April 30, 2008
Linear advice saves tape storage solution
A 3000 community member who is obviously homesteading asked for help installing a Digital Linear Tape device today. His question to the HP 3000 newsgroup was "Why can't my Series 939 see the DLT8000 I just brought into the shop and mounted successfully?"
A couple of tape experts had good solutions to assist Joe Barnett, but both storage guru Denys Beauchemin and HP's Jim Hawkins couldn't resist much bigger advice: Migrate off that HP 3000. While Barnett contemplates that outsized project, he's got little to spark such an adventure — if his only problem is storing more data from a growing disk farm.
The experts shared a wide range of counsel, from the basic of "check that media" and "tape heads wear out on DLT8000s" to "they haven't made that generation of DLT drive in five years" (a period Beauchemin likes to call a lustrum, accurate but arcane English.)
When Hawkins stepped in to comment on Beauchemin's advice, the combination of counsel was another reason to believe in the power of the 3000 community.
Beauchemin, who's best known as Denys in the 3000 world, set off with an opinion, then followed with details. JIM of HP commented.
Denys: Unfortunately, this is the exact issue facing homesteaders and others who are delaying the migration off the HP3000, especially if they have pre-PCI machines. The hardware to run it can only be found in antique stores and can be of varying level of readiness. You have many options open to you, but as time goes by they will more difficult to implement.
1- Look for another DLT8000 or a DLT7000, either one will work and you will not get any performance benefit from either one over the DDS-3, just more storage on one tape.
JIM >> Agreed. Also make sure it has HP branded firmware; within the last two years had a painful set of System Aborts at a large customer due to semi-random walks through driver state machines initiated by non-certified firmware.
Denys: 2- Consider getting more DDS-3 drives.
JIM >> Agreed. We have one medium size N-Class with something like 12 DAT24 drives -- they do either a 4x3 or 3x4 parallel storeset. No messing with “reel” switches.
Denys: 3- Consider getting an HVD to SE/LVD SCSI converter and then trying a DDS-4 device.
JIM >> Don’t think that is an option since about 5.5/6.0 the “scsi_tape_dm” DDS driver will not “bind” to the F/W SCSI driver. I think you may only configure the DLT (scsi_tape2_dm) driver “under” the NIO F/W SCSI HBA (fwscsi_dam). As previously posted DAT40 with DAT24 media has worked well for some sites but DAT40 with DAT40 media is only supported on A/N-Class.
Denys: 4- Move to a PCI HP 3000 (the crippled A series or a small N-Class), then use newer LVD devices.
JIM >> Agree that PCI Systems will at least enable the usage of much newer “used” equipment and even some new stuff, if you want to buy a XP10k/12k ;-).
Denys: 5- Consider migrating from the HP 3000. (This is the only long term solution and where I have been spending my time for the last several years. The newer server technology is light-years ahead of where the 3000 stopped and the new storage devices are incredible, fast and cheap. The companies that we migrate are just amazed at the new hardware.)
JIM >> Agreed
Hardware, of course, is not the biggest challenge in migration. Moving programs, processes, training for new environments— that's where the work really begins. Besides, backing away from DLT is not all that uncommon in the 3000 community. At one point Denys told Joe about a needed interface, "HVD-SCSI is so last century." True enough. But storing to tape has its creaky looks, too. STORE To Disk is successful and better at carrying a 3000 into the next decade.
April 29, 2008
Tech Forum serves two 3000 talks
The HP Technology Forum put its session schedule online today, a list of talks and speakers which includes two HP 3000 updates. Most notably, HP e3000 Business Manager Jennie Hou is not listed as a speaker for either of the talks.
The Tech Forum has not specialized in HP e3000 information in its three years of existence, unless a demand for migration techniques counts high in a customer's quest for knowledge. Last year's show was the first to feature Hou as the business management speaker for an e3000 update. Hewlett-Packard carried on the tradition of naming an e3000 Contributor of the Year for 2007. It remains to be seen if Allegro's Stan Sieler will remain the final winner of the award HP has handed out since the middle 1990s.
This year's events with "e3000" in the title are one HP update on the 3000 support roadmap, offered by HP's Alvina Nishimoto, and the HP e3000 Migration Solutions Overview, a one-hour talk delivered by Director of Marketing Chris Koppe from Platinum Migrations partner Speedware. Koppe's talk during last fall's e3000 Community Meet pulled advice from migration engagements dating back to 2003. The talk abstract bills the session thus:
Don’t miss the ultimate overview of HP e3000 migration solutions. Speedware is one of only two HP e3000 Platinum Partners and has seen it all when it comes to migrations. Learn about solutions for migrating 3GL and 4GL languages, databases and third party utilities. Migration experts share their insights on straight migrations as well as more modern “legacy modernization” projects.
As for the HP Support Roadmap and Transition Options, the one-hour talk covers two years of HP's future in the community, "a review of what e3000 customers and partners can expect from HP during the next couple of years." HP tips no cards in its Vegas hand in the sessions' abstract, rallying on the same formula of customer update talks since 2003:
Learn the four areas of ongoing HP focus for the e3000 business
- Helping customers and partners transition to other HP platforms
- Supporting customers' business-critical environments as they transition
- Addressing concerns of customers who may continue to depend on the HP e3000 to meet business needs beyond HP's end-of-support date
- Comparing the various transition options.
On the other hand, the Tech Forum is ideal for hearing HP talk about futures on transition platforms such as HP-UX and Windows. The session planner shows a Tuesday talk on HP-UX Operating Environment Futures, which
explores the future roadmap strategies for the HP-UX Operating Environments. Planned future directions seek to improve flexibility, simplify software deployment and sales, add new functionality and greatly improve the customer experience. Both PA and IPF plans will be part of the presentation.
That's HP Precision Architecture (PA) as well as Itanium/Integrity views of HP-UX. At some point HP's HP-UX support for PA will be curtailed; how soon that will happen would be good information for a migrating site to take home from Las Vegas. HP's Nishimoto reported at the GHRUG conference that HP-UX was leading the field of HP's 3000 migration experience, so knowing what's next for the environment can be helpful.
There's also a Windows Vista debugging session scheduled for later on in the day, techniques which seem to be crucial this year. HP is saving HP-UX Patch Management for the final two hours of the conference in a hands-on lab that ends around 6 PM on Thursday, the third full day of the conference.
Finally, the Forum organizers report that Howie Mandell will entertain attendees who remain for the conference's final day of June 19. Encompass explains that Mandell was best known for the TV series St. Elsewhere, but now hosts the popular show Deal or No Deal. Some 3000 community members may need a laugh to help them deal with their migration challenges, so maybe a Thursday morning comedy act will fill out the bill.
April 28, 2008
Matching HP's 3000 support bit for bit
Hewlett-Packard drags along its support business as the last car in the company's long train of HP 3000 products. 2010 might be the deadline for HP's 3000 hardware support, or it might not. In the meantime, third parties replicate more and more of what the vendor still sells to the community.
Companies hesitate to go third party on their 3000 support when they think of a system needing low-level service. 3000 hardware doesn't go bad often, but the most essential component, the CPU board, is supposed to need HP's intervention to get replaced.
