March 24, 2017
A Few Stops on the 3000 Maintenance Line
After inviting our readership to share their HP hardware service providers, we're got some early entries to share. The list of 3000 support teams is not the same as the companies who continue to service hardware. Much of the time these are different companies. While a manager can find some help on MPE/iX administration from a hardware outlet, this account-level support is more thorough and fine-tuned coming from a company like Pivital Solutions, or from The Support Group for MANMAN and ERP-focused engineering.
Even HP recognized this when the company was the primary support vendor for 3000 sites. A Customer Engineer was the equivalent of that hardware guru, working in the days before what Hewlett-Packard called Phone In Consulting Service. Close to 30 years later, onsite hardware maintenance is still the linchpin of keeping HP's aging hardware alive. Customers don't perform much of this while working with a vendor. "There's a liability issue when you have the customer do the component replacements," said one rep who's been working 3000 accounts for several decades.
A Software Engineeer was something very different than an HP CE. Not only did they know IMAGE at a depth that could outpace a CE, they often knew a customer's applications. Not just the HP-branded apps, either. In time, the top-tier utility vendors offered a kind of SE service. Adager was well-known for saving a site from calamity that wasn't yet a customer.
Without further preface, here's a few notes on some hardware resources who've volunteered information or been verified by their customers.
Saratoga Computers: "We are a group of ex-HP CE's," says Jim Maher. "All of us are experts servicing HP3000, 9000 and yes even 1000's. our average experience working on HP equipment is over 30 years." Hardware support providers usually branch out to other systems, such as Dell and HP's ProLiant systems. even Cisco switches, workstations and printers. Maher says that's the case at Saratoga.
Blueline Services: Bill Towe founded this provider that backs up the internal needs at The Support Group, among many other 3000 customers. In some cases the best way to bring up a downed 3000 is to ship a replacement system; that's what happened once, according to the Support Group's Terry Floyd. Component-level service is available as well.
Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP 3000 resource
March 22, 2017
Webinar explores data migration roadblocks
MB Foster is broadcasting a webinar on Thursday at 11 AM Pacific Daylight Time, a briefing that covers tools and strategies to move data. The program promises to cover components of data migration projects. As is often the case, the webinar also will highlight the potential roadblocks to migrating data. Explanation of methods, project planning, and data governance are also a part of the one-hour show. Registration for access is at the MB Foster website.
It can take months to move data from one platform to another. Just ask Bradley Rish, who as part of the Potpourri Group managed a two-step process to migrate away from Ecometry software on an N-Class HP 3000. Potpourri first went to Ecometry on HP-UX, then a few years later moved away from HP's proprietary environment to Windows. Same application, with each move aimed at a more commodity platform.
But there was nothing commodity about the company's data. Data migration required eight months, more than the IT pros at the company estimated. Rish said that two full-time staffers, working the equivalent of one year each, were need to complete the ultimate migration to Windows.
Migrations of data don't automatically mean there's an exit from the HP 3000. At Potpourri, after a couple of years of research by IT, the exit from the 3000 was based on HP's plans for the computer, not any inability to serve more than 200-plus in-house users, plus process Web transactions. It's a holding company that serves 11 other web and catalog brands. More than half its transactions occur in the final 90 days of each year. Holiday gift season is the freeze-out time for retailer IT changes.
March 20, 2017
Data migration practices support cloud IT
Companies moving from HP 3000s to cloud-based IT are reaching deeper into data migration. In some cases, the records that have never left a datacenter are becoming an asset managed in cloud computing. The process prompts lessons on tools and practices that can be new to IT administrators and ERP developers in 3000 shops.
Work at The Support Group is helping to lead manufacturer Disston Tools onto the Force.com cloud services, leaving the classic MANMAN ERP application behind. Disston is adopting the Kenandy cloud ERP solution as a MANMAN replacement.The tools to migrate Disston's data cover a wide scope of functionality, from the Minisoft IMAGE-savvy ODBC utility to the commonplace Microsoft SQL Server Information Services (SSIS).
The latter tool can be priced more effectively for a smaller enterprise if it can be licensed as a developer version for a one-time data move, said the Support Group's David Floyd. "I'm not running a production database with SSIS," Floyd said. He added that it took four days of training to become fluent in using SSIS. At the Force.com cloud service, a proprietary database takes the place of IMAGE to store company information that has sometimes never left the world of MPE/iX and the 3000.
March 17, 2017
Friday Fine-Tune: Moving all disks at once
I want to take all my disks, system volume set, and the user volumes, and move them to another machine that has no disks. How can I best do this?
Lars Appel replies
You might use SYSGEN to create two different config groups in the SYS account, one for the old system (e.g. CONFOLD), and one for the new system (e.g. CONFNEW). To create the new config you might start with one of the existing config templates, e.g. CONF9x8.SYS for 3000/9x8 systems. Use
BASEGROUP to open it, adjust IO to your needs and
KEEP it as CONFNEW.
Just make sure that every disk gets an LDEV in the new config. Paths and LDEVs (except for LDEV 1) do not need to be the same on the new system. MPE/iX will notice (and "collect") all available volumes during bootup (as long as they are "visible" by a configured LDEV number).
Shutdown the system, plug disks into the new box, power it on, boot from the primary path (or enter the appropriate path for LDEV 1) and at the ISL prompt do a
START NORECOVERY [NOSYSSTART] GROUP=CONFNEW.
You might also need to adjust NMCONFIG with NMMGR as a different system will probably have the LAN cards at a different physical path. In case you make a copy of NMCONFIG, make sure it stays on LDEV 1 (
We replaced LDEV1 on our HP 3000, did an INSTALL. Then we did
The MPE-filespace was restored normally, but the HFS filespace was not. RESTORE told me to use CREATE=PATH which I then did. The DIRECTORY is on my STORE tape - so what went wrong?
