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Unix Operating Systems Software

HP Lays Off Unix/IA-64 gurus 341

A reader writes "On Tuesday HP announced that it is closing a lab in NJ. This was an HP-UX development lab, responsible for porting HP-UX to IA64. The lab employed top engineers, including some who have worked in Unix kernels for over 20 years (originally from Bell Labs, Novell, and other companies). " That report came from a soon-to-be former employee.
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HP Lays Off Unix/IA-64 gurus

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  • Probably giving up on HPUX and concentrating on Linux IA64!
    • Personally, I wouldn't end that statement with a '!' ... considering the fact that people are losing their jobs.... even if thats the case, it's not really something to be 'happy' or even excited about ...

      if anything , it's a testament to the crappy way big corporations treat loyal and qualified employees
      • I'm reading Jack Welch's book. In the 80's he laid off thousands, but he said he tried to give notice of a months of a plant closing or lay off.
      • Re:RE : HP layoffs (Score:5, Interesting)

        by amorico ( 40859 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:22PM (#2364255)
        if anything , it's a testament to the crappy way big corporations treat loyal and qualified employees
        Exactly! Instead of figuring out ways they can be rid of the expensive employees, why don't companies see them as valuable employees? People who have been in the industry that long have valuable experience and so what if they are not working on the project of the moment. I have met people like this. You don't fire them, you beg them to stay and hope your junior employees don't piss them off.

        The capricious way that companies seem to be doing this (I shudder to think what else will happen during this merger), is staggering. If I ran a company I wouldn't let experienced engineers loose on the streets and give them a possible reason for a grudge. Someone is going to snap them up and the short term profit of axing them will be a pittance compared to the revenue and goodwill you lose from them in the long run. Think about what DEC/Alpha engineers did for AMD and then think about what these people could do for IBM or SUN or any number of companies.

        The analyst in the article said it does not make any sense and he's right. This leads me to believe that their strategy is not as coherent as they claim. What's going to happen when they tell their customers "Not only are we giong to sell you an Intel box for your server, but it's not going to have HP-UX on it." Thus, the original reason for buying an HP (their architecture and software) is now gone. If they think their "brand" is something else, then they will be horribly surprised when their customers say "well as long as we're changing platforms and OSs I think I will check out what Sun and IBM have to offer." No one is strong enough in times like these to crap on valuable employees and customers this way. Doesn't anyone understand that this is the time to keep valuable employees and steal them from others? When the dust settles it will be painfully obvious that they need them.

        • Re:RE : HP layoffs (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Spunk ( 83964 ) <sq75b5402@sneakemail.com> on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:13PM (#2364898) Homepage
          Think about what DEC/Alpha engineers did for AMD and then think about what these people could do for IBM or SUN or any number of companies.

          Indeed. There's a Sun billboard near Boston that I drive by every once in a while that says "Alpha Engineers: we've got a better job for you."
        • Once upon a time DEC has cut Dave Cuttler (sp?) and his group.

          Result: M$ has piched up the group that made them NT. They would have a very hard time getting it sooner without ex-DEC-ers' experience.
        • After blasting away some $5 billion of corporate value by announcing an utterly senseless merger, miss Fiorino and her board apologists have to look tough and decisive.

          Oh, it wasn't the CEOs direct decision? Well, it's her responsibility if HP loses 100 of its best skilled people.

          HP will be down the hill in three years (mark my words), but Miss Fiorino will be playing golf in Pebble Beach with her ex-board apologists and a cushy severence package.

          Given the fact, that she not only missed three announced quarterly goals and heads full blast for a merger, which will be a major disaster (3 major - and 1 minor OS lines, different architectures and quite different cultures), I don't think this assessment is overly harsh.

          Do I sound bitter? You bet, and I don't even work for HP. I did work for DEC however from 90 through 94, that was about the time when the big downward spiral gained momentum. I saw in real life how the tech company with the bloody best engineering* was killed by slick talking MBAs in expensive suits (agreed that Ken Olson also has his share, but he wasn't the one that ultimately killed DEC [arguably]). Oh, and Mr. Palmer in his white Porsche didn't really offer much more to the company then a slick hairdo.

          Don't even get me started what happened after the sale to Compaq. A company who knows (or knew) how to assemble and market boxes, period. After buying DEC for it's enterprise services and customer base in short order they killed VMS (that started already at DEC; but Compaq didn't have a clue about what to do with it), the engineering departments, the Alpha chip and of course, allienated a fiercly loyal customer base...

          I totally agree with your post, I was not ranting against it, my rant is directed to people who - for their own personal gain and ego - kill the finest companies in their industry.

