September 04, 2015
Taking on Partners for Data Migrations
We'll be taking Monday off in observance of the Labor Day holiday. Enjoy your long weekends.
Enterprise IT managers have a broad brief, as the English like to call a scope of interest. They manage development, operations, networks, planning. That last mission has included migrations for quite some time by now.
And the most crucial part of a migration is moving the data. A lot of companies have never done this before on their HP 3000s, and so finding help is their next step. But who to step toward? More partners are going to get their stripes for this migration by the end of this year. MB Foster is opening up its expertise and software toolbox to get partnerships in data migration started with integrators, consultants, and vendors.
The company's CEO Birket Foster explained in an email, one that notified us about a September 16 webinar.
MB Foster has established a partner program that will enable others to leverage this data migration solution in their projects. We are excited to tell you how you can take advantage of this partnership opportunity and grow your project margins by creating a migration factory.
Fulfilling a migration request shouldn’t be difficult or time consuming. Writing custom migration scripts is the way of the past.
You can safely make such statements if you've got a proven alternative to scripting. That's the business that Foster's been in the longest, crossing four-plus decades of 3000 service. From the 3000's explosion in the 80s, through the go-go dot.com of the 90s, across the wilds of the migration decade of the Oughts, and here into the Twenty-Teens, data has been Foster's thing.
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September 03, 2015
TBT: In the Thick of Proceedings Season
Before you even left your house for a flight to an HP user conference in the Eighties, you had to leave room in your suitcase for the thick books of proceedings. So much room, by the middle of that decade when the 3000 grew fastest, that you might have leave behind the booth swag you snagged from conferences like Interex annual meetings.
30 years ago this week, I was packing for my first national HP user conference. The Interex meeting was scheduled for Washington DC, the first time a HP 3000 users conference would meet in a national capital. We learned things afterward by packing up these fat tomes in our bags for the return trip. It was an era where you advanced your skill set by reading papers, printed in monotype Courier off HP 3000s which were running HP Word, or WordStar off a PC. HP could provide WordStar on its HP-150 Touchscreen PCs. It hadn't earned good notice for the utility of its touchscreen functions, though.
The graphic design for proceedings was spartan at best. At least half of the papers were written by users, and every professional who attended a show went home and hoovered up that wisdom that was shared without regard for reader comfort. The 200 papers from the Interex '87 show required three volumes of more than 700 pages each. The papers were printed in alphabetical order of authors' names, and nary a page number is to be found.
In addition to meeting in DC for the first and only time, 3000 users in September, 1985 could hear a speech from an HP CEO. David Packard was a former CEO and current HP board member when he addressed the multitudes at the conference. While Packard's speech has been lost to the wilds, those proceedings papers remain in closets, online, or fixed in the skill sets of the 3000 managers who have moved on to other platforms. Most printed advice that did not yet have the benefits of HP's LaserJet marked milestones on those hundreds of sheets printed each year.
September 02, 2015
The Heritage of Enterprise Consumerism
The heritage of your computer marketplace is driven by many more failures than successes. HP attempted to build a multiple operating system technology (MOST) system in 1993, mostly by re-engineering MPE and Unix software for customers who needed both environments.
MOST failed in alpha tests and taught Hewlett-Packard a lesson: do not promise so much flexibility that you kill performance. MOST was too slow to do the work of a single-OS system of the early '90s. The technology for multiple-OS computing was still five more years away, in Superdome. By the time HP polished Superdome, it lost its taste for expanding its MPE business.
That story has been echoed in the market many times. Virtualization and cloud solves such challenges today. But in 1993, NeXT Computer was killing itself by shipping a version of its OS that actually ran slower than the prior release. NeXT was the brainchild of Steve Jobs, who'd been kicked off Apple's throne by a board that was steered by John Sculley. Recent news has Sculley unveiling a new Android smartphone that won't be sold in the US. Aimed at China and emerging markets, this new Obi is, and so it avoids some competition with Apple.
Sculley, the former CEO of Pepsi, had been brought in to Apple by Jobs. The insanely great wunderkind knew he needed help to reach consumers. The move cost Apple momentum that elevated Microsoft and Windows to the top tier of business computing. Jobs tried to rebound with NeXT. Like MOST, the NeXT was way ahead of its time. Consumer-grade Unix was still 12 years away, lurking in the dreams for Mac OS X.
