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February 28, 2007

Alliance proves migration pace picks up

    After many years of competition for HP 3000 customers, two vendors which once sold 4GL tools now work together to help those sites away from HP 3000s.

   Speedware and Cognos act in a new alliance that can put Speedware’s migration teams inside a Cognos site, doing the engineering and consults that lead to replacing HP 3000 PowerHouse with other Cognos products.

   Cognos sells Windows tools as well as HP-UX and IBM AIX versions of PowerHouse, which was once a product with more than 7,000 HP 3000 licenses worldwide. Now Speedware has studied with Cognos to learn the details of PowerHouse, training to the point where Speedware can lead in a Cognos migration engagement.

    Christine McDowell, Speedware’s manager of Strategic Migration Alliances, said the pace of 3000 migrations is one element that has sparked its alliance with a classic rival.

    “There’s been a significant increase in the [migration] activity within the market space,” she said. There’s been an increase in market opportunities for these migrations.”

   Such Speedware-led projects “over the past year or so that have led to the formalizing the partnership,” she added. The Speedware education in Cognos products has taken place over migration projects, as well as in formal classes at Cognos.

   “Because we have successfully completed several migration and modernization projects to date, we’ve had the opportunity to have our own resources certified [in Cognos products], McDowell said. “We’ve built our own resources on Cognos expertise.”

    “We’ve been certified and have we good successes to leverage and announce. [Cognos] has training we have taken.”

    Speedware is on the lookout for Cognos specialists, independent consultants, who can help in future engagements with the PowerHouse customers who need to migrate from the 3000. Speedware feels like it has in-house experience, but is open to working with independents, too.

    “We have the experience in-house,” McDowell said. “That being said, we encourage all independent Cognos consultants to call us, to find ways that we could potentially be working together.”

    The “sweet spot” for Speedware, McDowell explained, is the experience Speedware can offer for third-party software working alongside PowerHouse on 3000s.

    “Companies looking for migration options often recognize there is much more to their environment than the technology that their applications are written in,” McDowell said. “Third party utilities, for example. There are so many different aspects to a migration that often their software partner doesn’t have all the answers. We’re partners with a lot of companies like Cognos.”

10:29 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 27, 2007

HP Explains its RTU, Part Two

HP unveiled a new Right to Use license for HP 3000 customers this month, a program the vendor will use to ensure customers have a way to upgrade systems with legal MPE/iX licenses. HP will sell a customer a new Right to Use license during an upgrade, discounting the "delta" between the new license cost and the value of the customer's existing MPE/iX license.

The program is arriving as news to some resellers of HP 3000 systems and processors for the server. One reseller reported hearing nothing from HP about the RTU program until his February NewsWire arrived.

While we aim to break news first, it's surprising to learn some resellers have been left out of HP's pre-briefing loop. Client Systems, HP's only "authorized" 3000 reseller in North America, got full notice of the program in advance. (Good thing, too, since HP mentioned the reseller several times during a pre-briefing interview with us.)

Here then is the second part of our 30-minute Q&A with HP's Jennie Hou and Ross McDonald — explaining how the RTU works, what it might cost, and who will need to deal with it. On that last note, it seems that dealers of HP 3000 systems and parts, at least those who are doing upgrades, will be dealing with the RTU. (If you've missed the Q&A's first part, you can find it here.)

How will a customer determine what their upgrade path is for this RTU? A Web site page with tables and graphics?
    Hou: It’s all posted on our Web site. Several pages talk about our hardware upgrade program. There is a matrix that tells about permissible upgrade paths.

So what are the limitations in upgrades?
    Hou: No cross platform or cross chassis upgrades, like from a 9x8 to a 9x9.

What is the range of deltas a customer can get for their existing MPE/iX license?
    McDonald: The deltas vary between levels. $62,000 is the biggest delta between two license levels. For example, if a customer goes from a N-class 500 3-way to a N-class 750 4-way [list price of $89,500], the customer will get a $62,000 credit when purchasing a $89,600 license. The customer pays the license price, which is the delta of those two price points.

Who needs to pay attention to this new Right to Use license?
    McDonald: People who want to upgrade their systems to get more performance. If your existing system has a valid license and it’s meeting your needs, you can run on that license forever.

Is there any supplemental fee with the RTU license?
    McDonald: There is a fee if the HP CE comes out to do the validation; there’s no extra fee if the validation is done remotely. When they come out to modify the stable storage, there is a fee to do that.
    Hou: They will charge you on an hourly basis, and the fee for this varies.

What does the RTU have to do with Advant or Ideal offering what they call Generic Replacement Boxes?
    McDonald: I don’t want to comment on any specific company or people who may be doing something in this space at this time. That’s something HP will address on a case-by-case basis.
    Our current focus is to clarify what it takes to have a valid system, so that customers can ensure they have a valid license and the right to run MPE/iX on the systems they are using.

What other changes does the RTU bring to the 3000 community?
    McDonald: With this policy statement we are actually relaxing some of our requirements on the hardware that can be put into a system. The policy doesn’t talk about whether the CPU boards that you’d put into a 3000 have to be original 3000 parts.

So these once had to be original 3000 CPU boards, and now they don’t have to be?
    McDonald: Yes.
    Hou: We relaxed that part because we feel it will offer our customers more flexibility. Availability of CPU boards will be key, because customers are asking for them.

As part of HP’s policy statement, I see this sentence: “Using MPE/iX on original, upgraded, or modified hardware systems without the appropriate right-to-use license and/or software license upgrade from HP is prohibited.” Is that language in the original MPE/iX license that most customers hold now, or has HP added the right-to-use language to the existing license?
    Hou: No, but it is implied. We’re trying to cover various scenarios, but the bottom line says that the system that you are upgrading has to be an original e3000 system.

Would it be going too far to say the RTU is once again a revenue stream for HP from the 3000 community, now that HP has made this announcement?
    McDonald: Theoretically it is; however, this was not an objective and we are not looking to make money on this.   
    Hou: The main driver is what we can do to help our customers, to enable them to continue to do upgrades in the used system market.