          * You can argue that of course, but when you look at things like DECnet, the Alpha chip or clustering, DEC sure as hell had a 5-10 year lead technologically.

      • Re:RE : HP layoffs (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Noxxus ( 259942 )
        if anything , it's a testament to the crappy way big corporations treat loyal and qualified employees

        Exactly. This reminds me of all those Digital techies in the Alpha division jumping ship when Compaq took over because their corporate culture sucked and they weren't treated as valuable, talented people. Where did alot of those dudes end up? AMD. And Compaq's blunder has come home to roost against Wintel in the Athlon, with x86-64 as an encore to *really* rub Wintel's face in the dirt.

        Now it's HP's turn to step on their dicks....oh I forgot, Carly doesn't have one ;) All these engineers they're laying off will probably end up with IBM, Red Hat or Sun with an axe to grind. Research lab UNIX (tm) types don't leave the scene to flip burgers at McDonald's. This will come back to bite HP in the ass.
    • by emil ( 695 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:54PM (#2364377)

      The people saying that HP is dropping everything to concentrate on Linux are nuts. Linux won't scale to 64 processors, it only recently lost the 2-gig filesize limit, HP has no hope of getting these scalability features past Linus, and there are other reasons why many still consider Linux a toy.

      These layoffs a terrible move for HP in general. They need to develop two separate OS roadmaps, one assuming that the merger goes through, and one that assumes that it will be blocked.

      Each roadmap needs to address all the important OSes (HPUX, Tru64, OpenVMS, MPE/ix, Linux) and the processors (Itanium, PA, Alpha).

      Before they fire anybody, they need to share the roadmap with the public. This layoff makes HP appear to be backing away from the Itanium architecture and the HP-UX OS.

      A tasteful merger of HP-UX and Tru64 can occur (and heck, TruHP might fix some of the big flaws in both), but it looks like taste is out the window as this hatchet-job proceeds.

      • Are you under the impression that HP is run by engineers, or exists to gratify engineers and sysadmins? My impression is that the current HP inherited this "Unix business" which they don't understand and don't know what to do with. The only people who buy the stuff are HP shops that already understand the benefits. I've never seen HP reach out to new potential customers for Unix; only for NT.

        I think the current objective is to reap huge financial rewards for Carly and other executives by destroying the company. This is pretty standard during takeovers.
    • by buckeyeguy ( 525140 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:32PM (#2364582) Homepage Journal
      Without getting into religious wars about which Nix is better (I mainly admin HPs now but have touched many a different platform), I have to believe that HP customers everywhere are worse off for this; HP has been saying for years that they would be moving forward with HP/UX on IA-64 (they built and sold the N-class HP9000's as a machine which would run either PA-RISC or IA-64 when the time came to choose).

      Because of that forward product motion, customers could standardize on the HP platform, and buy 3rd party apps and other items that ran under HP/UX (Oracle in particular, since HP/UX is widely used as a base for client/server). With HP/UX 11i as their main server OS, they had some serious scalability and reliability going for them. HP/UX will be supported for the next few years, of course, but once that ends, customers will have the future budgetary choices of sticking with whatever direction Carly takes them in, or abandon HP for a more consistently-managed vendor (i.e. IBM). Bet they pick the latter choice.

  • the less time spent on developing hp-ux further the better in my opinion.
  • HP...(rant) (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crumbz ( 41803 )
    ...are on the downward slope. The BEST thing about HP was their engineering. I bought a new Omnibook 6000 in June and love it.
    How are they supposed to compete in the upcoming 64-bit arena if they are laying off key development personnel? Leave it up to Compaq? Look what they did with Alpha. I guess I'll be building my own Itanium system in about three years...
    • I spent several months working with HP about 5 years ago, and they had a saying inside the company that went something to the effect that if HP were trying to market, say, a Bacon Cheeseburger, they'd call it "Fried dead cow and pig on a bun with dairy and plant matter."
    • Their engineering is indeed lovely. Just look inside one of their Unix servers. Mmmm... clean, tidy internals. I also love the flashing LED 'heartbeat' on the box. Kind of reassuring.....


  • After all, HP is acquiring Compaq, and with it Tru64 Unix. Makes sense that HP would axe the lesser of the two operating systems.
    • Don't count on that! HP-UX runs on IA64, Tru64 does not!
    • HP-UX may be a lesser operating system but it is far more common than Tru64. Tru64 is far faster though.
      • HP-UX may be a lesser operating system but it is far more common than Tru64. Tru64 is far faster though.