But more third parties are doing this hardware recovery, the rescue of processor boards gone bad. HP's service reps do this for a fee, in due time. Software vendor IRS wrote a program that can service another support company's customer, if the customer needs an HPSUSAN identity number restored on a 3000. Adjusting SUSANs, part of a 3000's fingerprint, is a process that can invite illicit conversions. The key to staying legal is "like to like" replacements, according to support provider CTS's owner Brett Forsyth. At CTS, an HPSUSAN number is just another part of servicing a 3000.
Why not have HP do this work? Forsyth reports that the vendor's 3000 service to third party supported clients "on these issues is both slow and extremely expensive — plus very few of the HP CEs these days are experienced in these matters."
Addressing the identity of an HP 3000 at this bit level is supposed to be one of the things Hewlett-Packard has left to itself as a unique service. Not so unique, Forsyth says. HPSUSAN numbers won't hold up around-the-clock support while a third party waits for HP to adjust those bits.
The recent issues caused by HP’s lack of response to these issues have caused us to promote this service to all who need it, but as you can well imagine, some try to abuse the process. Like-to-like replacement is what we offer. Show me a Mapper or SYSINFO listing, or a photocopy/picture of the HP label containing the requisite information, or we do not have a deal. Our desire is not to defraud or infringe on anyone or anything, just to provide a service for those who wish to continue to use their HP 3000s until the system clock grinds to a halt.
As a support company, we cannot rely on HP to provide timely support to our clients, therefore we have always had to provide our own parts inventory and utilities to circumvent this.
Support from third parties has become a collaborative effort in 2008 according to Forsyth, who adds that he's been in the CE business for 27 years on HP 3000s.
We also provide e3000s and their peripherals for sale/lease/rental — both licensed or not. We really try hard to be the 3000 total support solution, and for what we don’t know, we know the people who do. Better yet — they know us.
April 25, 2008
UDALink carries Data Express tool upward
Yesterday we took note of the new version of Data Express, a testing suite from COBOL supplier Micro Focus. The name of the product once described a software solution from HP 3000 Platinum Migration partner MB Foster, which also offers homesteading utilities for companies still relying on 3000s.
At MB Foster, Data Express became UDALink and an allied family of products years ago. MB Foster's Birket Foster clarifies the product name:
MB Foster makes Data Express available... well, it's not the original DataExpress that MB Foster bought from IMACS in 1989 — the premiere data access and delivery solution for the HP 3000. That morphed to become UDALink (Universal Data Access Link) which now runs on the HP 3000, as well as Unix (HP-UX for Itanium included), Solaris and Linux. UDALink talks to various databases including Eloquence, Oracle, and DB2.
The UDA family of solutions includes cross-platform synchronization functions such as IMAGE and KSAM to Oracle or SQL Server. UDACentral does drag and drop data transfer to help migration data between OS platforms and different databases — IMAGE, Oracle, Eloquence, DB2 and SQL Server, among others).
The MB Foster products operate on all platforms including the HP 3000. The 3000 is a platform which Micro Focus does not support — which makes data access with the software written by Foster's company a starter step for a migration, a role the newer Data Express cannot play.
For example, UDA-Enterprise, a member of the UDA product stable, connects an enterprise's data from a range of server environments. Used at customers like Georgia Pacific, the software lets a company's applications use information across an enterprise.
MBF-Enterprise accesses,updates and joins enterprise information from applications and data sources as if they were relational databases. Data is normalized and converted from hierarchical structures into tables without redundant data. Clients can use JDBC, ODBC, ADO/OLE DB, or XML to submit SQL requests.
HP 3000 customers who've built their own apps use COBOL nearly all the time. That's why Micro Focus options for new compilers — as well as Fujitsu's NetCOBOL — will be important to migrating 3000 sites, or those which are connecting their 3000 apps to other enterprise servers while they homestead. COBOL is not a tool to be left behind, not without serious effort, anyway.
The MB Foster data sheet which describes MBF-Enterprise also notes the product translates application instructions, "such as those typical of legacy COBOL, to and from XML." Data connection products are as essential as gravity for IT enterprises. When a company can deploy one which understands MPE/iX applications, that kind of solution stays a step ahead in migrations by being able to understand an IT's foundation apps.
April 24, 2008
Data Express gets Micro Focus update
The name Data Express resonates in the HP 3000 community from years of use by its supplier, MB Foster. But that Swiss Army knife of 3000 data transfer became the UDA-Link family years ago — so migrating HP 3000 sites shouldn't be confused that Data Express now has an update. The COBOL and development environment maker Micro Focus has taken up the Data Express name for one of its products.
The Micro Focus Data Express has added a new SQL server module, enabling the suite of tools to support for Microsoft SQL Server. Micro Focus, which purchased competitor AcuCOBOL last spring to consolidate COBOL migration choices for 3000 sites, says its Data Express is used to "create a secure, robust test environment for production data from across the entire enterprise." From a press release:
Data Express also allows organizations to create representative subsets of large volumes of production data for testing purposes, ensuring a secure, compliant testing environment for application development.
“The addition of SQL Server support will allow our customers to test production data from across their entire enterprise without sacrificing privacy or regulatory compliance,” said Stuart McGill, CTO, Micro Focus.
Testing is one of the most significant parts of any migration effort, according to the community's migration partners and 3000 sites which have made their transition. While SQL Server runs second to Oracle in large enterprise database choices, smaller HP 3000 sites use the Microsoft database as part of a Windows platform strategy.
Advice from the vendor on testing fits any kind of migration strategy, whether it involves Micro Focus products or not. Most HP 3000 sites use COBOL for their in-house apps, but Fujitsu's NetCOBOL, with zero dollars of run time fees, is another alternative being used by app supplier Quintessential School Systems. But Micro Focus says
Manual testing involves cumbersome processes that can add significant and unnecessary cost, risk and time to application development. With Data Express, testing becomes an IT asset and not a liability, allowing IT organizations to increase flexibility and more closely align their goals with the needs of the business.
Data Express "allows users to load data from a variety of different databases, including SQL Server databases, into a single repository for analysis, understanding and consistent categorization of data fields."
The tool suite can set masking rules based on the various data categorizations, "ensuring that access to sensitive data complies with appropriate data privacy regulations, legislation and corporate governance standards. It automatically defines appropriate subsets of data. One benefit of using this suite, according to vendor, is the potential to reduce costs of test data storage.
As for MB Foster, the original owner of the Data Express name, the company's chairman Birket Foster tells us
The new DataExpress is from Micro Focus and is for testing. One thing that you will want to be doing when you are migrating or producing a new release of an application is to automate testing. The Micro Focus DataExpress is just a test automation platform.
As for the MB Foster offering which has become UDA-Link, we'll have a note on that familiar and expansive tool set for migrating and homesteading customers tomorrow.
April 23, 2008
New tricks for HP's old dogs, and newer, too
Earlier today HP invited computer customers to a Webcast about NetBeans, technology that will never make it onto MPE/iX servers. The novelty of the Web information, hosted by Encompass, was its target: Users of OpenVMS, the last non-industry-standard operating environment which HP supports.
And an environment HP apparently still extends, given the information in the Webinar.
A plug-in for NetBeans, provided free-of-charge by HP, allows you to use NetBeans on your desktop to develop and debug OpenVMS applications remotely. This includes not only Java applications, but C, C++, Fortran, Cobol, Basic, and Pascal applications.
