You can still find listings of HP e3000 jobs, and there remain some big users of the doomed midrange system -- including the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which operates about 70 of the Hewlett-Packard servers.
But at this point, there likely are many more people with HP e3000 experience on their resumes than there are jobs available for them. Searches on job boards turn up few openings for positions related to the e3000, which HP stopped selling in 2003 and will stop supporting at the end of next year.
Denys Beauchemin, a longtime HP e3000 consultant and a former director of the defunct Interex user group for HP customers, said via e-mail that the number of IT workers he sees who are looking for e3000-related jobs is far greater than the total of job openings he's aware of.
"The 3000 installed base is inexorably dwindling," Beauchemin wrote. "There are islands of these systems, and they need knowledgeable folks at times --- but this is rare."
He added that if he were the CIO of a company that still used the e3000 as its primary system, "I would be moving heaven and earth to get off the platform, or updating my resume as I could not in good conscience be happy with the status quo." Continuing to rely on the e3000 "would be a great disservice" to your company, Beauchemin said.
Although the clock is ticking on HP's support for the systems, independent contractors such as Hudson, Mass.-based System Maintenance Services Inc. (SMS) are promising continued support well beyond the vendor's 2008 cutoff date.
Dave Gorka, vice president of marketing at SMS, said his firm's customer base includes about 5,500 e3000 users, most of which don't have the ability or the budget to migrate their applications to other hardware platforms. SMS has a large stock of spare parts for the e3000 and believes that users will continue to run the systems for many more years, Gorka said.
Gorka currently has two jobs openings for people with e3000 hardware and software skills. He said an electrical engineering background would be ideal for the jobs, because some of the work involves break-fix tasks.
Walter Murray, a programmer analyst at the California corrections department, recently posted a message to an e3000 mailing list encouraging subscribers to consider taking the California civil service exam, a necessary prerequisite to an IT job with the state government.
"I wanted to get people thinking about this as a possible career path," Murray said. "People who have HP 3000 skills should consider civil service employment with the state of California, or elsewhere."
But Murray said the corrections department isn't looking for people with specific e3000 skills at this point. He described his posting as more of a public service announcement directed at the e3000 community in light of the state's continued use of the systems.
The e3000 has almost 35 years of history behind it, and some IT staffers have spent most of their careers working on the systems, which are still praised for their reliability by loyal users.
It's hard to know just how much of the e3000 user base is left and how quickly customers are migrating to other platforms. OpenMPE, a volunteer group that wants to keep the e3000's MPE operating system alive, has posted a lengthy list of e3000 users on its Web site. But according to a note on the site, the list hasn't been updated since February 2006.
The e3000 mailing list has more than 700 members, and posts are added to it on a daily basis.