May 20, 2013
Making Headway with a Static OS
Stromasys has been selling its emulator products for more than a decade, and with significant success since HP's Digital group stopped the sale of Alpha and PDP servers. But VMS -- even while it's made a transition to OpenVMS over the years -- is still updated and supported by Hewlett-Packard. MPE/iX does not enjoy this status. There's a bit of irony by now, as it relates to the Stromasys product. You cannot order an MPE/iX server (with hardware and a fresh OS license) from HP any longer. But the Stromasys Charon HPA software is now part of HP's Worldwide Reseller Agreement.
Yes, this new software product that runs on industry-standard Intel hardware qualifies for HP resale status, unlike the server which it emulates. Go figure; nobody wants to be bothered with building hardware anymore.
But the lack of a supported OS as a keystone to a Stromasys emulator -- well, that seems novel. However, at the recent Training Day for the product, GM Bill Driest said selling a product with a vendor-curtailed OS is not all that unique, in his view.
"We don't see this market as fundamentally different from what we've done for a number of years now, to get 5,000 customers in 50 countries," Driest said on May 10 at the Training. "From a sales and marketing perspective, this is our US launch. I have a handful of customers in the US, so we are just embarking on this new market for us, worldwide. There are existing references and customers in Australia, New Zealand."
But from a tactical perspective, he said, those Digital system successes have taken place with an OS that's not available: the apps use versions of VMS that are locked in and not qualified for any extra engineering HP adds to that OS. This is, he believes, essentially the same situation as an MPE/iX market that can go no further than the 7.5 release.
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HP e3000 resource
May 17, 2013
Many Different Ways to Move Your Console
There's been plenty of change in the 3000 manager's life over the last 10 years. Some of it might involve changing the location of HP 3000s from one part of the IT shop to another. Users and support experts have discussed the many ways to adjust a 3000 console's location. The method you choose depends on budget, experience and technical skills depth.
Kent Wallace, a 3000 manager for Idaho-Oregon healthcare delivery system Primary Health, needed to move his 3000 console:
I was asked to move the console another 10 feet (more) from the rack (it's an N-Class HP 3000/N4000-100-22). What are the 3 pin positions on the wire that I need to extend this RS-232 cable?
Reid Baxter of JP Chase offered the most direct answer, for those willing to modify cables. "Pins 2, 3 and 7."
Tracy Johnson of Measurement Specialties added:
In addition to what Reid said, you can also get a 3-pin mini-din extension cord and extend the other end.
Our blog contributing editor Gilles Schipper chipped in with a solution offering even farther movement:
If you want to extend the range of the console to anywhere on the planet (at least where there’s Internet access) you could consider the HP Secure Web Console to replace the physical console.
Depending upon the condition of your physical console, this solution may also save a bit of wear and tear on your eyeballs.
(Schipper wrote us a great article on setting up such a web console.)
May 16, 2013
Old and Grand, and Still Worthy of Salute
One week before my latest birthday I was sharing hope about an aging icon. “She’s a tank,” I said to my sister Tina. We said this often to one another about my mom, who was 87 when she passed away late last month. Death and perhaps the afterlife comes to everything that is vital, endearing and revered. Ginny Seybold, born in the era before radio was king, died peacefully in her bed. She was vital in heart and mind until nearly the end. All of us – brother Bob, Tina, older brother John, my bride and partner Abby — we all desired more years from mom.
But in a few hours from now I will board a jet to fly to Toledo, the place she gave birth to us, and put on the black suit I reserve for occasions of joy (my kids’ weddings) and of sad times. I will give a eulogy and certainly cry through it, just as I am at this very moment I’m creating these words. My mom taught me to read, gave me the first words of countless ones that I would learn to ride like fresh breeze throughout my life and hers. For more than a decade I would work and tinker at a novel, while she was devouring everything her Irish favorite Maeve Binchy wrote, until I could finally finish mine and send it to her, just like the hardbacks I’d buy because she wasn’t getting out to the library as easily. But when a novel would arrive, she’d scamper through the book like she would dance across floors from the 1930s up to her 80th birthday. My mom outlasted expectations of her vivacity.
Since I am her boy, I can use a comparison with a bold stroke. In that outlasting, the push of the tank of her heart, she resembled the computer I have written about for more than half my life. People expected the 3000’s demise many years ago. Now with an emulated version selling and shipping, for the 3000’s relations and disciples, Charon has become the kind of tank that Tina and I marveled at when we visited mom in the Franciscan Care Center.
May 15, 2013
Virtualization, Emulation and the Cloud
At the recent meeting of Charon HPA/3000 experts, prospects, and allies, a question emerged from Steve Cooper of Allegro, who wanted an update on the cloud-based capabilities of Charon for 3000s. “Technologically it’s a slam dunk,” said Stromasys General Manager Bill Driest (above), adding that the implementation on Charon VAX and Alpha versions has been tested and implemented for about eight customers so far. Others have been working with a perpetual license for the product in their private clouds.
