February 27, 2009
Voters keeping OpenMPE flame alive
Today marks the final day of 2009 voting for OpenMPE board directors. The election began more than two weeks ago, with almost 60 ballots cast as of this morning. If that doesn't seem like a wide swath of participation, consider the range of candidates versus open seats. The ratio this year is 1:1.
Despite the lack of drama, 3000 owners are voting for the four candidates listed for the four board seats. The advocacy group is running the election to stay true to its bylaws: one annual election for volunteer positions is required. Depending on the turnout today, the election could keep pace with contested balloting from years past. OpenMPE has been working for the community since 2002.
If you act by the end of today, Feb. 27, you could add your vote to the total and help represent the 3000 homesteading community. Like OpenMPE, it's a group which will continue beyond HP's efforts for the HP 3000 owner. "Don't forget," says secretary Donna Hofmeister, who's managing the election, "your vote still matters and continues to demonstrate your support for OpenMPE's mission."
You will need to be a member of OpenMPE (it's free) to cast your ballot for incumbent directors Birket Foster, Anne Howard and Alan Tibbetts, or incoming director Tony Tibbenham. The group even has an already-migrated 3000 owner among its directors. That's an indication of the realism and thorough preparation for all post-HP possibilities. A handsome Web page with candidate biographies answers the question, "What kind of 3000 user would be involved in advocacy for a cancelled product line?"
If you're an OpenMPE member (yes, there are hundreds) you will need your membership number to cast a ballot. The voting page includes an e-mail link to Hofmeister in case you've forgotten your membership number. She's been sending gentle messages back to the voters who've gotten their number incorrect, inviting them to re-cast a valid ballot with the correct number — which she supplies.
It's another example of full service from the volunteer group which has urged HP into numerous improvements to the post-2010 policies of 3000 ownership.
February 26, 2009
Lufthansa flies off to SAP replacement
Many HP 3000 customers who migrate do so onto lower-priced alternatives. User reports are rife with stories of Eloquence replacing TurboIMAGE, or programs which are emulated with few rewrites onto Windows systems, using a tool like AMXW (deployed at financials giant ING) or Ordina's MPUX. But some 3000 sites have succeeded at making the SAP behemoth work in place of MPE/iX in-house-written apps.
That's the report from Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland, where IT manager Joe Farrell has managed the last of the transitions away from the HP 3000. SAP has been the target platform for the aircraft manufacturing firm ever since HP announced it would exit the 3000 community. Now the last 3000 app is being transferred to work on Intel-based servers. Lufthansa uses servers from Hewlett-Packard, no less.
"Incidentally, we host SAP on an entirely Intel-based platform (originally NetServers, but more recently Proliants)," Farrell reported. "There’s HP loyalty for you!"
"We’ve replaced all but one of our HP 3000 applications," Farrell said. "The last remaining one, a custom application for Contract Billing/Invoicing, is being redeveloped onto a new platform."
Lufthansa turned to SAP's high-level Advanced Business Application Programming language to rewrite the billing/invoicing app. ABAP is positioned as SAP's tool for its Web Application Server, part of its NetWeaver platform for building business applications. ABAP, which harkens back to the German roots of SAP's designs, has a syntax that is said to be similar to COBOL. The German name for ABAP translates into "general report creation processor." Farrell reports of his final migrated 3000 app:
We developed it in-house over 17 years ago, mainly in PowerHouse, with a bit of COBOL for the more challenging processing. It also uses Fantasia for producing customer-friendly output. And, needless to say, it uses the trusty TurboIMAGE database for the data.
We have re-written it, again in-house, as a custom module for our SAP platform. It was developed using the ABAP language, and SAP-Script for formatting the output. This was the most logical (no pun intended) platform for it — as our ERP system, including Financials, are all SAP-based at this stage. So now the users will have a single front-end GUI, and the data is integrated in a single Oracle database.
February 25, 2009
IMAGE logging: the poor man's shadow
Tracy Johnson, a business analyst at Measurement Specialties and an OpenMPE board member, suggested recently that the logging feature of the 3000's database IMAGE has powerful potential.
Johnson's finger is aided by a third-party tool. The HP 3000 environment grew rich and powerful over the past three decades as a result of third-party engineering such as the software from Summit Systems.