        I especially agree on the "far more common" statement. This is probably just a cost-cutting measure in a market that's not particularly hot right now, but HP should be wary that this might send the wrong message to folks who have committed to HP-UX. Every client I have ever had during my professional career has utilized HP-UX in their network infrastructure to some degree... hopefully they won't get panicky as a result of HP's lack of commitment on IA-64!
    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:07PM (#2364143)
      Makes sense that HP would axe the lesser of the two operating systems.

      It's not about products, it's about people. In the R&D business, that's where all the value is. Getting rid of people who are probably in the top 1000 kernel engineers in the world make no sense at all. Why not assign them to merge the best bits of HPUX and Tru64? After all, HP has PA-RISC people, Compaq has Alpha people, but Itanium is a new platform.

      This is Fiorina screwing up, again, that's all. I wouldn't be at all surprised if these engineers found a warm welcome waiting for them at Sun or IBM.
      • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:33PM (#2364327)
        At first I was going to agree with you whole heartedly. However, when I thought about it I realized something. In the computer industry it can be difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. Mainframe programmers don't do well in the world of Unix, simularly Apple people don't cross over to Intel well either.

        These guys are incredibily intelligent, but if they don't want to learn something new, it would take a lot of time and money to convince them to do so. I'm sure their salaries were already well above six figures, and it was probably in HP's best interest to let that kind of expense go. They can start fresh with new minds that they can manipulate for a lot less money. It may take a little more time to get them up to speed, but I've got a lot of friends jumping at the chance to play with 'big iron'. They'll work for a lot less money, and get comparable work done in just a little more time. They can also hire four or five new guys for the price of one of the old ones. More man power gives them a larger resource for creativity, more man time, and better 'employee redundancy', which geeks world wide know how great redundancy is.

        Business is business, no room for emotion wasted on the trusty old porch dog. Sometimes you need to bring in a new pup (or two, or three, or four ... ).

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:01PM (#2364412)
          Sounds like you've bought into the major management fallacy of our times - that you can cut one good experienced developer and replace him with 3-4 inexperienced developers for a lower total cost and still get equivalent quality. This is the same fallacy that has led to the wholesale replacement of experienced employees by cheap H1B-visa holders.

          The results of the H1B replacement have been extremely poor - almost universally you hear about projects that have gone down the tubes after the transition to H1B. Many times the reason for failure is couched in terms that are not easily linked to the management decision to toss their experienced people, because management is extremely blame adverse. But unless the people are doing the equivalent of "sweat-shop" programming - there is no way that tossing experience in favor of a direct lower cost is going to produce a better product.

          At the levels these people people work at, computer science is an art - you make decisions based on prior experience and an instinct based on years of experience discovering what works and what doesn't work. You put a bunch of newbies in there and they will spend the same time taking all the wrong-steps that the experienced people did ten years ago, meanwhile product quality goes out the window and so does time to market. It isn't about teaching old dogs new tricks - the old tricks are fundamental nowadays - just as you don't re-invent the shape of the wheel either.

          Plus, if you had read the article, you would see that the people in that lab come from a wide range of backgrounds, they aren't all HPUX crusties - in fact most of them came from Bell Labs just a few years ago. They certainly don't fit the profile of a bunch of old computer geezers who don't know their way around a modern OS or a modern CPU (they were porting to Itanic, some would call that a post-modern CPU - others might call it trash, but that's another story).
          • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:14PM (#2364497) Homepage
            I aggree with you. It is better to teach fashionable stuff like Java and XML to highly-experienced employees than to hire college-students who happened to learn Java in college. Why? In my office, the old fogies have already learned from the graduate school of hard knocks. Oh, they also happen to be first-rate Oracle developers, and are trained in the Capability Maturity Models, and they don't need to be micro-managed, and ....

            I've watched fresh college grads who happen to know Java develop a database application from scratch, and it was really sad. No recoverable transactions. No real data structure design. No programming discipline. No documentation. No nothing. I truly feel sorry for the customer who has paid for nothing.

            • I aggree with you. It is better to teach fashionable stuff like Java and XML to highly-experienced employees than to hire college-students who happened to learn Java in college.

              Not hiring younger employees is silly. What are you going to do when your older employees leave? Hiring other older programmers really doens't buy you much - they haven't spent nay time in your organization either, so really they aren't much further ahead of the college grads (they just cost a lot more).

              Added to which, not all programming jobs are chief architect positions. You will not be able to hire experienced people to do grunt level work. This is where the college grads come in.

              • I'm not altogether convinced that there is any grunt-level work in a properly run software shop. I have certainly seen programmers doing repetitive work, but it was always because they failed to automate or abstract. It's always better to have fewer and smarter programmers. As for age, I think a mixture is best.

