Mapping a New Harbor for 3000 Data
You recently took back some operations from HP early
this year. How much effort did your company have to deploy to get
everything transferred? What was it like to regain control of the
In real life it was not that much of a difference.
Eloquence used to be a channel product, so there was little marketing
and sales activity (stealth marketing at its best). We actually took
responsibility for the sales and distribution in 1997 and provided
that as a service to HP. There was little change for us or our
It is a different story to market a product to new
customers rather than existing customers. We are now addressing HP
3000 customers and ISVs who likely have not been not aware of
Eloquence in the past.
It has been difficult to purge 15 years of HP history
from the product and documentation. We enjoyed a unique relationship
with HP Germany in the past, and its been part of our mindset.
It felt a bit odd to remove it. Those of your readers that have been
working with HP for ages might be able to relate to this.
How much of the Eloquence customer base is using the product
as an ISV, embedding the database into their applications?
Close to 100 percent. There are few customers who
either wrote their own application or ended up with a customized
package and went from there.
Besides migration, we consider it difficult to market
an IMAGE database as a general tool. From my point of view IMAGE has
its best value as part of a business solution. It works nicely for
our existing partners.
IMAGE gets used because it is an efficient and
effective solution and does not cause administrative headaches. An
Eloquence-based solution often ends up sitting in a corner, working
for years without an administrator. It takes care of its own.
Is your database a better match with Itanium than SQL
Server, or Oracle?
Its the same as on other platforms. Itanium might
look different to us, but so did PA-RISC 20 years ago. We consider
the Itanium an interesting new architecture that all applications and
databases will benefit from.
Is Itanium ready for software developers to start deploying
and developing against today?
We found HP-UX 11i version 1.6 was pretty complete
and stable. With the release of HP-UX 11i version 2 (B.11.23) HP-UX
on Itanium now matches the functionality of the PA-RISC platform. HP
did a great job to make sure the PA-RISC and the Itanium platform are
virtually identical, and we found few problems.
Porting Eloquence to the Itanium platform was almost
trivial. A lot has been said about the importance of optimizing your
applications on Itanium. We found the HP compiler did a good job out
of the box. Eloquence on Itanium actually got faster than on PA-RISC
by just recompiling. Optimizing for Itanium has the potential to gain
additional performance, and we will be able to integrate Itanium
specific optimizations over time.
HP-UX has the advantage of supporting both 32-bit and
64-bit applications on Itanium. The data format is binary compatible
to PA-RISC. Judging from our experience I would assume a port to the
Itanium architecture should not involve much difficulties and is
worth having a serious look at.
HP-UX also includes a PA-RISC emulator that allows to
execute PA-RISC binaries on Itanium. While there is a noticeable
performance impact, it is helpful to get you started and usually good
enough to run the odd tool which has not yet been ported to
As PA-RISC is slowly phased out and with the new
HP-UX release coming up it is now easily possible to tap the long
time benefits of the Itanium platform.
How much of your business growth in the last year has come
from 3000 sites? What do the newer converts to Eloquence have to say
about how the software compares to IMAGE?
Until now we have seen very little revenue from HP
3000 customers. Most end-users are in an evaluation stage and we do
not expect Eloquence sales to HP 3000 customers to become significant
before 2004. This is different from ISVs, who are now in an advanced
stage of porting their own applications.
We have worked with a number of ISVs and customers
and have received very positive feedback. Once people get started
with Eloquence they appreciate its ease of use and compatibility.
We havent reported much yet about the Business
Basic inside Eloquence. What do you think the customers are likely to
do with this language? How is it integrated with the database?
On the HP 250, Business Basic was the only supported
programming language and it was an outstanding implementation at that
time. The IMAGE database is fully integrated into the programming
language. Eloquence retained all its strength and improved on it. We
added a graphical development environment on Windows (IDE), multiple
user interface options (including Terminal support, a Java based GUI
and the Web) and remote debugging options. The Eloquence
implementation is cross platform and provides binary compatibility
Being a descendant of the famous HP Business Basic it should
be familiar for people who have used Business Basic previously. You
get a powerful yet easy to use programming language with the
What was the hardest part so far of emulating
Well, it is important to understand that Eloquence is
not an IMAGE emulation. IMAGE functionality is implemented at the
database core and we only emulate the TurboIMAGE specifics. The
technological foundation of the Eloquence database uses relational
A number of applications rely on specific behavior
beyond the documentation. Eloquence already supports most of the
specific behavior, and we will implement whatever is required. Taking
care of all the details is important for us.
Have you found TurboIMAGE functionality that was technically
sophisticated, but virtually unused in the customer base? How did you
make decisions about which IMAGE functions to emulate?
Actually one of the virtues of the HP 3000 is the
high level of integration and experience people have gathered over
time. Instead of looking at a single piece of functionality, it is
worth noticing the value the platform offered for its market.
One thing that comes to my mind is dynamic
transactions. From our experience the majority of IMAGE applications
make limited use of dynamic transactions like DBXBEGIN, DBEXND and
DBXUNDO. I assume most applications have their roots with MPE/V,
where dynamic transactions did not exist. Eloquence supports and
extends on dynamic transactions while removing most of the
Where do think your product can compare favorably with
offerings from larger companies, and in what areas can you see room
Eloquence serves a different purpose than Oracle and
SQL Server. Eloquence was designed with IMAGE applications in mind.
Its main purpose is to run IMAGE efficiently.
While Oracle and SQL Server are good general
databases they are not particularly strong at implementing IMAGE. For
the purpose of replacing IMAGE, Eloquence is often a number of times
faster. It is also less expensive and more compatible.
Even if your strategy is to eventually move to a
mainstream relational database, Eloquence enables you to move to the
new platform quickly and continue to run your business. At that point
its up to you to evaluate further steps. The relational side of
the Eloquence database has traditionally received less attention. We
will focus there in the future and intend to combine the strength of
IMAGE and SQL.
How long do you think HP 3000 customers will be
If you look at our history, probably for some time to come.
Eloquence was initially intended as a temporary solution to move
quickly to HP-UX and then allow VARs to re-write their software.
Well, it turned out that it worked very well for everyone and
there was little need to look for alternatives. So we eventually
became a permanent temporary solution. We are now close into 15 years
of Eloquence and we expect to do well 10 years from now.
How much of a factor will price of the target database be
in deciding where to move HP 3000 databases? How does your product
compare on support costs?
We expect that price is a differentiator. Eloquence is
attractively priced for small to medium sized businesses.
We have a range of different support offerings which cover
different requirements. Product patches are free and there are
support resources on the Eloquence Web site. Software updates are at
10 percent of the list price, call level support prices depend on
coverage, starting at $50 per month for end users.
In addition we started to create a network of partners to
provide worldwide support. In the US we have recently closed an
agreement with Allegro Consultants in Cupertino to provide support
and R&D services.
Can your smaller firm win the hearts of the 3000s
smaller and midsize customers, because youre more like them
than Oracle or Microsoft?
Customers consider using Eloquence if it provides a
value for their business. Dealing with a smaller company could add
some unique value on top of that.
We have earned good experience through a close
cooperation with our customers and partners. We believe this to be a
win-win situation and will continue to work this way.
In the long term, we intend to adopt some of the open
source benefits and release parts of the Eloquence source code
(subject to our contractual obligations that remain with HP). This
will enable easier customer modifications, and in turn we hope to
benefit from contributions of the community.