August 31, 2006
HP's Hawkins offers free peripheral session
Encompass is making full use of the Web, in a much wider effort than Interex did, to deliver training and advice to the HP 3000 community. Two weeks from today on Sept. 14, Jim Hawkins of HP will present one hour of “HP e3000 Peripheral and High Availability Environment.”
There were a lot of Webcasts in the years that followed HP's pull-out announcement, but they were organized and presented by HP. Platinum migration partners like MB Foster were among the first to use the Web to educate, and other Platinum partners were often part of the HP events.
The Encompass Webcast that begins at 3 PM EDT is an extract from "a more in-depth" breakout session at the HP Technology Forum, the following week in Houston. Peripherals present one of the most likely changes for the 3000 site, whether migrating or homesteading. Just earlier this month Donna Hofmeister (nee Garverick), the OpenMPE Secretary, chided 3000 site managers relying on mangy old disk drives:
I’m really shocked at the number of systems running these old [Jamaica enclosure] drives! It’s more than time for many MPE shops to ‘smell the coffee’ or perhaps more accurately smell the looming disaster. If your disc drive is less than 36GB, odds are it’s ready to be replaced. It’s past its expected life span and you’re living on borrowed time.
If you got any plans to keep on running these systems, it’s more than time to get onto new drives. With how prices have dropped, it’s hard to not justify going to new drives.
Hawkins' Webcast "is geared towards companies that are migrating their HP e3000 peripheral and high availability environments to other HP platforms and want an understanding of which products will map over to the other HP platforms."
Attendees will gain an understanding of capacity and performance concerns when migrating from MPE/iX, explore the portfolio of peripheral and high availability products available for the HP e3000 and similar or like products available on other HP platforms, and examine the use of DTCs on a network with an HP e3000 and explore the issues to be covered when migrating network connectivity to another platform.
To register, visit the Encompass Web page for 3000 Webcasts. At the bottom of the page there is a link to the registration page. Simply click on the link and follow these instructions:
• If you have never participated in an Encompass/HP webcast, click on ‘First Time Users Click Here To Register’.
• Please use hpencompass as your signup password
• You will need to create a User ID and password for yourself; it is important that you remember this information as you will need it when you log into the Website for the Webcast.
• Please be sure to test your PC on the HP Virtual Room 2-3 days prior to the Webcast. If you any have problems when you test, please call the HP Virtual Room help desk at (888) 351-4732 so that the the problem can be solved prior to the Webcast.
(And Encompass does mean "PC" when it talks about testing. We can report it's hopeless to get a Mac to run the Virtual Classroom software. Only more recent Windows desktops need apply.)
If you have participated in an HP/Encompass Webcast in the past, enter your ID and Password and then select ‘Course Catalog’ and click on the link to this Webcast.
August 30, 2006
Comp Three joins Resource 3000
HP 3000 technical resources form alliances on a regular basis, here in the era of Transition. Today we got word that Resource 3000 has gathered in Comp Three, the company that cooked up its TIPS database migration tool back in 2005.
Comp Three's president John Hohn has weighed in on the opportunities in moving from IMAGE to an SQL database.
There are many advantages to SQL; one that we found is, by rewriting our complicated reports to not use cursors (doing intermediate summations with unions instead of programmatic adding up of numbers inside cursor loops) we can complete reports in seconds (yes, seconds!) that used to take 20-30 minutes on the HP 3000.
When Resource 3000 first formed up in 2004, the company sounded like it was dedicated exclusively to the mission of helping the customer determined to stay on its HP 3000s beyond HP's deadline for ending support. The group has since expanded its reach to include helping companies get ready for migration, if not doing it outright. For the moment, Resource 3000 migration offerings are focused on tools like TIPS to get the job done yourself.
TIPS is now available through Resource 3000. From the alliance release:
Comp Three joins Allegro Consultants, Ideal Computer Services, Orbit Software and Lund Performance Solutions in providing the e3000 community with a total solution for their data processing needs well into the future.
Comp Three is an IT services firm which specializes in providing data and application integration, migration, new application development and data warehousing services. Its co-founders began their careers at HP working on the e3000 platform and have worked on numerous e3000 projects and migrations over the years. Comp Three handles all aspects of IT projects: gathering requirements, creating design documents, coding and creating new applications as necessary and moving projects through SOX/SDLC compliance issues.
Resource 3000 combines the experience and expertise of its partners to provide a unique total solution for the e3000 community. Resource 3000 offers hardware and software support and consulting as well as backup and performance solutions for those customers who have elected to remain on the e3000 platform beyond its official “end of life.” In addition, R3K provides a comprehensive suite of migration tools to facilitate movement to a new platform.
Comp Three augments the Resource 3000 offering with a strong “hands on” track record of success helping firms adapt or migrate their e3000 platform. In addition, they have created TIPS, the HP 3000 data migration tool which automatically converts e3000 IMAGE and Powerhouse schemas and data to Oracle, SQL Server or MySQL on Windows or Unix.
August 29, 2006
You're porting what, to where?
What's that we heard from last week's CAMUS conference in San Francisco? In a couple of public forums, attendees heard about Speedware's plans to port MANMAN to Unix (we'd presume HP-UX).
The HP Platinum migration partner has the migration wherewithal to do the job, given the help some seasoned experts in the ERP application still driving several hundred HP 3000 sites. SSA Global — or was it still Computer Associates — asked the CAMUS membership and the MANMAN user base if a Unix MANMAN interested them. Only about a third gave a thumbs up, and so the project got pushed to the side.
We've heard reports that Speedware's Nicolas Fortin said the company is doing the port, talking with the MANMAN owners INFOR, and even has three sites which want to make the shift.
It's at least another option for the MANMAN customer who knows they've got to leave the 3000 someday. We've heard few details other than those about the project, such as how long it would take and what it might cost. Some in the MANMAN community say that INFOR has almost nothing to lose, since the pickup on the project might be quite small. It probably won't cost INFOR much in the way of resources, either, since Speedware and its contracted experts would do the work.
MANMAN has been aimed at Unix before, as far back as the early 1990s. Transition times are much different than those days, however. Sue Peyton remains the point executive who's hearing out Speedware's plans.
As for customer pickup on the idea, CAMUS board member Terry Simpkins reportedly said, "we'll just talk everybody into doing it." HP might have begun with similar hopes when it called off its 3000 futures in 2001. We wish the Speedware and MANMAN community better results.
