HP extends e3000 support, but will retain source code

In a major roadmap turnaround, Hewlett-Packard has pushed back the end-of-life date for its e3000 system through at least December 2008 and will continue to maintain the system through then.

HP had planned to end e3000 support in December 2006. But in an announcement Tuesday, the company said it is extending the deadline after recognizing "that some companies may need to run their e3000s after HP's current end-of-support date due to business constraints, transition timelines, or to retain access to data for archive or regulatory reasons."

As part of the announcement, HP said it is holding off until 2008 any decision about whether to release the e3000 operating system, MPE, as open source code.

Through an organization set up four years ago, OpenMPE, users asked HP for access to the source code so they could provide ongoing maintenance, patches and updates. HP had earlier said it was considering turning over the source code to OpenMPE or some other third party, but Tuesday's announcement puts that decision off for three years.

David Wilde, HP e3000 business manager, said Tuesday that the company has worked to keep the system updated and said it will continue to provide critical patches and monitor customer needs. The decision "is another demonstration of HP continuing to be dedicated and focused on meeting the needs of our installed customer base," he said.

In previous interviews, some e3000 users have said that they were worried that HP was losing its ability, in terms of its own in-house e3000 expertise, to provide that support in advance of 2006 deadline. But Jim Murphy, HP's director of nonstop and business critical services, said Tuesday's announcement came after the company assessed its e3000 resources and parts and ability to deliver rapid support. The company feels "very confident that we are in good shape with our e3000 expertise around the world," he said.

The e3000 is a midrange system that includes its own database, and has been widely praised by users for its reliability. HP doesn't give out the number of users, but an OpenMPE official had earlier estimated that there are about 2,000 users with e3000 systems in operation.

HP has set up migration programs for users to move from OpenMPE, but some users planned to "homestead" on the system and run it past the initial end-of-life date. OpenMPE had set a budget of about US$1.5 million in user fees to provide operating system support.

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