David Byrns of Summit Systems, which serves the 3000 manufacturing community but creates all manner of tools for 3000s, explained. "The 3000 Audit Tool that Tracy refers to works on all HP 3000 applications that use IMAGE, not just MANMAN."
The Audit Tool has had a long history of helping 3000 customers. Nearly four years ago we detailed the software's scope in a story written before our current blog went online. We wrote:
“This is my first tool that goes beyond the MANMAN community,” Byrns said. “I wrote this for MANMAN sites, but there’s been a lot of interest from other sites, too.”
Our 2005 article has more details on this tool to empower your HP 3000's logging potential.
February 24, 2009
Migration splits duties of dropping, testing
In what’s becoming a proven strategy for large migrations, Speedware and ING Australia split the work between revising applications, known as “code drops,” and creating and managing the test suites and testing of the re-hosted software. The large-scale project was completed in 2008.
“It was a pretty substantive project,” said Andrea McCarley, the deployment manager for the migration project ING called Chrysalis. “We had six streams going at one point, with 20-30 in-house staff and other third party vendors involved as well.” Even at that size of staffing, the project was occupying only about 10-15 percent of ING’s IT staff, which at the time was more than 300 professionals.
Speedware’s marketing director Chris Koppe said another motivation for ING was to reduce the number of third party applications needed for a production system. While some new vendors have been introduced to make Chrysalis a reality, the third-party elements were reduced from more than 40 to less than 20, he said.
ING counted on some Unix expertise among its IT staff at the time of choosing HP-UX, but not a lot. McCarley said Speedware employed its AMXW migration tool, “but HP-UX was definitely a new environment to us, and particularly AMXW, which is proprietary to Speedware. But it provides a lot of functionality for us — it’s kind of the grease between the operating system and the application code, so we didn’t have to rewrite specific utilities.”
The time difference between Speedware’s Montreal labs and the ING operations is more than a business day, but having Speedware staff onsite in Australia helped. Some Speedware calls had to be made at midnight Eastern time to catch ING before the end of its business day. The two companies found a way to make the clock work for them.
“In some ways you got a 24-hour cycle, because people could work on things here and then hand it off to [Speedware],” McCarley said, and then Montreal would work on the fixes overnight, so we’d get them pretty quickly.”
The project was the largest that ING had undertaken, even if the end result was the same applications moved to another HP platform. “You were lifting up the hood and swapping out all the pieces, so at the end of the day you had the same car doing the same thing, but almost every component was changed,” McCarley said. The challenge was in the technology changes, since the objective was to make the user experience seamless.
The tech changes occurred against the history of reliability and comfort with HP 3000s. “But everyone knew they couldn’t go forward in an unsupported environment,” McCarley said, “so we had to step and get acclimated to the new technology and the new platform. If HP was willing to support it indefinitely, no one would be willing to undertake this large a migration project.”
Evolving, everyday-use business logic was making the migration during the project, rather than static systems. An analysis revealed programs and menus no longer used, streamlining away elements that didn’t need to be shifted onto the HP-UX system. “There was no point in paying for migrating something that was no longer being used,” McCarley said.
After functionality testing took place in Montreal, the full environment was actively tested in Australia. A unique number of interfaces connected the systems, McCarley said, so complete testing had to take place at the customer site, including integration testing, user acceptance testing, operability testing, performance testing, and “a whole phase just around batch processing, to get it right for our environment.”
Speedware’s staffers “were committed to the project and definitely there when you picked up the phone,” McCarley said. “When you’re working out an issue in the code, you don’t always know if it’s in the code or in the environment. So there was a lot of collaboration to figure out what root causes were the issue. Then either they would fix it, or we would fix it.”
Stepping away from TurboIMAGE gave ING a chance to embrace Eloquence as the new database for the production environment. “It certainly made the data migration straightforward,” McCarley said. Eloquence indexing will enable ING to move away from Omnidex in the HP-UX environment, removing another third party element.
ING was pleased with the results of its project, praising Speedware’s partnership model. Kulakowski said the ING project is “evidence that large organizations can undertake a well-planned and automated modernization project to migrate to a new, stable platform, providing increased business agility and significant cost savings.”