August 28, 2006
3000 certificate holders get a welcome
HP started sending letters to customers to "welcome back" the HP 3000 professionals who got dropped from the Hewlett-Packard professional certification program. HP deactivated more than 100 3000 pros last year who had passed serveral exams to get a certificate verifying their MPE/iX skills.
OpenMPE board director Paul Edwards drove the effort to get HP to reinstate the 3000 certificate holders. One customer, who has earned a belt-full of such HP notches, quipped when he got his e-mail, "Just in time for migration! This is what I call a backlog."
HP's Rich Gossman of the Americas HP Certified Professional Program Office explained that since HP cancelled the 3000 credential, now it's got to re-award them.
Looks like a backlog doesn't it? Not really though.. we aren't THAT bad. We had expired this credential but we decided to bring it back online even though no one new can get it. So you're back in the "family" again!
So the 3000 certification becomes a valid HP document once more, although the vendor will issue no new certs. But the document, when it arrives, can make a difference in getting either a homesteading job or a contract that moves the 3000 out of the shop. Knowing the target platform is important, but detailed knowledge of the de-commissioned platform and its surround code is important as well.
Two kinds of certificates had been issued to 3000 pros. HP's letter to all of its certified pros read:
Last September HP sent notification that e3000 and MPE/iX certifications were being expired. However, we heard from both customers and partners that these certifications continue to be important in the conduct of their business. After consideration of this feedback, we’d like to extend our welcome back into the HP Certified Professional Program. We hope that you will take advantage of the many opportunities offered by the Program.
For e3000 specialists: If you held the HP e3000 Technical Certification, your title is now Accredited Presales Professional (APP) -- HP e3000 Technical Certification.
This credential is considered to be “inactive”, which means that while it is no longer attainable by new candidates, it continues to be recognized as part of the HP Certified Professional Program and remains valid toward program benefits. You are not obligated to upgrade your certification at this time, but we encourage you to further your knowledge and update your skills by pursuing an active credential. Your skills and knowledge give you the foundation to pursue the Accredited Presales Professional (APP) – HP Enterprise Solutions credential,.
For MPE/iX specialists: If you held the MPE/iX System Administration Certification, your title is now Certified Systems Administrator (CSA) – MPE/iX System Administration.
This credential is also considered to be “inactive”; while it is no longer attainable by new candidates, it continues to be recognized as part of the HP Certified Professional Program and remains valid toward program benefits. You are not obligated to upgrade your certification at this time, but we encourage you to further your knowledge and update your skills by pursuing an active credential. Your skills and knowledge give you the foundation to pursue the Certified Systems Administrator (CSA) – HP-UX v11 credential.
We encourage you to maximize the return on investment you have already made in your knowledge of HP technologies. With a small effort toward an active credential, you can update and validate your skills, protect your career path and increase your business opportunities.
HP provided a student/member ID to complete the transfer back into the Program and access benefits as an HP Certified Professional. It will be a few more weeks before the fresh certification paper arrives.
You do not need to do anything now. You will or may have already been sent a follow-up email confirming your certification status. The email will contain links to assist in creating your login account and provide you access to the HP Certified Member's site, where your benefits and certification history will be hosted. Once your account is created, you will be asked to agree to our Terms and Conditions/Confidential Disclosure Agreement. Please allow 2-3 days of when your login account has been created for you to view your certification history and access your benefits.
An electronic welcome letter will automatically be sent to you from the Americas HP Certified Professional Program office. It includes detailed information on your benefits as part of the Americas’ region and provides useful Program links. In approximately 6-8 weeks you will be mailed a certificate showing your new credential title.
And that’s it! Once you have completed these steps, you’ll once again have access to all the member benefits afforded under your credential.
The regional Web site should answer most of your questions, but please feel free to contact us at any time if you need additional help.
· Email: email@example.com
· Website: <www.hp.com/go/certification/americas
· Information Line: 1-800-273-4812 (U.S. and Canada only)
· Information Line for Latin American countries: Country phone numbers
Again, welcome back to the HP Certified Professional Program. We’re glad you’re here!
August 25, 2006
OpenMPE loses savvy director
Without too much explanation, OpenMPE's director Donna Garverick announced that board member Bill Lancaster has tendered his resignation from the board, less than six months after Lancaster ran for election to the post-2006 3000 advocacy group.
Lancaster received a leave of absence from the board "awhile back" according to Garverick, with the agreement that his situation would be revisited in mid-August.
The issues that were behind Bill’s original request have not resolved themselves, and he felt it was best to resign. The board really was disappointed that Bill left the board. Bill is such a strong advocate and a very sensible (business) person. For the short amount of time that he was attending our meetings, he was a valuable contributor. He’s going to be missed.
Lancaster told us last month he has been taking on extra duties at his employer, Lund Performance Solutions, in the face of a temporary family crisis on the staff.
August 24, 2006
What good is Number 1?
HP gave guidance on its future during last week's third quarter report, a forecast that could have your vendor breaking the $90 billion sales mark for the first time in company history. The rise of HP's fortunes — its market cap is now doubled in just five quarters — has overturned the dour assessments of former CEO Carly Fiorina's tenure. When she was fired, then replaced by current CEO Mark Hurd, HP didn't say it was taking a new tack for the company's course. Hurd has just made the boat lighter and swifter by digging into the steerage levels and tossing expenses and some employees overboard.
Enough of that metaphor. What's notable about the "approximately" $91.2 billion in sales predicted by HP for fiscal 2006? Analysts say there's a good chance HP will overtake IBM in total sales, at long last, a goal that Fiorina announced like JFK promising a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.
Question: Is this milestone significant to the 3000 community? One segment, those who've already headed for third party support and intend to follow their own future, probably could care less. The migrating customers, some wary of the future, might consider the No. 1 status as some security blanket against another discontinuance announcement.
No. 1 is fun, and it might bully some customers into sticking with HP as a vendor when their 3000 finally goes dark. But while we congratulate Hurd and HP on breaking to the front of the pack, it's important to look at the source of those sales. One IBM editor thinks that the enterprise is still the place where Big Blue leads the IT world.
