feels left behind. Hes demonstrated a record of
gathering coalitions. His consulting firm signed top technical Amisys
individuals from HBOC after those Amisys experts left the company. He
also called in plenty of favors to stock the first Symposiums with
3000 speakers who didnt usually present at conferences.
joined the 3000 community in 1981 after serving as a Russian linguist
in the US armed forces. He served at insurance companies and helped
establish the thriving service bureau business at Summit Information
Systems. Now hes on a new mission for some of HPs oldest
customers: delivering homesteading help to a segment of the community
that looks to him like it represents an opportunity. We wanted to ask
him about the changes in Lunds fundamentals and how much he
expects independence to matter to the community. We spoke in late
June, just a few weeks after hed returned to
changing at Lund that can help HP 3000 sites?
Even though I understand HPs position on this, that
people need to migrate, what about the homesteaders? Thats one
of the things were going to do: Put a real emphasis on what we
can do to help the homesteaders.
To accomplish that we have a restructured management team and
staff that is putting an emphasis on serving the e3000
customers needs whether they stay on MPE or want to eventually
transfer off. We have a new mandate from Bob Lund to get back to our
roots of service first.
What prompted the reorganization at Lund?
It was a move that Bob [Lund] felt he needed to do get this
company back to the roots of what it was created to do 16 years ago.
It had become something else. This company lost its first love, its
vision, and abandoned it to become just another software company. It
became important to Bob and [CEO] Andy Herbert because the market has
changed so much, and you cant do what you used to do. One of
the things were going to be doing is focusing much more in the
Why services rather than software?
Thats why they brought me in, to build a community of
support for the homesteaders. This is something I think I can do,
having built a number of such things, including the Solutions
Symposiums. Those were really geared for providing real answers for
real people with real problems.
In addition to building something internally,
we want to contribute to some external collaboration. It would be
nice to draw together those who are left standing, to help those who
are going to remain on the 3000 for awhile. We can build some
Lund is an HP Platinum Migration partner. This sounds
like an embrace of the other choice for 3000 customers. How can you
serve these two options at once?
There arent just two choices. It isnt just stay
or go. Its stay or go, or stay for awhile and then go. We want
to give the customer the opportunity to make these decisions on their
timeframe, not HPs. I know a lot of people that have no plan
yet big shops that have no plan about theyre going to do
in December of 2006. Frankly, I see that as a real market of
opportunity. So its not all altruism in helping homesteaders. I
think theres a real opportunity to do some good work and help
people stay as long as they want to stay. We want to let the
artificial boundary of 12-31-2006 become flexible.
HPs recommendations all revolve around that
date. Do you expect them to shift it?
I dont care what HP does anymore. They have proven that
they are not to be relied upon any longer. Im not talking about
the individuals, people like Dave Wilde or Ross McDonald or Alvina
Nishimoto. Theyre quality people stuck into a really tough
situation. I want to be careful, because I want to build consensus. I
believe in being a bridge builder, I always have. But HP doesnt
deserve that kind of loyalty anymore. Now its a matter of going
and fighting for the remaining people, to get them whatever they need
to keep going.
Thats bound to be a narrower slice of the
market than the Unix and Windows segments. What does Lund Performance
hope to do to draw enough business off a smaller 3000
We want to create a company that can become more meaningful
to a smaller group of companies. My company, Lancaster Consulting,
did that with six consultants. We were doing over $1 million a year.
We ended up staying with some companies and helping them with a lot
of things, instead of just trying to go in and help them resolve an
individual problem. We did a lot of Amisys and Ecometry/
Smith-Gardner business, and did a lot more than performance.
What kind of legacy can companies of 15, 20 years or
more in the 3000 community, like Lund, bring to an IT industry
stocked with younger professionals?
To become the advisors to the next generation. Because they
dont have the breadth and depth of our experience. They may be
able to code up the wazoo with .NET, or C#, or some of the avant
garde development environments today. But do they know how to solve
basic business problems? I think theres a transition hope for a
lot of us to get into places and guide with that advice.
Whats the hiatus from the 3000 community taught
In the last three years Ive been working with CEOs,
helping them herd the cats, so to speak. The diverse nature of all
the technology makes it hard for them to know whats important.
Its hard for anybody to manage these days.
Long-term consultants from the 3000 world you
think they can play a role in helping companies headed away from the
I think we have a lot to offer. People like Stan Sieler and
Steve Cooper [of Allegro], people like [Interex board chair] Denys
[Beauchemin], Wirt [Atmar] of AICS, Gavin [Scott of Allegro]
they are absolute treasures that I hope will make a transition to
become professors emeritus.
Theres a lot of talent in the 3000 community
looking for the next thing to engage them as deeply as the 3000 did.
Where will you be looking?
Well, there is no next product. The markets that were
going to be operating in are flooded with products. Especially when
you look at the Linux or Unix worlds. You can get anything you want
for free. Its just a matter of having the wisdom use those free
tools in the right way. They say it costs just as much to implement a
free Linux environment as a paid environment in Windows, for example.
It just costs an enormous amount of money to gain all that wisdom.
Its not about tools anymore. It hasnt been for some time,
and we havent caught up with that yet.
I want to be focused on solving business problems. Accenture
has just signed a deal for $10 billion to handle the data flow from
US border station checkpoints. Thats $10 billion, and
theyre not selling a product, are they?
Is Lund making changes to its office resources as
part of the restructuring?
The offices will remain in Albany, Ore. Were never had
remote offices. The work that Scott [Pierson] and Jim [Kramer] did is
going to be help us move into the future. They really did contribute
significantly to Lund during their tenure and brought many good
things to bear to improve the company. But fundamentally were
shifting direction, and going back to being a company that serves the
customers, instead of trying to become a company who customers serve
it. Every software company faces that challenge, where you really get
going and start having an expectation, an arrogance like Microsoft.
Then upstarts come along and require an adjustment to that.
Has the Platinum partner business started to generate
a lot of business yet?
I think the Platinum partner program can be an element of the
coalition we need to put together to keep the 3000 market surviving,
while people put together decisions. These migrations are going to be
hard. If the Platinum partner program can include a really strong
effort to take care of the homesteaders, then it can be very
positive. I dont believe the program is a stand-alone leg of a
What about a meeting point for the 3000 community?
For decades, the Interex HP World show has served in that capacity.
Can it continue?
I think we can no longer count on HP World as a draw for the
3000 community. We created something before, and we can do it again.
I would be happy to spearhead the creation of an independent HP 3000
gathering. That would tickle me pink to do that, because we did it
before with the Solutions Symposiums.
Are the same
organizations a part of such an independent gathering?
We dont have to involve HP necessarily, and we
dont have to involve Interex necessarily. While I respect all
my past associations with those organizations, have they really
traveled with us where were going? We could put together
something. Were getting 60 speakers slots at this years
HP World for MPE, after hundreds several years ago.
This is sounding independent. Is Lund willing to
offer a direction different from HPs plan for the
Were going to have to have a divergent strategy from
what HP and Interex are doing with respect to the MPE world if
were going to have any success with the MPE customers. Our MPE
customers are more important to us today than they ever were, even in
the past because we really feel we havent done a great
job of serving them. We owe them something to really make up for our
lack of focus on them in the last few years. Thats why Lund
brought me back, to serve the MPE community.