HP 3000 customers might recall that Java support was a big step forward for their server — back in 1998. Since that time HP has dropped all interest in the "write once, run anywhere" language. That's too bad for homesteaders, who could benefit from this free Integrated Development Environment which has only gotten richer and more proven in the past five years.
But NetBeans, and the power of Java in general, are a good story for a migrating HP 3000 customer, either as impetus to start moving or as a tool to make the migration easier.
There's almost no chance of NetBeans ever emerging on the HP 3000, largely because Java/iX is mired in a 2001 version of Java. Release 1.3 was the final resting place for a breakthrough language that even earned a Just In Time engine for MPE/iX. Mike Yawn demonstrated the Swing interface for Java/iX at one point. Now Yawn has moved beyond HP and into development at eBay. He gives a stark assessment of the challenge of catching up Java on the 3000.
Because [HP] didn't keep porting efforts going, eventually the Java version running on MPE (JDK 1.3) was no longer supported by Sun, which meant that HP would have been left holding the bag if problems were found in the 'core' Java code (not MPE or PA-RISC specific). So I think they had no choice but to either drop support, or port a still-supported-by-Sun version. You can guess which option was chosen.
Even if an up-to-date Java version was available for MPE, NetBeans would be a tough nut to crack. NetBeans (and its competitor Eclipse, which is my preferred IDE of the two) both require a lot of GUI support, as well as a robust threads implementation -- two things MPE never did well. Early on we were trying to support the AWT and Swing GUIs on top of MPE's Motif implementation, but that never worked well enough that I'd count on it being able to handle something as demanding as NetBeans or Eclipse. So anyone taking that on would be taking on Java + Motif + pthreads, at a minimum.
Developers on Windows, Linux, Unix, Solaris, HP-UX — hey, even Mac OS X — can all take advantage of his new trick. Only HP-UX and Solaris qualify as old dogs among that list, which makes HP's OpenVMS support all the more interesting. Plug-in support to use NetBeans on a PC desktop might be considered something less than complete support. But HP's efforts for its VMS enterprise customers are still more than HP 3000 customers can hope for. You'll have to be on another environment to use this IDE, which you can check out at netbeans.org;
The NetBeans IDE is a free, open-source Integrated Development Environment for software developers. You get all the tools you need to create professional desktop, enterprise, web and mobile applications, in Java, C/C++ and even Ruby. The IDE runs on many platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris; it is easy to install and use straight out of the box.
The 6.0 release includes significant enhancements and new features, including a completely rewritten editor infrastructure, support for additional languages, new productivity features, and a simplified installation process that allows you to easily install and configure the IDE to meet your exact needs.
While Yawn said that a Java update for the 3000 is a non-starter, he did hold out some hope that OpenMPE or the 3000 community could do as much as HP has done on the plug-in concept.
I suspect NetBeans offers remote debugging capabilities similar to Eclipse. [Allegro Consultants VP] Gavin Scott and I had some discussions early on about what the sweet spot for MPE might be — to try to support a nice client-server approach where a developer could use the Eclipse workbench (I don't think we were looking at NetBeans at the time) to debug code running on MPE.
I don't recall whether we had grander ideas for pushing code back and forth so that you could edit/compile on the PC and then push the class files up to the 3000 for execution, but it seems like that would probably be the next step. A lot of what I'm doing at eBay is Eclipse plug-in development, so I can see now where it would be possible to create an "MPE development plug-in" that could do a lot of this stuff transparently for the developer. So from a client side it could definitely be made to work.
Another problem that OpenMPE would have if they wanted to revive the Java/iX product would be what to do for a just-in-time compiler. That's a huge effort, and not something that I think we could have ever managed if we hadn't leveraged heavily off of the work done by the HP-UX Java lab. I have no idea whether they are still investing anything in PA-RISC; it seems probably lose-lose, because
a) If HP-UX is still actively supporting PA-RISC, then they probably would be unwilling to share the PA-RISC code for their JIT / HotSpot technology.
b) If HP-UX is Itanium only, they might be willing to share their PA-RISC code, but with no sustaining engineering effort coming from them, OpenMPE would have to figure out how to move that forward with future Java revisions. I have no doubt that [former OpenMPE director] Mark Klein or Gavin could do it, but the list probably ends there.
April 22, 2008
Why there are always parts available
Hewlett-Packard tells the 3000 community that the vendor can provide custom legacy support through 2010, but the offering will depend on parts availability and the age of the HP 3000. Older systems might have parts which are no longer on the HP warehouse shelves.
But no matter how old the HP 3000 might be in your shop, you can be reasonably sure that spare parts will not keep you from keeping it working. Last week Wyell Grunwald offered a "practically free" HP 3000 on the Internet newsgroup. All that Grunwald wants is the cost of shipping to send the 200-pound server onto its new home.
After a quip about this early '90s server making a good bookend, another community member said they could use the system for parts. Imagine, an HP 3000 PA-RISC server built in 1990 — yes, 18 years ago — still has parts available in your community.
The key word in that last sentence is community. Even when HP runs out of HP 3000 parts, the community can carry on the supply. This group got a lot of longevity when it invested in the HP 3000, as well as durability. The word "tank" is part of Grunwald's 922 description.
It's difficult to overlook how underpowered the Series 922 might be compared to any other HP 3000. After all, the entire PA-RISC line only started to ship in 1987, and only in significant numbers a couple of years later. Code-named SilverFox Low at its introduction, this is a very early model 3000, just three systems off the start of the PA-RISC line.
The harsh numbers: This HP 3000 has just five percent of the horsepower of the smallest Series 979 or HP's smallest N-Class server.
But while you would not want to carry a lot of computing on this swaybacked steed, the fact that it's still a parts repository in 2008 might give a homesteader some comfort. HP warned everyone in 2001 that HP 3000 parts were going to become scarce in five years' time. So long as your community stays connected and communicating, the Hewlett-Packard MPE support expertise is likely to get scarce before many 3000 parts disappear altogether.
April 21, 2008
QSS gathers another 3000 HP expert
The man who made the Apache Web server a reality for HP 3000s has landed a post at an HP 3000 third party software firm. Mark Bixby joined Hewlett-Packard's MPE/iX lab late in the 1990s, while the vendor was still adding open source utilities to the operating system. Somehow, HP couldn't find a job this year for the man who brought domain name services and the first Web server to the HP 3000.
Bixby landed a development position at Quintessential School Systems (QSS), making him the second HP 3000 lab expert to join the K-12 applications provider during the past year. Jeff Vance, whose 28-year tenure with HP ended when he took early retirement from the company, joined the school system software firm in 2007.
To be accurate, QSS is more than just the spot where more than 100 US school systems buy an application for HP 3000s. Ever since 2003, QSS has been investigaing, developing, as well as recently shipping a vendor-neutral version of its software; that is, one that will not rely on a vendor-only operating environment like MPE/iX.
Vance joined QSS to work on the newest of platforms, open source Linux projects. Bixby seemed delighted to join his former HP colleague at the company which still serves many HP 3000 sites.
I will be taking a couple of months off to focus on various personal projects, then in July I will be joining Quintessential School Systems (QSS). I definitely look forward to working with Jeff Vance again, who also ended up at QSS after he left HP.
