August 28, 2015
Virtual futures become more real next week
Sometime on Sunday night, learning about virtual computing will get more costly. VM World starts its program on Monday, and the last chance for $200 off the registration expires on August 30. Considering who regards virtualization as essential, a visit to the VM World expo floor, at least, could be worthwhile.
Stromasys will be on that show floor, one of the few companies which has a current 3000 project on display there. Virtualization is a reality the heart of the Charon concept, a product whose design was proven over 10 years of deployment in the Digital environment, then first introduced to a 3000 site in 2012.
VMware has a role to play in implementing a homesteading solution for 3000 owners. It can be part of the cradle that houses the software which transforms Intel x86 chipsets into PA-RISC processors. Learning more about VMware would be very good for any IT manager, but especially for the 3000 pros who need to keep enhancing the skills on their CVs.
Virtualization is a subject in heavy rotation these days. Not only is there a legacy of how it's changed choices for enterprise with foundational tech like virtual partitions, there's also a future being patented and proposed. Hewlett-Packard usually has a raft of patents issued each month. Among the 17 it was awarded over the last two weeks: one for virtual machine packet processing. It's a safe bet that the practical application of patent No. 9,110,703 B2 will not be on the HP Inc. side of the HP that's splitting up Oct. 31.
HP is still inventing, at least on the theoretical level. Although more than half of HP's patents are for printing advances, some inventions could exert a positive influence on keeping Hewlett-Packard Enterprise a suitable choice for migrators.
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August 27, 2015
TBT: Hurricane lashes Platt's Interex debut
The annual Interex user conference ended its run in 2005 before Hurricane Katrina chased off the show that tried to replace it in New Orleans that year. Katrina will be much in the news over this weekend as the world remembers the 10th anniversary of that disaster. Interex had often scheduled its conferences for the peak month of hurricane season. The group's luck ran aground when Hurricane Andrew made its landfall in the week that HP planned to celebrate the 3000's 20th anniversary. The storm came ashore near New Orleans, where that party was scheduled.
It was a week when the company's new CEO, Lew Platt, was supposed to make his debut at a keynote in front of 3,500 customers at Interex '92. Platt was only the second man ever to be elected to the top job at HP, and the retiring CEO John Young didn't have an engineer's roots like Platt did. This was an HP insider who was a technologist, proud of his roots, and humble enough to take up a habit of eating his meals in the HP cafeteria.
Young was scheduled to deliver a keynote to the conference, but Hurricane Andrew changed those plans. The storm had just ravaged the Florida coastline with Cat 4 winds the day before Young's keynote was supposed to appear. Young's appearance was transferred to a moment for Platt, just as the leadership of HP was going to pass to Platt by November. But the severity of the storm set even the CEO-designate into flight.
In the plaza in front of the Hilton Riverside Towers, Platt was trying to make his way to a running limo that would get him to the airport before flights were grounded. But one customer after another wanted just a moment of his time. After a handful of delays, his wife Joan insisted on his safety. "Lew, get in here," she shouted from the limo. One of the company's most grassroots leaders had to depart his storm-lashed debut week.
The Series 987 servers were also making their debut that week, the second generation of the PA-RISC chipset for 3000s. HP was pushing the message that MPE/iX was an easy porting destination for Unix applications, pointing out that General Mills had moved a third-party warehouse app from Unix to the 3000. "It had been generally accepted that it was much easier just to buy a new platform for the application," HP's Warren Weston wrote in the HP Chronicle. "However, after further investigation, the decision was made to port to MPE/iX." It might have been the last time the vendor promoted the 3000 over Unix in a public message.
August 26, 2015
Taking a Closer Look at 3000 Emulation
Emulation solutions have pro’s and cons. We caught up with Birket Foster this morning, after his company had suggested that emulation deserves a closer look. In our 8-minute podcast, I talked with him (over speakerphones on short notice, thank you) about how emulation really can be a solution to keep legacy applications vital. Companies, especially the small ones that still rely on MPE environments, want to protect their business investments. After all, investing in emulation solutions that can support your MPE legacy applications — well, it's critical to the future success of your organization. It can also be a key to greater efficiency, innovation and growth.
August 25, 2015
ITIL is still the way to see IT's future
[Editor's Note: Seven years ago this month, CEO Birket Foster of MB Foster introduced what the ITIL best practices can offer for a company aiming their servers into the future. But ITIL can help any shop on the spectrum between entrenched homesteader and fresh migration convert.The version 3 of the ITIL practices from 2007 was so similar to the 2011 version that no bridge examinations for ITIL v3 certification holders were created — so everything Foster advised about dashboards and ITIL remains true. Your first encounter with ITIL strategy might be during an acquisition, through, and that kind of introduction is not going to help your career. "If you get acquired by a company that knows and practices ITIL processes, you'll get run over," Foster says. He shared other ideas about managing IT as an investment in his article.]
By Birket Foster
The world has certainly changed since 2001, especially for HP 3000 users — it is not just the HP-supplied parts, services and support, it is the whole ecosystem. Folks who were the captains of industry, managing robust growing companies for their organization have retired. For some of you this will ring a bell. There are very few HP 3000-savvy folks under 50, and none under 40. That means as more members of the community retire, the replacements just won’t be there.