So HP’s motivation is to help customers adhere to HP’s licenses?
    McDonald: For the customer who cares about software licensing, and wants to do the right thing, I think it really helps them. And those are lots of good customers that we want to keep. This was not an easy activity to go through on a product that we’re winding down. The partners we have discussed this with also really appreciate that we are trying to ensure clarity and consistency in terms of licensing in the HP e3000 community.

10:41 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 26, 2007

HP sounds off on new 3000 licenses

HP briefed us about its plan to issue Right To Use licenses about five days before the official RTU announcement. We wanted to know more than the five HP documents might tell about the first HP 3000 product to enter the Corporate Price List in more than four years. A Q&A interview was in order.

Today and tomorrow we'll share HP's answers and details about RTU licenses — a product you will never need concern yourself with, until you want to upgrade HP 3000s in your shop. And oh yes, customers are upgrading, even in the months following HP's initial deadline for leaving the market.

HP granted us a 30-minute interview on the subject, without receiving any of our questions in advance of the interview. In exchange, we have allowed HP to review and revise its answers; after all, in this Q&A feature we're let the subjects express themselves as they would like to be understood.

Their answers have been edited by us for brevity, before we submitted them for HP's revisions, but no question went unanswered. HP also supplied us in advance with the versions of those Web documents which it posted on Feb. 12. You can find them at www.hp.com/products1/evolution/e3000/products.html.

Our interview subjects were HP employees Jennie Hou, an e3000 R&D project manager with focus on the customers, partners, and business; and Ross McDonald, e3000 R&D Lab Manager.

Why introduce a Right to Use license at this point in the HP 3000’s lifespan?

McDonald: Two reasons. When purchased upgrade kits were no longer available, we realized that customers needed a way to create a valid system.

   Additionally, there seemed to be confusion in the marketplace on how customers could ensure they had valid e3000 systems. We’ve been working on it for a number of months, trying to get this out in a timely fashion.

    We’re putting a product back on the pricelist to enable this for the 3000. We’ve been winding down the 3000, so it was not expected that we would do this. We’re really doing this to accommodate customers who need to upgrade their systems.

What seems to be prompting the confusion among customers?

    Hou: We just started getting some calls from our customers, asking how to do a license upgrade.

   

Do you expect to authorize other third-party companies other than Client Systems to issue the RTU license?
    Hou: No, but other US resellers/brokers can obtain these licenses through Client Systems. In the US, Client Systems is the only authorized reseller that can issue the e3000 RTU license. They will perform the necessary verification steps before each license is issued. This RTU license product is available worldwide and there are other resellers in other regions.

Is there anyone else in North America who can do these upgrades?
    McDonald: In terms of modifying the stable storage of the HP e3000s?

Yes, absolutely. Who can do this?
    McDonald: The HP CEs will do the actual work. At this time we do not intend to increase the number of people who can modify stable storage.

For the customers who will upgrade, is HP assuming this RTU will apply to upgrades within their product line?
    McDonald: Yes. If customers don’t have a server to upgrade, they’ll have to go buy a system that comes with a valid license via the used market.   
    Hou: I want to stress that this license will be used in an upgrade situation, so you have to have an HP e3000 hardware system to begin with -- a system you can upgrade for a higher capability and capacity within the permissible upgrade path.

    How will you charge for this RTU license, since it’s a new product?
    Hou: The RTU license is structured in seven levels. It’s based on performance levels, from 9x8s through the N-Class. The price range will be from $4,000 for Level 1 up to $89,500 for Level 7.
    McDonald: For any upgrade, you’d subtract your current [license price] level from the RTU price. A one-way N-Class 380 is in Level 3. A 750Mhz 4-way is Level 7, so the N-Class models range from Level 3 to 7.

These levels don’t have anything to do with user-level license costs on the 9x8 and 9x9 systems, do they?
    Hou: No. The A and N-Class systems are unlimited for the number of users. They are two different things. This is a Right To Use license.

How can the customer determine how much their current license is worth, so they can calculate what HP will take off the price of the RTU? Is the worth based on the amount they paid for the license at the time they bought their system?
    Hou: No, it’s based on the new 7-level structure. When the customer calls HP or HP resellers, they can provide the customer with that pricing information. The key point is that they do not need to buy their [Fundamental Operating System] license all over again. They will pay the delta of the two different licenses.

So is there any way for the customer to know what that delta figure is before they have to call HP or an HP reseller?
    Hou: Customers know the product number is AD377A, so it’s easy to call and inquire.
    McDonald: The prices will be posted on HP’s Corporate Price List [CPL]. A document on the e3000 website describes the levels for any of the platforms you have.

Do 3000 customers have access to a CPL now?
    McDonald: No. They have to contact HP or their reseller. Also, these are list prices, so whatever purchase discount they may have will apply, and that will vary.

Let me ask again. Will HP look up what the customer paid for their license at the time of their 3000 purchase?
    McDonald: No. The system and license prices were often combined or bundled before, so we recalculated what the approximate prices would have been. So we had to figure out where the split was, and what was the MPE [portion]. We did quite a bit of analysis on trying to be fair to what the current market is, in terms of what it would cost to do this now. Then we tried to reduce it even more.
    It really doesn’t matter what you paid for it at the time. What really matters is what these level prices are now.

03:52 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 23, 2007

HP's Q1 strong; business servers, less so

HP put together a rousing first quarter for its fiscal 2007, with big gains in profits and revenues for the company overall. When you post a 26 percent increase in earnings, investors notice. But the report kicked the HP share price downward. Stock analysts remain concerned about the source for HP's future growth. Today the stock closed just under $41 a share, managing to eke about a $40 price after the Q1 figures.

This quarter's gains came from the surging PC and printer business, two operations that show vastly different profit margins. PCs return about 4 percent, while the printers and imaging products come in at 15 percent.

HP reported that a large measure of its profits appeared because of HP's continued cost-cutting. Revenue grew 11 percent overall for the company, but the numbers for the Business Critical Systems, where the Integrity server business lives, were down. CEO Mark Hurd said the company just missed the mark on selling and closing deals for Integrity servers running HP-UX and Windows.

Integrity is the target platform HP is urging its migrating 3000 customers onto. A good friend of mine at a reseller reports that the new Integrity business, where HP is attracting new customers, is mostly Windows-related. HP-UX Integrity purchases come from the installed base, by his anecdotal accounts.

Enterprise Storage and Servers and HP's Services business — the two arms that sell to the HP 3000 customer — posted the smallest revenue growth of any HP segment. Business Critical Servers showed a 6 percent decline in revenues. ESS grew just 5 percent, the same at HP Services.

HP announced that Integrity servers now make up 55 percent of all BCS system revenues, and that these Itanium2-powered servers saw growth of 75 percent from the 2006 first quarter.

As an example of the continued cost cuts, HP announced plans to freeze its pension plan for US employees. In July it will reduce eligibility for its subsidized retiree medical program. Once again, HP will offer an early-retirement program, called EER, which it expects to be accepted by about 3,000 employees.

Last time around, some very senior HP 3000 manpower took an exit with their EER benefits. Employees who don't take early retirement can benefit from an increased company contribution to their 401(k) plans.

Enterprise storage and servers, overall, posted revenue gains of 5 percent. PCs and printers had their usual improving quarters. Industry-standard servers — those powered by Xeons and running Windows — showed strong results, too.

If you're so inclined, you can listen to HP's press conference with market analysts at the company's Web site. We'd recommend some skipping of the first half hour; the interesting part began with analysts' questions. The gateway for the recorded press conference is at HP's Investor site, and the Webcast runs best under Windows.

The words deserve the music of graphics, too. The Q1 PowerPoint slides are in a PDF file.

08:11 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 22, 2007

HP goes into overtime on time zones

The spring-forward date to Daylight Saving Time is still about two weeks away, but HP will be working close to the clock to finish its revisions for the HP 3000's time-tracking software. Last year HP had revised the TZTAB files for the HP 3000, tables updated to follow the new spring-forward dates in the US and elsewhere.

The 3000 community has already done the work to prepare their systems for the first change in the DST's starting date in 20 years. With HP's revised table in hand, and managers offering advice on the process, what else did the diligent 3000 owner need?

Well, HP has just reported that the revised table is bit wobbly around its Atlantic regions, and elsewhere. Jeff Vance, HP engineer and link to the 3000 community, said the HP labs are working on a couple of legs of the time table.

We in vCSY were about to release the latest TZTAB file, which is based on the HP-UX TZTAB, when it was discovered that we now have incorrect information for Alaska and some Atlantic regions. The HP-UX team is working quickly to address this problem, and as soon as they are done we will make the file available on Jazz, in addition to providing a regular patch.

After posting his report that verifies the link from HP-UX lab work to the abilities of the 3000, Vance said additional information is available on a Wiki page about the time zone shifts.

Ever helpful in the classic Hewlett-Packard tradition, Vance added that "If you have any questions please contact [me] at jeff.vance@hp.com

12:19 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

Why join OpenMPE? Getting connected with providers

Voting in the OpenMPE board elections proceeds for the next nine days. Even if you're not all that involved with who serves on the advocacy group's board, there is another reason to head to that Web site. OpenMPE tracks service and hardware providers for the community, with a listing available on that Web site.

If you're in the business of helping companies stay on the 3000, this looks like a tangible benefit for your time you spend joining. OpenMPE is keeping four lists of providers: Hardware Support, Hardware Broker, MPE/iX Phone Support, and Consultants.

OpenMPE members join for free by answering seven questions and providing contact information. The form for provider listings, also free, follows directly below the membership sign-up questions.

Once you join, you're a member of a community. OpenMPE runs its own mailing list to give its membership a way to reach out to each other. Traffic has been light on that list, but in these days of e-mail bombardment, or a host of Off Topic postings, light traffic might be a benefit.

Many companies are doing interim homesteading with their 3000s before they make their transition. Proof of that? How about a new HP license for Right to Use MPE/iX? The customer base is still buying hardware in the marketplace. The OpenMPE membership looks to be a good way to stay in touch during a transition, or an "infinite homestead." That's the one you'll pull off as long as you can, with no transition date planned now.

After all, even HP won't commit to a firm end to its 3000 business. Its December, 2005 announcement said HP would extend its 3000 support until the end of 2008 "or later."

07:07 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 20, 2007

Seven days, 36 OpenMPE votes

After seven days of voting — which got off to a bit of a late start on Feb. 12, because of a Web snag — the 2007 election for OpenMPE board directors has delivered 36 ballots. Including mine, using my free membership to select who will brainstorm with HP about its HP 3000 endgame policies.

Five candidates are running for four open seats, so there's some mystery about who will continue to serve. The candidates are incumbents Chuck Ciesinski, Paul Edwards, Birket Foster and Alan Tibbetts.

Anne Howard, a 3000 veteran of the K-12 application business, has tossed her hat into the ring, too. You can vote at the OpenMPE.org site. Be sure to join as a member first. You need a membership number to cast a valid ballot.

The election runs for 13 more days including today. If you're inclined to compare turnout so far, after one week of voting last year we had 55 ballots on hand. The final count of 2006 ballots was 111, so the community has a good share of its turnout still in the hands of customers and members.

We think that HP's decision to revive licensing for the 3000s, at least for the upgrading customer, puts the future of the system in a new light -- and might give the community the idea that their server won't have an exit even within a couple of years. After all, a 3000 product did make its way onto the HP Corporate Price List.

But things can change, especially plans at a corporation of HP's size. It would be a good thing to have a committed OpenMPE board, ready to work if HP's estimate of its market exit is truly end of 2008. That is just 22 months away. Your vote matters in the coming two weeks.

08:12 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 19, 2007

Ticking time zone clocks

Steve Cooper, one of the founders of Resource 3000 partner Allegro Consultants, updated the 3000 community on important details about the upcoming time zone changes. These are the adjustments managers must make to keep up with the new start and end of Daylight Saving Time.

Just when you thought you had the latest Time Zone Table file on your 3000, the world has gone and changed the rules again.

A new patch has just been released on HP-UX, with the following updates:

PHCO_35991:
    ( SR:8606475843 CR:JAGag30156 )
    tztab(4) needs to be modified for Mexico Daylight
    Saving (DST) changes.

    ( SR:8606475841 CR:JAGag30154 )
    tztab(4)needs to be modified to support Western Australia
    DST changes.

    ( SR:8606475842 CR:JAGag30155 )
    tztab(4) needs to be modified for Canada DST changes.

    PHCO_34673:
    1. Indiana will support Daylight Savings Time (DST) from
    April, 2006 onwards.

So, if your system or any of its users care about Mexico, Western Australia, Canada or Indiana, then you may need a newer TZTAB than you previously thought.  And, if you care about the rest of the United States and haven’t updated your TZTAB file yet, you might as well get the latest version when you do the update.  The clock is ticking...

07:59 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2007

Web Console: A good left arm for 3000s?

I'm in the process of installing my first Secure Web Console and have a question. The installation instructions look like the SWC will replace the current 700/92 terminal, as there is only one serial port on the console/LAN card in the server. It feels like I'll be cutting off my right arm in doing away with the "console." Not that we use it that much in day-to-day operations — but it has become a bit of an old friend over the years, and I feel a bit of pending loss.

Since this is the case, could there be problems from not having the physical console there, and having to fly with the SWC? And if the SWC dies for any reason, can you just put the serial cable back on the terminal?

— John Bawden

Craig Lalley replied to the final question about putting the serial cable back on, "Yes, you can." Wes Setree added very recent information about an installation just today. "Actually, I just configured a SWC a few minutes ago."

We keep our old terminal and keyboard on the cabinet and could switch the cable from the SWC to the terminal in case I need to use the terminal while sitting right there at the server (reboot perhaps). So far I have not had any need to switch the cable back and forth between them, since the SWC allows for a remote reboot if necessary.

07:54 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 15, 2007

Greatest 3000 user conference to saddle up

Anne Howard, a Greater Houston RUG board member and candidate for the OpenMPE board of directors (get to the OpenMPE site, join for free, and vote!) has offered the first article about why you should reserve this September's travel for the next HP 3000 Conference.

We'll let this 3000 veteran tell the story herself here. Put the middle weekend of September on your travel requests. This conference is going to be inexpensive to attend, as well as travel to in Texas.

I want to tell you about the greatest little user conference in Texas. The November 2006 Greater Houston Regional User Group Conference (GHRUG) was an outstanding opportunity for system administrators and end users to get up close and personal with some of the most dynamic people in the HP world. Held at the University of Houston Clear Lake just outside the gates of Johnson Space Center, our little Texas event had quite an international flair with presenters from all over the world.

Canada’s Birket Foster from MBFoster.  Nicholas Fortin from Speedware/Activant and Gilles Schipper from GSA, Inc. Michael Marxmeier from Marxmeier Software AG joined us from Germany and and ScreenJet’s  Alan Yeo came over from from England.   

Charles Finey from Transformix Computer Corp joined us from California, and we had Texas’ own leading HP consultants Matt Perdue, Paul Edwards and Bill Hassell, along with Richard Sonnier from Nimble Services.   

The presentations were fantastic and the keynote from Adager's Alfredo Rego was riveting. 

What our little conference did not have was a high price tag. The entire three-day event was only $200.

The other thing we did not have in 2006 was a lot of attendees. And that is a shame. It was a great conference with ample opportunity to spend one on one quality time with some very knowledge HP professionals. These folks are just too busy to spend much personal time with individuals at the big national and international conferences. It isn’t that they don’t want to, they do. But there are just so many people. Not so with regional conferences.

These smaller events cost far less than going to the big conferences and give more opportunity to get close and ask questions. And we very much appreciate the effort these presenters make to come and support our regional group.

The GHRUG user group is very active and is committed to its mission of providing timely and relevant information to technology professionals. This year’s conference is scheduled for September 2007 at the University of Houston, Clear Lake. What we need now is to hear from you. Tell us what you need and we will find the best presenters possible.

Some people think of GHRUG as HP 3000 concentric. While back in the heyday of the HP3 000 this might have been the case, it is no longer. Along with the HP 3000 presentations on homesteading and migration, the 2006 conference had some excellent non-HP 3000 presentations such as HP-UX security and migrating databases to MySQL, with plenty of time for back and forth discussion.

So tell us what you need. Unlike some other HP user groups, membership in GHRUG is free. Visit us at www.ghrug.org and let us know what you are using these days at your sites — and what presentations would benefit you the most. If it involves HP, we are there. We hope you will be too!

06:28 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

Everything told is retold again

This year of 2007 marks the 36th one in which HP 3000s booted up and ran. Even allowing for the 3000's false start of 1972-74, we count well over three decades of IT utility for businesses. Despite all fo that progress, there's still room for the vendor of your system to return to issues we thought were long behind us.

A good friend at a renowned third party firm commented on the Right To Use retelling of HP's MPE/iX terms. "It's interesting how topics that one believed were lost in the past become current again," he said. I could almost see the knowing smile cross his lips while saying it.

Third party companies have often shifted the fortunes of HP's 3000 business. Those independent firms will continue to add value in HP's blind spots, as well as prompt the vendor to view another version of HP's closing 3000 chapters.

HP is carpeted with red tape these days, so it would be a mistake to think the company just whipped out a new Right To Use License on a lark. For starters, somebody at the virtual CSY division had to explain to higher ups why this HP 3000 product line, which was supposed to be on the wane now, needed a new line in the HP Corporate Price List. Then there are the terms and conditions to hammer out. It took HP months to draw this one up.