By the time Bixby ended his road inside HP, the company had already moved him out of HP 3000 day-to-day work. If ever there was a sign HP is taking rapid leave of your community, it's the vendor's inability to find a place for an engineer with Bixby's skills, as well as his repository of MPE/iX internals knowledge.
Bixby had done volunteer development for the 3000 community during 1998 on Apache, bringing over the Web server that's now a de-facto standard. Bixby ported the open source version of Apache to create the product that HP eventually called Apache/iX. The vendor took in both the 3000 Web server as well as its creator as part of HP's 3000 resources by the time Y2K was impending.
But HP has been cutting jobs continuously since CEO Mark Hurd arrived, a process which former CEO Carly Fiorina launched with the Compaq merger in 1999. Bixby located a new development lab to work at just weeks after he sent feelers into the 3000 development community.
A couple of months ago, HP in its infinite wisdom decided that my services were no longer necessary. My last day of employment there was April 18.
Please delete firstname.lastname@example.org from your address books, lest the other Mark Bixby who still works at HP (yes, there were two of us) starts getting e-mail intended for me.
So HP may still have a Mark Bixby, but the community knows the vendor doesn't employ the Mark Bixby. And since HP is dropping its 3000 operations, having the Mark Bixby outside of HP is a very good thing for your community, even if his work will revolve around a new platform solution. See, there's that MPE/iX repository, now working along with QSS founder Duane Percox's early support of OpenMPE.
Bixby has a helpful repository of his 3000 work at his own Web site, bixby.org
April 18, 2008
Matchbox-ing up for Tech Forum
A national user group conference rolls out with bigger expectations than a regional meeting. The recent GHRUG International Technology Conference offered a swell networking cookout at an extended stay hotel's pool as its social event. Encompass, as well as sponsor vendor HP, is lining up its own social event with an international flair.
On the final day of HP Tech Forum discount registration, Encompass announced that Matchbox Twenty will be playing a mini-concert at the show's final evening, June 19. We're a bit short of enough hipster cred to appreciate the band's stature. But Encompass assured everyone that the group is "one of the most successful bands to emerge in the past decade." They're not stretching at all to say that. iTunes reviewers assure us that over the last decade the band has "earned five Grammy nominations and had more number one hits that nay other artist in the Adult Top 40 radio history."
Interex, the now-defunct HP user group, used to book talent nearly as well-known, but aimed at a somewhat older audience. But the Interex stars were keynoters, the likes of Dave Barry, Scott Adams (Dilbert) and Al Franken (Saturday Night Live). Top-line talent draws the crowds to a user event, another kind of curb appeal as if the Las Vegas venue wasn't enough.
Those larger crowds could deliver a key networking contact for attendees, the ones learning more about HP's alternatives to the HP 3000. Plus, the band makes a better value of the $1,495 entry fee. Matchbox Twenty concert packages for close-up seats start at $250 a ticket. Last year's Tech Forum band was Train, which has won a Grammy but can't boast the same producer as Matchbox Twenty's Steve Lillywhite — who's produced albums for the Rolling Stones and U2.
After playing the Tech Forum, it's on to dates like the North Dakota State Fair, but the band's success need never be matched up, so to speak, on the basis of where they play. Making music in Minot, ND is just a way to appeal to the mainstream.
As for the Tech Forum discounts available from Monday onward, it's strictly the $200 off the full $1,695 package for being an Encompass member. Register at the conference Web site, and book your return flight for Friday if you're counting on Matchbox Twenty.
April 17, 2008
Encompass wants an alliance decision
Now that user group Encompass and its allies have hashed out the details of their consolidation, it's time for the user group community to vote on the proposed alliance. The vote is part of the charter for the new group, which might be called Endeavor. (The HP world will learn the new group's name at the HP Technology Forum, co-sponsored by the allied groups, June 16-19)
You need to be an encompass member with an up-to-date member ID to vote on the alliance of user groups ITUG (Tandem), Encompass, Interex Europe and Encompass Pacific Rim. These groups are likely to merge anyway, but they need the official blessing from their combined members. (Interex Europe has 35,000 members who belong to a group not associated with the failed user group of the same name in North Ameria.)
Details from Steve Davidek, former Interex advocacy member and current Encompass Director of Advocacy, Chapters & SIGs:
As announced and addressed in various forums over the past several months, ITUG, Encompass and HP-Interex EMEA intend to join forces to create a new, unified global community for HP enterprise users.
As a member of the Encompass user group, I would like to encourage you to vote on the consolidation. Your vote plays a crucial role in the fate of the new organization.
Davidek manages an HP 3000 installation at the City of Sparks, Nevada and is in the process of organizing a migration there, but still running the system in interim homestead mode.
An e-mail with your member ID and logon information was sent from Encompass HQ on March 27th. If you need help getting this information, please contact Encompass HQ at (312)321-5151 or at email@example.com
Davidek offered a link to the secure Encompass site used for voting.
Migrating HP 3000 customers like City of Sparks will find Encompass is tuned to the needs of the transitioning MPE/iX customer. How much advocacy the group can do on behalf of the entire 3000 community remains to be seen, but president Nina Buik has expressed hope the group can make a differenc — especially in its larger alliance conglomeration.
April 16, 2008
ERP and 3000 meet in Friday Web VRUG
The ERP user group CAMUS hosts a Virtual RUG meeting on Friday. A VRUG, as they are known, presents speakers on topics via a telephone hookup and Webinar using Web-Ex on your PC. Friday's VRUG meeting runs late morning to early afternoon Central time, but you can come and go from your phone and PC as schedule permits.
One talk that's worthwhile for HP 3000 customers of any kind, ERP or not, migrating or homesteading, is Jeff Kubler's "Moving in Your Own Time," presented over the lunch hour Central US time. Today I worked a bit to help him flesh out the idea and the specifics, but it's his show to present. His Kubler Consulting been a long-time consultant to the 3000 community, a trainer for Robelle's Suprtool and Speedware's products, and an advisor to the Amisys and Ecometry markets.
You can sign up for a spot by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of Webinar phone-in and WebEx login will be sent to registrants prior to the meeting. It's free and runs between 10:30 and 2 PM Friday.
The full agenda, as released by CAMUS:
Agenda (All times listed are Central Time)
10:30am - 11:00am - WebEx log-in setup
11:00am – 11:15am - CAMUS Update, Terry Floyd, President
11:15am – 11:30am - Infor Update, David Hotchner, Infor
11:30am – 12:15pm - Going Green - Compliance & Sustainability, Rod Ellsworth, Infor
Hazardous waste, recycling, renewable energy… how can manufacturers contribute to solutions instead of perpetuate problems?
12:15pm – 12:20pm - Break
12:20pm – 1:00pm - Moving in Your Own Time, Jeff Kubler, Kubler Consulting: Changing equipment, business systems? Control the process comfortably.
1:00pm – 2:00pm - Talk Soup - Networking-questions, tips, tricks, suggestions related to MANMAN, systems (HP, OpenVMS), business processes.