"We know some customers who have bought a perpetual license are running it in a private cloud environment," Driest said at the recent HP 3000 Training and Social Event. "How we're going to monetize that market is something I think the people in this room can help us with."
The company was represented at last year's VM World virtualization conference. "Cloud is a growing part of our business," Driest said. "We had a full cloud demonstration, live, and up and running. We're able to provision a machine on the fly. We had two different sized VAXes, two different sized Alphas. We're trying to assess the market for this. How big is that subset?"
May 14, 2013
HP's 3000 virtualization was MOST-ly done
Nineteen springtimes ago, HP was offering an operating system to run alongside MPE on the same hardware. To say that HP's Multiple Operating System Technology was virtualization might be an overstatement. But the unreleased product gave Unix and MPE equal footing in a single hardware system. MPE was the cradle that Unix would rest in, much like Linux is the cradle where the PA-RISC virtualization rests in the Stromasys Charon product. The only reason it was not released might have been the horsepower demands on the hardware. MOST was not starved off the price list by a lack of HP desire from the 3000 division. But the daring of its engineering was on a battleground between HP's own products.
I worked on external communications for MOST for Hewlett-Packard in the spring of 1995. It was one of the biggest assignments I took on during the months that led up to creating the 3000 NewsWire. The audacity of putting a venerated OS in as a bootstrap system for HP-UX apps led me to believe HP was exploring every prospect to win any customer who was veering toward the market's magnetic pull of Unix.
HP showed off external specifications for MOST to key partners in '95. The product was scheduled to emerge in the fall of that year on Series 9x9 and 99X PA-RISC systems. These were the highest horsepower 3000s in the HP stable. MOST was to begin with two partitions, one for MPE/iX and the other for HP-UX. Or, a customer could run two separate instances of MPE on a single server. MPE was to be the primary partition, controlling the uptime of the hardware.
In one sense, this product wouldn't have been a 3000 -- because half of it would be dedicated to running Unix apps and processes. Independence, a white paper on the product stated, "is especially important, as the co-dependencies between the different OS should be as small as possible."
MOST might have been ahead of its time in hardware requirements, but it reminds me of the virtualization that nearly every operating system enjoys today. The Stromasys Charon lineup, the VMware partitions which run Windows, Linux, and Mac OS all at once -- all of these flow from the concept that drove MOST. Well, there's a major difference. HP didn't release MOST, even after a beta test period and surveys that showed most of the customers saw it as an evolutionary path to heterogenous computing.
May 13, 2013
The magic code for licenses HP never sold
The meeting room brimmed at the Computer History Museum May 10, where Stromasys spooled out more than six hours of technical briefing as well as the product strategy and futures for Charon HPA/3000. This emulator was anticipated more than eight years ago, but only came to the market in 2012. And that gap, largely introduced by HP's intellectual property lawyers, killed one license needed to run MPE on any Intel server.
But the good news is that an HP licensing mechanism still exists for MPE/iX to operate under the Charon emulator -- pretty much on any good-sized Intel system that can run VMware and Linux. However, you need to know how to ask HP for the required license.
Charon HPA product manager Paul Taffel uncorked the phrase that permits a customer to switch their MPE/iX from HP iron to PC or Mac hardware. It's called "an intra-company license transfer." If you don't ask for it by name, the standard HP transfer forms won't pass muster. Most SLTs happen between two companies. Who'd sell themselves their own hardware, after all?
In short HP's using its existing and proven Software License Transfer (SLT) mechanism to license emulated 3000s. It's doing this because of that delay which ran out the clock on a hard-earned path to the future. HP called it the Emulator License back in 2005. It just happened to need an emulator on sale in order for a customer to buy this license.
The Emulator License isn't quite like the mythical griffin of ancient lore. It made more sense than a jackalope. But the process to earn one of these licenses is not well known yet, which was one of the reasons Stromasys held its training and social event.
May 09, 2013
Socializing can lead to contained footprints
Our friend and columnist Scott Hirsh just called to confirm he'll be at tonight's Stromasys HP 3000 Social at the Tied House. I took the walk over there today, because it's just down the street from the Caltrain Station as well as the terminal for the San Jose light rail. Buffalo burger is today's special.
But what's more special is the range of 3000 sites who'd be Charon HPA/3000 prospects, if only they knew how to focus on fitting into a new server paradigm. One site that Scott visited out in Union City, Calif. was discussing available IT datacenter floor space. "How are you fixed for that?" says Scott.
"Well, we've got this big system in the back of the datacenter we have to keep running," the IT manager says, explaining the server keeps significant parts of the company running. Even though Scott is out there in Union City to help the manager with Dell solutions, he's curious about what this box is.
"We're pretty sure it's an old HP 3000," the manager says. Scott's invited him tonight for some beverages and heavy appetizers, but there's been no RSVP yet from Union City. If you're in the area, come by tonight, or tomorrow at the Computer History Museum. You might find a way to free up floor space while you don't have to throw your critical MPE applications overboard.