February 23, 2009
Financial site shifts apps to new host
Following a mandate from its computer vendor, assets and insurance management firm ING Australia Ltd. completed a “lift and shift” migration away from HP 3000 systems during 2008. The company said it chose to re-host rather than rewrite to reduce risk and cut the cost of the migration.
Speedware’s professional services group worked for months on the ING project, deploying resources on the behalf of the financial firm such as onsite consulting and application code revisions. CIO Greg Booker said the project, which spanned more than 19 months including breaks, gave ING a large return from its large project. But the company had first begun to rewrite its applications before it changed strategy.
“In the end, the project turned out to be very cost-effective,” Booker said. “We calculated that the cost of the re-hosting project, combined with the resulting maintenance costs over the next 10 years, would be four to five times less expensive than if we had continued with our rewriting project. That translates into a lot more money that can be invested into innovative projects focused on helping to grow our business.”
Booker said “Speedware worked closely with our team, driving for absolute reliability and low risk.” ING’s financial and insurance applications handle investments and superannuation — in essence, a type of 401K product — for companies in Australia.
Speedware’s general manager Andy Kulakowski said that when large companies look at migration, a good plan makes them most likely to achieve the greatest gains. Speedware calls the process “modernization,” a multiple-step approach that starts with shifting 3000 apps onto a vendor-supported platform. Enhancement then follows the shift.
“Our recent success in this area shows that, with proper planning and analysis, larger companies have the most to gain from modernization,” Kulakowski said.
Andrea McCarley, the deployment manager for the migration project ING called Chrysalis, said that HP’s exit from 3000 support sparked the migration onto HP-UX.
“There’s a constant evaluation of your environment and the resources you’re spending to support it,” she said, “but I think the compelling driver is the end-of-life issue — and to what extent HP would be able to support the  going forward.”
ING assessed that a dozen patches were applied to the 3000 in the 12 months prior to the migration project. The company said that the news that HP would curtail patch creation for the 3000 at the close of 2008 added to the business risk of continuing to run on the platform.
The third-party support landscape in Australia does not offer a large company that is stepping in for HP, she added. “You have an issue of whether you could even get parts, whether it’s hardware or the operating system patches. There wasn’t an obvious candidate that could provide the level of comfort and service you would want for a production system.”
February 20, 2009
HP to cut paychecks by May
Less than a day after HP reported a double-digit slide in nearly all of its businesses' profits, the company told employees in a memo that a wide range of employees will see 5 percent pay cuts by May 1. The cuts came on the heels of a surprising turnabout in HP's 2009 forecasts. HP expects its sales to drop by as much as 5 percent this year, even though the company acquired $22 billion in revenue by buying EDS last year.
CEO Mark Hurd is taking a 20 percent cut on his own base salary effective immediately. But Hurd's compensation last year was $34 million — and less than $2 million of that was base salary. Much of the CEO's compensation came in performance bonuses for 2007 and 2008.
That kind of pay perk seems unlikely if HP's trends continue through fiscal 2009. In November HP said it expected revenues to rise for fiscal 2009. On Feb. 18 the company told analysts that a "tough economic environment" has pushed down sales in every business line except services. Server sales took one of the steepest drops, and the segment contributed one of biggest declines in profits.
The ink was scarcely dry on reports of the quarterly results when employees read about HP's first "variable pay" implementation. HP said that the steepest cuts are directed at upper-level managers — some will see a 10-15 percent decrease — and that the company will be asking top-level staffers to support the variation in their pay.
Wider-sweeping cuts come in the form of pruning benefits for every employee, from retirement benefits to stock plans.
Published reports around the world relayed the language from an HP memo sent to the company's 300,000 employees yesterday. In a news report from the UK-based Register, Hurd was quoted as saying he didn't want to cut 20,000 jobs to respond to the decline in sales and profit.
"Well, I don't want to do that," the Register quoted from the Hurd memo. "When I look at HP, I don't see a structural problem of that magnitude." HP is already about a third of the way into a cut of almost 25,000 jobs, after adding the EDS payroll of 140,000 employees in 2008.
