Despite 30 years on the market, Hewlett-Packard Co. confirmed that it will stop selling its e3000 server platform as of Friday, and although the company announced plans to discontinue the line in 2001, one customer is still calling the decision to terminate the line “shocking.”

Eric Bender, co-ordinator of computer services at John Abbott College in St. Anne De Bellevue, Que. said that he has been an e3000 user in one way or another for 30 years and is very committed to the “stable and robust” platform. He is trying to move forward, however, and has now thrown himself into the time consuming process of finding new solutions.

To simplify the process, Bender is approaching the task by looking at the college’s two main focuses – business and education – separately.

He said that finding a new platform for the school’s business needs was easy and happened “rapidly.” He said the school found a package that is designed around the Quebec College market on an Oracle-Windows based environment.

Finding a new platform for its educational needs, however, is another story, Bender explained.

He said that he hasn’t been successful in finding a package that would meet the needs of the college and plans to keep the e3000 until the end of December 2006 – when HP will stop supporting the platform – but said that he has his eye on a couple of options.

He said that he is considering HP’s migration option to the HP9000, a Unix machine – but is frustrated at the amount of retaining that will be involved in moving his staff over to a new environment.

“If we do migrate we have a lot of internal house keeping to do first, which is annoying because you are really just reinventing the wheel, but it would be absolutely necessary before we migrated,” Bender said.

Ira Weiss, a business development manager at HP Canada Ltd. said that after much consideration, the company had to make a decision regarding the investment it was making in the e3000 system.

Weiss explained that there has been a lot of innovation over the past 30 years in technology introduced by HP and by others and what the company looked at was what its customers were acquiring versus where the industry was going and made the decision that the industry had significantly changed.

He added that the company made the initial announcement in 2001 to give its customers enough time to decide on a migration plan, and is still offering those plans on top of additional education and training.

“We put a very expensive program in place for our customers to help them move to other platforms…There are training programs for customers, they can take Web-based training free of charge to train their systems people and make sure they are capable of managing these [new] systems,” Weiss said.

He added that HP has also enlisted the help of a few of its platinum partners to move customers that have highly customised systems to new platforms.

Although Bender is considering HP’s option, he is also looking to a group called OpenMPE, an organization that wants to keep the e3000 server alive by creating an emulator, but hasn’t yet been successful in finding the funding for the project. [Please see Users unite to keep MPE alive.]

“That group is active but to date there has been no commitment…I can’t wait forever because if I keep waiting and waiting for that group to come up with some kind of firm decision and they don’t, then I’m stuck. I don’t have time to do the migration,” Bender said.

HP Canada can be found online at www.hp.ca. Additional information on OpenMPE can be found online at www.openmpe.org.