Wolfgang Kinscher, and Gilles Schipper reply:
If you are planning an install keep this in mind: Do not specify the option "DIRECTORY" with a partial (DATE>=) backup. STORE will not put the HFS directory structure on tape. Do the following instead: STORE ;*T;DIRECTORY stores all of your MPE/HFS directories on tape. Then do your partial backup without DIRECTORY option
After the install, first restore your DIRECTORY with RESTORE *T;;DIRECTORY and then restore your partial and your latest full backup respectively.
March 15, 2017
3000 job fills at mainframe's speed
Public listings of HP 3000 positions can be tricky to track. A Web search I run with Google tagged an opening in Pennsylvania last week. Google will track a search term and email results to you. Although "HP3000" returns a lot of pages about 3000-horsepower motors, it sometimes unearths news.
The position looked like a classic one and didn't seem to be related to migration work, although it's hard to verify the latter. The immediate opportunity, posted by David Mortham of staffing firm The Fountain Group was for an "HP 3000 Mainframe Engineer."
We are seeking a HP 3000 Mainframe Engineer for a prominent client of ours. This position is located in Collegeville, PA. Details for the position are as follows:
- Good knowledge in HP3K Mainframe.
- Good Experience with COBOL, Suprtool, Cognos Quiz, QTP and MPEX.
- Able to work on enhancements as per the business requirements.
- Able to troubleshoot issues within HP Mainframe Environment.
- Able to handle the technical production support issues
- Prepare technical documentation for various processes flow applications.
- Able to manage business requirements, writing business requirement documents / technical design documents.
- Excellent design and technical query writing skills.
It's all there: Powerhouse 4GL, aided by top tools MPEX and Suprtool, with the applications in COBOL. It wasn't available less than a week after the March 6 posting. 3000s can not only be as fast as any mainframe, the remaining openings in 2017 move off the market at similar speeds.
There's not much of a clue about where this 3000 job, a full time one at that, was open. But the listing floated up on the Higher Education job board. Ursinus College, an institution nearly 150 years old, is in Collegeville. Universities earn higher regard when they're older. Some business computer systems do as well.
March 13, 2017
3000 friends: Meet in the Valley, or seaside?
An HP 3000 user group meeting has become so rare by 2017 as to be legend. After Interex closed up shop suddenly in 2005, Alan Yeo organized a late-binding gathering in 2005, then another in 2007 and another in 2009, all in Silicon Valley. By 2011, Yeo was working along with me and Marxmeier Software's Michael Marxmeier to put on the HP3000 Reunion at the Computer History Museum. The Reunion provided the debut spot for the only HP 3000 emulator, the Charon HPA from Stromasys.
Then the meetings began to evolve to reconnect us without needing a formal program. The most enjoyable part of the formal meets, after all, was the SIG-BAR gatherings in the hotel lounges. Gossip and speculation were always a key part of SIG-BAR. Lately the meetings have moved exclusively to this Special Interest Group. Last year there was a lunch meeting at the Duke of Edinburgh pub, set up by Birket Foster.
There's something about these leaders that can rouse people to return. The Bay Area in summertime has drawn a rich collective of 3000 veterans and experts. In 2008 the Computer History Museum hosted a seminar on 3000 software history. Another fellow with user group meeting experience is leading this year's charge to the Valley.
Dave Wiseman notified us about a 2017 gathering he's setting up for the Bay Area.
So we used to all be good friends in the community and its about time we met up again for a beer or three. We had a couple of very pleasant meetings in the UK and I am in California early June so I thought that I might organize one in the valley around June 5/6/7th. I am happy to organize a meeting while I'm in San Francisco. Could you tell me if you would be interested in coming? We’d love to see all of our old friends again
Dates: Any preference for Monday June 5th, or Tuesday June 6th?
Location: San Francisco/ SFO airport hotel/ Cupertino, or Santa Cruz (I’d see if we could book the Dream Inn for a Santa Cruz location)
Time: Lunch, afternoon or evening
Please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can see if there are enough people interested to make it worth everyone's while.
I'd put a vote up for the Dream Inn (above, seaside) since it was a stop on my cross-California 20th wedding anniversary trip with Abby. They're even got a Dream Floor at the top.
March 10, 2017
Friday Fine-Tune: Going Beyond JBOD
By Gilles Schipper
One of the most cost-effective ways of advancing the reliability of your legacy system may be to replace your existing “JBOD” disk system with a much more reliable disk system. MOD20 units, still a better deal than individual disks, can provide a good starting point to implement RAID. JBOD is an acronym meaning “just a bunch of disks” — which would characterize the majority of HP 3000 systems as they were initially sold. JBOD disk systems comprise a set of independent — typically SCSI-connected — disks, which are each seen by the HP 3000 as a single logical device number or LDEV. Each disk LDEV is associated with a “volume set” and the failure of a single disk renders the “volume set” to which it belongs inoperable and un-accessible.
Traditionally, most 3000 systems have comprised a single volume set (specifically, the required SYSTEM volume set, with the brevity-challenged label “MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET”).
Systems comprising a large number of “JBOD” LDEVs increased the likelihood of system downtime, since the failure of a single, old disk effectively resulted in a “down” system — requiring a time-consuming disk replacement and system reload before the system could properly function once again.
To mitigate such delicate exposure to a single disk failure, many installations implemented the “User Volume Set” feature built in to MPE/iX, then constructed multiple volume sets so that the failure of a single disk affected only the volume set to which it belonged.
For practical purposes, the only real benefit to this approach was to reduce the amount of time required to replace the disk and reload only the data residing on the affected volume set. (In reality, it was usually quite unusual for a system to continue normal, or even minimal operation with even a single unavailable volume set).