In Boise, Idaho, home of HP's printer empire, the Idaho Statesman reported that all employees have been informed of a 5 percent pay cut, along with ending contributions to 401K accounts and curtailing one of the keystones of HP compensation: a discounted stock purchase program. HP employees built retirement accounts and even income off the plan for decades.
But with Hewlett-Packard stock frozen below $45 a share for much of the last six-plus years, making money off the stock has required more nimble moves than in the 1990s and earlier. The shares dropped more than $1 in the hours after the Q1 report was announced Wednesday after trading ended. News of the pay cuts and the ripples of the report drove down the shares another $1.25. HP's dip to a close yesterday of $31.39 helped contribute to a six-year low for the Dow Jones Average. HP's stock is among the 30 shares that make up the average.
The company continues to forecast a modest earnings increase for 2009, based in large measure on its ability to contain and cut costs. HP also said that its business line managers are planning on retaining installed base customers longer to ride out what the company continually called economic "headwinds."
February 19, 2009
HP server business slides in Q1
One quarter ago, Hewlett-Packard said it was poised to improve its standings during a tough economy. HP's services and ink business fared better over the last 90 days, but customers have stalled out their purchases of company servers, PCs, and even printers. After its Q1 report of 2009, HP said it remains poised.
The numbers in hardware and enterprise products fell sharply. HP reported sales declines in BCS servers (including Integrity systems) of 17 percent and 22 percent in Industry Standard Servers (including Proliants). Integrity now represents more than four of every five server dollars spent on Business Critical Servers. Customers are buying smaller: Amid downward reports on most server lines, blade server revenues rose 4 percent year over year. HP cobbled together an overall 1 percent rise in revenues, ekeing out a virtually flat quarter despite adding services business from the $22 billion-yearly EDS operations.
Services led HP's report of good news for the company. But that segment's contribution of an extra $4 billion in revenues since last year's Q1 had to offset a drop off of nearly $1 billion in Enterprise Storage and Servers. "Our results reflect the current market environment," said CFO Cathie Lesjak, "and in particular the slowing we saw in January, as customers re-evaluated their spending and delayed purchases of equipment." The company even had to report that its printer business growth was finally halted after a seemingly-endless string of quarterly increases.
HP did a $28.8 billion quarter, a period which ended Jan. 31 and showed Services contributing virtually all of the revenue growth for the company. HP maintained a healthy support business while its customers chilled their buying plans. "Support performance was solid across the portfolio," Lesjak said in a conference call with analysts, "reflecting strong maintenance renewals and the sustained business value of our solutions."
Support is the last remaining outlet for HP 3000 IT dollars to flow into HP. But the ebb tide of sales was felt on every shore except services. HP reported that its printer and imaging business fell 19 percent in "a tough economic environment." Selling printers has gotten as difficult as moving servers. Lesjak said:
Customers are extending the life of their printer, and our installed base remains stable. We maintained strong market position in printing, and will continue to invest in market-leading innovation focused on high-page value segments and drive the conversion to digital printing.
Ink and supplies created approximately half of HP's profits for the period, a typical share. But services chipped another one-third of the black ink — leaving all other HP businesses to offer only about 20 percent of HP's earnings for the period. CEO Mark Hurd said the company has "lowered and variabilized our costs" of doing business. The word variable appeared often in the transcript of HP's conference call. HP has launched a program to tie salaries to company financial goals in what the firm calls variable pay.
HP counted an increase in market share across x86 systems as one of its bright spots along with the success of its EDS acquisition. The company had to discount its pricing to keep and increase share, a move that it said was offset by better costs for materials. HP will continue its restructuring layoffs, since it's cut only 9,000 jobs out of the 24,700 planned as part of the EDS deal.
The company reported $3.1 billion in non-Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP) operating profits for Q1. Bottom-line profits came in at $1.85 billion for the 90-day period. As in prior reports, HP counts on cost-cutting to maintain profitability. Hurd led off his chat with analysts by talking up HP's "leaner cost structure." The company pointed at its broad portfolio of businesses to keep its bottom line healthy. But Lesjak said that after a quarter which included the company's longest holiday shutdown, expenses including salaries could be adjusted further — for now downward, but even upward, if business improves.