Over at the Web site The Four Hundred, editor Timothy Prickett Morgan breaks down the HP and IBM sales numbers — he calls it "pulling apart the numbers" — to figure how much of HP's $91 billion is consumer sales. You know, the mighty printer and ink engine. (I still recall an IBM cheerleader at a Greater Houston RUG conference deriding HP as "Inky.")
Morgan's article, a snapping good read, asserts that HP is still running second to IBM in the enterprise. That may be the only measure that makes any difference to an HP 3000 customer looking for a new environment and vendor. Morgan says:
An iSeries and System i5 reseller with one of the largest OS/400 accounts in the world called me to ask me if HP being the largest IT supplier in the world was important or not, and I said I didn't think so. And then he said his customer said this to him: "I always buy best of breed, and I buy from IBM because it is the dominant supplier. Should I be looking at HP?"
Not if you look at the number of enterprise computing dollars HP is generating, Morgan says. This company is the same one that lets its business segments fend for themselves on profits and growth. The latter measure is the reason given for why HP dropped its 3000 business.
In an especially fun segment, Morgan takes aim at the lead IBM's System i5 (nee iSeries) has over HP's Integrity server business, home of three out of every four Itanium chips:
HP's high-end Integrity server business is dwarfed by even the much-diminished (in terms of revenue) System i5 business. The i5 line is averaging somewhere around $400 million to $500 million a quarter in sales. HP's Integrity line, which runs HP-UX Unix, OpenVMS, Windows, Linux, and NonStop operating systems, brought in $312 million in the last quarter after posting 76 percent growth.
The calculating seems on target over at The Four Hundred, even if Morgan misses his mark by saying that Fiorina "is rarely given the proper credit for seeing that this was, indeed, a smart merger" with Compaq. Fiorina wasted few chances to remind anybody the merger was a good deal, no matter how much stench arose from the proxy battlefield where nearly half of HP's shareholders voted no. The former CEO deserves full credit for cleaving HP down the middle in the most contentious management move in the company's history.
HP's history aside, becoming Number 1 this year might help leverage HP as the incumbent vendor at your shop. Especially when your 3000 cannot pass the boardroom muster anymore, being abandoned by its maker, although not by the community of support and software firms. If there's any doubt about whether HP will stick with HP-UX with more loyalty than it supported MPE/iX into a fourth decade, you can always put up one finger. "Maybe they did make that mistake that cost us," you could say. "But things are different now that they're Number 1."
Or you could shrug and say these horse races are for the pleasure of the investors, to give the CEO something to say to the press and analysts. And note that HP took first place in the year IBM sold off its PC revenues to Lenovo, to keep itself in high profits. If HP did top IBM in enterprise business — well, we'll let Morgan have the last word on that.
Such a change could signal a massive shift away from the traditional host systems that have propped up IBM for decades and to other X64 architectures and new software technologies that are platform-agnostic, and in such a world, IBM will only get its share, not more than its fair share as legacy lock-in allows it to enjoy these days.
Just recall that HP also retains a lot of enterprise business on the strength of legacy lock-in of HP-UX systems, and others. Even the 3000 still contributes, nearly three years after HP stopped selling it. Tens of millions of dollars go to HP for support of those systems, high-profit revenue if there ever was any at HP. Legacy lock in has been good for HP, too.
August 23, 2006
Third 7.5 PowerPatch readies for takeoff
HP has started sending letters out to its support customers running HP 3000s to ask who wants to apply for a copy of the new PowerPatch 3 for MPE/iX 7.5. This version of the OS first made its debut in 2002, so three PowerPatches in four years' time is a sign that HP's updating this MPE/iX more often than older releases.
While that's often been true in the past at HP, traditional HP corporate behavior regarding the 3000 needs to checked regularly during the Transition Era. For example, HP Professional Certification holders of MPE/iX documents found themselves deactivated last year, a misstep that HP is just now getting around to correcting.
But it has been more than two years since 7.5 got its last PowerPatch, HP's collection of patches to add enhancements and fix bugs, available only to HP support customers. Some 3000 sites wait until a patch rolls onto a PowerPatch release before testing and installing it; the lag between approving a patch for general release and PowerPatching it can be many months, all of which provide extensive testing — on other customers' systems.
HP's rolling out one feature for certain in the new PowerPatch. PowerPatch 3 will be the first 7.5 PowerPatch whose Communicator will contain an HP end of support notice bearing a post-2006 date. We'd also expect that PowerPatch 3 enhancements would be a subject of a few slides at next month's e3000 update at the HP Tech Forum.
Matching up your current set of patches against HP's latest is easier with a free analysis script from Beechglen Development. Beechglen's CTO Mike Hornsby took note of the full list of 7.5 patches, dated from newest to oldest, in a posting to the 3000 newsgroup.
To cull the 2004 and later patches off Hornsby's comprehensive list, we offer this subset in a PDF file:
HP was hunting for beta testers for many of the 3000 patches released in 2005, all through last year and into this one, too. It appears that HP's old rules for taking a 3000 patch out of beta, into general release and then onto a PowerPatch still are in force. More than one site must test a patch. Customers who are freezing their 3000 configurations have been slow to do such tests.
Whether you'll need to patch your 3000 at all depends on what you want: enhancements, or repair. Hornsby noted in our Q&A interview with him in the year just after HP's 3000 discontinuation announcement:
Let me say that I have always been skeptical about patches. To paraphrase a famous coach, “three things can happen when you patch, and two of them are bad.” Our approach has always been to be more consultative and look at the problem from a programming prospective.
August 22, 2006
Details and conflict at the Tech Forum
With less than four weeks to go until the HP Technology Forum opens, the list of 3000-related sessions grows a little larger. OpenMPE board member Chuck Ciesinski reports that he's chairing a roundtable panel on Business Continuity Planning at the Forum. The advice will apply no matter what operating environment drives your enterprise. Evidence of that claim lies in the panel's makeup:
Bill Hassell, HP-UX expert
Keith Parris, OpenVMS expert
Richard Light, HP Recovery Operations Manager
Birket Foster, founder, Platinum migration partner MB Foster
Rick Eccher, CIO, Community Partners
Manny Masongsong, CEO, Basilica Software Corp.
Ciesinski, now the Senior Unix Administrator at Applied Biosystems, chairs the roundtable. The session kicks off at 11 AM Monday, right after HP's top executives Mark Hurd, Ann Livermore and HP's CIO Randy Mott speak. (Mott is said to be cool to the idea of classic HP telecommuting in the company's IT operations. Much of the remaining HP 3000 lab goes to work in their own home.)
