The HP 3000 Evolves into the HP e3000

HP's e-services umbrella is large—large enough to cover almost anything that begins with "e." Now HP has extended the umbrella to embrace its most reliable machine, the HP 3000. Sporting a new name--the HP e3000--the long-lived machine looked not only sturdy and reliable but hip as it took center stage at a major HP announcement. Along with the name change, HP unveiled new HP e3000 servers, the latest release of MPE/iX, and new storage solutions for the MPE platform.

Granted, HP's rebranding of the 3000 is an attempt to extend the machine's longevity. But the name change goes far beyond cosmetics. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. The HP 3000 became ready for e-services some time ago, mainly because it steadily received Internet-enabling technologies. The name change simply acknowledges reality.

The 3000 was not only ready to take its place in HP's e-services strategy, it helped propel that strategy. HP 3000s delivering "apps on tap" laid the foundation for HP's transaction-based business services model. The model emerged as the Commercial Systems Division (CSY), the HP unit responsible for the 3000 and MPE, pursued a strategy of partnering with ISVs that develop business-critical applications for specific vertical markets.

In one of these verticals—airline reservations—HP partnered with Open Skies to host Open Skies passenger reservation software on HP 3000s. Small and midsize airlines responded enthusiastically to the "apps on tap" model, which relieves them of responsibility for large, complex applications and allows them to buy hosted services on a per transaction basis. The concept of hosting business-critical applications on one of the industry's most reliable machines proved so successful that HP acquired Open Skies and eventually folded the unit into the new HP Computing Utility Services Division.

CSY followed up on its success with Open Skies software by partnering with Telenomics to host the PWARE telephone management software. HP 3000s running Telenomics' PWARE have been delivering telephone management services for a transaction-based fee that amounts to just cents per use.

As the HP 3000 hosted an increasing number of applications for verticals, CSY was finding that its emphasis on interoperability was paying off in a number of ways. Interoperability solutions, like Java, JDBC, and LDAP, gave the 3000 the ability to talk to other machines, functionality that is critical for the Internet and e-services.

HP's rebranding of the 3000, then, simply acknowledges the evolution of the platform. And the new performance hikes and Internet and capacity solutions, rather than allowing the 3000 to enter the e-services arena, just pull it further into that world.

Performance Hikes at High End, Price Cuts at Low End

Along with the name change, HP's e3000 announcement introduced two new high-end servers—the 10- and 12-way HP e3000 Series 997 machines. The new 997s offer significant performance boosts and large memory support of up to 16 GB for users who install the latest release of MPE/iX, Release 6.5. The new 12-way 997 is 44 percent faster than the 8-way server previously perched at the top of the 997 line. The increased performance comes at a price, though. The 12-way's base price is $391,200, without peripherals or operating system--$160,000 more than the price of current 8-way 997s. The base price of the 10-way will be $311,200, with HP offering an $80,000 upgrade over the 8-way price.

HP introduced the new servers partly in response to requests from partners in some of its vertical markets. For example, the performance increases will particularly benefit users of MCKessonHBOC, which develops power-hungry healthcare applications. The performance hikes should also help HP with its newly announced strategy of establishing partnerships with ISVs in additional verticals.

The midrange has also received performance boosts. HP has replaced PA-7200 processors with PA-8000s to offer two new 030s in the 929 and 939 series. The 929/030 is now about 12 percent faster than the former 929/030, and the 939/030 about 17 percent faster than the current 939/030. A small price reduction accompanies the performance hikes. A Series 929/030 with a 20-user IMAGE and MPE/iX license, 128 MB of memory, a 9-GB hard disk, 12 GB DDS-3 tape, UPS, and a console will be priced at $66,091.

At the low end, HP is giving users a price break by introducing what it calls "street pricing." That means resellers may offer, for volume discounts, a price that is as much as 25 percent below that of the suggested list price. As part of its introduction of "street pricing," HP announced new prices for the Series 918RX servers. Users will now be able to order a package that includes database, storage, and console for $13,459. The configuration offers 64 MB of memory, 9 GB hard disk, 4 GB DDS-2 tape, 6000VA UPS, a console, and four I/O slots.

Release 6.5—New Web Server, Increased Memory and File Sizes

The HP e3000 announcement included the news that MPE/iX Release 6.5 will ship in March. The latest release of the operating system includes an Apache-based Web server and the Developer's Kit for Sun's new Java 2 platform (Java/iX 1.2.2). A standard edition of the Web server is included at no cost in Release 6.5. For those concerned by Apache's lack of support for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), HP is offering a secure edition of the Web server that will be available for order and shipping in May. This edition, built on top of RSA's BSAFE SSL-C library, provides full-strength encryption and authentication.

Also included in MPE/iX 6.5 is Level 8 Systems' Geneva Message Queuing message-oriented middleware. The middleware extends the functionality of Microsoft Message Queuing Services (MSMQ) on the 3000 platform.

With this latest release, MPE/iX now provides support for increased memory, up to 16 GB on the 997 and up to 8 GB on HP's 9x9KS systems. The memory boosts are a response to requests from many users today who suffer more from memory than performance limitations. They will also benefit 3000 users moving to more processors—10- and 12-way—and running large applications like Smith-Gardner's mail order system.