We will continue to take actions to create a more variable cost structure, including reducing base pay and certain benefits across the company beginning in Q2. Consistent with our philosophy of pay for performance, we intend to increase variable pay in total if HP meets its FY ‘09 financial objective.
February 18, 2009
Tibbenham joins OpenMPE advocacy
Tony Tibbenham, an IT manager based in the UK, is joining the OpenMPE board of directors. The freshest face on the seven-year-old organization's team, Tibbenham has already migrated from the HP 3000, making him one of the most unique members of the group. Nearly all other members either were active 3000 users or represented companies serving the 3000 customer community.
Tibbenham believes the 3000 world deserves a representative from Europe. "I remain keen to see MPE remain available and provide a European voice on the Open MPE board," he says in his OpenMPE candidate biography. Plus he's got a new perspective in being a former user. He's an advocate for the server that his company was forced to shuffle to the low-profile duty of historical lookups. "We have no plans to drop the power to the server for several years," he says.
He also shared testimony on the 3000's durability. When he first arrive, the hardware at his company was spinning along in a room where the temperature was beyond 90 degrees. "A couple of weeks later I joined the company, got the air conditioning in the computer room repaired, and dropped the temperature to a more reasonable 19C (66F). The little box just kept spinning."
Even though Tibbenham has spent the bulk of his 26-year career using systems other than the 3000 (most notably HP-UX), he's been impressed with the HP 3000 during the two years he's guided his company's migration away from the system.
Two years in, I have developed a lot of respect for this little server, have seen great support on the HP3000-L mailing list and want to keep my 3000s doing something useful.
February 17, 2009
Circuit City connects to 3000s to the end
Few companies are weathering a demise as public as Circuit City's. The consumer electronics retail outlet is closing its doors this spring, doors which have seen millions of people pass through looking for closeout deals. Also on the shutdown list are four HP 3000s which have run at the retailer since the 1980s, operating in-house applications.
The apps continue to operate, perhaps right up to the end of the company's computing. Bill Cooksey, who once worked with the 3000s and now has duties elsewhere in the firm's IT ops, said "the 3000s play a key role in transaction logging for our stores, and other sales functions, so as long as log records are generated we'll need to keep them up. Once they're down, nothing will replace them because everything will be shut down in time."
These systems are going offline the same way many computers go dark: the company folds its tent. The bankruptcy of Circuit City will accomplish what the company tried to do at least four times in the past: put another computer in place of the 3000s which was just as reliable.
Connie Boyer of the company said
I developed the first point of sale system for Circuit City on an HP 3000 Series III. We had a good 350 terminals hooked up to that baby! I wrote the order entry application that all the cashiers used in the stores. It was written in SPL. We started with a POS shell that Nick Demos wrote for W. Bell and Co., but the cashier app was written from scratch.
Boyer added that the 3000s will be needed until the May 1 closing of the stores. The systems may work to the very end of Circuit City operations and accounting shutdowns, she said.
February 16, 2009
Presidential pay gets HP stimulus
Today is Presidents' Day in the US, a holiday celebrated to mark the success of two of America's founders, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. This year is just another year for HP's board directors to celebrate another mark, president and CEO Mark Hurd, who collected compensation far in excess of $30 million in 2008.
The US economic stimulus package will be signed into law tomorrow, but one of its buried subsections limits pay for top execs like presidents whose companies accept stimulus money. Expect HP to not need such help, since it's got ample cash reserves and healthy profits, even while the firm lays off almost 25,000 people. Hurd has been relentless about cutting back expenses at HP, much to the approval of shareholders and analysts. Even with HP's ax a-swinging, investor analysts still believe HP is vulnerable to declines using its current management strategy.
Although paychecks are frozen at HP, presidential pay cuts are not part of HP's plans. A recent story in the Associated Press about Hurd's $34 million pay package got a slight correction last week. The AP noted that HP mis-reported stock figures in the package, so Hurd only received a 30 percent increase in '08 from his 2007 pay, not 31 percent. Companies who want to lead their markets do need to pay top dollars to keep talent, although how much of the 30 percent boost is essential could be debated. What other company in the computer business — the only business segment Hurd has worked in — might even be able to match the $24 million Hurd was getting in 2007?