                Less experienced programmers can be helpful as buffers to absorb the sparks from overheated egos and prevent the outbreak of war.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Yeah, why don't we just deport all those freeloading foreigners anyway?
            Please, don't make gross generalizations like that. You don't need an H1B to be an incompetent newbie, and you can be an H1B-holder and a good programmer.
          • Nice troll. Yes, all of the people who weren't born here are dumb. You nailed it.

            See if you can pass any of the first year courses at IIT in India and get back to me.

    • Yet then again, think of the calibre of the people that they are letting go.
      I just can't help but believe that there's not much dead weight here.
      Guys who do this kind of stuff are the kind of guys that you want to have around for any good project.
      Whatever the reality of this is, it shakes my confidence in this whole merger dealie.

      Jim in Tokyo
  • by null_session ( 137073 ) <{ben} {at} {houseofwebb.com}> on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:55AM (#2364028) Homepage
    At a presentation I recently attended concerning Linux for zSeries (zSeries is IBM's new 64bit mainframe platform) the comment was made that one of the big research firms (don't remember which...) had said that in seven years there would only be three operating systems: Windows, Linux, and zSeries(also what IBM calls the 64bit replacement for OS/390). Could this be the start of that? I'm not suggesting that Linux will replace HP-UX today or this year, but could they be holding off on the port since Linux already runs on IA-64?

    Just wondering.
    • by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:11PM (#2364171) Homepage Journal
      Speaking of Linux, I hope some intelligent company (like RedHat, SuSe, etc.) grabs up these guys as fast as possible -- especially before they end up posting resumes to Microsoft.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Speaking as one of the HP employees in question, I can say for sure that none of us here would ever work for the Redmond Antichrist. OTOH, we'd also be very wary of working for SuSE or Red Hat, because we don't want to be laid off all over again.

        Many of us are considering leaving the profession altogether--we've been kicked around from one company to the next over the last 20 years, and we're sick of it.
        • OTOH, we'd also be very wary of working for SuSE or Red Hat

          AFAIK, neither SuSE or Red Hat have ever laid off developers.

          I'm not saying they won't, though, but history has proven that they value the developers over the admin staff.
        • There's an Ask Slashdot; what does a person do for work when they decide to leave a relatively focused and high-paying career?

          I'm glad you don't want to work in Redmond ... although a few very bitter OS designers might be 'useful'.

          Good luck ...
    • had said that in seven years there would only be three operating systems: Windows, Linux, and zSeries(also what IBM calls the 64bit replacement for OS/390).

      Solaris. Sun may have accepted Linux's role in the world, but don't expect them to be nice about it. I have to believe that Solaris has a higher marketshare than anything IBM put out. I can't see that going away in the future. Solaris 8 (and future versions) have some nice features that are going to start becoming more crucial as technology evolves....

      • I'm not argueing at all, I was reporting a prediction, not making one myself. I'm not sure I totally agree that Linux will be the only UNIX. I do see some of the less popular ones dying off. SCO is dead, IRIX is dead, IBM said they would eventually drop AIX for Linux, perhaps HP-UX is next. I agree wholeheartedly that Solaris will not be gone any time soon.

    • I assume that you are talking about desktop os's ...
      • >I assume that you are talking about desktop os's ...

        Sure. My bos is buyiing a mainfraim for my desktop; isn't yours? :)

        hawk, who really could use a multi-node zseries on his desktop

    • by pmz ( 462998 )
      I think Windows, Linux, and zSeries must be the three OSs that IBM will be selling. This can't apply to the world as a whole.

      Linux will only be able to replace AIX, Solaris, etc. if IBM's billion dollars goes into implementing those features that make Solaris Solaris and AIX AIX. Then, they have to convince the world that Linux really is better than Solaris or AIX, which will be difficult. IMO, Solaris is pretty damn good (I don't have experience with AIX, however). Also, Linux-based systems will need to amass documentation comparable to that for Solaris, which includes the thousands of pages of up-to-date and complete AnswerBooks.

    • Long term predictions in computers are silly :) anyone who makes long term predictions dosen't know what they're talking about ...
  • Weird... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ajuda ( 124386 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:55AM (#2364032)
    Everyone says they want linux to be the next big o/s. Then, when Linux starts grabbing market control from other groups, the same people wine and complain! If open source takes market share from closed source competitors, some people will be laid off. It's not that complicated.

    • Re:Weird... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:08PM (#2364153)

      Linux is not taking any market share from HP/SUX. We're talking about high end machines, many of which are sold with clustering software which allow multiple machines to share a single hard drive through fibre channel. HP/SUX comes with VxFS, a jounaling file system, built in. It comes with a much better volume manager than any linux distro I know of.