Hope to see you tonight over a pint. You never know what opportunity might bloom, like those curbside flowers growing out of a beer cask on Villa Street at the Tied House.
IT Security: Too Expensive, Too Difficult?
Editor's Note: Migrating HP 3000 sites must be responsible for security in more extended detail, once they move operations onto open enterprise environments. In the second of a series of articles, CISSP security expert Steven Hardwick of Oxygen Finance outlines the how security regulations, agreed upon by the industry, help the secure IT environment.
By Steven Hardwick
Why do we need security regulations which relate to IT anyway? Many IT professionals believe compliance is way too complicated. and costs a lot of time and money that could be better spent. For example, the HP 3000 might have better security for credit card processing that flows through MPE servers.
If only the data would back up that IT pro's desire. The latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations report should dispel the myth that security is simply a function of the IT department getting firewall configurations up to date. The 2013 report shows attacks varied from hacking, to social engineering and physical attacks. Physical, technological and administrative security controls were breached to make the attacks possible. In many cases, multiple controls were compromised to breach the organizations infrastructure. But a third of IT pros say security is too hard to implement (click on graphic for details.)
Why do we need regulations? It boils down to the two distinct challenges with security: a legal definition of malicious behavior, and a difficult to quantify return on investment. First, to address the legal position of defining a malicious act may not be that simple.
Theft in the information world can involve merely taking a copy of the data. The original data may still be in the possession of the owner. To be able to prove theft in this case, a new definition of “illegal copying” has to be defined. In the information world, the copy or the operation that created it has to be detected. It is now a lot more difficult to define information theft as the concept of copying now has to be legally defined.
May 08, 2013
Who'll Be Social and Train, and Why
We've been hearing from 3000 community members who are on the way to the Stromasys HP 3000 Social and Training. The official RSVP list is at Stromasys, but we've gotten some notice from people who want to ensure they meet up at the Tied House brewpub -- Thursday evening (tomorrow!) or at the Computer History Museum Friday 10-4.
On the same day I got notice from Doug Smith -- a 3000 consultant and developer and support provider -- that he'll be at the Stromasys event, HP tried again to wrap up the lifespan of Windows XP. The company that gave up on MPE and the HP 3000 might be just as misguided about XP's future as MPE's. It seems so simple to HP.
Let’s face it—reminiscing about old software programs 20 or so years from now won’t bring about nearly half as many warm memories as that 1967 Pontiac Firebird of your youth.
You could say that updating business software is akin to changing your toothbrush after it’s seen better days. Can you imagine running Windows 98 on your home PC? Then why would you fight tooth and nail, stubbornly looking into a variety of contingency plans and options to hold onto Windows XP?
The why of holding on is obvious. Smaller companies -- and some surprising large ones -- cannot make a good business case for putting their Firebird of a business server up on blocks. The math on an emulator solution, supplied in good stead with support for MPE and indie software tools -- holds up against projects that start in six figures and take at least a year to deploy.
The Tied House and the Computer History Museum will be places to learn why that toothbrush (the HP hardware) might be old, but the fresh toothpaste (MPE) is still worthy of plenty of extra years. Doug Smith thinks so. So does Walter Murray, who developed HP's COBOL products for the 3000 before exiting Hewlett-Packard to manage 3000s for the state of California. Then there's the contract programmers, and more, simply off our heads-up emails.
May 07, 2013
Emulator's days are not so early after all
"It's early days," say more than a few community vendors about the lifespan of the Charon HPA/3000 emulator. They point to a lack of reference accounts. Some note that no third parties are engaged to teach and train and support the virtualization solution. Even the vendor acknowledges the performance of this 3000-on-Intel magic needs to surpass the power of a 4-way N-Class system.
But it's not early according to Adager's CEO Rene Woc. We tried out the accepted wisdom and found him pushing back on the popular view. It's misguided, by the reports he's getting from customers small, medium and very large. He reached out for a Yogi Berra quote to guide his outlook. "The future ain't what it used to be," Yogi said. That's especially apt when customers are gathering license data for your software, to be used on Charon. Or when they share their intentions, which is to keep MPE software running well into that future. How different it is than it used to be.
These are customers getting information about Adager's license transfer plan. "It's just another MPE machine," Woc reported. "We are treating the emulator just like HP3000 hardware."
As has been well-chronicled by now, there's no technical issues in this complete emulation. "Our customers didn't come across any issues," Woc said. Given the reputation of the Adager labs -- a tight-knit group that uncovered the last, corruptive bug in IMAGE and alerted HP to spark a repair -- "no problems" means Charon runs as expected.
Adager charges a $975 license transfer fee to move software from one HPSUSAN number to another. The software does not cross check with an HPCPUNAME, so moving the HPSUSAN to the emulated server, plus that transfer fee, covers the extent of Adager's operations. This is one vendor that 3000 users don't have to work out a license with. One of many (like Minisoft) who see continuing business coming out of emulated 3000s.