Probably 75 percent of the 3000-using companies we visit don’t have the HP 3000 resources to make major changes of their application or the operating environment any longer. This puts companies at risk. The risk that if something goes bump in the night, the team will not know how to recover. Is your 3000 in a tested disaster recovery plan? (It ought to be – it is always easier to catch something in test then during the real thing). Developing and implementing a plan is a significant IT investment goal for your community.
August 24, 2015
N-Class 3000 now priced at $3,000
The ultimate class of HP 3000s, the N-Class, entered the 3000 marketplace with servers for sale that started in the mid-five figures. The lineup included a server rated at 440 MHz with a single processor, and that N4000-100-440 model has a unit on the market selling for a bit less than its original price of $210,000. Quite a bit less.
Cypress Technology posted a notice of the server with a price tag of $3,000. That's a markdown of 98 percent over the lifespan of the product.
A great deal of time has passed between those two price points. The N-Class prices were announced in February 2001, only nine months before HP revealed it was canceling its 3000 futures. The servers shipped to a limited number of sites in advance of the HP takedown notice. The N-Class servers were a great value compared to prior-generation Series 900 HP 3000s, but this 100-440 unit was in the middle of a lineup that ran in price from $70,000 to more than a half-million dollars.
Jesse Dougherty of Cypress said the server has a 300GB disk in addition to the traditional so-wee 9GB boot drive. There's 4GB of RAM and an MPE/iX software set, and the latter's got some transferability, according to Dougherty.
The ability to assume a valid MPE/iX license was once a benefit to a 3000 manager, since it conferred supportability from HP of the system. But HP's support carrot has long since withered away. There's residual value in a server that was built 12 years ago, though, and perhaps at least $3,000.
August 21, 2015
HP's Q3: Tumbling toward a split-up is dicey
The only unit in HP that showed revenue growth, Enterprise, did so on the strength of better networking gear sales and improvements in the ProLiant business.
Hewlett-Packard presented its next-to-last quarterly report to analysts and large customers yesterday. The former are paid to benchmark HP's progress towards being a healthier company after a split-up Oct. 31. The latter group will be paying for the cost to create an Enterprise-laden HP. At the moment, it's looking like they won't be paying out as much as HP would like.
One analyst's summary of the figures for the period: "Is Hewlett-Packard Ready To Separate With These Earnings?" That smacks of clickbait talk, but the results didn't show an HP that's keeping up with its goals for improving sales and profits. All but one HP operating unit reported lower earnings and sales for Q3. The group that improved on Q3 of 2014 might surprise you. It's the Enterprise Group, by a whole 2 percent. The rest of HP's units took a dip in their sales in Q3.
Yes, that's Enterprise, where the remaining HP enterprise servers and platforms do business. This is the unit that's cut short the VMS futures, shut down the HP 3000 almost five years ago, does declining business for HP-UX servers. What gave Enterprise a 2 percent lift from 2014 sales was its networking business. You can sell networking gear into any environment, your own or another vendor's. Networking even gets a lift from the cloud revolution, but we'll get to that in a moment.
The Business Critical Systems unit always comes in for special focus here at the NewsWire. The group that once housed 3000 operations, as well as currently serves up the 3000 alternatives which are not Windows, posted another quarter with a decline in sales. The dollars toted up to 21 percent less than the previous Q3. That 2014 Q3 was down 18 percent from 2013's, and the 2013 Q3 was down 26 percent. Even accounting for currency and percent-of-percent figures, BCS is half the size it was in 2012.
By a rough estimate, the total of all sales for HP critical enterprise systems is now under $1 billion yearly. The good news is that the $1 billion will be twice as big a slice, once HP separates Enterprise from HP Inc.
August 20, 2015
TBT: 3000-TV debuts along with Newswire
Twenty years ago this week, the annual Interex conference included two fresh elements for HP 3000 customers. The ones who stayed in conference hotels could watch closed-circuit TV programs devoted to the HP 3000. The 3000 News/Wire made its entrance at Interex 95 in the Metro Toronto Conference Center's exhibit hall, too. We'd driven 500 copies of our pilot issue from Texas to Canada in a minivan to circulate on the show floow. HP drove its pro-3000 message onto the televisions in four Interex hotels.
Those TV shows have essentially vanished without a trace, and Interex 1995 marked the only show where the computer got its own airtime on TVs in public. Hewlett-Packard's 3000 PR crew extended me an invitation to appear on one of the broadcasts to introduce the News/Wire, a piece of great fortune for a publication that had only four pages of print to its credit by that August.
Some fellow named Lew Platt was on another TV segment, talking about his job as CEO. The management roundtable featured a gag where HP executives got asked why IBM usually came to customer meetings dressed casually. HP's execs stood up on cue and shed their coats and ties. VP Ann Livermore, the only woman on the panel, did not have to alter her dress.
At the conference, an HP of about $24 billion in annual sales was introducing the HP 3000 Coexistence Solution Strategy, "a selection of products and guidelines that ensure complete integration among HP 3000 Business Servers and other open systems, including Unix-based computers."