      For all intents and purposes, Linux and HP/SUX cost the same. Sure, Linux can be customized to do just about all the things that HP/SUX does out of the box, but that costs money. If you want source code, HP/SUX source code is available. Not many people want it though.

      • The latest version of SUSE now includes a new LVM. This LVM uses the same commands and arguments as HP. SUSE has a white paper on the new LVM implementation somewhere on their site.

        SUSE also includes the ReiserFS journaling file system. By the way - Linux can store ACLs on most of it's JFS implementations - HP-UX cannot (you can only use ACLs on HFS, not VxFS). Care to explain this brain-damaged design?

        Yes, Linux still has problems with enterprise scalability, but not the problems you've mentioned.

        p.s. I'm pretty ticked off that RedHat seems to have done nothing with the LVM - not a peep.

    • Ignore people who whine and complain. Consider serious arguments only.

      I think that the real reason is that most UNIXes are actually not so portable across architectures as it seems. The same story with IRIX that SGI could not make run on anything but MIPS.

      Unless the developers think about portability (not just about deadlines) at every stage of the project, the platform specific assumptions creep in, and it's very hard to identify them later.

      My prediction - soon only free OSes will remain portable. Proprietary OSes will be very hardware specific. Not that it would make them bad.

  • It's tough being lain off. I just try to remember my personal philosophy:

    I only have one life and I'm going to live it up.

    So I'm taking flight and now I'll never get enough. I'm standing tall.

    Yes, I'm young. Yes, I'm kind of proud.

    But I'll be on top (as long as the music is loud). :)
  • ..of Spheniscidae here?
  • It seems to me that laying off some of your top OS engineers is really stupid. HPIX may not have been the best flavor of unix out there, but it did provide an alternative. I'm really saddened by how many OS's and architechtures ar biting the dust at the moment. Looks like it's gonna be a one chip three OS world in not too long....

    Moderators: please browse at 0. I may have made some stupid comments in the past, but I do have something of value to say occasionaly :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It seems to me that laying off some of your top OS engineers is really stupid.

      I used to work there, and 90% of us (including myself) did not want to move to California. At Florham Park we got the best of both worlds, a west coast style company, without moving to the west coast. There are many costs with operating a division across the country. You get about 4 hours of communication a day. You get in and work for 3 hours, then you get an hour of phone time, then you go to lunch, then you get another 2 hours of phone time, them they go to lunch, then you get maybe 1 more hour of phone time. Besides the fact that collaboration when you're not face to face just doesn't happen (and there was a minor culture clash anyway which is problematic).

      I'm sure the top unix gurus working there were given the opportunity to move to California. Most of them probably declined.

  • True64 wins? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In light of the merger announcement you couldn't expect them to keep two versions of UNIX around.
    • HP has done that before. For a long time, after they bought Apollo, they had two flavors of HPUX, one for the 700-series (workstations) and one for the 800 series (servers).

      In addition HP had a "business" legacy OS (name escapes me, ME? ME/MX someting like that.

      DEC still has OSF/1/True64/DecUnix/ VMS/OpenVMS, NT for Alpha etc.

      To a certain degree the two server families, are competing in the same market space, on new projects that is. The really large customers who already have made their pick will need their existing investment protected. I should think it will take 5-10 years to completely phase out one of these OS's. And in doing so HP will alienate their existing customers.

      Trying to merge them into a single O/S sounds like the kind of project that would kill the company.

      Anyone remember how Sybase was the 800# gorilla in the Database market, and then they released Sybase 10.0? HP will do a blunder of the same magnitude if they try to merge the products.

      I have been a very happy customer of both these vendors, but this merger makes no sense to me. They can't merge the products, and they're too similar to make any sense as a product lineup. They need to maintain each of the platforms anyways. I think Carly Fiorentina have committed a major blunder, and 5 years down the road it is going to be mentioned as the classical "how not to do M&A". Teh company is putting itself in a position where they'll be screwed no matter what they do. Consolidate and alienate existing customers? Not consolidate, and try to market competing, almost identical products?

      At a crucial time, while there are still 4 major players in the high-end UNIX market, HP has given itself a handicap they can never recover from. Fiorentina is continuing the legacy of Lucent, where they buy first and think later.