Hosted by Infor
Local attendees are cordially invited to the broadcast site:
500 W Madison, Chicago, IL
North Western Atrium Center (train station building)
Office contact 630.258.6056
Madison Room on the 21st floor
April 15, 2008
Minisoft's IMAGE/Eloquence tool: A Provider
Microsoft is a major player in most IT enterprises, and the company which brought us Vista is big enough to change the rules. It employs de-facto standards to "embrace and extend," and one change for Microsoft Windows Server database access has spawned a new IMAGE and Eloquence tool. Perennial HP 3000 software provider Minisoft serves up this tool for Windows Servers this month.
Minisoft explains why the new OLE DB Provider can bridge the path between HP 3000 data and other servers in the Windows line in the years to come. Windows, after all, is the leading choice of 3000 migration sites by number, if not by size of IT budget.
The new Minisoft OLE DB Provider opens the door to a rich set of development tools and platforms for Microsoft Windows Servers. Microsoft recently announced that OLE DB will be the method by which all information is accessed. The Microsoft OLE DB to ODBC Bridge known as MSDASQL is not available for the 64-bit environment.
The roadmap for future Microsoft applications requires using OLE DB data sources to “provide uniform access to data stored in diverse information sources." The Minisoft OLE DB Provider provides that access to your existing IMAGE and Eloquence databases.
This is the first that we've heard of a data bridge that's been branded under the Provider name, but hey, Microsoft's OLE announcement is pretty recent by Minisoft's accounting. Minisoft goes on to explain where its Provider will help in IMAGE and Eloquence access. Migrating or homesteading, you still have to access data.
Use the Minisoft OLE DB Provider for IMAGE/Eloquence to resolve the following issues:
Transparent access to your Image/Eloquence data from the 32-bit or 64-bit editions of SQL Server 2005.
Integrate IMAGE or Eloquence database access smoothly into your .NET application development environment.
Continue accessing Image or Eloquence data with Microsoft Visual Studio, Borland development tools, Microsoft Access (through VBA), ActiveX Scripts, Crystal Reports, Windows Scripting, IIS web applications (ASP and ASP.NET) by using the Minisoft OLE DB Provider.
Minisoft offers evaluation copies of its software at the Downloads page of its Web site.
April 14, 2008
Six years, five months, and forecasts for futures
This week the 3000 community will move into the month that signals six-and-a-half years of the 3000's Transition Era. It has been a period filled with dread, hope, opportunity and change. A good deal of all that was predicted from the very first day of Transition, but some events were not. 3000 owners who need to forecast events for the next 77 months, now that the first 77 have passed, can start by reviewing what's come to pass from predictions and what has not, and why.
On November 14, 2001, the day of HP's announcement of ending its 3000 operations, ERP and MANMAN advisor Cortlandt Wilson looked into his crystal ball and saw these events:
Up until Jan 1, 2007 service parts should be available from HP just as they are now. After that I expect that HP will continue it’s policy of selling service parts on a “best, available” basis.
Not only accurate, but accurate-plus: HP still offers parts and service on its support throughout this year, two more than HP figured. Also as predicted, the third party market and the vast field of identical HP 9000 hardware has made parts a non-issue to go forward with a 3000.
Q: Is it possible that someone will take over support of MPE/iX after HP stops support in 2006?
A. Yes. In fact the conversations are already well underway. I was in on a phone call between HP and members of Interex’s MPE Forum just yesterday where that topic was discussed at some length.
We wish we could say this one was forecast accurately, but that swap-over front has moved slower than forecast. HP's decision on support for MPE/iX, tied to licensing source for some, outlasted Interex and that MPE Forum. The timing still seems to be tied to end of HP support. It's important to remember that HP made its discontinuance announcement from two spokesmen: Then-GM Winston Prather, and Jim Murphy, the latter notably of HP Support.
But HP did follow through on what it did promise for improving system, as predicted.
Wilson took a look forward on the dark November day for the 3000 and saw more HP work in the future.
It looks to me like HP is planning to go ahead and roll out the hardware and software improvements that they already had in the R&D pipeline. Furthermore, MPE/iX ombudsman Jeff Vance indicated to the Interex volunteers yesterday that "if anything, the next SIB (System Improvement Ballot) will be more important than last year.
Also predicted well, since HP has more than three-score beta test patches created after 2001, all waiting for general release.
Systems have flowed through the marketplace, more than four years after HP stopped selling the 3000.
I expect the already flourishing used systems market to continue to be there for many years. I
would add a caveat here. I would expect the used systems to be available after 2003, but perhaps not at the current prices.
Those prices are better than ever, and supply meets demand even for the latest class of 3000.
Most important to today's forecasters, Wilson's prediction of the 3000's utility have come true and continue well beyond the date everyone worked toward more than six years ago.
I don’t believe that saying that the HP e3000 is “dead” is an accurate description of the situation. For some users today’s announcement may be one more reason to leave the HP e3000. But many of you have looked at the options and have decided to stick with MANMAN and the HP e3000. If that decision made sound business sense yesterday, I suggest that it probably still does today. And it may still make sense come January 1, 2007.
Or on April 14, 2008, too. Each company can migrate in its own time.
April 11, 2008
Tips on Deleting Bad System Disks
As HP 3000s age their disks go bad, the fate of any component with moving parts. Even after replacing a faulty drive — which is not expensive at today's prices — there are a few software steps to perform. Wyell Grunwald explains of the failed system (bootup) disk
Our disk was a MEMBER in MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET. I am trying to delete the disk off the system. Upon startup of the machine is says that LDEV 4 is not available. When going into SYSGEN, then IO, then DDEV 4 it gives me a warning that it is part of the system volume set — cannot be deleted. I have done an INSTALL from tape (because some of the system files were on that device), which worked successfully. How do I get rid of this disk?
Gilles Schipper of support provider GSA said that INSTALL is something to watch while resetting 3000 system disks.
Sounds like the install did not leave you with only a single MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET disk.
Could it be that you have more than one system volume after INSTALL because other, non-LDEV 1 volumes were added with the AVOL command of SYSGEN - instead of the more traditional way of adding system volumes via th VOLUTIL utility?
You can check as follows:
If the resulting output shows more than one volume, that's the answer.
He offers a repair solution as well.
The solution would be as follows:
1. reboot with:
START NORECOVERY SINGLE-DISC SINGLE-USER
2. with SYSGEN, perform a DVOL for all non-ldev1 volumes
3. HOLD, then KEEP CONFIG.SYS
4. create new SLT.
5. perform INSTALL from newly-created SLT.
6. add any non-ldev1 system volumes with VOLUTIL. This will avoid such problems in future.
If you do see only 1 system volume with the LVOL command, the only thing I can think of is that VOLUTIL was used to add ldev 4 to the MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET after the install.
April 10, 2008
Tape backup: Set DLT to beat DDS
Backing up enterprise-grade 3000s presents more interesting choices today than 5-10 years ago. Back then DDS had only two generations, neither of which were reliable for certain. A DDS tape used to be the common coin for OS updates and software upgrades. The media has advanced to a DDS-5 generation, but Digital Linear Tape (DLT) has a higher capacity and more reliability than DDS.
When a DDS tape backup runs slower than a DLT, however, something is amiss. DLT is supposed to supply a native transfer rate of 15 MBps in the SureStore line of tape libraries. You can look over at an HP PDF datasheet on the SureStore, even certified by HP for MPE/iX, at this link.