That '07 pay is Manny Ramirez kind of money in a sports setting, or 50 percent more than Shaq's annual salary in the NBA. The stimulus program in the US mandates that no more than one-third of any executive's pay can be in the form of stock bonus at a corporation receiving government money. The New York Times reported:
Hurd's $34 million in '08 came largely in the form of performance bonuses. He earned a base of $1.45 million, plus $23.9 million in bonuses, and the rest in perks and stock. HP stock dropped 25 percent in value during the year, and he will have presided over 40,000 jobs worth of layoffs when the current 24,600-job firings get wrapped up.
HP has a good president, and his $8 million extra for his 2008 won't be missed much on the HP annual balance sheet. For a 3000 customer sticking with HP because the company is building a No. 1 profile and set of practices, it might be helpful to know HP's president leads the list of IT executive pay. HP's CEO ranked No. 14 among all corporations, while IBM's CEO ranked No. 15.
In contrast, an HP 3000 site moving away from the vendor could point to such large paychecks, along with the massive layoffs, as a reason to stop contributing to the revenue stream of such corporate incentives. The extra money paid to Hurd during '08 alone would have run the 3000 division another five years, staffed with a lab. It's a complicated argument to prove that the $8 million was better spent in Hurd compensation.
About the only IT founders who can count larger paychecks tend to be the founders of firms, not a top executive with a good three years of history at an icon like HP. Hurd was rewarded for a record 2008 financial finish, For the year, HP's profit rose 15 percent to $8.3 billion, while sales climbed 13 percent to $118.4 billion. But those figures included the business from EDS, whose acquisition closed in time to make it into the fourth quarter numbers.
Among the people who won't be voting on the '09 payday for Hurd will be Dick Hackborn, the creator of the reseller-driven, high-volume, consumer heartbeat of today's HP. Hackborn urged HP into the Carly Fiorina CEO era, leaving behind the engineering pedigree that lead the company up to that time.
Hackborn has announced that he won't stand for re-election on March 18, after 17 years of serving on the board. His exit, after a total of 49 years of service to the company, is a step forward for any Hewlett-Packard which wants to steward its custom-invented environments like HP-UX. Hackborn didn't believe in HP distinquishing itself through unique technology. Selling millions upon millions of laser printers, then the inkjet boxes created to sell high-profit ink, was the legacy Hackborn left to HP.
February 13, 2009
Migration launching advice grows wiser
Even now, in 2009, 3000 users are just starting migrations. Set aside for a moment the fact that HP miscalculated the migration span so badly for the 3000. Companies are learning Unix in a new era than in 2003. The good fortune of starting this year is there's a richer range of materials to study, some online, some on paper.
Texas Iron Works (TIW), a 90-year-old company supporting oil and gas exploration, "is in the beginning stages of migrating from MPE to HP-UX," said system admin Bobby Brogdon. He was looking for a cross reference guide between the two environments. HP just pulled down one of the best such resources when it shut off the Jazz server. While the community awaits the resurrection of the HP guide at places like Speedware and OpenMPE, there's other guidance.
Roy Brown pointed to the Robelle white paper on the Web that covers the subject. And in an example of the everlasting gift of the Web, a posting from the late Wirt Atmar still recommends a book about Linux.
The Linux book delivers information relevant to HP's Unix, since as Wirt says, all computers are alike. The paper guide has earned a spot on a dozen desktops at the company founded by Wirt and his partner Valerie, AICS Research.
The advantage of the Linux in a Nutshell book is that the index at the back of the book is in plain English. It is a listing of all of the kinds of things that you want to do on any computer, print, copy files, etc., and quickly points you to often suprisingly oddly-named Unix command.
I still haven’t memorized all of the names of commands that I use, which is only a fraction of those available. To compensate, we’ve purchased about of dozen copies of the O’Reilly book so that they’re on every desk for quick reference and never more than an arm’s length away.
Shawn Gordon, the former 3000 NewsWire columnist and developer of 3000 utilities, reminded Brogdon that he wrote a paper which compared commands between MPE and Unix, and he even threw in MPEX. David Waroff cast a vote for Learning the Unix Operating System which he said is "a short, pragmatic introduction to Unix."