  • For the record (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For the record, most of the Florham Park site was not working on IA-64, and will not be let go.
  • So, how many people are we talking about here? 20? 100? Maybe they will disperse into existing Linux companies (Redhat, Suse, etc...) and improve the overall state of Linux. Maybe start a slew of consulting companies. Either that, or exploit all those backdoors they built in HP-UX, just in case they ever got fired.
    • They could always go work for Columbia Internet.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      About 120 in the lab (there are about 40 other HP
      staff in the building, in other business units,
      who will have to find other offices).

      Some of the 120 (not sure how many) have been offered a chance to
      apply for 20 jobs in Fort Collins, Colorado.
      Those not offered or who don't get a job in Colorado get laid off.

      Those are the numbers.
  • Maybe these guys will be interested in helping out with the Linux kernel or other projects (if they haven't been already)?
  • It makes sense... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frleong ( 241095 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:00PM (#2364089)
    They've got Compaq. When 64-bit computers become mainstream, they can either go the "Compaq" way and use Windows or TRU-64. Or go IBM's way and stick with Linux. There is really no need to have a third way which is a waste of time porting things in and out. I think R&D should be better spent in improving e-paper or faster scanners/printers.
  • ok, if HP has to lay off guys that were around when UNIX was a youngin, then the IT industry my be in bigger trouble than we thought.

    for god sakes, UNIX to these guys is like a part of their body, they probably have memorised all file locations and commands and programs that exist in UNIX.

    well I guess it shows you that knowlege and experience is not always your savior.
  • A year from now, when they want to have a 64-bit UNIX product, it will cost a LOT of money to hire 100 senior UNIX developers again.

  • The law of evolution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garoush ( 111257 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:07PM (#2364141) Homepage
    Reading the article and the brief comment about it on Slashdot, I get the feeling that this should not have happened and that it is a bad move by HP for those gurus.

    Let me first tell you that I feel sorry for those guys, just like anyone else, but at the same time I want to point out that this is the natural of evolution/change.

    Some may argue that those guys are so-important/good and should not have been let go, or that the project at hand is so-important/good et. al..., and so on.

    I think we need to look at this, and everything else, as part of what makes us "advance" forward and look ahead. To me this is nothing but "change-in-action" for which without "change" we will never see beyond our current perspective.

    I am very confidence that those HP engineers (and the project) that are being doomed today, will go out and come back with a much superior product now that they are faced with higher challenges due to this "change" that has been forced upon them.
  • Linux is so based on Unix, that it's kind of sad to see the father go.

    If linux wants to stay alive, though, and maintain it's buzz, it has to do one thing: Don't fully emulate windows. Reason? OS/2 did it, and so all the developers said, "Why should I port to OS/2? That OS runs windows anyway"

  • by johnjones ( 14274 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:08PM (#2364152) Homepage Journal
    HP engineers are nice because they are into the team thing

    I wonder how long until Intel or AMD get down there and start recruiting

    realistically Intel needs help with IA64 because it's compiler is not really up to scratch (witness the compaq/digital guys moveing to intel)

    AMD needs to get O/S AND Compiler to work on x86-64 realistically the new win2k kernel to work on it

    so I dont think that they will be unemployed for long

    its a big gaff on HP part because HP-UX was going to be the successor going from PA-RISC to IA64 meaning that customers had very little to worry about compared to True64 customers

    the only real big guys not laying off core people seems to be SUN

    (remember that alot of linux people got layed off as well recently )

    so remember good engineers are never in need of a job just projects that need good engineers the problem is of course finding the true good engineers


    john "curently trying to get a job" jones
  • THIS IS BAD!! (Score:1, Informative)

    by ankit ( 70020 )

    I am really shocked on this news. Dont these so called managers have the slightest idea on whom to axe, and whom not to? These people are really good. They deserve better treatment. They have been working on these technologies for over 20 years, and are absolute gurus in their fields. They are being treated as 'unskilled labor'...

    The company decides...

    We need to layoff 6000 people.

    hmm...Lets see.

    Lets close down one of the research labs. Who cares who works there. To hell with them.

    This will keep the stock holders happy.

    It is really ironical since it is due to these people that the stock holders got what they want to protect today!


  • In case anyone is interested, FuckedDistro.com [fuckeddistro.com] is available.
  • The CEO says:
    But axing the development group may run counter to statements CEO Carly Fiorina recently made that the computer-and-printer giant plans to increase research and development staffing.

    H-P executives say:
    H-P executives let go the majority of workers at the company's Enterprise Intel Architecture Lab in Florham Park, N.J. The facility, which specializes in Unix operating software that can work on both on traditional RISC-based and Intel-brand chips, will close.