The vendor is also looking toward an authorized reseller network for the first time in more than two years. In North America, that is Client Systems and its remarketed system operation, Phoenix 3000. Overseas, a raft of country-specific companies make up the HP authorized e3000 network. Until this week, they had precious little to sell.

04:23 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

What protection does the RTU offer HP?

HP has been careful not to link its new Right to Use license with the Generic Replacement Boxes (GREBs) program at Advant/Ideal. But one crucial message of the new RTU applies: using an HP 3000 without an authorized upgrade license, after you've moved from one level of MPE/iX to a higher tier, is prohibited. Or so HP says.

What's more, taking another PA-RISC server (like a cheap L-Class system off eBay) and using an MPE/iX license from an HP 3000 is also prohibited, under the terms of the new RTU. HP's policy means to protect the vendor's right to license MPE/iX, as well as keep the operating environment on original HP 3000 hardware.

OpenMPE's director Paul Edwards, a legendary veteran of training, consulting and a former vendor at Bradmark — one who runs his own company and has negotiated a deal to license and use HP's MPE/iX educational materials — has his doubts about how much protection the RTU and the policy around it provides HP.

HP's new license policy is up on the company Web site; you can download it (a PDF file) from a link here.

Edwards said he hasn't heard of HP prosecuting vendors who install a copy of MPE/iX on a 3000, "because the original system disc drives are not on that [new] system." If he's right, a lawyer could argue that amounts to failure to copy protect MPE OS code. How that case would prevail — it would likely be sparked by an HP lawsuit against an unauthorized third party — well, that remains to be seen.

Edwards wrote us about the potential for MPE to be considered in public domain. He's never stolen or installed unauthorized MPE/iX. This one of the good customers in the market, the kind that HP's R&D leader Ross McDonald said in an interview "we'd like to keep." But dissent, based on an open HP loophole, comes to Edwards' mind.

The standard FOS and SLT tapes that HP sends out with each MPE OS release are generic and are mass produced. The PowerPatch tapes are the same, also. The SUBSYS tapes contain only specific purchased products; they are custom-made by HP for each customer based on the customer's software license agreement with HP.

None of these tapes are linked to the HPSUSAN or HPCPUNAME fields in stable storage of an HP 3000 system. This means that an individual could install these tapes on many HP 3000 systems — but that is illegal based on the HP license agreement terms. I discussed this problem with HP many years ago, but apparently no effort was made by HP to close this loophole.

Most of the third party software companies have an installation code requirement that is tied to specific values in those stable storage fields. These values on each registered system prevent the software from operating on any other system. Some have some code to make the software operate in a short time demo mode for disaster recovery cases, or the customer has to call for a new set of codes in that case. This process ensures that the piracy of their software that I witnessed, at times, was ended.

Now for the legal speculation:

A lawyer could possibly make a case that since HP never took steps to copy protect their released MPE OS code for over 30 years, it may be essentially in the public domain and not subject to license protection. Many third party hardware brokers over the years have installed a copy of MPE that they have in inventory on systems that they sell because the original system disc drives are not on that system. I haven't heard of any prosecutions of this practice. I believe this lack of attempt by HP to protect their licensed software would further prove the lawyer's case. I assume that any attempt by HP now to prosecute the lack of license compliance by any company would prove to be very difficult.

11:57 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 12, 2007

HP rejoins 3000 vendors with RTUs

    HP returned to the ranks of companies which sell products to HP 3000 customers, opening up a Right To Use (RTU) license business aimed at customers upgrading HP 3000s.

    The new RTU, the first such license ever offered to HP 3000 sites, will be sold to sites which need to improve the performance of a system which HP has been retreating from for more than five years.

    Ross McDonald, the HP e3000 R&D Lab Manager, said the new product is a departure from HP’s designs for the product’s lifespan.

     “We’ve been winding down the 3000, so it was not expected that we would do this,” he said. “We’re really doing this to accommodate customers who need to upgrade their systems." HP’s documents which explain the RTU policies are available at the HP Web page www.hp.com/products1/evolution/e3000/products.html

    Customers who have been planning and executing migrations, or digging in to homestead their systems without HP’s help in a few years, now see the vendor catering to sites that need more 3000 power now.

    The new RTU license only applies to customers who are upgrading their systems; no existing, unmodified 3000s will be affected by the new HP product. HP plans to sell the upgrade licenses for between $4,000 and $89,500, minus a discount for the value of the customer’s existing MPE/iX license.

    The value of those discounts will only be available through a call to HP or a contact with an authorized reseller of the RTU. As an example cited during our interview with McDonald and HP R&D project manager Jennie Hou, one such discount is $28,000.

    HP has calculated the value of the existing MPE/iX licenses, rather than track the amount a customer paid for MPE/iX when the 3000 was first purchased. That $28,000 discount, for example, comes off the $89,500 RTU list price for the top-end, four-CPU N-Class 750Mhz HP 3000, when upgrading from the 3-CPU 550MHz N-Class server.

    McDonald stressed that the prices for the RTU will then be subject to further discounts the customer has established with HP, some 10-20 percent off list price.

08:04 AM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

HP RTU: New license, new terms, new revenues

   When asked why it is creating a new Right To Use license for 3000 upgrades now, more than five years after it announced the end of HP's support for the system, HP said its customers have lost the ability to license an upgrade to their HP 3000s. Such an upgrade has been unavailable since 2004, however, when the vendor took 3000 upgrade kits off the Corporate Price List. McDonald also said that HP has observed confusion among its customers about upgrading processes.

    “There seemed to be confusion in the marketplace on how customers could ensure they had valid e3000 systems [after an upgrade],” McDonald said.

    Neither McDonald or Hou would comment on the timing of the RTU announcement versus the Generic Replacement Box (GREB) program. That program, offered by Ideal Computer and Advant starting last summer, uses a third-party SSEDIT program to upgrade PA-RISC computers.

    “I don’t want to comment on any specific company or people who may be doing something in this space at this time,” McDonald said. “That’s something HP will address on a case-by-case basis.”

Project manager Hou said HP’s focus is a message to customers about how to upgrade legally, inside their agreement with HP.

    “Our current focus is to clarify what it takes to have a valid system, so that customers can ensure they have a valid license and the right to run MPE/iX on the systems they are using.”

    HP’s documents which explain the RTU policies, available at the HP Web page www.hp.com/products1/evolution/e3000/products.html, include a statement which warns customers about using non-HP tools to upgrade PA-RISC servers.

    “If a system is configured with a non-HP hardware configuration tool, then that system is not authorized to  run MPE/iX. Any system that is running MPE/iX will need to meet strict HP-defined operational parameters in order to be considered a valid system.

Tiers, upgrade paths

   HP defined the pricing in seven tiers for the RTU license. The tiers, also available on the HP Web site, follow processor power rather than product line. But the vendor also has product-line rules for how an HP-authorized upgrade must proceed.

   Upgrade licenses are only sold within model lines, such as inside a 9x9 family or within the N-Class servers. HP’s RTU covers the 9x8, 9x9, 99x, A-Class and N-Class models. HP is also requiring a system to have “a genuine HP e3000 chassis with an HP 3000 bezel (nameplate)” to qualify for an RTU.

    HP, or its authorized resellers, will contact a customer to conduct “a remote verification of the system before finalizing the license order.” If HP can’t complete the remote verification, the vendor requires a customer to pay for an HP onsite verification.

   Only HP Customer Engineers can modify the HP 3000 stable storage under the RTU program. Customers will be billed for HP time and materials for this modification.

Opening up some choices

    While HP steps back into the 3000 revenue business, it is also freeing choices for customers about installing HP-authorized processor boards. Non-3000 boards from other PA-RISC servers will now qualify. Up to this year, HP required such a board to be original HP 3000 equipment.

    “We relaxed that part because we feel it will offer our customers more flexibility,” Hou said. “Availability of CPU boards will be key, because customers are asking for them.”

    The new RTU license uses language which states, in part, that all 3000 systems — original, upgraded or modified — must have “the appropriate right-to-use license and/or software license upgrade from HP,” and that other use is prohibited. The new license has not been in force among the 3000 customer base, however. But HP’s Hou said its meaning “is implied. “We’re trying to cover various scenarios, but the bottom line says that the system that you are upgrading has to be an original e3000 system.”

   As for the possible return of HP 3000 revenues to HP — other than support monies and parts sales — McDonald minimized its impact on HP and its 3000 plans.

    The RTU program returns 3000 revenues to HP “theoretically,” he said. “However, this was not an objective and we are not looking to make money on this.   

    Hou added, “The main driver is what we can do to help our customers, to enable them to continue to do upgrades in the used system market.”

08:00 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 09, 2007

OpenMPE reboubles its search for candidates

Yesterday the OpenMPE advocacy group reminded the 3000 community about board membership. That is, the group was still open to, and looking for, people to run on the election which is set to begin Monday.

Continuity is a good thing for a volunteer organization. That's really about all that OpenMPE can be called up to now, although its volunteers are professionals who run IT shops and IT vendor companies. There is much experience among those nine seats. Easily more that 150 man (and woman) years.

But a fresh point of view is good for an organization which has now crossed over its five-year mark for lifespan. We encourage a run at a board seat for this group, even if winning it means you won't get to talk in public about what HP is doing to firm up its community end-game.

There's still a bit of time to toss your hat into the ring. Luckily, the board secretary works in the Pacific Time Zone.   

All we know for now is that the incumbents whose seats are up for election are running for another term:

Birket Foster
Paul Edwards
Alan Tibbetts
Chuck Ciesinski

The election begins at 8 AM EST (US) on Feb. 12. Our vote-counting independent confirmation systems are in place. Do you want to add your name to the ballot? Contact Donna Garverick-Hofmeister with your notice to run.

05:54 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2007

The FAQ has become a TWiki

A few months ago we reported that Chris Bartram was taking the HP 3000's Frequently Asked Questions file into Wiki format. Last weekend Bartram reported that his work was essentially complete. However, the location of the Wiki has moved to

www.3k.com/twiki/bin/view/TWiki/HP3000FAQ

These are called TWiki's because they are Technical Wikis. But they operate in the same way as the Wikipedia you should know and love, if you do any Web searching.

Bartram, who hosts and stocks the fine 3k.com Web resource for the platform, explains, "If you’re not familiar with ‘wiki’; a word in a topic that is highlighted and followed by a small “?” is an (as yet) undefined WikiWord. You click on the “?” and (assuming you have registered) will be allowed to edit (or provide) content for that WikiWord. Try it — it’s easier than it sounds."

Bartram has also reopened a 3000 job board in the Wiki format, one which 3k.com ran years ago but has been offline for several years.

Bartram adds that the registration, to be able add your knowledge to the 3000's TWiki,

is easy and automated; info you provide for registration isn’t used for anything other than your wiki access.

I’m still working on the ‘command file’ collection (it’s being copied into the TWiki environment as well to make contributing and updating easier). It’s at: www.3k.com/twiki/bin/view/TWiki/Hp3000CommandFiles

I also set up a (HP 3000-related only) Job postings area on the TWiki, to replace the old Cold Fusion based system we ran many years ago (and which has been offline for several years). In the Wiki format adding and updating should be much easier for anyone interested. You can see it at: www.3k.com/twiki/bin/view/TWiki/HP3000Employment

Finally, I’ve been trying to update the FAQ content, giving credit to original authors wherever possible; some of you appear in the topic list as wiki words -- though there is no ‘content’ for any of them. If you’d like to add a public bio or any other information about yourself, check the main topic list at: www.3k.com/twiki/bin/view/TWiki/WebTopicList or search for your wiki name (FirstnameLastname) at: www.3k.com/twiki/bin/view/TWiki/WebSearch.