HP 3000 owners care about this because of their computer's heritage. Another consumer whiz, Dick Hackborn, climbed onto another board, HP's, and turned the LaserJet consumer reseller model onto the rest of HP's business. Direct contact with small to midsize customers became a task HP delegated. A 3000 shop that once knew its OS supplier through an SE or a CE had to learn to use resellers. The 3000 division lost track of the majority of its customers, and when the large sites yearned for a Superdome, nobody was able to keep in touch with customers who didn't need such a beast.
Sculley might do well with the Obi, even after a pratfall at Apple. On the other hand, the results might be Obi-Wan. It takes a failure to learn something, most times. MOST taught HP about speed, benefits, and the need for enough brainpower to enable something better (MPE) to drive something popular (Unix). The 3000's heritage flowed even and steady for awhile after Hackborn bent HP to a consumer beat. The loss of focus sealed the 3000's fate at HP, though.
September 01, 2015
Finding a Virtual Replacement for MPE/iX
This week HP and other vendors are presenting new products, and new ideas about older products, at VMworld. The conference is organized by VMware and offers a stage to show how IT strategies are being changed by virtualization. The only virtualization that MPE/iX hosts can enjoy is the Stromasys Charon HPA server. It makes Intel processors a virtual choice. Stromasys is at the conference, but what HP's got to say about Hewlett-Packard solutions is informative, too.
As it turns out, heading to Intel Xeon hardware is a good idea for all of the other HP enterprise environments. It's as if Charon and the Superdome brand are aimed at the same destination. HP-UX won't get there, though. And Intel Xeon is essential to VMware.
The 3000 customers who've been the slowest to move onward to other platforms might be the ERP companies. Manufacturers customize their applications more than any other kind of app user. This week HP's touting a server at VMworld that it says is the world's fastest 16-socket ERP server. Superdome X is driven by Linux and Windows, though, not the HP-UX environment that ruled HP's enterprise roost in the late '90s — an era when Windows was taking over IT.
HP bet heavy on Unix. Back then, the product which became Windows 2003, 2008 and then 2012 was called Windows NT. Everything that NT did was folded into those subsequent Windows enterprise solutions. Since then, meetings like VM World apparent that HP's Unix lost its high ground, but not because of any lack of virtualization. HP's Unix isn't ever going to the x86 family. HP-UX slipped as an enterprise choice because it was built upon the wrong processor.
That's what HP's manager Doug Strain used as a key point in his VMworld talk about Superdome X. "The only problem was that it didn't have x86 processors," he said of the machine that now can use up to 12TB of memory. "Well, we fixed that." So it seems that the right chipset — based on Intel's Xeon, not Itanium — will make Superdome as useful and fully-featured as it should be for virtualization. It's just one more way to see that Itanium and HP-UX has dropped from HP's futures.
Linux is taking the place of HP-UX in HP's ERP futures. It's not news that VMware and HP's Unix are not a match. What seems new is the way Linux and Windows are positioned as HP's VMware solutions — with specific mention of ERP applications.
August 31, 2015
Posix file movements, using FTP and more
I'm attempting to move files in and out of Posix namespace on my HP 3000. The file I've copied becomes bytestream, and has a REC of 1. But I want to transfer that file from Posix down to my PC, I need to maintain it's structure — but what appears to be happening is it's one long record, with no separators. Is there a way (automated) that I can move files in and out of Posix, maybe FCOPY, and be able to keep the structure?
Donna Hofmeister replies
Simply copying/renaming a 'regular' MPE namespace file into HFS-namespace will not change its structural attributes.
If the MPE file was ';rec=-80,,f,ascii' to begin with, it will still be that afterwards. And it will retain those attributes (cr/lf in particular) following an FTP transfer from your 3000 to [something else less enlightened].
To have a foreign/non-MPE filed take-on MPE fixed-record length attributes during an FTP transfer, simply add something like the following on your transfer line:
[put|get] non_mpe_file_name MPEFILE;rec=-NN,,f,ascii (making all the proper substitutions)
How do I get my HP 3000 to play well with Web-based FTP clients?
HP's James Hofmeister, who led the effort to keep FTP up to date on the 3000, replies
Lots of work went into an implementation of the FTPSRVR to support web access to the 3000. The "SITE POSIX ON" command can be sent by a FTP client and the 3000 FTPSRVR will emit Posix "standard" FTP output and will react like a Posix host (including file naming conventions).
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.
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.