    Not only is HP shooting itself in the foot by dumping its best and brightest in PH-UX research, but it looks real stupid when everyone is following conflicting plans. Hey, HP, how about dumping some of the mangement drones that pulled this one off.
  • More IT layoffs in NJ, eh? I probably should have gone to the Rutgers career fair this morning.
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:32PM (#2364323) Homepage
    Perhaps after swallowing Compac, they need to trim something to improve the (short-term) bottom line?

    And, of course they can't layoff any sales/marketing people, and all those tech-support people have to stay, so...

    Mind you, the long-term bottom line might not be too rosy.
  • If HP-UX goes away I won't miss it. I work with HP-UX, AIX, IRIX, Solaris, and Linux machines all day, and HP-UX is in a dead heat with AIX for my least favorite. In answer to those that say "see, Unix is dying, look at HP-UX!" I point out that many Unix people don't like HP-UX and use Solaris or Linux or FreeBSD when they can get away with it. I really don't understand why people could prefer HP-UX, AIX, or IRIX if given a choice. I only have grown to accept Solaris more because they seem to be moving to having GNU versions of the standard tools available on install. The GNU fileutils and bash are two of the best things about Linux distros, aside from TCO and hardware support that is..
    • Its pretty obvious that you're not a senior-level admin...at least not for AIX or HP-UX.

      AIX and HP-UX have SO MANY MORE administrative features than Solaris (and let's not even start with Linux) that it's not even funny.

      The problem is, there are tons of people just like you, who think that Linux/xBSD rule and don't understand exactly why the big vendors UNIX offerings are truly enterprise-class. So you rip on AIX/HP-UX because you don't know how to effectively manage them. Anybody who is a senior-level admin with either of them can easily be twice as productive with their tasks/chores as on Solaris, or god forbid, Linux.

      Don't get me wrong - I love Linux (Slackware!) and the BSDs. But they have their place...and where it is *not* is at the enterprise level.

      At least not yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:39PM (#2364358)
    This article is written by someone who quite simply doesn't know all the facts.

    I work at HP, so I have some insight about what is going on here.

    While it is unfortunate for those involved, it makes no sense for HP to keep a small facility like that open. Sitting here in Fort Collins, I can survey rows of empty cubicles and much larger base of people to support.

    Here and other sites, there is a ton of IA64, HP-UX, and Linux work going on. The article would make you think it was all done at this small plant in NJ, but it just isn't so. In no way does this closing represent a lessening of HP's support for IA-64, HP-UX, or Linux for that matter.

    • by emil ( 695 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:59PM (#2365253)

      The fact is, Carly could get a wild hair and decide that Itanium/NT is the way to go, and the HP-UX bloodbath would then commence. The customer base has absolutely no idea how this is going to work out, to say nothing regarding Tru64 or OpenVMS.

      I had been led to believe that there were some rather intense political struggles between Ft. Collins and NJ, which your viewpoint seems to back up. These sort of internal struggles are of no real value to your customer base.

      However, I have also been led to believe that the NJ team bore most of the responsibility for porting the HP-UX kernel to the Itanic. Losing this team is perhaps Carly's first salvo in slaughtering Ft. Collins. Remeber, Carly already has said that you could "drive a truck through HP's high end." What makes you think that you're so safe? I don't see this woman as a staunch defender of either HP-UX or Tru64.

      As a customer, can you actually convince me that I should see this differently?

    • I would greatly agree. And in most probability, many of these engineers will mostly be absorbed into other HP labs in other regions; but having the skills, it would not be difficult for them to find good jobs within the area without moving.

      There must be some kind of sound reasoning for their decision because HP-UX is still one of their bread and butter divisions.
  • Sounds like SGI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:46PM (#2364370) Homepage
    This sounds like an SGI-type screwup. SGI is notorious for lack of direction like that. A few years back, SGI announced a big layoff during SIGGRAPH, leaving their sizable recruiting team at SIGGRAPH in confusion.

    Silicon Valley doesn't take SGI seriously any more. Ever since 3D graphics hardware became cheap, SGI has been lost in search of a market niche. They've tried selling servers, creating a Silicon Studio division, making NT workstations, acquiring Cray, getting out of NT workstations, dumping the Silicon Studio division, acquiring Intergraph to get back into NT workstations... Nothing worked. Their basic problem, that their stuff costs 2-3x what comparable stuff costs from others, has yet to be solved.

    It will be sad if HP goes that route.

  • Read closer... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jjtime4sko ( 321416 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:09PM (#2364467)
    Of the 120 people, 23 (the best, I assume) were offered jobs in Fort Collins, where a part of the HP-UX work gets done anyway. Also, this is only a fraction of the 1000 or so HP-UX engineers...most of which sit in the Bay Area or Colorado.