If your name appears on the list, click on it and feel free to wiki-edit it. While you’re at it, if you see any info in the FAQ that’s out of date or incorrect, feel free to correct it. You can also add new topics just as easily.

06:10 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 07, 2007

Understanding how SLTs work

When you make an System Load Tape (SLT), are you adding anything to the tape? That is, are you specifying extra files be stored?

Mike Hornsby replies:

The SLT should have everything required to accomplish the first four steps of a system INSTALL:.

1. Boot from Alternate Path to ISL
2. Install MPE/iX to the Primary Path
3. Restore @.@.sys,@.@.telesup, & all diagnostics
4. Reboot to ISL and START.

Notes from experience over time:

A. It is also very important to also have the HP Factory media handy. Some bugs in the past created SLT tapes that would validate but were non-functional. And, it is possible that disk errors or more frequently patch errors can result in a series of  SLTs that have latent problems. These HP Factory media should be stored in a safe place with a note on the console with a clue to where this safe place is.

B. It is very common for SLTs to play hide and seek. It is not at all amusing to play this game at 2:30 AM. It is a good idea to have multiple copies, one stored in a safe place and another physically attach  to the system in a folder/envelope that also contains a SYSGEN or better yet a SYSINFO configuration listing. If the stable storage is lost due to a replacement of a processor or main board, establishing the correct alternate and primary boot paths from the configuration listing is preferable to the trial and error method.

C. If you have disk arrays, it is a good idea to have a separate dedicated console (if applicable) and  have the MPE/iX-based diagnostics (if applicable) included in the SLT tape. These arrays work very well, until they don’t. The host-based diagnostics usually have a more comprehensive command set, and are far easier to use than the array front panel or direct connected console.

D. If you have a CD attached to the system, it is a good idea to acquire the the HP diagnostics CD and keep it physically attached to the system. The CD can load the Offline Diagnostic Environment (ODE) at least 100 times faster than the SLT tape. [Ed. Note: Hornsby suggested the HP Software Depot site as a source of the ODE CD, but our check tonight seems to show only HP-UX versions of the CD. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't make any difference; so much of the PA-RISC server hardware on 3000 and 9000 sides are identical.]

Hornsby also added a plug for Beechglen’s support services, which test "all of our customer’s SLTs and a full disaster recover test. It is one thing to think that you have all the necessary components. It is much better to have an independent party perform a complete end to end test."

09:07 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 06, 2007

All in a Day(light Saving Time)'s Work

Four weeks from this Sunday we will see the first change in many years to the "spring-forward" date for Daylight Saving Time, and the HP 3000 community has already started to discuss how they plan to handle it.

HP has released a revised TZ table for MPE/iX, an important part of keeping 3000s on the correct time during the roll-forward of one hour at 2 AM Sunday, March 11. That date will be advanced by three weeks from the one US customers have used since 1987. In 1974, the US daylight saving time began on January 6, and in 1975 it began on February 23.  After those two nascent years for the 3000, the DST starting date from 1976 onward was the last Sunday in April. A 1986 law shifted the starting date to the first Sunday in April, beginning in 1987.

We would guess that 20 years of the same DST dates — the late October change-back date has always been in place, up to this fall — covers the experience of four out of every five HP 3000 managers. (If you remember the first 1974 DST and were running a 3000, we'd love to hear your story. Even if you were running a 3000 in '76, you've got a good story.)

So this is a big change for some managers of 3000s. A recent discussion on the 3000 newsgroup included help from consultants, pointers at the HP files and notes about HP-UX and Windows accomodations. It looks like it won't be something to spend a lot of time on, so long as your tables are up to date.

Gilles Schipper, our Homesteading Editor, offered this advice, in addition to using an updated TZTAB file, during an earlier discussion of the change:

Don’t forget to also modify your SETCLOCK criteria when traversing to and from DST according to the new DST rules to come into effect next year.

For most applications, correct setting of the TIMEZONE at the appropriate date is arguably more important than a correct TZTAB file  — although correct instances of both are best.

Schipper took note of Dave Powell's jobstream to check and adjust for the new DST time (Powell's example being for the Pacific US time zone):

!#   Check for Daylight Saving Time change -- NEW  (readable?)
!IF  HPDAY = 1
!    IF  HPYYYY <= 2006
!        IF  HPMONTH = 4   AND   HPDATE < 8
!            SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W7:00
!        ELSEIF  HPMONTH = 10   AND   HPDATE > 24
!            SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W8:00
!        ENDIF
!    ELSE
!        IF  HPMONTH = 3   AND   HPDATE >= 8   AND   HPDATE <= 14
!            SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W7:00
!        ELSEIF  HPMONTH = 11   AND   HPDATE <= 7
!            SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W8:00
!        ENDIF
!    ENDIF
!ENDIF

The new TZTAB file and a jobstream are also available at Beechglen's Web site. Beechglen's article notes that you want to change that TZTAB file during a quiet time for your system, since "programs are constantly accessing the file. While the installation is a simple rename or copy, it is still advisable to install it with exclusive access to the system or during a period of low activity." Beechglen also has an ASCII version of the new TZTAB file, if store-to-disk delivery is "cumbersome," as the article says.

John Bawden, who managed the Qualchoice HP 3000 operations for many years, is also offering to help 3000 managers through the change at his consulting company, Homestead3000 Consulting.

After that, of course, the 3000 newsgroup chatter drifted to why the DST was instituted, which devices might already know about the change coming up, and where you can get good flourescent light bulbs — which the 3000 community was pretty sure saves more energy than any DST period.

08:28 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 05, 2007

Acucorp joins midrange alliance

The leading provider of COBOL development solutions for HP 3000 customers — both those migrating and those staying to homestead — recently announced it has joined Microsoft's midrange alliance. Acucorp joined the alliance to bring a tighter focus on the benefits of .NET to HP 3000 shops which choose Windows as their target platform for modernization and migration.

