As Hewlett-Packard prepares its customers for the end of nearly 30 years of e3000 computing, the company affirmed last week that it remains on previously announced schedules to stop production of the venerable systems by the end of this year and eventually end support of the product in the coming years while hoping to ease customers into other HP platforms during the transition.
HP's e3000 Software Product Manager Michael Schneck briefed reporters last week on the phaseout plan for the e3000, a high-end, PA-RISC-based server running HP's proprietary MPE/iX operating system, saying the company doesn't want the product to "go out with a thud." HP announced the phaseout in November of 2001.
The company's plans for the phaseout include a halt to sales of new hardware this year, patch releases of MPE/iX, and a software discount promotion to assist e3000 customers in the transition to HP-UX, the company's UNIX operating environment. The company is also making a final series of storage releases meant to ease the hardware platform into retirement. The announcements come in the face of obvious efforts by rivals like Sun to draw customers preparing for the e3000's end-of-life away from HP altogether.
Server and Chassis Upgrade Sales End This Year
According to Schneck, the company will stop selling server and chassis upgrades to the platform October 31 of this year. Upgrades to processors, add-ons (such as embedded disks, I/O and network cards, and memory) for the PCI-based A/N-Class systems will continue to be available through October of next year. For the Series 9xx e3000s, user license ugprades, add-on software and application conversion kits to assist in the transition to HPUX will be available through December of 2006.
New Storage Products Available
HP's e3000 Hardware and Storage Product Manager, Kriss Rant discussed new storage options for the platform, including new 73GB 15k rpm and 146GB 10k rpm embedded disk drives for the A-class e3000 and new 36GB and 73GB 15k rpm drives for the N-class systems. The new drives became available March 1 of this year.
Rant also discussed the company's new VA 7110, a virtual array enclosure meant to replace the VA 7100. According to Rant, the new enclosures offer support for up to 45 disks (as opposed to the VA 7100's 15) and also support the new 146GB disks the company has released. According to Rant, the new enclosure is "priced right at the sweet spot of the 7100" for an enclosure with 13 disks.
Finally, Rant discussed the DS2110 SCSI JBOD enclosure, which replaces the company's DS2100. Rant said the new enclosure, scheduled for release April 15 of this year, supports both new Ultra320 and existing Ultra160 SCSI mechanisms.
Software Discounts Aimed To Keep Customers in the HP Fold
In addition to the roadmap for a hardware phaseout and improvements to storage options in the platform's twilight, HP also has a mix of software updates and incentives on the agenda for the next year.
Recent releases of MPE/iX included a July, 2002 release of version 7.5, and the release of PowerPatch 2 for MPE/iX Release 7.0. Still expected this year is MPE/iX Release 7.5 PowerPatch1. According to Schneck, the anticipated release "is more of a bugfix-type patch release. [It] symbolizes stabilization and working the bugs out." Schneck said the release is due ahead of HP's November 2001 predictions.
The company is also targeting e3000 customers considering their next platform move by offering discounts on its UNIX variant, HP-UX. According to Schneck, HP has offered e3000 customers a 50% discount against the list price of its Enterprise and Mission Critical OE's for PA-RISC since March 1. Additional products including compilers and performance tools are also part of the discount program. HP representatives have claimed that 95% of the company's e3000 partners have committed to transitioning to HP-UX.
Beyond the End of Support
Schneck said the company is aware that customers will likely continue to use the platform past its December 31, 2006 end-of-support date. To that end, he said HP will "allow access to existing patches, key docuementation and some . . . technical content." At this point, he said, the company hasn't finalized plans for distribution of that material. He also said the company intends to remove barriers to the creation of platform emulators by third party developers, though he couldn't comment on the nature of HP's "fairly immature" plans in that area except to say the company will make the process "as simple as we possibly can."
Schneck also pointed out that the company is maintaing a Web site at www.hp.com/go/e3000, which includes Webcasts, information about regional transition/migration planning teams, and access to the company's customer newsletter.