HP 3000 community partners such as Genisys and Bay Pointe and Pivital Solutions offer these DLTs, and Orbit Software has an "order with our backup software" option, too. But at an estimated cost of about $1,300 or more per DLT device, you'll expect them to beat the DDS-4 transfers of 5 MBps.
HP 3000 customer Ray Shahan didn't see the speed he expected after moving to DLT and asked the 3000 newsgroup community what might be wrong. Advice ranged from TurboStore commands, to channels where the drives are installed, to the 3000's bandwidth and CPU power to deliver data to the DLT. HP's MPE/iX IO expert Jim Hawkins weighed in among the answers, while users and third-party support providers gave advice on how to get the speed you pay extra for in DLT.
Dave Gale wrote in an answer that device configuration and CPU are potential problems:
If you are using a DLT it likes to get data in a timely manner. Otherwise it will do the old 'shoe shine'. This means that other devices on the line can affect the bandwidth on the channel and starve the DLT. If you are using something like RoadRunner, then the CPU can be a real factor in this equation (especially single-CPU machines). So, you may not only want to check the statistics portion of the report, but monitor your machine during backup with Glance or SOS.
Gilles Schipper of support company GSA said that a TurboStore command is essential. "If HP TurboStore, are you using MAXTAPEBUF option on STORE command?"
HP's Hawkins said channel configurations of backup devices are key to ensuring that DLT tops the DDS speed:
Generally this shouldn’t happen. It might happen if the DLT and disc are on the same channel while the DAT/DDS was on a separate one. Might also happen with large numbers of small files on semi-busy system as some DAT are better at start/stop than DLT. If you are running STORE the STATISTICS option can give a broad indication of throughput for A/B comparison.
EchoTech's Craig Lalley, who's made a business out of upgrading HP 3000 storage devices, said that even when a DLT is moved to a different channel than the disk drive, you can do more. "The easiest thing to do is run the backup in the C-queue. Also, try turning software compression off."
Allegro Consultants' Stan Sieler offered a basic remedy. "I'd try a new DLT tape. I've found that helps at times."
3000 user Jack Connor testified to how much faster a DLT backup becomes with the best software parameters for backup commands. "MAXTAPEBUF and INTER can make a major difference," he said. "I recently had a backup to DLT cut from 7 hours to under 2 by just adding these parms."
We recently ran an article about ScreenJet's advice about large backups which skip the tapes altogether. STORE-to-disk (STD) counts on the reliability of a second disk mechanism, but DLT tapes have moving parts and magnetic properties, too. They just seem to cost a good deal more than disks which hold 40 times more than a DLT tape.
April 09, 2008
Spreading 3000 expertise on tail slices
As the HP 3000 community huddles together in numbers, the skills and solutions they need become more unique. Migration proponents might call HP 3000 homestead services arcane or obtuse knowledge, but 3000 community members still need to be served from what's known as The Long Tail.
The great thing about Long Tail economics is that small companies can have a big impact on a customer's success using the strategy. The Long Tail, according to Wikipedia, is
The niche strategy of certain business such as Amazon.com or Netflix. The distribution and inventory costs of these businesses allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The group of persons that buy the hard-to-find or "non-hit" items is the customer demographic called the Long Tail.
Doing just a little volume of hard-to-find items like HP 3000 management and data services looks like the new strategy from an old 3000 partner, The Support Group. The company has made its bones on being among the top Trusted Advisors for ERP strategy and MANMAN support. But TSG's recent posting to a the 3000 community Internet newsgroups sketched out solutions which might have become hard-to-find.
While Netflix and Amazon, being public-traded companies, are a long way from small providers, they do offer things you can't get in many places. So do many 3000 community providers. And so community members saw the list of services and solutions TSG (which likes to call itself tSGi, for the the Support Group, inc.) is putting out there; a subset of tSGi's list are slices of the long tail:
HP 3000/MPE Support – tSGi can provide management of your HP 3000 remotely or hosted at our datacenter in Austin, TX
Combined MANMAN and HP 3000 MPE – Complete end to end proactive management of MANMAN and HP 3000 processes and jobs
HP 3000 Disaster Recovery – tSGi provides emergency backup HP 3000 hardware in our Austin datacenter
ERP Applications – tSGi works with a number of ERP vendors to bring the right solutions to our MANMAN customers
Data Cleansing – Whether you are staying on MANMAN or migrating to a new ERP application, clean data is vital to running a successful business
Data Migration – tSGi has done data migrations for numerous MANMAN sites to many different ERP applications. Our data migration knowledge greatly reduces the migration timeline and data errors that can occur without our deep knowledge of MANMAN and IMAGE data relationships
Archive and History Support - for companies that have migrated off of the HP3000 but need to keep the HP 3000 data available, tSGi will keep your HP 3000 in our datacenter at the ready for user access or authorized outside entities, such as auditors
The size of the 3000 community makes a lot of its needs, both migration- and homestead-related, Long Tail servings. That's why a company need not be large to deliver great benefits to a 3000 owner.
April 08, 2008
No joke: The wrong HP computer?
Perhaps we can file today's entry under History, too, because it promotes a Hewlett-Packard that is gone for the 3000 owner who's not considering a migration. HP has put together a series of TV ads that hawk its HP Financing as part of a "HP Total Care" package. The ad looks like it's part of a campaign selling HP PCs; it's hard to believe that the HP Integrity servers would ever spark such a slick advertisement.
HP drew customers' attention to the joke (not an April Fool's gag) in its HP Technology at Work newsletter. The ad, like so many, is posted up on You Tube, in hopes of the Tube lending some viral marketing oomph to the message. You can have a look yourself. It's probably funnier if your company has a constant future in the Hewlett-Packard fold.
You can certainly believe after having a look at the ad that HP has a marketing message that includes the idea that any other computer than the ones it sells is the wrong computer. On the other hand, HP's Financing might be available for non-HP products. Or not. HP knows humor sells, plus it needs to have a direct message at the end of the joke:
Watch and laugh at this YouTube video and discover to what lengths companies will go to finance their technology. See what life would be like without HP.
Support, financing, training, all the little squares in the ad's direct message (click it for a detailed picture), these are still available from the vendor if a company is investing in HP's 3000 alternatives. The message might sting a little for the company that has not migrated and feels like it needs to run a car wash to finance their computer purchases. The subtle nudge is that a company without IT financing is in real trouble, or just someone to spark a laugh.
Of course, many of those options are available from outside of HP, from independent providers — even for the HP 3000 owner. It's a good idea not to take marketing too seriously. We can laugh here in our company, because the alternative won't get us anywhere.
Oh, and HP Financial Services racked up $642 million in loan activity in the first quarter of 2008. Nothing wrong with that, so long as the company that's not washing cars understands the HP Total Care benefits will benefit the Hewlett-Packard profit numbers. HPFS wrote 17 percent more loans in '08 in Q1 than in '07, and the easy financing made $43 million of profit in the first quarter alone.
That'll pay for a few TV commercials. HP certainly doesn't need a car wash. But life without HP need not require car washes and bake sales. What is it like? Maybe less smug, maybe not as funny. There's no comic commericals to promote life without Hewlett-Packard.