Release 6.5 features something particularly important to ISVs—expanded file sizes. HP has expanded file sizes up to 128 GB—a huge improvement over the 4 GB currently offered.

HP has also increased capacity at the high end. Increases include support for more logged-on users—3,300 users rather than the 2,600 allowed now--and a boost in the number of TCP, or network, connections from the current 5,600 to 20,000.

In news released after HP's e3000 announcement, CSY revealed that 3000s are now running XML. That means HP won't have to develop a product to offer XML to MPE users. In fact, Smith-Gardner announced an XML interface for its MPE applications several months ago.

New Storage, Printing Solutions

The HP e3000 announcement addressed another hot topic—storage. HP introduced a new SCSI-Fibre Channel Distancing Solution and a new DLT8000 tape drive for the 3000. The addition of the SCSI-Fibre Channel Router Distancing Solution allows mass storage devices to be shared at up to 10 KM, or 6.2 miles, between the peripheral and HP e3000 servers. The device, available immediately, will operate with the SureStore Array Model XP 256 and 12H (AutoRAID) disk arrays, which are newly available on MPE/iX 6.5.

Moreover, HP is supporting the HP SureStore E Business Copy XP256 and Continuous Access Manager/XP functions of the SureStore E Disk Array XP256 on the 3000. HP SureStore E Business Copy XP256 allows multiple copies of databases and files to be mirrored on the same disk array, and HP SureStore E Continuous Access XP256 improves disaster tolerance and high availability.

Rounding out the announcement was the news that CSY has renamed its LP Series of line printers. They are now called HP LineJets. The new name is accompanied by a new printer solution—the LineJet Print Manager. The Print Manager is a Java-based solution that allows managers to control their LineJets from 3000, UNIX, or NT environments. It provides printer status information remotely through a Web browser and secures printers against unauthorized access.

 

CSY's HP e3000 Announcement

Servers

New Series 997 models—10- and 12-way

Series 929/030s and 939/030s boasting PA-8000 processors

MPE/iX Release 6.5

Apache Web server software (standard)

Secure edition of the MPE/iS Web Server

Java 2

LDAP*

JDBC*

Storage

HP SCSI-Fibre Channel Router

DLT8000 tape drive

HP SureStore E Disk Array XP256

Business Copy/XP and Continuous Access Manager/XP

Printers

HP LineJet Printers

HP LineJet Print Manager

 

For more information, visit www.businessservers.hp.com.

 

*Available previously

--Jean Nattkemper

Partner Experience with the HP e3000

What do some business partners have to say about the redesigned, e-packaged HP 3000? We wanted to find out if it was delivering as expected in a highly competitive e-commerce environment, so we asked Gary Hegna, President and CEO of Smith-Gardner to share his impressions. Smith-Gardner is an ideal example of a firm that must deliver end-to-end e-commerce solutions. Their products and worldwide services are keyed to customer satisfaction and loyalty throughout the entire online shopping experience.

HP Business Partner: Smith-Gardner

"By way of background, our company’s global client base includes Nordstrom.com, KBkids.com,

Hickory Farms, MicroWarehouse, Outpost.com, Hallmark Cards, RedEnvelope.com, BigWords.com and DiamondDepot.com, and we continue to add new business relationships all the time," Hegna says.

We then asked Hegna to help us understand the mission critical application that runs on Smith-Gardner’s HP e3000.

"We rely on an application called ‘WebOrder’ which tracks our front and back-end operations, including one-to-one marketing and merchandising, shopping cart and taking orders, order processing, advertising analysis, merchandising and purchasing, inbound and outbound telesales, customer service, inventory management, warehousing and shipping, production and operations, and accounting. It is a robust and business-critical software package."

... And the HP e3000, is it well suited for your business?

"Yes it is," Hegna replies. "The HP e3000 series will provide an ideal platform for our suite of e-commerce applications. Speed and responsiveness are critical success factors in our line of work. We feel it allows us to deliver complete and scalable solutions with quick time-to-market implementations. The unparalleled transaction processing speed and built-in reliability of the HP e3000 is key to meeting the demand from our e-commerce clients."

HP Business Partner: McKessonHBOC

The Atlanta-based developer of software for the HP 3000 platform, markets managed care software solutions to the healthcare industry. The company’s solutions cover comprehensive administrative and medical management needs. Products include AMISYS 3000, an application that was developed on the HP 3000 to allow managed care companies to efficiently run their administrative, clinical and claims processing functions. We turned to Marc Perlman, Regional Vice President with McKessonHBOC Business Systems Division, Payor Solutions Group.

"We see the release of MPE/iX 6.5 as having a significant benefit for our customers. Running a managed care organization takes very sophisticated applications with complex logic. AMISYS, a mission-critical application for MCOs, will gain performance enhancements with Release 6.5. It will enable us to take advantage of additional processors and utilize more memory, increasing the performance of our clients’ operations, which we feel will ultimately lead to the long-term customer satisfaction. We expect the new release of MPE/iX to give us better scalability," says Perlman.

-- By Bill Pike