The conflict at the Tech Forum? That lies in that scheduling, according to Ciesinski. Dave Wilde, the business manager for the e3000, updates the 3000 community in a talk at the same time.
The business continuity session could very well contain more fresh information than customers will hear at HP's Business Update talk. It's reasonable to expect that the extension of two extra years of basic-level support for the 3000 — at the least, and all beyond 2006 — will be presented as news. HP's involvement with the 3000 community is on the wane overall.
That doesn't mean that we won't be there listening for something we haven't yet heard about HP's end-game for the 3000. HP is fully in the migration business for the 3000 by now, although PowerPatches are still on the lab's lineup for the next few years.
But the continuity session, number 1745 in the catalog, isn't the only addition to the 3000 content. Ciesinski is now leading a Preparing for MPE/iX System Recovery session, a pick from the waiting list of talks submitted to the conference. This is homesteading advice presented at the Technology Forum, the only listed session on the MPE track — other than Tuesday's OpenMPE update — that doesn't include the word "migrate" in its title. The new session promises the details to "prepare for recovering from a catastrophic disaster."
• Learn how to prepare for onsite facilities and at external locations
• Discuss a number of topics, including CSLTs, disc compatibility, hardware requirements, operating system issues, third-party software, and personnel
At least there's not as much competition for the OpenMPE update, now moved to 9:30 Tuesday. This kind of "Campground" meeting had been relegated to the end of the day at last year's Forum, narrowing attendance significantly.
August 21, 2006
The Long and Short of Copying Tape
Is there a way in MPE to copy a tape from one drive to another drive?
Stan Sieler, co-founder of Resource3000 tech resource Allegro Consultants, gives both long and short answers to this fundamental question. Turns out one of the answers is to look to Allegro for its TapeDisk product, which includes a program called TapeTape.
Short answer: It’s easy to copy a tape, for free, if you don’t care about accuracy/completeness.
Longer answer: There are two “gotchas” in copying tapes ... on any platform.
#1: Long tape records
You have to tell a tape drive how long a record you with to read. If the record is larger, you will silently lose the extra data.
Thus, for any computer platform, one always wants to ask for at least one byte more than the expected maximum record — and if you get that extra byte, strongly warn the user that they may be losing data. (The application should then have the internal buffer increased, and the attempted read size increased, and the copy tried again.)
One factor complicates this on MPE: the file system limits the size of a tape record you can read. STORE, on the other hand, generally bypasses the file system when writing to tape and it is willing to write larger records (particularly if you specify the MAXTAPEBUF option).
In short, STORE is capable of writing tapes with records too long to read via file system access. The free programs (e.g., TAPECOPY on Jazz) use the file system; thus, there are tapes they cannot correctly copy.
#2: Setmarks on DDS tapes
Some software creates DDS tapes and writes “setmarks” (think of them as super-EOFs). Normal file system access on the 3000 will not see setmarks, nor be able to write them.
Our TapeDisk product for MPE/iX (which includes TapeTape) solves both of the above problems. As far as I know, it’s the only program that can safely and correctly copy arbitrary tapes on an HP 3000.
August 18, 2006
Encompass director provides picks
In the interest of easy choice, Encompass board member Chris Koppe of Speedware has provided his list of session picks for the upcoming HP Tech Forum, now less than a month away. Koppe's company is a HP Platinum migration provider, but also delivers the Speedware development environment as well as the AMXW migration suite — an ease-your-way set of programs to let a 3000 customer become a Windows or HP-UX site.
Koppe's picks — kind of like the "staff picks" in your favorite bookstore — as reported in an Encompass e-mail:
Session 1243: HP e3000 Transition and Migration Customer Panel
Session 1621: Successful Migrations: Making Them Happen
Session 1749: HP e3000 Business Update
Session 1881: OpenMPE: A Current Status
Session 1229: HP e3000 Peripheral and High Availability Environment
If you're headed to Houston for the Forum, we think these are good sessions for the 3000 manager. In addition to the OpenMPE update, there might even be something to learn about homesteading in that HP Business Update. That update is being led by Dave Wilde, who's been the e3000 Business Manager but now goes by the title of ESS (Enterprise Storage & Servers) Installed Base Marketing
Looking over the public catalog summaries of the Forum's breakouts, you'll see that HP plans to cover a lot of ground in the 75 minutes that Wilde speaks along with Jennie Hou (also a longtime 3000 division member)
A high-level summary of developments in the HP e3000 business during the last year, recent news, and a review of what customers and partners can expect from HP during the next couple of years.
• Learn how HP is helping customers and partners transition to other HP platforms
• Find out how HP is supporting companies’ business-critical environments as they transition
And, for the 3000 customer not well-along on a migration path, or even considering that road:
• Address the concerns of companies that may continue to depend on the HP e3000 to meet some business needs beyond HP’s end-of-support date
• Participate in a question and answer session
August 17, 2006
How can you beat free?
In just a few days the price of this year's CAMUS ERP conference will rise. The user organization is holding out its early-registration price as long as possible. The conference begins Aug. 23, and early reg ends Aug. 18.
Interex used to extend its early bird deadlines in the same way. But CAMUS is better tooled for the long run, financially. The group, which has several HP 3000 experts on its board, is even taking limited training budgets into account with a Free Training Day.
That day is Aug. 23, and the place is the Hyatt Hotel SFO, near the airport. MB Foster is even sponsoring an offsite lunch. The schedule includes advice from some of the most savvy ERP experts in your community.
This meeting is for companies which are both migrating AND homesteading, according to Terry's Floyd's latest column in the Support Group's newsletter, Those Support People:
The capital AND is supposed to impart some informtion to you about the importance of covering both topics. Different [ERP] users have different ideas about when they will be leaving the platform they've used for many years.
We think there's a lot of AND planning going on in the 3000 community. Migration takes awhile, especially with a complex, house-written app. ERP is a common application among 3000s. Even if you're not using MANMAN, much of the advice delivered for free or otherwise at the Hyatt will apply.
To register for all three days (Aug. 23-25) before the prices go up, visit the CAMUS Web site by Friday night: www.camus.org. Even if your budget only allows a day away from the office and travel to Burlingame, near San Francisco, CAMUS has got something for you.