Acucorp has become a member of the Midrange Alliance Program (MAP), a strategic initiative focused on bridging the gap between midrange solutions and the Microsoft Windows and .NET platforms. Unlike other COBOL solution providers, Acucorp executed a serious measure of engineering to make its COBOL behave much like the HP 3000's COBOL II compiler. Its development and modernization suite, extend, got a new 7.2 generation of features last year, including connections for COBOL developers with their counterparts in the worlds of .NET and Java.

The Microsoft Midrange Alliance Program brings together the leading technology, service, and application partners — each with years of experience in midrange environments as well as Windows and the .NET framework. Midrange Alliance partners help organizations extend the lifetime of their applications, provide the agility to meet business needs and drive more value from their midrange investments.

“Acucorp’s knowledge of modernizing both HP e3000 and OpenVMS COBOL applications on Windows makes them an ideal fit for the MAP,” said Spyros Sakellariadis, director, of the Midrange Alliance Program at Microsoft.

Acucorp’s suite of development solutions, known as extend, include technologies for interoperating with application servers and Microsoft .NET-based applications via Web services, deploying COBOL-based business systems on the Internet, accessing relational databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, transforming character-based screens into graphical user interfaces, and offloading workloads via Thin Client technology.

“Our decision to join MAP further strengthens our commitment to helping customers leverage the value of their COBOL applications while minimizing the cost and risk of migrating them to Windows,” said Lori Galván, Acucorp’s Vice President of Market Development. “Using Acucorp’s COBOL Virtual Machine, our extend solutions can be ported to more than 600 platforms, including Windows-based servers.”

10:02 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 02, 2007

Ecometry Escalates notice of its new conference, partnership

Late last summer, Ecometry merged with another retailing solutions provider, GERS Retail Systems. The merger installs Ecometry's CEO John Marrah as president of the combined firm, and the company name Ecometry lives no more. So some HP 3000 customers — those with their own Web commerce and retail solutions — should take notice of the just-announced Escalate Retail World Conference.

Not much information is available yet on the World Conference except its date and location: July 15-18 in Miami at the Doral Resort and Spa. We'll take a moment, then, to comment on what's happened to Ecometry in the merger — a deal which, while it wasn't exactly under the radar, seems to have been promoted at the time for the benefit of existing customers in both companies. At least it appears that way to us, discovering the merger some months after it closed.

The NewsWire's At-Large Editor Birket Foster brought us up to date, in the midst of reporting from his  research trip to the recent NRF retail solutions conference in New York City. NRF was the first conference since the merger at which Escalate showed off "its combined footprint" of solutions, as the company calls its roster of products. MB Foster takes its Ecometry engagements seriously, offering migration expertise for customer surround code as well as the data migration tool UDA-Link to the customers who are now always Escalate-d, so to speak.

The combined company announced Version 9.0 of "several of its software modules" at NRF, a version numbering system that would match up with the versions of Ecometry up to the merger. As a result of the combined customer lists, Escalate reports it has more than 650 companies in its client stable, including Home Depot, Brooks Brothers, Hilo Hattie, Ice.com, Sony Style Stores, Gallery Furniture, Hot Topic and Z Gallerie.

GERS Retail specializes in planning, merchandising and supplier collaboration software solutions. Customers like clothing retailer Hot Topic were already using software from both companies. A merger press release showed off this synergy among client lists with a testimonial from Hot Topic's CIO.

"Hot Topic uses GERS solutions for merchandising, inventory management and analytics and Ecometry's Blue Martini solutions for e-commerce, online order management, loyalty programs, and marketing analytics" said Tom Beauchamp, CIO for Hot Topic. "The consolidation of these two, highly customer-centric solution providers offers opportunities for Hot Topic to leverage our current investments. The application portfolio of the combined company will provide more efficient integration of applications across our enterprise, both in-store and on-line, ultimately creating an even more satisfying shopping experience for our customers across all sales channels."

09:21 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

Voting for MPE's future has begun

OpenMPE launched its 2007 election season today, earlier than ever and with hopes of drawing its biggest participation since the group began its elections four years ago. Last year 111 customers, vendors and partners, as well as some HP lab engineers, voted to bring on new directors to the advocacy organization. The balloting begins Monday Feb. 12. You're got to be an OpenMPE member to vote, but membership is still free, for now.

While last year's 111 votes may not seem like much, the directors of the multi-million-dollar user group Interex were voted in on not too many more ballots. Those slim numbers ruled the results of the years leading up to the Interex demise. If size matters, the most crucial measurement might be the depth of the organization's debt, rather than the number of customers having their say.

As has been the case for the past three years (2004 through 2006), I'm acting as impartial judge for the elections, taking a second count to shadow the calculations done by OpenMPE's secretary Donna Hofmeister (nee Garverick). A new last name for the secretary is not the only fresh element to this year's vote. The board is putting out an open and somewhat early call for candidates, too.

Four of the nine seats are open on the board that dedicates its work to improving the after-HP's-life of the 3000 and MPE/iX community. Donna called out to members of the OpenMPE mailing list and the 3000-L newsgroup, saying

The [board] is seeking requests from people who would like to be listed on the ballot for OpenMPE's upcoming election. If you would like to be a candidate, please send an email to Donna Hofmeister, Secretary for the board (dgarverick@longs.com) expressing your desire to seek election along with a brief discussion of your qualifications.

There is only one requirement for becoming a BOD member -- a commitment of time. The BOD meets weekly and the participation of the entire board is critical.

The seats for board chairman Birket Foster and Treasurer Paul Edwards are up for election this season, along with those of Alan Tibbets and Chuck Ciesinski. The election will be ratified on Monday, March 5th -- the date of OpenMPE's annual general meeting.  The results will be announced on Tuesday, March 6th.

07:03 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)