Finally, for anyone who's leaving the 3000 in a forced march and wants to know what to watch out for in the new world of Unix, Mark Landin reminded 3000 migrators of the ubiquitous and funny "Unix Hater's Handbook." It's such an icon that it can be read online as a PDF file; it's gone out of print.
February 12, 2009
3000 Jazz content transfer a big task
Hewlett-Packard released the contents of the Jazz Web server to the 3000 community last month, but it may be a few more before the software HP copyrighted can be downloaded for free. Along with Client Systems, Speedware negotiated a re-hosting license to distribute the materials, but one time-consuming task for any re-hosting licensee could be erasing HP's footprints from the field of programs and papers.
For example, OpenMPE Web coordinator Matt Perdue, who maintains the servers where Jazz programs are also in the process of finding a home, said that HP's logos and HP internal links have to scrubbed out of any Jazz paper or presentation, with the exception of not-easily-edited PDF files. The HP materials represent the cream of the milk of Jazz kindnesses. One re-hosting resource will clean up and send out HP's work first.
Speedware's Nicolas Fortin said his company will be hosting some, but perhaps not all of Jazz. "Our plan is to use a phase-based approach," he said, "where the first phase will be to make available the HP content we are allowed to host as soon as possible."
Significant parts of the Jazz contents were created by individuals, however. Re-hosting those programs means getting agreements from each of the creators.
HP insisted, as part of its re-hosting agreement for its copyrighted Jazz content, that every re-hosting site that wants the HP programs must acquire the rights to the independent programs if that third-party software was to be included on a Web site like Speedware's.
"The agreement we have with HP is bound by a legal contract," Fortin said, "which states that we are required to get permission from all authors of third party software and open source software before we can host related content and files, which could take a bit of time." HP's permission is a blanket approval for its materials.
"Subsequent phases will be timed with acquiring the necessary permission from multiple sources to host open source and third party author software and content," Fortin added.
OpenMPE, which is waiting on HP to finalize its re-hosting contract, has downloaded all the materials, although HP is going to provide a set of DVD disks with everything included. "As far as I know, we have all of Jazz's contents," said director Donna Hofmeister. "All the pages need to be edited to remove the HP references — a fair amount of work indeed!"
Perdue said he did a download of Jazz contents while the software and papers were hosted at HP — something which the vendor advised its customers to do. Now he's got "most of the [needed] directories up on our server. What I'll be doing once we get it online is asking people to verify that they received downloads properly." Software downloaded via the FTP wget command arrives safely, but Perdue said re-hosters have to watch for problems in moving such files back onto another 3000.
Preliminary tests have already been conducted through the OpenMPE server to others that Perdue hosts. "Some things want to go FTP by binary, and others want to go FTP bytesteam," he said. "We'll have to ask individuals to check the links once we make the software available for download."
February 11, 2009
HP, Jazz programs earning new home
Speedware has announced that it's hard at work creating an independent resource for the software that HP used to offer the 3000 community via the HP Jazz Web server. Speedware became a licensee of the HP content from Jazz — programs, papers, documentation and freeware which HP had copyrighted — last month.
Speedware also signed licenses with HP to re-host the HP 3000 documentation and HP's migration training materials. The agreements give Speedware the rights to re-host those documents as well as the MPE/iX programs. The new resource holds the promise of becoming a centralized point for 3000 materials of all kinds, much like a Jazz resource located outside HP, Once Speedware finishes the transfer for the hosting, the third party supplier of migration services and 3000 software said it will maintain the same price point for the resources: free.
The software will be located in the HP e3000 Resources section of the Speedware Web site, said product marketing manager Nicolas Fortin. The vendor posted a notice on the 3000 newsgroup, outlining its intentions and calling out a few sample programs which will be available for downloading.
Fortin said the content will include the MPE/iX-to-HP-UX cross-reference guides known as commands xref, programming api xref and sysadmin funcs xref, some of the Jazz server content, and the online HP e3000 transition courses known as “HP-UX from an MPE perspective: System and usage configuration,” “HP-UX from an MPE perspective: Networks,” and “Quick Start to UNIX”.
The courses, cross-reference guide and JAZZ content will soon be available at www.speedware.com/HPe3000_resources. We’re looking forward to making them available to the community.
We will inform everyone once the relocation is complete with a message on the 3000-L, in the 3000 NewsWire, and on our Web site’s main page.