August 16, 2006
HP shows strong Q3, Integrity growth
HP posted its third quarter results this afternoon, numbers which show that the company's Business Critical servers such as HP Intergrity and HP 9000 servers are finally showing partity with the Industry Standard (Intel-based) servers.
Overall, HP reported net revenues of $21.9 billion, about 5 percent better sales than the same quarter of 2005. Profits were $1.5 billion for the period, up from $900 million in the last third quarter.
In the Enterprise Storage and Servers segment, BCS and ISS server sales were even at 20 percent of revenues. But BCS revenues fell 6 percent from last year's third quarter. Integrity sales rose by 76 percent from the same period last year, and now account for 38 percent of BCS revenues. PA-RISC based systems continue to outsell Integrity servers in the BCS lineup.
Imaging and Printing did not represent the greatest share of HP's sales mix in Q3, although the print group's operating profits were more than twice that of any other group. The Enterprise Storage and Servers group made a good profit showing at $296 million; the printer group posted $884 million in profits. Per dollar sold, printers and imaging remains HP's most profitable business. In Q3, supplies alone sold 9 percent more than the same 2005 quarter.
August 15, 2006
HP promises to answer MPE questions at Forum
Even at it is winding up the last push for sponsorship money, Encompass and HP are promising their September show will include "MPE — Answers to the Looming Migration Questions."
Only the meeting of OpenMPE advocates at the Forum's Campground stands as an advisory on any 3000 subject other than migration. For 75 minutes, OpenMPE's directors Birket Foster, Chuck Ciesinski and Matt Perdue will talk about "A Current Status" for the organization, a report of the ongoing efforts of the group. "Listen to a report on activities of the past year. Review plans for the next year."
If those aren't the questions that are looming for you, the rest of the Tech Forum's 3000-related lineup might be helpful. David Parsons, the HP VP of Industry Solutions and Alliance Marketing, says that CEO Mark Hurd, Executive VP Ann Livermore and CIO Randy Mott "will address upwards of 7,000 HP customers, partners, and employees at the event."
Those numbers may be easier to reach in Houston than in last year's rescheduled show in Orlando. About 4,000 showed up in Florida last fall. Houston is headquarters for a lot of HP operations, being the former hub of Compaq.
Encompass and HP remind us that for just $38 a square foot, companies can exhibit in the show floor's Pavillion for Developers and Solution Partners. Yes, that's $3,800 for 100 square feet, or an 10x10 space among many other sponsors. The Pavillion is an outpost in the 100,000 square foot Technology Exchange, produced by Encompass. Pavillion spaces are smaller than the 10x10 slots, usually just big enough for an overhead sign, a podium table with room for a desktop server.
The user group reports that there's more than 200 hands-on sessions and more than 400 technical sessions at the Forum. We found this show to be a good place to research HP's 3000 alternatives, as well as learn about managing your first HP-UX or Windows Server. HP also plans to talk about its future with the Intel Dual Core line of processors.
As for the those Looming Migration Questions, the show will offer answers by letting customers:
Connect with HP and third party vendors in the Technology Exchange to discuss the software tools users rely upon and the hardware that makes up the HP e3000 ecosystem.
Ensure your company’s business needs are heard by HP product engineers.
Learn what to do and what not to do to get ready for migration. HP’s engineering community will present what should be done to prepare for migration, what you need to think about, and what you will not have to worry about.
Get the technical knowledge to not only assist you in planning the system transition, but also on how to achieve the best co-existence with your existing environments.
August 14, 2006
Powerful merger of 3000 forces
Late this afternoon Donna Garverick pointed the 3000 community to a notice of nuptials — hers, along with James Hofmeister in a new household that may boast the most 3000 brainpower per square foot of residence. (Contenders are welcome to challenge our seat-of-the-pants calcuation, of course.) The two 3000 veterans were married today.
Garverick has been chair of the SIG-Sysman special interest group, co-chair of SIG-MPE, and for the last three years, a vocal and active advocate on the OpenMPE board of directors. She is noted for her capital-less postings on the 3000-L newsgroup — as well as many years of service and administrative expertise on MPE, MPE XL, and MPE/iX. Especially the iX, where she's held forth and taught users about the Posix bonus inside the 3000's operating system: a good intro to the world of Unix.
Hofmeister has been a primary force behind HP networking advances for the 3000 for the past several years, and a strong contributor to the networking knowledge base that's the 3000-L archives. In The 3000 NewsWire archives alone, he's got 36 entries between 1997 and 2005. During the last six years the engineer at HP's Expert Center has become the authority on telnet and the much-improved FTP on the HP 3000. Much of his advice and counsel about 3000 matters has been on his own time, since HP has many jobs for its 3000 experts, all at once.
Our most recent article on these two vets showed they were already working together in the spring of 2005, when they were planning a Birds of a Feather meeting for MPE Networking at HP World. Although that HP World show never made it out of the nest, apparently these two birds found their feathers compatible.
Both Garverick (far right, front row) and Hofmeister (third from left, back row) joined the close group of lunchmates at last summer's 3000 luncheon in San Francisco, almost one year ago to the day.
Now their household can feast on a rich source of 3000 experience, perhaps enough to begin a consultancy. (My NewsWire co-founder Abby and I can attest to the intimate and rambunctious experience of working together as man and wife.)
As for the Garverick-Hofmeister wedding announcement, it appeared on the Invent 3K development server at HP, in Garverick's account on that public development resource still running inside Hewlett-Packard. We can't think of a better place to spread the good news about this "merger announcement," as Garverick called in a post to the newsgroup. Some development of love, this, close to the 3000's community heart.
August 11, 2006
Amisys advances its healthcare app
Amisys Synertech Inc. (ASI), which owns the customer base of and applications for AMISYS/3000 and Unix-based Amisys Advance, rolled out another generation of its healthcare HP-UX app with an announcement last week.
The Version 3.1 of Advance promises enhanced navigational capabilities as its chief upgrade, along with the maturity of having another year of field testing integrated into the app. ASI started booting up Advance on former HP 3000 sites in 2005, when it released version 2.0.
Release 3.1 of the enterprise-wide and functionally rich information management application builds upon enhancements delivered in Release 3.0 by featuring an array of streamlined navigational capabilities.