April 07, 2008
3000s don't add up in migration
One element working against the HP 3000 in 2008: Novice owners.
In the El Defensor Chieftain, official newspaper of Socorro County, New Mexico, we read of a faulty tape on a 3000 that is giving the County Treasurer fits.
"The problem seems to once again be the officer's HP3000 hardware. "I think the tape drive is running out," said computer technician Joe Franklin.
Joe's expertise might lie in Windows, and if that's true then he's better-skilled than a lot of the world's workforce. But unless the Chieftain's reporter Evelyn Cronce's quote is in error, then Joe the technician is typical of a lot of the HP 3000 customer base. These are people who know just about everything better than managing an HP 3000.
The 3000 was adopted by a lot of entities like the County Treasurer, places where steel filing cabinets were probably the previous data information system. Since the 3000 is so reliable, and the software vendors and HP itself were spot-on about support, the County and many 3000 sites never needed to know that a tape drive can't fill up, but a tape will. Or that backing up to tape is pretty much out of date now, since tape drives can go belly up on any system.
Novice owners might not know that a disk drive — and I'm just guessing here, but in Sorocco there's probably one of those venerable 2GB drives that HP included in the elderly 9x7 computers — well, those can fill up, but can be replaced.
What will be replaced someday at the County Treasurer's office is the HP 3000, to nobody's surprise. Data Now, the company which has specialized in apps for municipalities like Socorro County, wanted to do a replacement of its own 3000 installation. But at a total contract of $48,000 for two years, the county balked.
So now the County awaits the new AppLogix system, which is getting close to a year overdue. Oh, and a new tape drive is on order for a "no-longer-supported HP 3000."
In the meantime, in between time? "Intermittent computer problems... but the problem is under control, for the moment."
Migrating customers, as well as those who are reaching for a migration solution right now, will recognize the minor drama going on in the County office this month. From the El Defensor Chieftain report:
In May 2007, AppLogix Chief Executive Officer Scott Ballard told the Socorro County Commission his software company would have their new software running in the County Assessor's Office in 30 days, and in the County Treasurer's Office in 90 days.
AppLogix’s Computer Assisted Mass Assessment software was a finished project when the county purchased it. The system only required installation, customization and employee training. The Treasurers’ software was being developed. Both systems were purchased together so the two offices could share data seamlessly.
Basing their decision heavily on that information, commissioners voted to not pay $2,000 per month for a minimum of two years to DataNow to upgrade the Treasurer’s existing system and get rid of the no-longer-supported HP3000 hardware.
The software for the Treasurer’s Office was not functioning in 90 days. “I think their development cycle is just running long,” Franklin said.
That'll happen, Joe. For all intents and purposes their HP 3000 is truly no-longer-supported. Third-party support in Socorro County — total population 10,000 — is bound to be spotty at best. That's what will happen when a computer vendor makes an exit from a working marketplace, and then spends more than six years talking about how their HP 3000 will be no-longer-supported.
April 04, 2008
Whose life is ending, and when
You hear the phrase "end of life" a lot in the 3000 community. Usually it's Hewlett-Packard talking about its HP 3000 product. It's as if once HP stops supporting the system and working on MPE/iX, then the server is dead.
We also hear "end of life" from some partners in the HP 3000 community, especially those with a heavy migration quota to fill. By heavy quota I mean a lack of business such a partner can conduct with a customer who won't migrate anytime soon.
Come to think of it, that's really the perspective HP seems to approach every time the vendor uses phrases like "as the 3000 comes to its end of life." Whatever is ending, it's unlikely to be the HP 3000 use at a good number of good HP customers. If that were not true, then HP would say its 3000 support will reach its end of life, without a doubt in 2010.
Products outlive their creators. A user group sprang up in the 1980s to support the beloved Osborne PCs, after the company that created them had gone belly-up in 1983. The First Osborne Group (FOG) held their system and its included software close to their hearts, long after Osborne fell to the competition of Apple and Kaypro.
Ancient history, some might say, adding that the market is completely different 20 years later. But the customers aren't that different. Keep in mind that the 1980s is the time when many of the strongest HP 3000 advocates and its most durable customers adopted the 3000. For these companies, the end of life that's approaching soonest is not for a server that runs well in their enterprises and is supported by a growing third party ecosystem.
Not only does this "end of life" concept fly in the face of customer habit, it is also difficult to predict or track. HP said at its latest appearance at the GHRUG meeting that migrations are winding down now. The attendees were thus enticed to surmise that being un-migrated meant they were behind the majority of 3000 owners.
Robelle has pledged to keep its HP 3000 business running through 2016. Vesoft, which still can count on several thousand support-paying customers, won't even discuss an end of life date for its business. Adager, The Support Group, Pivital and the many hardware resources — you won't hear them talking about the 3000's end of life.
No one can dispute that the field of 3000 owners is dwindling in size. That makes for opportunity for the partners who sell migration solutions. This is the ecosystem that HP dreamed up when it started one end of life in 2001: The end of its HP 3000 business. It's not hard to imagine, given the FOG-like support for the 3000 concept: A computer designed to run for years without need for repurchase, upgrade or extra expense.
Systems offered today have a certain end of life, planned by their makers, who have a follow-on product in design and test even while the older systems sell well. We're careful to call HP's ending its "exit from the community," a group that will still be using the systems to efficient effect, years after HP ends its 3000 life.
April 03, 2008
Checking out the Contributed Software Library
When the HP 3000 first nurtured its community, the computer pros contributed software for one another. This sharing first took place in the 1970s, an era long before open source when only academics exchanged work without payment. For more than two decades the 3000 community created the Contributed Software Library, programs written and fostered in the computers of user group Interex.
More than two years have passed since Interex passed away. The user group's assets have been dissected, calculated and disbursed, but the CSL was not on any trustee's list. Interex never owned these programs, only the collective mass of them on a single tape or selected from one data store.
Now the community is looking for what it contributed. Charles Shimada, a volunteer whose hard work kept Interex computers running at many a conference, was holding the archives of the CSL when Interex melted down. He's willing to share any particular CSL program, so long as a 3000 user can ask for it by name.
Except for a few programs created and contributed by HP 3000 engineers at Boeing, the whole of the CSL is now available. How to get a program is a process with several solutions. Shimada said if anyone wants a contribution from the CSL, he will try to supply it in a store to disc format.
Craig Lalley, a former member of the Interex CSL committee, wonders that if Interex is now a non-entity — and indeed, the CSL looks abandoned — then who could sue for damages if the software programs were released
OpenMPE is ready to host this collection of contributed programs, accessible from a Web server. A collection of this kind of contributed software is already available on the servers at 3k Associates.
April 02, 2008
Inventing a new home for Invent3k
Inside of HP's 3000 labs — a place that amounts to cubicles, a meeting space with a speakerphone and a portion of a computer room — sits a community resource. HP has a public access server called Invent3k, a 3000 which anyone can use. The server was set up in 2001 to encourage community development of software for the 3000. HP stocked this system — a Series 989 at the time — with HP subsystem development software such as a COBOL compiler and more.
IBM appeared to follow the HP move a few weeks after
Invent3K went online, opening up a public server for Linux developers
and users to access over the Internet. History would show that Invent3k went online less than six months before HP announced the vendor would leave the 3000 market. Leave sometime later in the future, as it turns out.