We interviewed general manager Olivier Helleboid for a Q&A to appear in the first full issue, and he already had a sound bite ready about the new strategy. "Wearing one size fits all computing garments doesn't suit our customers facing today's changing technology," he said, adding that the scheme would "make the HP 3000 fit neatly into environments where companies use more than one platform."
August 19, 2015
Stripping on the 3000, Carriage-Style
How can I strip out the Carriage Controls from a spool file?
Tony Summers replies:
Without dropping into Posix shell, the only other idea that comes to mind would be some third party tool. SPOOLPDF was a program we used from Open Seas to convert spoolfiles into raw PCL. A second program (OPENPDF) subsequently converted the PCL to a PDF document. OPENPDF was simply ported version (to MPE) of a Unix application (pcl2pdf). And we still use pcl2pdf on our HP-UX servers.
Lars Appel pulls a new approach out of his files:
Well, EDITOR.PUB.SYS also can change or replace columns.
/CHANGEQ 1/1 to "" in ALL
This changes column 1 through 1 to "nothing" in all lines (quietly).
If you don't want to strip CCTL but convert it to PCL escape codes, you might try using the network spooler (which typically does this when sending a file to the JetDirect printer). Example programs are in the HP3000-L archives, such as listening for TCP port 9100 to capture such data sent by the network spooler. Look for the FakeLP challenge with examples in Java, Perl, and C.
August 18, 2015
A Future That Leads from Cheaper to Pricer
The latest notices for the HP-Intel Itanium chips could be read as another nail in the HP-UX coffin. Long ago, the processor family that powers HP’s Integrity servers ran into trouble, roadblocks that will vex the future for HP's Unix. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed that way. The 3000 gained extra years in spite of people thinking short-term and adopting mass market strategies for enterprise computing. Like the 3000 owners before them, HP-UX owners who’ve migrated from MPE need to think different than a Cheaper, if they can arrange any way to afford it.
What's a Cheaper? That's the manager or consumer for whom the price is the most important concern. They look at today's cash flow instead of the coming five years of ownership cost. They bought $299 netbooks with glee until those slabs of plastic were better suited to prop open windows than run Windows.
You could be a Pricer instead. It’s the kind of pay-what-it's-worth thinking that made the HP 3000 the best value in enterprise computing, at least for value circa the 1990s. So long as HP put its engineering muscle behind a platform that was a walled garden, adding features and embracing new tech, you couldn't buy a business computer that was a better investment than a 3000. When HP bagged its responsibility, the market got left looking for something else. Cheaper looked attractive, after being just stung by a top-shelf expense of dropped futures.
But every platform’s got that day when the futures die in the vendor’s mind. First came Unix, and the promise of everywhere adoption, cheaper than the BMW-caliber MPE. Then Windows, tuned up for running an enterprise with Windows Server and SQL Server. Each cheaper than the last. When Microsoft announced the end of futures for Windows Server and Itanium, MB Foster's Birket Foster pointed out Windows became a lot less cheap since it was made to perform at an enterprise level.
Foster said in 2010, despite Windows Server 2008 being the last version to support Itanium and Integrity, he liked the outlook for HP-UX and the only server which runs it. It all depends, he says, on how far out an IT manager is looking to expect any environment to deliver value. He had a clear view of the lifespan for an OS even then.
August 17, 2015
Migrations can lead ERP onto new aaS
HP 3000 companies have already cited many reasons for moving onto another server and operating environment. I remember one CAMUS manufacturing user group meeting where an IT manager at a Gulf Coast company was eager to move away from MPE and his MANMAN. "I'd been wanting to get us off that stuff for awhile," he said. "It's old enough to get in our way."
That company's catalyst for change was adopting new features and functionality. They must've been essential to meeting new business needs; it's a long-standing rule that companies will struggle to fund nice-to-haves, but they'll pay for gotta-haves. That IT manager was speaking up in a CAMUS meeting of more than four years ago. By today, there's a lot more functionality out there to trigger the journey away from MANMAN, if the business needs are genuine. Today's new features flow from cloud computing.
A new white paper by analyst Cindy Jutras details what an ERP migration can deliver if you're paying attention to platforms. Platform is one of the -asS categories. The asS stands for As A Service. The first such solution was Software as a Service (SaaS) followed by Infrastructure as a Service, Desktop as a Service, Backend as a Service, and finally, Platform as a Service. We've used the word "platform" here to mean OS-plus-hardware. But there's another platform definition, one that Jutras details: a software-based platform, such as Salesforce1.
Terry Floyd, whose company The Support Group has been advising 3000 MANMAN shops since the early 1990s, says he worked alongside Jutras in the early 1980s at ASK Computer Systems. MANMAN was shiny and new in that time, and ASK had only been formed in the mid-70s by Sandy Kurtzig as CEO. Kurtzig's made a return to the ERP market by helping to found Kenandy, and the white paper by Jutras explains why a platform like the one Kenandy utilizes makes a big difference when replacing ERP solutions like MANMAN.