“With the Release 3.1 of AMISYS Advance, we have enhanced the industry’s most functionally rich payer application by further streamlining the product’s navigational features,” said Tom Hurley, ASI’s Chief Technology Officer. “The intuitively designed application improves ease of use, which translates into higher productivity and increased accuracy for our customers.”
Specifically, Release 3.1 further improves the application’s efficiency and user-friendliness by offering
- Redesigned AMISYS application windows
- Updated command bar
- Redesigned format for Window-specific functions
- Redesigned format for global functions
- Streamlined menu pages to replace the navigation tree
Various Claims and Reference & Control windows were also redesigned in the new release to include tabbed pages for easier navigation.
AMISYS Advance Release 3.0 improved upon the GUI browser migration and introduced the concept of user-controlled screens and menus while featuring an array of critical enhancements, including:
- Pricing on multiple modifiers – enables health plans to realize increased cost-savings by reducing labor-intensive manual processes.
- Modify addresses in batch – allows a health plan to load, enter and modify different addresses and entity types in a batch setting, significantly improving productivity and efficiency.
- nterim bills for outpatient claims – allows interim bills to be identified from bill type, in addition to using discharge status.
- Automatic advance of premium paid-through date – minimizes erroneous calculations and keystrokes by automating the advancement of the paid-through date during the batch cash process.
AMISYS/3000 customers number fewer than 100, so the wholesale migration of them won't swamp the available migration assistance resources of the community, But Amisys customers make heavy use of "surround code" on the 3000 version of their app. The better Advance gets, the more opportunity that flows to that migration services part of the community — which includes companies still supporting and developing 3000 products, too.
ASI’s product portfolio includes business process outsourcing solutions, an integrated customer service application and a consumer-directed healthcare administration offering. Its 3000-related business is a small part of the company's enterprises.
August 10, 2006
HP's confidence about HP-UX futures
While 3000 vendors like Advant figure that HP-UX is just "next on the HP chopping block" — and so they load PA-RISC Linux on systems to let customers just cut to the future — HP has plans for developing the OS with some specifics to 2010.
Offered without comment, HP's chart of HP-UX 11i, "Taking you confidently into tomorrow." Click on it to get a better view.
August 09, 2006
Free ERP training, just a fortnight away
Just two weeks from today at the San Francisco Airport, a Free Day of expert ERP training takes off. Aug. 23 is the Free Training Day for this year's CAMUS conference, an event with significant support from HP 3000 companies and vendors. If you're going, say hello to 3000 NewsWire sponsors Pivital Solutions, MB Foster, Speedware, HP, Genisys and the Support Group. Jeff Milde of CAMUS says:
On Wednesday, August 23, CAMUS is sponsoring a no-charge MK and MANMAN Training Day. If you live near San Francisco, you can bring as many people as you want to these training sessions and not pay a dime (but please go to www.camus.org and fill out the “Free Training Day Only Registration Form” so we’ll know how many to expect for the free lunch). Of course, we hope these attendees will stay for the rest of the Conference, but if not, then okay. It’s the CAMUS motto, “Users Helping Users,” in its purest form. The very best teachers in the MK and MANMAN fields have volunteered their time to help the entire community: David Cervelli, Alice West, Chris Jones, Terri Glendon Lanza, Tim Peer, Susan Kiezel, Terry Floyd, Robert Bruce, and others will be on hand.
Three simultaneous topic-specific sessions are scheduled throughout the day on Wednesday and 4 or 5 of these experts will be in another room to go one-on-one or teach 2 or 3 people any particular topic they wish to dive into. If there’s a session on Financials you don’t want to attend, go to the “wildcard” room and talk in depth about almost any feature of MANMAN you can name. MK users will have an all-day Training Track with David Cervelli of Strategic Systems Group, Inc., so please bring those new users.
Even if you know you’ll be leaving MK or MANMAN in the next year or two, your company will surely benefit by having users who understand your current system; if nothing else, they’ll help you do a better job of migration when that time comes. If they stay for the Conference, they’ll learn a lot about the replacement software selection process.
Bay Area and California customers can obviously make late plans to be at the Hyatt Regency at the SFO airport up in Burlingame. But even through the early-bird deadline passed at the start of the month, the conference is reasonably priced and has one-of-a-kind instructors. Their advice is aimed at ERP sites both migrating or homesteading. ERP, and its manufacturing heartland, forms the biggest base of HP 3000 customer applications.
August 08, 2006
Set calendars for MPE training
Veteran MPE trainers Paul Edwards and Frank Alden Smith have scheduled an MPE/iX fundamentals (h3217s) class to be delivered on November 6, 2006, in the organization’s Virtual Classroom Environment (VCE). Edwards said that “VCE allows a 3000 user or manager to attend from wherever they are, work, home, or on the road."
Attendees can browse to www.mpe-education.com/new.htm to find a link to go to the Course Schedule. “Following that link will enable you to register for this class,” Edwards said. “Remember that full payment must be received at least two weeks prior to the start of the class.”
In the same way that HP user group Interex shut its doors last summer, HP's gotten out of the training business. It's up to independents like Edwards and Smith to step in where an $8 million user group or an $80 billion vendor used to serve 3000 education.
MPE-Education.com effort fell short of finding its paying customers in time for its first planned July 24 start date. Sometimes classes don't "make" because of scheduling conflicts, and other times cost is an issue. Travel couldn't have gotten in the way this time, because MPE-Education.com was offering its classes online.
Commitments in cash turned out to be the roadblock to getting the training started in August. "The problem was that we had 12-15 prospective students with requests from various companies, including some from HP India," said Edwards. "We finally only had a couple of students registered after we announced the schedule to the prospects. But when it came time to pay in advance, we got no payments."
August 07, 2006
HP reinstates MPE certification holders
OpenMPE advocate and training expert Paul Edwards reports that HP is reinstating the company's certifications in HP 3000 skills.
Much like the HP 3000 product line, the certifications won't be available to others from HP. But Edwards and his partner in HP training, Frank Alden Smith, intend to take that task over for HP, too, just as the duo started up a 3000 training business from the remains of HP's classroom materials.
Edwards reported that HP's Rich Gossman said it was a matter of days, it appears, until HP creates a credential that's inactive. That's HP's way of describing a certificate nobody else is going to get from HP — kind of like a brand spanking new 3000.