Now the future is Invent3k is, well, up for grabs. HP has told the community members that it will pass along the server's data — and we don't know if that includes these subsystem software — at the end of HP's 3000 operations. Bill Cadier, who's still working inside the 3000 labs, looks to be the current manager of Invent3k. But like HP's definition of when its 3000 works cease, the move date for Invent3k is unannounced, too.
This HP 3000 is a resource which OpenMPE would like to host right away, or as soon as possible. The idea of an independent, virtually non-profit advocacy group which stewards such a server seems like a good plan. Nobody, not even HP, wants to see Invent3k go offline for good. It's the home of code like txt2pdf, which as its name suggests, takes a text stream on the HP 3000 and converts it to a PDF file.
Invent3k is now a Series 979-400 HP 3000, according to one of its users, OpenMPE director Matt Perdue. To say that Perdue has fire to spark HP's changes to its 3000 business would be an understatement. In a letter published elsewhere, he's just advised the R&D Lab manager to let loose of the MPE/iX source and step out of the way.
Regardless of whether Ross McDonald takes heed of Perdue's directive, the OpenMPE director is keeping close track of what HP is doing, or not doing, for the community. That includes the state of Invent3k, which has gone offline unexpectedly from time to time.
With the outages and unspecified future of Invent3k, Perdue urged 3000 programmers who've used the server to make their own backups of their code and projects on the 979's drives.
Another engineer who counts HP service in his resume, Lars Appel, also believes OpenMPE is the best place for Invent3k. After all, Hewlett-Packard is dropping its sustained engineering — patch building and fixes to MPE/iX — in 40 weeks.
Invent3k's service can be more easily duplicated now than 10 years ago, when HP was breaking ground with a public server. This concept was crucial to MPE/iX joining the technology of the Internet and open source. Mark Klein, the former head of Orbit Software's labs and a former OpenMPE director, bootstrapped the whole Samba-Apache-BIND-Internet offerings with his GNU C++ compiler project — hosted on Invent3k.
April 01, 2008
HP converts MPE/iX to social net app
In a responsible effort to recycle more than 30 years of programming code, Hewlett-Packard has decided to re-purpose MPE/iX as a social networking application. The news we received from a usually reliable source reports that HP has been searching for an appropriate future for the HP 3000 operating system for more than seven years. Executives have hit on a new social network as an ideal mission for the 33-year-old software.
"We're reaching to become more popular with customers younger and less gray than the 3000 community," said HP spokesman Ben E. Fitforeyou. "This MPE/iX software isn't going anywhere unless we do something about it, and HP is willing to take its chances and charge into the future. We see MPE/iX as a way to bring thousands of computer professionals together for significant social interchange."
A coalition of user groups and advocacy boards, including the DEL/3000 Special Interest Group, the New Wave Association, and HP's Business Report Writers, have agreed to be a test bed for the MPE/iX revision. A core of HP's retired 3000 developers are rolling up their sleeves on the technological transformation, expected to be completed by December of 2010.
"There's a big change a-brewing for MPE/iX," said D. David Brown, the development leader directing the core team from Montange d'Mystere, Switzerland. "I've been waiting more than 20 years for something as important as this."
Demise depends on point of view
AICS Research has rolled out an evolutionary version of the company's QueryCalc HP 3000 product. Founder Wirt Atmar announced the new product, QCReports, in a posting over the HP 3000 newsgroup. You can download and install a version 0.98 copy from the product's Web page, aics-research.com/qcreports
QCReports runs on any system which supports Marxmeier Software's Eloquence database: HP-UX, Windows or Linux. The software has been 95 percent rebuilt on Windows from the QueryCalc code, Atmar said. In an extensive post to the newsgroup he explained the evolution of the product and how it can help an HP 3000 site migrate to another platform
Although there are an enormous number of PC manufacturers, there’s really only one system, and I very much believe in Bill Gates' plans for World Domination. Because of that belief, the newest version of QueryCalc, which we now call QCReports, was translated onto the PC.
However, in that post you'll see another viewpoint from Wirt, who has logged many hours as an advocate for the HP 3000 and IMAGE. The HP 3000 died in 2001, he says, and so QCReports had to take up QueryCalc's mantle for AICS. But Wirt showed curiousity about any interest in a 3000 version of the product, too, a broad-minded view in the wake of an obituary.
The question: Is there any interest (meaning money) in us putting together host code for the HP 3000 and IMAGE? I estimate that it would only take us a couple of months (in the Atmarian Calendar) to get it up and running on the HP 3000. We already have all of the database query code written for the HP 3000. It’s only a matter of rewriting it for the new communications protocols.
The death of a system is a serious matter for anyone who's invested so much in it across so many years. But I disagree with the time of death, or even the current prognosis for how long the 3000 can survive.
To make my point about the premature 3000 obituary, I go back to Wirt's point in a subsequent message, when he responded to the mess we see in the Windows world, post-XP.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of this business is the tendency of people to exaggerate, to try to protect whatever nook and cranny they’re comfortable in, rather than look at the situation as the way things are.
“The way things are” is not an empirical, unassailable point of view for the 3000 community. As Alfredo Rego said in his keynote at the recent GHRUG conference, there are many perspectives for the HP 3000 users to use in viewing their world. Wirt builds software from the viewpoint that the 3000 is long dead. IT pros who advise on 3000s like Michael Anderson of J3K Solutions see a Windows world that grows more deadly and blinding with each release. Calling Windows a way for Microsoft to suck more life-blood, he says of Microsoft's product strategy
With every new release of the Bill Gates platform, (from Win 3.x, (95/98/me), 2000, XP, and now Vista) end users and developers experience something similar to a blind man having his furniture rearranged.
Is the 3000 dead? Is Windows a life-blood-sucking platform? Does all of this Windows enterprise design remind you of something you bought for your HP 3000 10 years ago? If your answers are yes, no, and yes, you find yourself looking through a migrated perspective. If the answers are yes, yes and yes, you might be in the middle of a Windows migration. And if the answers are no, yes, and no, you see homesteading as the way to view the future. Lots of nooks for lots of reasons.
The nook and cranny I am comfortable in is obvious: historic, legacy in the sense of legendary, and realistic about the ultimate demise of everything we hold dear. Prepare for death and the life that follows. You will know when death arrives, so don’t worry on that score. I just believe it’s still too early to write that obituary for the HP 3000, even while creating alternative solutions for the problems which that great platform continues to solve.
But boy, if anyone can move a product from MPE/iX to Windows better than AICS, I’d sure like to see them try. Especially in keeping the 3000 hosting capabilities inside the evolved product, like QCReports does.
On the other hand, QCReports does have potential for the 3000 user who's not migrating, either at this time or at any time. Wirt summed up his original posting,
On one hand you might ask why spend any money on a dead platform, and that’s certainly a reasonable question. But on the other, if you’re intending on staying with MPE for a little while longer, QCReports would be a way to significantly upgrade and modernize your capabilities with the HP 3000. And, if and when you do migrate, if you move to a platform which Eloquence supports, your total migration time for your database and reports will honestly be only a one or two hours. Other than changing the IP address of the new host, you’ll never notice a single difference.