Relying on HP’s hardware for MPE/iX means having a good source for parts. Some 3000 parts tend to wear out sooner than others, like disk drives. Others can force a company into disaster recovery, like a failed CPU board. Community veterans in the community know that there’s no support without a source of parts. And the demise of 3000 installations, like a well-run junkyard, can be a source.
However, a dearth of spare parts sparked one 3000 customer into entering the world of HP 3000 emulation. Warren Dawson had systems that were aging and no clear way to replace what might fail inside them. Dawson’s in Australia, a more remote sector of the 3000 ecosystem. His need became the spark that moved HP’s iron out and replaced it with Intel-based hardware running an emulator from Stromasys.
While there are portions of the HP 3000’s high-failure parts list that can be replaced with third-party components — those drives come to mind — a lot of the 3000’s body is unique to Hewlett-Packard’s manufacture. One manufacturing customer in Mexico moved its applications off MPE/iX because it figured replacing their 15-year-old servers in a pinch was a dicey proposition at best.
In another report of HP 3000 parts, a switched-off site in California managed by Roger Perkins had a Series 969 that he was working to give away. Like everybody who paid more than $50,000 for a 3000, he wanted to believe that it had value remaining. But on the reseller market, he was fortunate to get a broker to haul it off.
Any brokers who do so are likely to take the system for its parts. What’s more, the HP 3000s that are going offline are not the only resource for replacement parts. Other HP servers can supply this market, too. Finding these parts is the skill that homesteading managers must master.
The easy questions to answer for a support client are “Can you supply me support 24×7?” or “What references will you give me from your customers?” Harder questions are “Do you stock parts in depot?” or “Do you have support experts in the 3000 who can be at my site in less than a day?”
Much of a 3000’s hardware doesn’t break down, although drives and power supplies are getting long in the tooth. Hewlett-Packard got out of the support business for 3000s for lots of reasons, but one constant reason was that 3000-related spare parts got scarce in the HP supply chain.
There are other support companies that guarantee parts availability. But many sources of support services to keep 3000s online will wait to acquire customer parts as needed.
A Series 969 server like the one turned off by Perkins and pushed to the curb serves a need for homesteaders. A reseller first has to take it out of a datacenter, clean up and test what’s inside the cabinet, then do triage on what’s worth keeping in the 3000 food chain. Not many places have enough physical storage to run the equivalent of an auto salvage yard, though. You know, the kind of place where a steering wheel bearing is deep inside a junked Dodge Dart.
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