Gossman, of the Americas HP Certified Professional Program Office, said "The actual issues have all been resolved." Edwards shared Gossman's reply with us:
I just checked with Operations and there is a meeting tomorrow morning (August 4) for them to finalize the wording of the letter. They have been waiting for the new credentials to be created. Many processes involved in the creation and launch of a credential, even when it’s being created as an inactive credential (meaning no one new can get it). In any case, it is on their list of items that need completion ASAP.
Chalk it up as another accomplishment for Edwards, Smith and the crew of veterans who want to keep the 3000 an active element in your IT enterprise. Maintaining what HP's casting away is a business opportunity.
August 04, 2006
Super Tuesday: Windows stalling migrations
Early next week, Microsoft will release another "Patch Tuesday" set of security bulletins to the Windows environment. It will be a big event for the customers who rely on Windows XP and use Windows as their enterprise servers. These environments need to be maintained rigorously, and some patches will require a restart of Windows systems.
That is the kind of interruption hard to point at in the 3000 environment: a single day when many machines are forced to come offline. On a regular basis, HP sends out security patch alerts for HP-UX, too, many of which are labelled critical by HP, if not necessarily by the customers.
The Windows churn is keeping 3000 sites busy, according to Platinum migration partner Birket Foster. He points out that Microsoft will be moving its operating environments to 64 bits very soon, in IT terms. Vista is the last environment likely to work under 32 bits, so 3000 sites are stocking up on PCs, ahead of a regular purchasing schedule, to stay in the 32-bit world. Why? It has a lot to do with staffing, and the lack of it for Windows administration.
Without a Windows MCSE on staff, Foster says, many companies install a new version of Windows by buying PCs with the OS already loaded. It's the most costly way to upgrade, considering there's new hardware on every install.
"People are having their budgets for 3000 migrations eaten by doing these last buys of these PCs," Foster says. IT shops freeze their budgets for 3000s for three years, just to assemble the funds to "homestead" on 32-bit Windows. Ordinarily a company will roll over its PCs one-third at a time. The Microsoft push has some sites buying three years worth of desktops and servers in a single year.
Whether it's HP-UX, Windows or MPE/iX, every operating environment has its changes, most sparked by the vendor. Windows gives the appearance of a less costly enterprise investment, so long as the company controller doesn't look too close at where the day-to-day spending occurs.
August 03, 2006
Finding SCSI disks from third parties
Disk drives are the most likely parts of an HP 3000 to fail, being just about the only moving part in the system. (Tape is the other.) Disks from HP are certified, but they're still more costly than any other kind of storage peripheral. When you walk through Fry's and see a 200 GB disk for $150, you might wonder if there's a chance to use that kind of device in your HP 3000.
By many experts' testimony, there's a good chance that an under-$100 drive will boot up your HP 3000 just fine. These older 3000s use pretty small disks, so the costs of replacement are small, if you go outside HP's inventory. HP's not even making the SCSI-2 drives, the ones shipped with 9x8s, for new sales anymore. Some third party outlets like Phoenix/3000 can get you a remanufactured model of HP drives, but their focus leans more toward HP's VA arrays than an 18GB drive.
If a little drive is all you need, how can you be sure you're buying something that works with the 3000? A few years back John Burke wrote an article for the NewsWire explaining how to do it. HP replied with its set of sensible reasons why the HP-firmwared devices are worth the extra cost. But a few more years and lot less Low Voltage Device inventory is making more customers look at replacing their 3000 disks that are 8, 10, even 15 years old.
3000 storage experts like Denys Beauchemin have years of evidence that HP's disk standards have not been essential for reliable 3000 service.
I have been using non-HP firmwared disk drives in my HP 3000 for over 10 years now. "SCSI is SCSI," and as long as you can get your hands on a 50 pin SE or LVD disk drive, or if you can get a converter from 68 PIN to 50 pin you should be good to go.
Or if you would rather have something with a newer manufacture date than 1997 (that's so last millennium,) pick up any current (or at least 21st century) LVD-SCSI drive and get a 68-pin to 50 pin converter and have at it.
The converter can be had at granitedigital.com, where Granite Digital Part 6980, 80 SCA to 50m IDC (no termination) runs about $40. While Beauchemin said that with such an 68-50 connector "any LVD drive will work on an HP 3000 9x7 or 9x8," he added that these older peripheral requirements might be one of the best reasons to move away from HP 3000 hardware.
For the last several years I have been harping about people needing to get off the HP 3000 mostly because of the peripherals. There has not been an HVD-SCSI device manufactured this century; SE-SCSI is positively ancient. I also said that even LVD was becoming passé and that new interfaces would supplant all these. SATA was what I had in mind at the time; USB is also very strong, and fiber is de rigueur for real servers.
In a few more years, people will be rummaging at yard sales for SCSI devices. Even now, adapters are hard to find, I remember having some difficulty finding some a few years back. This situation will NOT get better for the 3000 homesteaders.
I notice that Dirtcheapdrives are selling 750GB SATA drives for $500. This is totally unbelievable; 750 gigabytes, in one drive, for 500 bucks. The terabyte drives will be here this year — and people will be looking for 4GB SE-SCSI drives for their 3000s.
Research on SCSI requirements is best started at SCSI FAQ. Adaptec's Web site has good information, too. Allegro's Stan Sieler recently posted a comprehensive list of Seagate's disk ackronyms for their drive interfaces. "Seagate drives indicate their interface via the one or two letters at the end of the model number."
LC Low Voltage Differential, 80-pin SCA
LCV Same as LC, but with an increased cache size
LW Low Voltage Differential, 68-pin Wide SCSI Connector
LWV Same as LW, but with an increased cache size
N SCSI, 50-pin Narrow SCSI Connector
DC Differential, 80-pin Single Connector Attachment (SCA)
ND Differential, 50-pin Narrow SCSI Connector
Then, the high-voltage differentials, (HVDs) which can't be used with a simple adapter:
W SCSI, 68-pin Wide SCSI Connector
WC SCSI, 80-pin SCA (Hot Swapable)
WD Differential, 68-pin Wide SCSI Connector
So as an example, a Seagate ST318404LC (Cheetah 18GB 10,000 RPM) has a low-voltage (LV) 80-pin interface. Coupled with the converter, it can work with a Series 918 to replace original drives, if you use the original drive cable in the 3000.
Beauchemin offered us a good handle on history of these interfaces:
SE-SCSI is very old (20+ years) and was almost the original SCSI. It stands for Single-Ended SCSI. Speed is 5 MB/second and the cable can’t be very long, 6 feet or less.
Then came UltraSCSI or HVD-SCSI. The speed was up to 20 MB/second (or even 40, but I’m not sure.) The good thing with HVD is that you could go long distances, 25+ meters with it. It uses the difference in voltages between pins, whereas SE SCSI uses absolute voltages that are very low to begin with. If you remember RS-232 and RS-422, it’s the same principle here. RS-232 was based on signals having a (low) voltage and no voltage and RS-422 was based on the differences in voltage between signal pairs. Which is why RS-232 was certified for 50 feet and RS-422 could go thousands of feet. It’s all a question of resistance and signal attenuation.
However, it seems that HVD had a speed limit associated with it, perhaps that speed of light thing. Also, as devices became (much) smaller, the need for long distances went down or was better addressed with fiber optics which is insensitive to stray electrical signals.
So, SE came back in vogue, but this time as LVD or Low Voltage Differential. When you plug a single-ended device in an LVD string, all devices, including the host bus adapter, drop down to SE signaling and to the speed of SE-SCSI. So, as long as you can account for the 50 pin to 68 pin thing, either with a cable or an adapter, LVD and SE devices can co-exist, at SE speeds.
In the last few years the replacement for LVD-SCSI has been SATA or Serial ATA. Which may be what the guy at DCD was talking about. LVD SCSI was in vogue until very recently for servers; I don’t think it has completely disappeared.
LVD hasn't disappeared. HP has a Web page that refers customers to adapters from Rancho SysTech, to bridge this gap from the 900 Series 3000s that use HVD drives to the more-available LVD drives.
August 02, 2006
Thinking way ahead of time (changes)
Diligent HP 3000 managers think ahead. This may be a habit of learning IT skills in an era when changes took longer and created more disruption. This week some in the 3000 community are thinking of next spring, when the Daylight Saving Time dates in North America will shift. There's going to be a few extra weeks of DST in 2007.
Customers have begun to ask HP for support in preparing for the change. (Yes, it's still seven months away. See the paragraph above.) While most customers handle this shift with a batch job, which can be modified easily, there's a part of MPE/iX that will need tweaking: the time zone table, also known as TZTAB.LIB.SYS.
OpenMPE director Donna Garverick posed the question about next spring's time shift, including a swell Web page that tells the whole story on Daylight Saving. (To start, it's called Daylight Saving, not Savings, since it saves daylight, a thing that's singular, not plural.) But after reading a few "I use this batch job" replies, Garverick got more specific:
Our TZTAB file will not be correct when the new Daylight Savings Time rules take effect. HP-UX, for example, has already released a patch to correct the TZTAB file. I'm concerned that there's an [HP 3000] exposure with no plans to fix the problem.
Others have agreed, and fellow OpenMPE director Paul Edwards has sent a request for HP's plans to fix TZTAB. After all, as customer Dave Powell noted, "Since HP is now supporting the 3000 thru end-2008, I nominate them."
TZTAB has come up for discussion in the 3000 community before now, usually in relation to another program like Samba. In a 1999 entry from our Hidden Value column, a customer asked about how to manipulate TZTAB:
As I look at the tztab.lib.sys file, I see that there are many time zones which are not listed in the file. Where do I get the rest of the :time zone definitions?
HP’s Walter Murray replied:
Make sure you have the complete file. The EOF should be 285. If you need to customize the file with additional time zones, refer to Appendix A of the HP C/iX Library Reference Manual.
Making changes to a lib.sys file in MPE/iX may not be for the faint of heart or feeble of budget, however. To start, a customer would need that HP C/iX compiler, unless the open source gnu C compiler could be made to do the job.
Powell added, "TZTAB scares me... [changing it] looks like something that should be done just once by someone who really knows it, not re-invented site by site."
As for HP staff who know how to work on the problem, Murray now works for the California Correctional System's IT services group. Any intrepid 3000 customer with a compatible C compiler who wants a look at that Appendix can download the PDF file from HP's docs.com Web page.
The request is a good example of why the 3000 community needs a virtual lab — and the only entity that's willing to set that up is OpenMPE. Which takes this entry full circle: the OpenMPE directors are looking way ahead and still looking for customer commitments. The future is a place where many HP 3000s will still be critical resources.
August 01, 2006
Getting MPE/iX-only from HP
HP 3000 customers and advocates love the MPE/iX operating system. The software's elegance and integration more than offset the maturity of an environment now in its fourth decade. Getting a licensed copy of MPE/iX, however, involves purchasing hardware.
Back in 1999, after a set of lawsuits, HP set the business rules in its sandbox that hardware and MPE/iX were inseparable. Then-division GM Harry Sterling compared the MPE/iX license to a license plate on a car. Plates are pretty much useless on any other vehicle, we figure. You have to transfer ownership of the whole kit, under HP's auspices, to get a copy of MPE/iX that you don't already own.
HP still operates a License Transfer office, as it were. Now the service costs $400; it was once free, back in the days when HP was still selling the server.
In other markets HP serves, the OS-to-hardware link isn't quite so rigid. The Digital customers that HP acquired in its Compaq merger get a hobbyist's license for OpenVMS if they want it. Digital and Compaq worked that one out before HP got ahold of those two companies. HP sees more of a future in OpenVMS and the Digital customer base, though you rarely hear about them in HP's strategic pronouncements.
As for that hobbyist license for the HP 3000, we've heard little about it since a year ago, when HP's Mike Paivinen addressed the matter at the OpenMPE meeting. Paivinen said it was well down HP's list of action items.
Paivinen also said HP believes the cost of the forthcoming MPE emulator license — estimated at about $500 in a 2003 HP statement — would be cheap enough to serve for hobbyists. On the other hand, without an emulator, this license isn't going to be available from HP.
So purchasing an MPE/iX license to go along with a generic PA-RISC server you've found on the used marketplace means that server is going to need to have MPE/iX on it already. If you're thinking eBay, you might want to check on how complete the ownership documentation is on the 3000 you're buying. Unless having MPE/iX licensed doesn't matter to you or your company, prepare to pass through the HP License Transfer process to get a "generic box" running an HP-blessed version of MPE/iX