    The sky is not falling. HP-UX will still be the only non-Linux Unix shipping on Itanium when McKinley rolls around. It looks like Sun and IBM have shelved their ports, for now at least. Don't you think HP gets this?
  • by trb ( 8509 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:20PM (#2364531)
    If HP is laying off hackers in NJ, it's not because of their technical value, it's because NJ is Siberia as far as HP is concerned. HP's decision makers are out west. If there is a pile of work to do (and revenue to be made), the suits would rather have it done in their own profit center. And when money is tight, they cut loose the remote location that doesn't have the political clout to defend itself. Having hacked UNIX since the 1970's, I've certainly seen this happen before - I've had it happen to me before.
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:20PM (#2364532)
    Forgive me for not having too much sympathy, but I doubt these guys are too unhappy. Unlike the hundreds of thousands of now out of work mid and junior level dotcom techies, these guys are some of the best UNIX gurus in the world. That means that they already made a ton of money, and probably recieved incredible severance packages. They will now all be able to spend a few months with their families or vacationing, and as soon as they want to return to work, they can, because they have the skills and knowledge that will always be in demand, no matter how bad the US Economy gets.

    On the upside, this might mean that the new HPaQ corporation is planning to dump some of their traditional UNIX plans in favor of moving to Linux. This would certainly make sense, given that both vendors have close relationships with intel, encourage Linux as the native OS for IA-64, and have had problems being strongarmed by Microsoft in the past.
  • by Feynman ( 170746 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:54PM (#2364731)
    The referenced article states that "axing the development group may run counter to statements CEO Carly Fiorina recently made that [HP] plans to increase research and development staffing."

    In this editorial [eetimes.com] in a recent EE Times [eetimes.com] issue, Rick Merrit, discussing hardware spending, writes "I doubt [Fiorina] has the taste for the engineering costs. Maybe she really is poised to reverse HP's three-year slide in R&D expenditures as a percentage of sales, but the move to acquire a company [Compaq] that spends even less on engineering speaks otherwise."

  • The group that's getting canned sounds like the folks who were part of USL, the AT&T spinoff meant to commercial Unix from Bell Labs. These are the guys who sued BSDI way back in 1991 to prevent cheap Unix from getting to the masses, back when a source license cost $250k. Really good engineers though and it's a shame they're being let go.
  • HP's Oregon office is strictly in the hands of an openly Mormon management. What the hell does this matter? According to a number of non-Mormon friends who work at the company, or who used to work at the company, the Mormon management goes out of their way to fast-track other Mormons who may be much less skilled than their non-Mormon counterparts.

    An example: a guy I know, incredibly skilled at his job, has worked at this office for 14 years. He's been passed over for promotion the last three times, and every time to a Mormon with far less experience. The last time a wet-behind-the-ears snot-nosed kid with less than five years of experience got the job even though the kid has no experience in programming at all!

    This is all anecdotal but I've heard two-dozen stories along the same lines as the one above, especially in the last five years. How can a company make informed decisions if it promotes, in part, on religious affiliation???

  • HP is sending a clear signal that it is ending the PA-RISC and HP/UX line. The reason for this should be obvious to anyone looking at industry trends, the gross margins on high end hardware are shrinking and the sales simply don't support the R&D required to support bespoke software development.

    SGI got squeezed out because it tried to protect its margins by going further and further upmarket as workstations became commodity products. In the process the volume shrank to the point where they simply didn't sell enough stuff to cover their R&D costs. Once they had to cut back on R&D they were not upmarket much longer.

    The high end server market was once dominated by performance concerns. Now it is dominated by reliability concerns. The profit to be gained in squeezing the last ounce of power out of the Itanium is negligible.

    If the ASP outsourced hosting model takes off the demand for high reliability transaction systems will be very different. Instead of a large number of medium to high performance systems there will be a much smaller number of ultra-high performance systems sold. The performance won't come from putting 64 processors into a high end box however, it will come from putting a few thousand loosely coupled processors in a large rack and feeding it a couple of terrabytes of RAID disk.

    HP's merger with Compaq is about building a dominant position in the volume PC market, printers, desktop PCs, home PCs, handheld devices. For the same amount of effort required to build a O/S kernel on a new processor HP can develop three or four mass market products that are much more likely to generate profits.

    If the Compaq merger completes HP will have two high quality UNIX builds to choose from. Porting of the Mach kernel based Digital Unix is likely to be easier since it has been ported several times already.

    The only surprising thing about the announcement is that the engineers are being laid off rather than re-assigned. That would indicate to me that HP is retreating on the whole UNIX front and not just on HP/UX.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern