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January 31, 2007

Less than 20 years to go?

The HP 3000's CALENDAR intrinsic now ticks off the final two decades for the system, with a 2027 hard deadline out in the distance as a date MPE/iX won't know "what day is it?"

Two decades is a long time, really an eternity in the computer and IT industry, but on January 1 of 2027, the 3000's calendars will have used up all the bits allocated to date keeping. Experts in the community don't hold out much hope for an extension to this deadline. At least not for now.

In a future where cloned HP PA-RISC servers, driven by emulation, might help applications carry the IT torch even further, anything seems possible. One day an emulator is likely to surface for the hardware built for MPE/iX. Maybe in that era, a workaround for the CALENDAR roadblock will appear, engineered by a developer who's just now entering high school — or one who graduated listening to the Beatles.

But today, as this January wraps up, the current forecast is for closing up 3000 shops in 19 more January's. Unless the code changed to get the 3000 beyond Year 2000 can be altered again. But are there customers out there, completely unaware of HP's exit from the marketplace, still using 3000 models more than 19 years old? Count on it, but best of luck finding them.

The CALENDAR intrinsic format got workarounds for Y2K to allow it to run beyond 1999. The binary format allowed it, it was just a matter of formatting it.

An MPE master couldn't fix it "as is" unless they were to allow for some type of pivot date like was done for Y2K. Some say that's very unlikely to happen;  if it does, it would be a matter of changing the same code that was done for Y2K — with the possibility of invalidating any CALENDAR format dates that might still exist somewhere with dates older than whatever pivot date gets chosen.

Many in the 3000 community expect to be retired, along with the system itself, by and large, in 19 more January's. Here at the NewsWire offices we'll be nearing 70 and 80 years of age. It's certainly possible to live to see such a turnaround.

10:19 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 30, 2007

Encompass fishes for content, feeds stories

Encompass posted its call for presenters at this summer's HP Technology Forum this month, searching for expertise about HP 3000 management and strategy. While the Encompass call is across the board of 3000 operations, the user group's 2006 slate of MPE/iX talks revolved around migration experiences. There are far fewer resources spreading the homestead skills in the 3000 community, but Encompass still hopes to snare a few presenters teaching more than how to move off the platform.

The Encompass Web site offers a set of screens to describe any talk a 3000 expert can dream up. Giving a talk in Las Vegas in mid-June will earn the presenter a free pass to the rest of the event, including meals offered to attendees. The user group is holding its papers call open until Feb. 15.

More complete details for potential presenters are at the Encompass Web site. But that's also an Internet destination with a surprising collection of migration success stories and static reports on tools for moving off the platform, too. Finding it, however, requires a little inside knowledge.

In a location a bit buried under the blizzard of a Web site (a simple look under "Community" yields only the replays for Webcasts), Encompass has offered a set of Web pages to the SIG-Migrate Special Interest Group. SIG-Migrate promises to be vendor-agnostic. The practical definition of that, as shown in the Encompass pages, doesn't extend to recommendations or experience with non-HP platforms. But there's an impressive array of stories about success in moving off the 3000.

Our favorite is the set of links to vendor-supplied success stories, offered in their unfettered glory. The era of success swings back to 2002, but there's also content more current, too.

09:54 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 29, 2007

Seasoned hand takes an OpenMPE oar

Homesteading advocates on the OpenMPE board announced that Tracy Johnson steps into the open post this week on the board. Lund Performance powerhouse and well-connected fellow Bill Lancaster had to step down from the seat last year. The board has convinced Johnson to take up the rest of Lancaster's term, another two years' worth.

Johnson is well known as a source of deep 3000 experience and wry wit, both posted in public places such as the HP 3000 newsgroup/mailing list. He touts system experience from the pre PA-RISC days of 1984, using MPE IV, rather than iX. Measurement Specialties, a stalwart MANMAN shop, counts itself lucky to have him in its pool of able resources.

In August of 2005, part of HP was searching for an HP-UX version of the C compiler. The lab group in India had mislaid it. Johnson noted at the time, "If "Open-MPE" were out there, perhaps this [mailing list] could have helped. Too late now it seems."

Now the veteran is ready to be part of the future of the HP's end-game for the system.

"I'll endeavor to do my best for the duration of the appointment," Johnson said. Elections arrive in less than a month for OpenMPE, but Johnson's seat is not up for grabs.

As for the wit, it's bolstered by a long memory of the era of the 3000 manager. About 18 months ago, a 3000 newbie from another environment asked the 3000 community of the whereabouts of HP 3000 "admins." Johnson replied:

Admins? No such thing. We were either Managers or Operators, never Admins. We'd never stoop to that.

09:52 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 26, 2007

Why HP stays the Itanium course

HP and Intel have taken a lot of lumps for keeping up the hype on Itanium chips, the heart of Integrity servers that provide HP-UX a home for the future. Itanium's mission has shifted a lot since the heady days of the HP-Intel heralding. Once a candidate for market domination, the processor and its servers are now aimed at the enterprise — including HP 3000 replacements.

Processorplan But there's a strong attraction for Intel to continue with Itanium designs. The company has plenty planned, as can be seen by the chart at left. (Give it a click to pull up a version where the detail is legible.) But it will be sometime next year, at the soonest, before the chips attain compatibility with Xeon multiprocessor architecture — and so the x86 applications — according to the Intel schedule we saw at HP's Integrity road show. That will mean more applications to choose from, but only after a processor upgrade. Ah, the benefits of churn. Intel claims it's already got 80 percent of x86 marketplace, including a broad swath of HP Proliant systems running the Xeon chips.

Xeons are so popular that Apple uses them to power its Unix servers, the XServe models. Like just about everything from Intel these days, the Xeons have a dual core design. So what gives Itanium the secure place in the Intel futures, and by extension, a safe spot for future HP-UX releases? In a succinct phrase, the untapped billions that Intel hasn't snagged yet out of IT.

Intel told the tale at the Integrity road show, the same one that it presented at last year's HP Technology Forum: we don't even have 20 percent of the enterprise processor marketplace. Even HP's chip designs have a bigger footprint.

And by HP designs, we mean the PA-RISC CPUs driving systems like your HP 3000, the L-Class servers now standing in as new processing points for MPE/iX, and so much more. Not millions, but surely hundreds of thousands of servers in the enterprise run on PA-RISC.

Xeonvsitanium Intel says it's hungry for more share in a spot they don't dominate. $28 billion a year, by the company's estimates, goes toward systems that require enterprise-grade processing. Apparently that doesn't include many Windows systems, since Xeon and Windows have been joined at the hip. So Intel will chase an increased share of those billions. HP's designs that use Itanium 2 support electrical partitions for virtualization, according to Intel's Todd Phillips. That's an advantage HP will tout with its new Virtualization management software.

This month HP created a new software group within the Enterprise Servers and Storage group to hawk its most advanced virtualization. HP hasn't been shy about where the broadest virtualization will run, either: only on its Itanium-powered systems.

10:03 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 25, 2007

Migration leaves the familiar behind

Vista HP 3000 managers will get to observe a migration of a much larger community beginning next week, when Microsoft releases its Vista operating system. The successor to Windows XP has taken almost as long to emerge as the first generations of Itanium-based systems; Microsoft began design in 2001 for Vista; the first public release of an Itanium chip-powered system came more than five years after the hype started for the HP/Intel project.

Releases like Itanium and Vista hope to capture new business for their makers by increasing the feature sets of predcessors. Vista's primary improvement is better security; Itanium's chief advantage is faster computing speed at lower acquisition cost. Eventually, the Tukwilla designs of Itanium, to be used in the Integrity HP servers, will conserve power better than PA-RISC processors or even Itanium predecessors.

New designs always carry change as their baggage, however. With Vista, according to reports from this month's beta testers, peripherals have to be abandoned or upgraded, as is also the case with desktops running CPUs too weak to handle Vista's muscular features.

"Users wanting to run Vista on old systems will have to invest in enhancing memory,’’ said Ravi Swaminathan, vice-president personal systems group, HP India

Itanium, according to its detractors, will force the same kind of changes. Keen on the counting of cores available in the Integrity product line, HP's tally of applications hasn't kept up with the architecture's bright hardware future.

In a presentation at this year's Integrity Road Show, HP flashed a couple of screens at its audience, toting up both numbers: apps and cores. Counting cores makes a computer appear more muscular, much like the feature set of Vista:

Cores (Clicking on the screen above delivers a view large enough to show that core count.)

But those cores lay at the center of an architecture as different from PA-RISC and x86 apps as the advanced engineering could make it. HP's count on apps: 9,000, it said in November.

If your favorite is among them, you will enjoy the full power of Itanium. If not, the processing power might not match PA-RISC, because Itanium will have to do its emulation to run PA-RISC or x86 code.

This doesn't matter to the HP 3000 customer who's moved to Oracle, migrating applications written for IMAGE to a database like Eloquence, which nicely and most quickly takes full advantage of the Itanium differences.

The success stories for Integrity, for the moment, lay in these kinds of customers: those who either have found and count upon a high-profile (and sometimes high-cost) application off the shelf. Or, those who are bringing their 3000 apps to the brand-new, advanced ground of Itanium.

You will be making an investment in Itanium and Integrity if you're sticking with HP, just like you may make the investment in Vista if you are committed to Windows XP and its similarities to the new desktop environment.

But the day is changing on the desktop to a different standard. Applications which don't care about Windows vs. Mac vs. Vista are growing in popularity. And like the apps in the enterprise arena, these programs determine your future path — not the operating environment, or even the hefty hardware. The newer and better come with a cost measured beyond the bargains of entry-level Integrity models. Until those off-the-shelf enterprise apps rise in number, it's a migration trail best followed to Itanium.

08:24 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 24, 2007

Homesteaders: RAID your site for enhancement

By Gilles Schipper

Homesteading Editor

GSA Inc.


Attention all homesteaders!


In previous articles, I have mentioned various ways of enhancing the capabilities of your HP 3000 systems with very modest expenditures. They included the upgrading of your DDS2 or DDS3 tape drive to a DDS4 (DAT40) or even DDS5 (DAT72) to significantly reduce system backup times and improve reliability.


Also, I documented potential problems associated with seemingly innocuous DTCs, as well as methods for identifying such problems and corresponding solutions.


I have also delivered the details associated with the installation of a Secure Web Console (SWC). Costs for these very effective system enhancement solutions are either trivial or non-existent.


So now that you have all this spare cash burning a hole in your pocket, you should be in a position to spend a few of those dollars - and I do mean just a few - on a more elaborate project that further enhances the reliability and performance of your "obsolete" system.


Best of all, this project won’t require any fees for license upgrades.

Before suggesting how you could spend those spare funds, consider the options you have to improve your 3000.


Surely the most dramatic and effective way is to upgrade your box to a faster CPU - assuming you are not already at that high level.


Unfortunately, the costs associated with such an upgrade do not simply involve your new hardware acquisition costs. Expensive software license upgrades could be required - especially if Cognos or Speedware licenses are involved.


Unless you are running home-grown COBOL applications, you could be facing serious license upgrade costs. And even if not beholden to the 4GL license owners, your third-party utilities could be costly to conform to the new hardware from a licensing viewpoint.


The options described following do not require any license upgrades whatsoever.


For those of you that have not already done so, I refer to the replacement of your disk storage hardware with a corresponding disk sub-system that offers the superb protection of hardware RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).


I would also recommend this replacement for those that are utilizing HP 3000 Mirror/iX software - since Mirror/iX does not protect the MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET volume set and forces one to utilize user volume sets even if the situation does not otherwise warrant it.


(As an aside, I believe there is a place for user volume sets - but only in very specific and limited circumstances).


The main advantage of hardware RAID is that it offers excellent protection from disk failures and resulting data loss and time lost due to data recovery requirements. Chances are good that you are if you are a candidate to benefit from hardware RAID, your existing disk technology is relatively old and prone to failure as a result of years of use.


Let's face it, unlike a good wine, older HP 3000 hardware and its associated peripherals do not get better with age. Quite the contrary.


However, even if choosing a RAID technology that is also relatively old or obsolete, the nature of the technology itself affords you a great measure of protection from disk failures and corresponding data loss and downtime.


The choices you have that are quite inexpensive include the Nike Mod10 or Mod20, and the HP Autoraid 12H.


A higher-end RAID solution would be in the VA7000 family of products. A still more expensive solution would be one of the options from EMC.


Stay tuned for more details on specific implementation of many of these options in another article, soon.


Please visit www.gsainc.com for information on support options for your HP 3000 or 9000 systems.

02:34 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2007

Large Transaction Tip for HP 3000s

Is there a way to allow large transactions on the HP 3000?  I am getting an error message because the transactions I am trying to put into the TurboIMAGE database exceed the 4MB limit of the Transaction Manager.

Gilles Schipper of GSA replies:

You could try enabling the database for autodefer, as:

Log on as database creator, then

:dbutil
enable databaserootfilenamefor for autodefer
exit

This will effectively detach the database from the transaction manager.

You will run the risk (a very small one, I would think) of database corruption in the event of a system failure.

You could mitigate the risk by ensuring you have a good backup of this database prior to the execution of this high transaction volume batch job.

To later reverse the transaction manager detachment if you wish, simply

:dbutil
disable databaserootfilename for autodefer
exit

06:56 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 22, 2007

You bet, faster bits make a 9x9 difference

Customers might wonder what difference a faster network card could make on an older HP 3000. The Series 9x9s, called "K-Class" machines in the HP PA-RISC world, seem a prime candidate for such an investment.

To start, this faster card is cheaper than ever. HP used to charge a premium for moving from 10 megabits to 100 megabits. No more. Of course, you'll need to find it on the third party market. Not really a problem.

Tracy Johnson of the manufacturing site Measurement Specialties testified to the whether the upgrade earns its keep.

We added a 100mb card to our 959/KS400 several years ago and couldn’t do without it.

Given the promulgation of large bandwidth uses such as:

1) datasets are downloaded wholesale with ODBC; 
2) data-warehousing applications perform similarly;
3) client-server daemons (like XACTMAN) add a GUI, and 
4) FTP of entire backup files to other HP 3000s,

our old 10mb port just wouldn’t cut it. A useful retention of the 10mb port keeps our DTC alive, however.

03:04 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 19, 2007

Report: HP former chair offered plea to avoid felony

A pair of reports from the Associated Press and today's San Jose Mercury News say that HP's former chairman Patricia Dunn can get a way to ensure she won't be judged a felon — but only if she changes her plea to guilty.

The California criminal charges against Dunn, as well as former HP ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker and two others, are fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identity theft and conspiracy. All the defendants entered not guilty pleas in October, when they were indicted for their alleged participation in corporate spying on reporters, board members and family members of the press.

The deal on the table, from California's new Attorney General Jerry Brown, would make Dunn and Hunsaker plead guilty to one misdemeanor each, according to the published reports. The AP reported that Stephen Naratil, the lawyer for Bryan Wagner —the low-level investigator on HP's boardroom probe who's already turned state's evidence on the case — said the plea bargain is on the table.

HP has already paid the state of California $14.5 million in a fine to stop civil litigation. The monies  will help fund state investigation of more corporate privacy violations.

The four defendants, including the two former HP executives, made a settlement talk appearance on Wednesday. They are scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 28 to set dates for preliminary hearings.

Both the lawyer for Dunn and the lawyer for Hunsaker have said their clients won't accept any plea bargains in the case.

11:53 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 18, 2007

Migration performance, cast on Web's stone

Although it's been given for many years now, the most updated version of "Performance of Migrated HP 3000 Applications" is finally available as a downloadable Webcast. Kevin Cooper of HP's performance lab (and a key resource for 3000 performance measurement for many years) gave this talk at conferences from 2004 through 2006. Last fall Cooper did his show for Encompass.

The user group offers the Webcast as part of its membership package. It's a reasonable deal at $90, including some discounts at this summer's June HP Technology Forum in Las Vegas.

Members can replay the December Webcast on demand from the Encompass archives in the members-only section of the Web site:

http://www.encompassus.org/events/Webcasts/archives.cfm

But you need to become an Encompass member to watch Cooper's talk about what to expect and plan for while migrating. We covered his talk in the 3000 NewsWire blog during 2005, as well as what the user community had to offer, but the details of the slides and Cooper's comments, consumed from your office, seem to be worth the membership.

An Encompass ID and password are required to access this educational programming. If you forgot your Encompass ID, you can reset it at: http://www.encompassus.org/source/Library/FindPword.cfm?section=home&start=1

Encompass reminds the HP 3000 community, and others

A small investment of $90 offers these and other career enhancing benefits:

- Members-only $200 registration discount for HP Technology Forum & Expo 2007   
- 2007 HP Technology Forum proceedings DVD   
- Priority Webcast seating   
- On-demand Webcast library   
- Encompass-affiliated Local User Groups   
- HP customers Worldwide Survey    

11:46 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 17, 2007

Staying old to stay reliable

Contrary to what is preached by some 3000 experts, there's a school of thought that says older is better, if you want to keep your HP 3000 running as long as possible. Some customers will consider their migration deadline to be the last day their HP 3000 cannot boot up anymore, or when the 2027 CALENDAR intrinsic rears its head and makes a muddle of dates on MPE/iX.

If you know you're that kind of customer, ever careful with the budget but mindful of uptime, staying older — in generations of equipment, anyway — could make your survival simpler. A modern-day vendor of 3000 printers might subscribe to that theory, considering the recent offer from Printer Systems International.

Me, I turn to a five-year-old piece of advice, minted just months after HP said it would stop its 3000 operations. Wayne Boyer of Cal-Logic, holding forth on older printers compatible with many a 3000, said

Continuing to use somewhat older equipment makes servicability EASIER!  It’s hard for us in the used equipment business to have all the newest items in stock and even harder to justify cannibalizing something very new. A unit that is a few years old that is a common piece of equipment is going to be easy to support with used spare parts. Thus it is also going to be cheap to support.

Boyer got to a few specifics, circa 2002. "Right now LJ-4Si printers for example, are a great bargain. Lots of printing horsepower with minimal cost compared to new alternatives."

On that topic, a resource for printers compatible with HP 3000 financial and billing applications announced a 2007 deal. Printer Systems International posted this message to 3000 users a few weeks ago:

PSi is still manufacturing and supporting the PSi P405 printer for 2007. The P405 is fully compatible with the HP2934 and HP2235 Rugged Writer printers for use with the HP3000 system. The P405 comes standard with Centronics Parallel, RS232 and RS422 interfaces and has Ethernet as an option.

In addition to the HP emulations, the P405 has other resident emulations, that make it compatible with most other computer systems, in the event your plans include migrating from the HP3000 in the near future. The money spent on P405’s won’t be wasted.

From now until February 29, 2007, PSi-US is offering users a 20 percent discount from MSRP for P405’s (HP emulation) purchased with standard or Ethernet interfaces. These P405 printers include a two year depot warranty.

See the P405 at www.psi-us.net and contact PSi-US at 800-901-1946 to discuss your application.

10:38 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 16, 2007

Bradmark product bolsters Sybase database

Bradmark Technologies, a company still offering HP 3000 IMAGE/SQL utility DBGENERAL, has announced Surveillance 3.0.6, the company's tracking system for Sybase databases. The new release extends support for Sybase’s Replication Server by including latency monitoring within Surveillance. There is also support for Sybase Mirror Activator, a feature that when used with EMC storage, allows for immediate switchover to a backup database.

Surveillance Bradmark’s real-time monitors will display historical information as well. The history of this database alternative to Oracle, SQL Server and IBM's DB2 is nearly as interesting. Ten years ago Sybase was the number one contender to Oracle. Five years ago the company had slipped to "the fourth place contender in a three party contest."

But the database company has avoided the fate of Informix, acquired by IBM, and even earned an IT Week spot in the “Top 100 Vendors of 2006” for its leadership in database management technology. Bradmark has invested a good share of its future in the Sybase community, even while maintaining a place in the HP 3000 toolset.

And what of the relevance of Sybase in the future of IT choices, given that four other SQL options have greater adoption among the migrating 3000 customer? Even Eloquence, the option from Marxmeier Software that works like IMAGE/SQL and includes a migration tool from 3000 databases counts a bigger installed base of former 3000 customers.

Sybase is healthy, having posted its largest-ever operating margin for a second quarter during 2006. But a 2005 survey of market share ranked the database as fifth overall with 3 percent of share, behind IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and NCR's Teradata.

Whatever the pickup rate among 3000 sites, Bradmark is aiming its arrows at what some might call the fifth leading alternative solution among 3000 users, and perhaps fourth largest in the overall IT market. Online database news provider DBTA quoted Bradmark's vice president of technical services Tom Callaghan, as saying "We have made a strategic commitment to be a top strategic partner to Sybase.”

Sybase solutions run on HP's Unix, other Unix implementations, Windows and Linux. Those are the short list of destinations for HP 3000 sites doing a migration or transition (looking for an off-the-shelf solution to replace MPE/iX apps.)

04:52 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 15, 2007

HP-paid PI guilty in spying scandal

The first domino in the chain of alleged lawbreakers on HP's pretexting scandal pleaded guilty late last week. But 29-year-old Bryan Wagner is expected to deliver evidence to federal prosecutors that could lead to the convictions of other, higher-ranking investigators and HP officials. Former HP chairman Patricia Dunn and former HP ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker are also charged in the scandal.

Wagner, whose lawyer was quoted in an Associated Press story as saying his client "felt used" in the spying scandal, will be testifying for the prosecution in the upcoming trial, according to his lawyer Stephen Narati.

The five defendants in the case, including Dunn and Hunsaker, next appear in court on Jan. 17.

Wagner, described as a lowest-level investigator, broke privacy laws while gathering social security numbers of reporters in the 2005-2006 HP boardroom probe. His sentencing, scheduled for June, did not include a plea agreement — a sign that this small pawn had secured his own freedom in exchange for information about the others charged in the scandal.

The AP reported that Wagner was an independent contractor in the chain of investigators helping HP seal up boardroom leaks to the press. The operation, which resulted in the resignations of directors Tom Perkins and George Keyworth, has already cost HP more than $14 million in fines.

U.S. Attorney Mark Krotoski said Wagner was hired by Matthew DePante of Florida-based Action Research Group to unearth the telephone records and distribute them to other unnamed coconspirators. DePante paid Wagner an unspecified amount and provided him with the Social Security numbers, Krotoski said.

Wagner, Depante and three others were charged in October in California court with four felony counts each of conspiracy, fraud and identity theft for their alleged roles in the HP spying scandal.

HP's Hunsaker directed the probe. HP allegedly paid Ronald DeLia, a longtime HP security contractor who runs a Boston-area detective firm called Security Outsourcing Solutions, to tap phone records. DeLia  allegedly contracted the work out to DePante’s firm.

09:33 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 12, 2007

Some apps are on Mac, if you look

The MacWorld Expo floor had a section dedicated to Enterprise and Small Business applications and tools. Inside the thicket of kiosks stood OpenMFG — which veterans of the 3000 community might remember as an alternative to the ASK/MANMAN solution.

At one point just a few years back OpenMFG was approached by Speedware, according the president, and asked if they wanted to be part of the Speedware acquisition. The CEO passed, he said, because the Speedware open source commitment didn't seem to meet his standards.

OpenMFG runs off of the Postgres database, found on Linux, Windows and the Mac's OS/X. Not surprisingly, those are the three platforms where about 60 companies and 100 installations run OpenMFG. It's about 40-40 percent on Windows and OS/X, and 20 percent Linux

The open source dedication shines through in the company's development strategy. Change of apps is almost essential in the ERP space, and OpenMFG handles the task by assembling small groups of its customers and getting them to work with the vendor's development team. This drives down the cost of customizations.

Also of interest is the OpenMFG blog erpgraveyard.com. The company's CEO Ned Lilly has tracked nearly every enterprise-grade ERP solution on the graveyard scorecard, with a tombstone awarded each time a solution gets acquired.

As you might expect, MANMAN is abreast of the leaders in the graveyard, since the app has been around since the 1970s. It's got four tombstones, lined up the vast Infor section. Infor has scooped up more than dozen ERP apps. Lots of these apps have fewer than 100 customers left — heck, MANMAN probably doesn't have much more than 200.

ERP running on Mac Unix servers? Sure, with some customers running as much as $75 million a year of manufacturing.

02:37 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 11, 2007

An A-Class option for Unix migration?

This week I've been reporting and researching the Apple aspect of Unix enterprise computing, working from the annual MacWorld Expo and Conference in San Francisco. While all of the front page buzz has been about the iPhone — a product whose name Apple doesn't even own yet, according to Cisco — there is a redoubled effort here to bring Apple's enterprise Unix solution up to IT management standards.

More plainly put, the Fear of Cupertino (FOC), a phrase used by an Apple support rep here, can be overcome. "You have to come in humble to the IT department," he said, "if you want your servers to be included in the corporate plans."

If that sounds a lot like the situation you have faced in getting your HP 3000s integrated into a Windows-heavy or HP-UX slated environment, then you might sympathize. These managers here in the IT part of the conference believe in the superiority of their enterprise solution — just as much as the 3000 customer believes in MPE/iX.

They even could be seen lining up in front of microphones, a la Interex roundtables, to plead for better big-company support from Apple. Their vendor has a $4,200 a month support plan at the top of the heap of service options, a number equivalent to HP-UX support from HP.

As its entry into the enterprise Unix derby, Apple offers XServe systems, priced with unlimited user licenses starting at $2,999. Management of said servers is far more intutive, using Apple's interface — just in case, like many 3000 experts, you are learning Unix admin skills as part of your migration. HP-UX guru Bill Hassell said that GUIs as admin interfaces were for wimps. But there are seasoned HP 3000 pros out there who don't have time, during a migration, to wade into another set of command lines.

We promised some time ago to research and poke into every option for a 3000 shop moving off their platform. Apple's got robust hardware, based on Xeon processors, as well as a Unix implementation that's been through more than six years of maturation. Support, however, is still an evolving element, especially for the larger shops. How big? Some managers in a MacIT session yesterday talked of supporting 2,500 to 5,000 desktop clients, along with the Unix servers to supply data and application interchange.

Is this big enough or mature enough to give a 3000 migration customer reason to look into Apple as an option. As is often the case, it depends on application availability. This has been a consumer-based Expo, full of $39 programs. But we have tracked down a few examples of apps a 3000 shop might need. These are the kinds of applications you could find on a A-Class HP 3000, serving an enterprise of $50 million a year or less.

Victoria Finch of T-Rex Software stood in front of the three-foot-wide kiosk yesterday morning. She had clever marketing materials, like a mylar business card and magnetic dinosaur tracks, along with a letter-sized color brochure touting the merits of her software. So far, so good; HP 3000 vendors have arrived on the Interex floor with nothing so sophisticated.

Finch brought passion for her product, too. It works in the K-12 marketplace, but not at the school district level. T-Rex is sold to the school principal who wants better information to use in his local community: the parents and businesses who raise funds for public elementary, middle and high schools.

Could T-Rex step in for the Student/3000 program from QSS, the leading K-12 application on the 3000, one that’s headed to Linux very soon? Not on your life, nor is it something that Finch sees in the near future. But it’s an adjunct to a full, district-wide K-12 app. Surround code on the 3000 does this work now, in some cases.

Finch is a school volunteer with good graphics skills and experience in building on top of Filemaker, the de-facto standard for client and small server sized Macs. “I believe in public schools,” she told me. At Roscome Road Elemenary School, the administrators and teachers and parents enjoy allergy alerts, detailed rosters for classrooms and faculty, financial detail and a business-to-business directory.

She also calls her work “the ultimate fundraising machine,” producing pledge forms, deposit slips and donation reporting for parents and school administration.

T-Rex functions might not be handled by existing school administration systems. If you’re going to migrate away from the HP 3000, it’s easier to sell if you get more functionality on the new platform. This app is not enterprise-grade unless you consider a school to be an enterprise. But it’s not anything like a spreadsheet or a drawing program or even a small business accounting program.

Finch is not close to knowing how much her app will cost; Filemaker invited her to exhibit after installing the app at Roscome in a free pilot. There are companies like hers and bigger making the Mac into a business platform. You could do worse to choose a Unix system with a murkier future, one where open source is not key and vendor lock-in is still key to the investment.

Manufacturing, one of the 3000’s heartland apps, is another kind of target for migrating customers. A name from the 3000’s salad days was on the floor at a similar-sized kiosk, too, selling an ERP solution. More on that more traditional app tomorrow, reported from a place many 3000 managers probably haven’t considered yet.

03:49 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 10, 2007

Hospice that delivers options

The end of life can be a harrowing time or a peaceful transition. Comfort plays a part in the type of ending for your experience, whether that experience is as vital as life itself, or relatively less crucial events like turning off your company's HP 3000.

One way to comfort is hospice, a concept some of us know as loving care with little hope of recovery. Hospice is behind the Idea Computer VM 9 offering, the one we described in yesterday's blog entry. VM 9 makes non-3000 PA-RISC processors looks and act like HP 3000s — but MPE/iX systems with extra horsepower, unfettered processors, as well as connectivity which HP didn't bring to the 3000 community. SCSI runs faster, for example, on a L-Class PA-RISC system.

One kind of customer might look at the VM 9 offering and see a company trying to keep HP from accomplishing its goals for the 3000 community: the safe and timely migrations of the 3000 customer to a platform with a brighter future in HP's vision. But like anything in this life, the virtual machine offering for the 3000 customer can be viewed from another perspective.

Ideal, it seems to me, is using its exclusive technology to modify PA-RISC stable storage, with the goal of helping customers get to the end of life for their 3000s' missions. The difference is comfort.

As explained to me by Ideal COO Steve Pirie, customers have little budget for investing in another, bigger HP 3000 to keep up with the mission-critical work while their migration projects amble toward completion. No matter what the price of a refurbished, second-hand 3000, the cost to acquire another capital asset can be a budget buster for a certain size of 3000 site.

These sites are among the chief targets for the VM 9 solution. Death with dignity is the mantra for both the overall hospice concept, as well as the end of HP's lie for the 3000 business. "Death with dignity to an old friend" was the complete phrase Pirie used last summer, when Ideal began to talk about its Generic REplacement Boxes, the genesis for the VM 9 solution. Over the course of a winding drive into the East Bay area, to an office hard by the I-880 freeway, he told enough stories of the 3000's yesteryears to earn his marks as a friend to the community.

He's been through the challenges and battles of offering third party support for the 3000 during the 1980s. It was a time when the vendor often tried to sue or slow down legitimate businesses who wanted their piece of the often-profitable support busines.

Does a friend take a hand in the decline of a long admired player like the HP 3000? Sometimes, if they have concern for the comfort and dignity of that decline.

I asked, "Could these VM 9 solutions last five years?" Pirie said yes.

"Ten years?" He didn't hesitate. "Yes, they could."

So what's the difference between offering hardware solutions that long — 2017 is only 10 years away from the true finish line for the 3000, 2027 and the expiration of the CALENDAR intrinsic — and just selling to offer comfort?

"If we hear from the customer that they don't believe the 3000 is going away? If they say yes, we walk out," Pirie said. That's hospice. "It means you're going to be comfortable for the rest of your life."

07:44 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 09, 2007

Thanks to Unix, MPE lives in comfort

Unix systems from HP now play their part to extend the comfort of using MPE/iX. HP didn't modify the PA-RISC hardware models of HP 9000s much to create HP 3000s. Ideal Computers is using these near-identical versions of HP-built hardware to give 3000 customers a way to get the MPE/iX systems HP would never build.

Remember the L-Class PA-RISC servers? Probably not very well, unless your job description included managing HP 9000 systems. The L-Class was more powerful and flexible than the K-Class systems, on the way to the N-Class but more affordable. The ones the 3000 market knew as 9x9s. People in the 3000 community asked for an L-Class 3000, but HP never built one.

Except that the vendor never really closed the door on using an L-Class server as an MPE/iX system. At least not in the realm of technical possibility. The only thing that was missing was booting an L-Class into MPE/iX, a process HP never released. Working with the in-house toolbox of its own SSEDIT software, deploys a "VM 9"  program to customers to enable that boot-up. Yesterday at a facility in the East Bay Area, I watched an L-Class system become an HP 3000, booting through an ISL prompt to one where :HELLO made sense to the server.

Ideal  has created a class of PA-RISC server which the company's Steve Pirie calls a virtual machine. VM 9, he says with a smile, inviting us to consider what the Roman numeral for 9 might look like. Oh yeah. He didn't say it, but that's IX.

People always want to know, when they hear about this new option, "is it legal?" It has been as legal as it needs to be for some HP 3000 customers, which has included pretty good-sized companies. With HP in the thick of virtualization offerings of its own — you can slice and dice up Itanium processors in the Integrity machines to run concurrent instances of HP-UX, Linux, Windows and OpenVMS — the Ideal solution serves up another kind of virtual machine. The kind that takes a low-cost used system and boots it up as either an HP 9000, or an HP 3000, so customers can make a box like an L-Class take on either personality.

It works because SSEDIT, which powers the VM 9 software, is an invention of Ideal's (well, Advant's before it merged with Ideal). And none of this software is SS_CONFIG, HP's proprietary personality-changing program that was at the heart of all those lawsuits and criminal charges in 1999 and 2000.

You need your own copy of MPE/iX to make Ideal's L-Class servers work as 3000s. The reach of that MPE/iX license was defined by HP as "the HP 3000 it arrived on," or "another 3000 system which HP authorized a transfer to." Ideal is selling customers on a more current definition of the MPE/iX license: A PA-RISC server at a company which already has an HP 3000 — and has no plans to use that 3000 system anymore, but will run on a virtual machine.

"If you're an HP 3000 customer, then you have paid [MPE] support [since you bought your HP 3000]," said  Pirie, the COO of Ideal. "You were entitled to go to to 6.0, 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5 releases. If you paid support on the day that any of this stuff was released, we figure you're allowed to use it. This whole thing about virtual machines makes this possible. If you have the legal right to run [MPE/iX] on your old box, VM 9 allows it to run it on a new piece of hardware."

It's the virtual part of the Ideal solution, using VM 9, that clears the path, according to Pirie. "Have there ever been any discussions about what it takes to run MPE/iX on a virtual machine? No. Can there be a discussion? Yes, anything HP can do anything it wants to do will affect the future — but it's not going to affect past licenses of MPE/iX. Past licenses have never discussed virtual machines."

The solution that Ideal, Pirie and "Captain GREB" offers gives a customer a way to rent a package of server, VM 9 and disk array, all for a fee by the month between $500 and $5,000. The hardware is never sold, unlike the old model in the 3000 market where a system sale carried an MPE/iX license along. In this model, the customer brings the MPE/iX they already have paid support for, and Ideal brings everything else. Including things like eight-processor HP 3000s, running their CPUs at full speed.

Why do this at all? Pirie says that it's not to deprive HP of sales dollars of 3000s, obviously. But it's not even to extend the life of the 3000. It's "death with dignity," he says, the Hospice 3000 program. But that's for tomorrow.

11:07 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 08, 2007

Developing PowerHouse migration tools

Even as Speedware announced its new alliance with old rival Cognos to help PowerHouse customers migrate, the Cognos development team was at work to create tools to help. Word recently surfaced on the PowerHouse mailing list about a new Cognos program, QKView, which transforms PowerHouse Quick screens to an interface ready for the Windows version of PowerHouse.

Quick Developer Ken Langendock has been working alongside Cognos developers to do a migration using QKView since March of last year.

"I have had the luxury of working with Bob Deskin and the developers at Cognos for the past 10 months as I have been migrating and developing with QKView," Langendock said.

He added that he hopes this project "helps in dismissing the current discussion that Cognos' [development tools division] is dying, abandoned or whatever.

Some Cognos customers believe that the lack of visibility for PowerHouse is a sign the product will fade from the vendor's future strategies. But Langendock notes that the new product (shown in a before and after at left; click for more detailed shots of the screens) permits an application to "1) Have function keys in Windows; 2) Use a mouse on the function keys on Windows; 3) Cut and Paste text from and to fields; 4) Embed your company logo on the top of the application; 5) Change the font/colors; 6) Size the window like any other windows app."

QkviewSome customers have responded to Langendock's revelation; he said he learned he could talk openly about the product, which he says is scheduled for an April or May release. They said the "invisibility" of PowerHouse says much more than any one product scheduled for the 8.41E release. The senior product manager for PowerHouse countered those comments with a list of supported databases, as well as Cognos' plans for expanding the functionality of PowerHouse.

"The biggest issue is the invisibility of Powerhouse," said Darren Reely. "Most IS-type people seem to have never heard of it, and that is reflected in the job market. For those that have heard of it and try finding it on the Cognos site, they would be better off using Google than the Cognos front page, which I have always found to be a horrific statement of Cognos corporate support."

Bob Deskin, product manager for PowerHouse, assured the PowerHouse community that development continues apace for the language once only second to COBOL among HP 3000 applications.

What follows is a summary of the supported environments for PowerHouse 4GL and PowerHouse Web 8.4E and Axiant 4GL 3.4E. Note that in some cases, not all supported database versions are available on all operating system versions. This is current as of today but is subject to change depending on what the various vendors release.

8.49E – MPE/iX – HPe3000
- MPE/iX 6.5 Express 2, 7.0, and 7.5
- IMAGE, KSAM, KSAM XL, KSAM 64, MPE
- ALLBASE/SQL

8.40E – OpenVMS – Alpha
- OpenVMS 7.3-2, 8.2, and 8.3
- RMS & RMS ISAM
- Oracle 9i (9.2.0) and 10g (10.2.0)
- Oracle Rdb 7.1 and 7.2

8.40E – OpenVMS – Itanium
- OpenVMS 8.2-1 and 8.3
- RMS & RMS ISAM
- Oracle 10g (10.2.0)
- Oracle Rdb 7.2

8.43E – HP-UX – HP9000 PA-RISC
- HP-UX 11i V1 and 11i V2
- Eloquence B.07.00 and B.07.10
- Omnidex 3.8.0

8.43E – HP-UX – Itanium
- HP-UX 11i V2

8.43E – AIX – RS/6000 and pSeries
AIX 5L 5.2 and 5.3

8.43E – Solaris - SunSPARC
Solaris 8 (2.8), 9 (2.9), and 10

8.43E - UNIX (HP-UX, AIX, Solaris)
- UNIXIO
- C-ISAM 7.25
- Image Emulators using the Eloquence interface (these are tested by the third party vendors)
- Oracle 9i (9.2.0) and 10g (10.2.0)
- Sybase ASE 12.5 (12.5.0) and 15.0 (15.0)
- DB2 8.2 and 9 (via 8.2 client)
- DataDirect 5.1 to SQL Server 2000 and 5.2 ODBC to SQL Server 2000 and 2005

8.41E/3.4E – Windows – Intel X86 32 bit and 64 bit
- Windows 2000 SP4, XP Pro SP2, 2003 Server Release 2, 2003 Server Release 2 x64
- DISAM96
- Eloquence B.07.00 and B.07.10
- Image Emulators using the Eloquence interface (these are tested by the third party vendors)
- Omnidex 3.8.0
- Oracle 9i (9.2.0) and 10g (10.2.0)
- Sybase ASE 12.5 (12.5.0) and 15.0 (15.0)
- DB2 8.2 and 9 (via 8.2 client)
- SQL Server 2000 and 2005 (via ODBC)
- SQL Anywhere 9.0 (via ODBC)

Enhancements planned for the E release of PowerHouse 4GL

Windows related

- QKView - QUICK GUI for Windows - like a terminal emulator
- NOCONSOLE option for RUN COMMAND in QUICK suppresses opening another console window
- QUICK function keys
- TIC and DFK support in QKGO
- Subfile location cleaned up

Relational related
- ITEM OMIT option in QUICK and QTP for read-only columns to handle databases that don't return this information
- bulkfetch program parameter to provide some tuning for fetch
- autodetach program parameter for Sybase
- Oracle external procedure (user defined function) support

Migration related
- PHTEMPKEEP environment variable to allow temporary subfiles to be kept for batch compiles
- LOGONID for ASCs in PDL on UNIX
- ETOP utility provides the same functionality as ITOP but for Eloquence on UNIX and Windows

Additional features
- Reverse read for RMS ISAM on OpenVMS
- QUIZ report line size limit increased to 32,767
- IA64 and PARISC conditional compile parameters
- reuse_screen_buffers program parameter to help performance in some cases

And, for PowerHouse Web

Administrator
- UI cleanup
- Drag and Drop in Application Properties and on the PHCGI tab
- Ability to write PHCGI configuration files locally for subsequent copying to the target location

Layout related
- Fields with errors can be identified using a specified character or string (which can include HTML)
- Error messages can include the field label or heading instead of the field name
- The remaining embedded text strings can be translated using SET options
- A default style sheet can be specified as a SET option
- The horizontal line can be suppressed
- The buttons can be positioned above or below the data fields (you can already turn the buttons off)
- The message line can be positioned above or below the data fields

Processing related
- Multiple error messages can be generated if needed
- A WEBEXIT procedure is available
- A DEFER LINKPAGE can be reset or stopped on an error condition
- The content type header can be specified as a SET option

Dispatcher related
- The Dispatcher restart interval can be set to a specific start time plus interval
- A new two-way routing Dispatcher provides specific ports into and out of a firewall

12:06 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 05, 2007

Early notice of the next 3000 show

Ghrug_banner Undaunted and determined, the Greater Houston Regional User Group (GHRUG) has plans for an HP 3000 show in 2007, despite grappling with a challenge to draw big numbers on short notice for its show in November of 2006.

We'll admit to an insider's view on this story — since after that conference I joined the GHRUG board of directors. (Behind that banner is Bill Hassell, Ann Howard, Charles Johnson, your correspondent, and the sparkplug of the 2006 event, Judy Reustle.) When there's only one arrowhead flying toward a target of 3000 customers, you want to be part of the wood behind that arrow.

While some of our readers puzzle over that metaphor (there's one conference for the 3000 this year; I wanted to help), I'll spill the beans a bit by noting the show for '07 will be earlier, based on provisional plans for the first-rate venue used last year. The University of Houston Clear Lake campus is easy to get to, has ample low-cost lodging nearby, and provides auditorium and breakout spaces as big and modern as any at a much larger, less 3000-specific show.

For now, mark your calendars for the weekend of Sept. 15. That's a full three months after HP's Technology Forum in Las Vegas this year. The Tech Forum offered a much smaller lineup of 3000 talks last fall, making it a very different training destination.

Considering that budget-minded Southwest Airlines — still an HP 3000 shop, by the way — serves the closest Houston airport (Hobby) with an ample flight schedule, travel costs should be more than reasonable. Being 30 minutes between downtown Houston and the Galveston beaches makes a Clear Lake hotel a bargain, especially if you've been confronted with rates like those in the Bay Area.

It's my opinion, but a survey might show that a big reason for the 2006 lack of participation might turn out to be a lack of details and notice about the event — far enough in advance to loosen up travel dollars, speaker commitments and training monies. First notice came in March, but conference registration didn't open until late September, just about seven weeks before the event.

The board is going to make the cost to attend in 2007 easy to work into a budget, so customers can get themselves in the door for the training they will want. Vendors will be a key element in gathering the community in Texas.

The board has plans to make the only HP 3000 conference in 2007 a better-attended event. Having been to what was a great conference this past November, I can't believe GHRUG needs to improve the 3000 content much. Alfredo Rego. Bill Hassell (for those 3000 managers learning the expert tricks of HP-UX). Gilles Schipper. Birket Foster. Charles Finley of SCRUG fame. Plus folks from migration-tested companies like Speedware and Acucorp.

We are thinking, perhaps, to include some non-3000 training that the 3000 manager will need  -- because, quite frankly, most of you are doing more than just tending to your 3000 and its apps.

We hope to see all of you there.

10:12 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 04, 2007

The Benefits of Vendors of Tomorrow

Second of two parts

Once HP decided to drop the database connectivity tool ODBCLink SE from its new IMAGE/SQL licenses, the move offered a spark to create business for a replacement. HP 3000s still have at least several years to act in mission-critical roles. ODBCLink SE has only basic support available from HP, and no future at all as a bundled product for 3000s.

Now this change in HP's offerings gives MB Foster a chance to sell a full product to the entire HP 3000 customer base. At the least, all those sites where IMAGE/SQL connects to desktop clients, and within that group, the gang of customers which need a database link with a future. HP's giving up on ODBC Link SE.

Customers will need a replacement — at least those who have ODBC connections in a mission-critical role. The ODBCLink creators have a full-featured upgrade, MBF-UDALink, a product which ties in to other UDA offerings from the vendor. This is a level of data connectivity that HP was loath to offer to 3000 customers in a bundle. Not when third parties like MB Foster could do it so comprehensively.

Third parties built products robust enough to keep HP's development costs down in the 1990s,  just a fortunate byproduct for the 3000 division back when it was a real division. In the era of a virtual division, as the 3000 group now calls itself, such cost-cutting is even more crucial to the HP mothership.

So MB Foster's UDA family gets the spotlight for the coming year, because it comes from a vendor with an eye on the future of the 3000 customer as well as stewardship of present needs. Straddling the line into tomorrow, with a customer base working in the present, appears to be a genuine benefit in this kind of vendor. These Tommorow Vendors are seemingly modeled for the 3000's Transition Era.

While MB Foster engages 3000 shops in sustainability studies and migration projects, “We have to point out to the 3000 customers that the people on the Windows side of their IT operations are going to take up the budget making ‘last buys’,” he said, the purchases of 32-bit desktop and server systems before Microsoft’s new Windows server plans erase those options.

“They decide that the new Windows server platform is hot stuff, so they go buy a bunch of it — or they decide the new platform is different, so they [stock up] and let it settle down for a bit. It all depends on your tolerance for risk.”

MB Foster has released enhancements to its UDACentral and UDASynch solutions this year, the latest generation of products expanded and extended from their DataExpress functionality base.

UDASynch was the focus of the majority of the enhancements in the company’s summertime 2006 release. Customers are discovering that synching their exiting IMAGE database with an SQL database can ease their transition and provide a solid test environment for converted code and screens.

New features available for UDASynch include a full database name check to the analysis tool, a memory reuse function, a new debug option to convert XML to a binary file, the ability to search a table list using the IMAGE database name, a feature to automatically create backup files when the backup file is full and a feature to call DBGET with '@' list if DBPUT is called with partial list.

At the same time, an updated version of UDACentral serves up new ability to migrate Image to Eloquence with Eloquence Tools; support for batch update in both the GUI and command line; Enhanced transfer speeds by reducing synchronized/conditional dumps; and new support for autocommit on/off and level in the GUI/runner command line. Complete listings of the latest software are at the company’s Web site.

The larger message here is that while HP rolls up the sidewalks in its 3000 campus, third parties like Foster's company press on with new features and a bridge to other platforms.

01:52 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 03, 2007

MB Foster takes over for HP ODBC labs

First of two parts

In a world where HP maintains its earnings growth through cost cutting, the HP 3000 group continues to recede its operations. On January 1 several HP 3000 subsystems and database tools fell from HP's support and sales lists. While Java/iX officially went into the "unsupported" category, the ODBCLink SE software — created by MB Foster in 1994 and bundled and maintained as part of the 3000's Fundamental Operating System since 1995 — won't be bundled with new license purchases of IMAGE/SQL or Allbase/SQL.

HP is stepping away from the 3000 in small increments, steps that give third parties a chance to take on business the vendor has always taken for itself. The ODBC link between Windows clients and the IMAGE database became a third party tool long ago, in the days when the 3000's IMAGE database  grew up enough to join the rest of the world's desktop-linked databases.

MB Foster took the contract and relationship  with the HP database labs to provide a  fundamental version of its ODBCLink product. The SE version always lacked the full feature list of ODBCLink, a product that has grown up so much MB Foster calls it MBF-UDALink today (the letters standing for Universal Data Access). But many 3000 sites got along with the bundled ODBCLink SE and took their support calls to HP. The vendor sent the questions it could not answer to MB Foster's lab, then reported back the answers. At times, MB Foster communicated directly with 3000 sites which had no MBF product except the SE version of ODBC link.

Why is this important to a marketplace which, quite frankly, won't see many new copies of IMAGE/SQL or Allbase/SQL shipped? MB Foster will try to ride the nudge the HP unbundling will offer, selling a complete version of UDALink to the ODBC SE sites. HP is providing basic phone support for the SE version of the software. But the writing is on the wall: It's time this third party take over a mission-critical part of the 3000's database toolbelt.

MB Foster CEO Birket Foster pointed out the benefits of using UDALink versus the bundled ODBCLink SE, including access to KSAM files and use of PowerHouse dictionaries.  More important is to get onto a product with a future, including functionality on non-3000 environments.

"People can move to something that will give them a supported product, one where we just did a release in May of 2006," Foster said. "We're continuing to grow the product and make it work in the real world."

These days the real world is about to include Microsoft's Vista on the desktop, as well as Windows XP software whose underlying ODBC engines (called the JetEngine inside Microsoft-savvy labs) has been through three generations already. Access to Windows apps is no small matter with such churn in Microsoft's designs.

What's more, the MB Foster UDALink works on HP-UX and Linux hosts, so if a transition plan calls for a move to those environments an IT staff has one less thing to learn.
Capturing this business from HP's bundle involves a low-cost upgrade for the 3000 site that relies on ODBCLink. MB Foster's program will allow these customers to upgrade to UDALink  for a $500 charge plus the cost of the annual License-to-Use fee.

Customers who use UDALink on their HP 3000s can get a special license transfer onto the HP-UX version of the product — which like the MPE/iX version, supports Oracle, Eloquence and DB2 databases.  Customers can run the two versions in parallel, Foster said, for as long as they want to, a benefit to the migrating customer looking for thorough testing of database access.

UDALink also provides up-to-date JDBC access, something HP bundled as well — but obviously won't be getting much attention since HP's dropping 3000 Java/iX support.

The opportunity to move customers to the full database connectivity tool has been there for MB Foster for many years. HP's exit from this market, though, gives the customers a good reason for making a move that will prepare them for a future without HP support, or without an HP 3000.

That scenario will repeat itself over and over during 2007, a period that looks like a crossover year for a significant portion of the 3000 community. We'll look closer at those prospects tomorrow, to shed some light on what kind of vendor will be there to help a 3000 site make its transition.

08:42 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 02, 2007

Top Stories of 2007

After taking a day of rest from reporting and commentary, we're returning to the scene today with a look forward rather than back at your HP 3000 community.

(So you'll know, January 1 will always be an R&R day for us at the 3000 NewsWire. Almost every other holiday is not observed worldwide. But the start of a new year  — at least by all standards other than Chinese, Jewish, or Buddhist — crosses nearly every culture and political geographies. Just recall the video of celebrations around the world. In short, nearly all of our readers treat January 1 as a special day, the beginning of something new.)

Today you may be full of ideas and resolutions for 2007, ranging from revised schedules for transition to redoubled promises to surf the 'Net less and practice personal communication more regularly, Whatever your resolutions, they'll get altered by more than your resolve. 2007 will bring changes to your community, change which few individuals control.

As an example, companies which serve the community will decide to reduce the resource devoted to the HP 3000. Others will seize on the opportunity of change — HP will shift its 3000 resources toward environments approved by the vendor — and the third parties will step up to attempt to capture the business.

One man's trash is another man's business model. This chestnut has been in action in your community for many years. HP stopped its MPE/3000 education business several years ago. MPE-Education.com opened its doors in 2006 to take over, led by seasoned trainers with access and time to renovate HP's teaching materials. (The training group has offered a new model recently, a register-until-it-fills plan to ensure that a class makes. HP's scheduling of MPE training had plenty of cancellations in its waning days.)

That leads me to the Top News Stories of our New Year. HP factors in many of them, since it's the biggest resource that is reducing its community involvement specific to the 3000. Please let us hear from you on how likely you believe these stories will appear.

To begin, let's recap our Top of 2006 list. Many of these dozen stories form the genus for this year's anticipated (I hesitate to use "predicted") stories of 2007.

1. Customers reported that HP's divisions didn't know the vendor discarded its "gone in 2006" schedule for HP's end-of-operations for the 3000.
2. 3000 advocacy and user group efforts serve the 3000 customer during 2006 the first Greater Houston RUG's 3000 Conference to OpenMPE's constant effort to clarify and form HP post-2008 3000 policy and procedures.
3. Third parties warned the community about data-corrupting Large File Datasets in IMAGE. The action proved the expertise for IMAGE resides comfortably outside of HP's labs.
4. A high-end Series 987 server sold for less than $300 in public auction, which proved 3000 hardware is getting inexpensive.
5. MPE-Education.com took the community's first step into independent, HP authorized 3000 training.
6.Advant released the first Generic REplacement Boxes for HP 3000s, PA-RISC servers shipped ready for either a HP 9000 or HP 3000 personality, applied by the a third-party SSEDIT program.
7. HP released the third PowerPatch for its penultimate release of MPE/iX HP retires its Large Files Dataset project for IMAGE/SQL.
8. 5. HP reinstated MPE/iX Professional Certification holders
9. HP chairman Patricia Dunn resigned over a HP spying program to stem board leaks
10. OpenMPE earned its first revenues from HP
11. HP rolled out revised HP-UX virtualization plus low-to-midrange 3600 and 6600 Integrity servers
12. HP retired its Large Files Dataset project for IMAGE/SQL., even though it had a tested repair ready for rollout — because the change would drain resources from 3000 software suppliers and customers.

Now to our Top 2007 stories. Rank them in your own order.

1. HP continues to step back from its traditional offering for the platform. Third parties continue to pick up HP's slack.

2. Migration projects ramp up seriously, with many more companies choosing to move their applications. Off-the-shelf solutions decline in favor but remain a viable choice for some companies which are not wedded to their application business rules.

3. HP releases the certification process for MPE/iX skills, permitting third parties the opportunity to create a guild of HP 3000 expertise — to be used both in homesteading and migration plans.

4. HP restates its one-to-one MPE license-to-system policy, to attempt to maintain the business model that ruled the community since 1972.

5. Third parties resist the HP licensing policy on an informal basis, fueled by some customer desire to find an interim solution to what Advant's leaders call "Hospice 3000: Death with Dignity."

6. HP grows its revenues and profits to maintain its number one rank among IT suppliers, but keeps its earnings growth spurred by cost reductions as HP faced increased competition from an IBM unconcerned with PC business.

7. The 3000 NewsWire publishes several Special-Editon printed issues which focus on migration information, specializing on the shift from MPE/iX to the Integrity/HP-UX landing place. (Of this forecast we are quite certain.)

8. Customers face a growing choice between maintaining support contracts for MPE software versus driving the monies into transition projects. Migration customers begin to realize this choice impacts the health and survival of vendors who remain a key element in mission-critical levels of service.

9. HP 3000 hardware continues to plummet in price, including more N-Class and A-Class servers available to the market.

10. OpenMPE meets weekly by telephone, learns much that it cannot share outside its board of directors — including details on what building an HP 3000 bug-fix lab will require. Companies begin to budget for after-HP patch support.

11. Linux gains ground as an alternative for the 3000 customer who migrates away from the platform. HP demonstrates that it can be a sound player in the open source effort.

12. The Second Annual HP 3000 conference takes place in a month (September) far offset from when HP offers its Las Vegas-based HP Technology Forum (June). Customers seeking training get to choose on price and HP participation levels, as well as the spectrum of HP 3000 content at these conferences.

11:54 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)