Users say farewell to e3000

Despite 30 years on the market, and although the company first announced plans to discontinue the line in 2001, one Hewlett-Packard Co. customer is still calling last month’s decision to stop selling the e3000 server platform shocking.

Eric Bender, co-ordinator of computer services at John Abbott College in St. Anne De Bellevue, Que., said 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 now throwing himself into the time-consuming process of finding alternatives.

To simplify the process, Bender is approaching the task by looking at the college’s two main focuses – business and education – separately. The school has already found a package, designed around the Quebec College market on an Oracle-Windows based environment, that addresses the former.

However, Bender said he hasn’t found a package that meets the college’s educational needs, and he plans to keep the e3000 until the end of December 2006, when HP will stop supporting the platform. But he said that he has his eye on a couple of options.

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

“If we do migrate, we have a lot of internal housekeeping 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 the company made the initial announcement in 2001 in order to give its customers enough time to decide on a migration plan.

“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.

HP has also enlisted the help of several of its platinum partners to move customers that have highly customized systems to new platforms.

Bender is among those who are 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.

“That group is active but to date there has been no commitment….I can’t wait forever,” Bender said.

Third-party vendors remain non-committal. “No one knows how many customers will be willing to pay for it,” said Gavin Scott, vice-president of San Jose-based Allegro Consultants Inc., which is considering building an emulator. He estimates that it would cost US$1 million to US$2 million to develop one, with licensing fees likely to run US$5,000 to US$10,000.