MPE sites are feeling a transition pinch approaching in 2021. The operating system is 364 weeks away from losing full control of its date-keeping. However, the CALENDAR intrinsic which will start reporting errors on Jan. 1, 2028 is not edging independent support out the door. It’s another kind of calendar: the one that measures the age of the community.
Last month, one of the stalwarts of the MPE support community reported it was no longer seeking new 3000 customers. Pivital Solutions was a 3000-only support operation longer than any company. Other companies are working with HP’s legacy Unix sites, or even supporting Windows Server sites and even Linux. Pivital leaving the 3000 space seems to signal the arrival of another era.
There are good companies remaining on target with support for the OS. Beechglen Development comes up often in reports about suppliers. Allegro also tags in as a player with deep technical development roots (creating parts of the MPE OS, on contract) plus multi-platform skill sets. The MPE Support Group’s Ralph Bagen gave the last public presentation about HP 3000 support of Homesteaders. The homesteader term emerged at the end of 2001, used to describe the legacy owners not migrating.
Archival versus production use
Many more sites that do not have production-grade 3000s in use are self supporting. A company that takes its MPE servers into archival mode can get along with support which is less formal. “We support ourselves,” says Ed Sharpe of Phoenix, “with the help of friends in Oregon and Virginia that answer our questions.” Sharpe is the archivist for a 3000-heavy tech museum.
At more traditional 3000 sites, formal support with response times and service level agreements remains the norm. CCS Business Solutions uses Beechglen, as does Larry Simonsen who manages the 3000s at Flowserve Corporation.
Some of the aging of the 3000 community has led to retirements. Allegro founders Steve Cooper and Stan Sieler are both away from the everyday of their company, although they’re never much farther away than an email or a call for the company’s customers. TE Connectivity put two of its internal support pros into at least semi-retirement this year. One of those pros quipped about the support he now uses for his own personal 3000.
“To “support” my HP 3000,” he says, “it is done by the four casters at the bottom of the cabinet. Additionally, I turned down the four little feet, so it doesn’t roll away.”