February 10, 2009
$500 license to exit market in months
HP conceived the concept of an MPE/iX emulator license in 2003, dreaming up a $500 offer for customers who want to install the 3000's OS on non-3000 hardware emulators. More than five years later it appears the $500 plan won't even last into next fall.
By October, 2010, customers will not be able to order media for MPE/iX copies which they have already licensed. HP calls these "additional emulator licenses" in an FAQ on its go/e3000 Web page. Without the ability to order media next fall, the schedule will effectively close the door on HP's $500 emulation licenses, leaving users only the software license transfer (SLT) method to carry 3000 computing onto any emulator which emerge.
HP's e3000 business Manager Jennie Hou explained that the $500 license will include a copy of MPE/iX. But HP won't allow any customers to purchase the $500 license until an emulator is tested and released by a third party. Even if an emulator were somehow to emerge by the end of this summer, this timeline would curtail that $500 license to little more than one year of sales.
HP and Client Systems will remain involved in the $500 license orders, too. Hou said that emulator vendors can facilitate orders for MPE/iX copies, but must go through HP or Client Systems.
“For customers needing an additional copy of the MPE/iX OS prior to the end of 2010," she said, "the platform emulator vendor will work with the customer on ordering a copy of the OS through HP or Client Systems. This $500 license will include a copy of the MPE/iX OS. Add-on software can still be ordered through September 30, 2010. After these dates, only the Software License Transfer process could be used to move their MPE/iX software onto the platform emulator.”
The timeline for the $500 emulator license of MPE/iX makes recovering a lost license of MPE/iX essential as soon as possible. At the end of 2010, HP ends its offer of the “lost license” RTU licenses, a product which the vendor introduced last year. Coupled with the deadline for ordering media for the 3000, that's an effective deadline of September for re-licensing an MPE/iX release.
HP believes that most users with MPE/iX will have a copy of the operating system to be used with any platform emulator. That will be true for many emulator users, but for those who want their "additional copy" of MPE/iX, they wait on an offer of a very limited time.
February 09, 2009
Keep up with the 3000 community in social nets
Social networks are embracing the 3000 community this year. The popular sites Facebook and Linked In both have 3000-dedicated groups now. Out on Linked In, I've just now been joined by the 100th other Linked In member in the 3000 Community Group. It's good to get to triple digits. OpenMPE has triple-digit membership too, as does the bellwether of 3000 groups, the 3000-L mailing list/newsgroup.
Joining these groups is free and very non-invasive. It is also one of the best ways to stay current with people who know your area of expertise and can recall the history of your great platform.
Today OpenMPE begins its 2009 election for board of directors, an effort that will drive more people into membership (also free). Personalized social networks have a stickiness to membership which newsgroups and mailing lists lack. Even though the 3000-L has more than 1,000 readers through newsgroup client software, fewer than 600 subscribers remain tied in via e-mail.
No matter whether you've migrated, are in the process of moving or are staying long-term with the platform, these online networks have great potential. Jobs, contracts and information could be just a message away. They are also a way to stay visible in the community. Working with a computer which the vendor has scuttled can invite lonliness. Social networks welcome your differences by celebrating what you hold in common.
February 06, 2009
Community pioneer Wirt Atmar dies
Wirt Atmar, founder of 3000 software firm AICS Research and an inventive leader of the 3000 community since the computer's inception, died yesterday at age 63. He leaves behind his wife and business partner Valerie, a son Mark, millions of lines of programs and Internet postings, and a legacy of creation — one that flowed from a clear-eyed view of a world where he helped computer science emerge and flourish.
Atmar died of a heart attack in his hometown in Las Cruces, NM early on Feb. 5. It was a place where he invited everyone to enjoy a free enchilada dinner when they visited him. He quipped once that it was interesting to live in a state where the omnipresent question was about enchildala sauce: "Green or red?" He gravitated to new ideas and concepts and products quickly. Less than a month after Apple introduced the iPhone, he bought and tested one, praising its promise even as he exposed its failures, from the unripened state of its software to the signal unavailability.
It will work well if you go stand in the street, however. If I go outside and stand under one specific tree, I can talk to anyone I want. In only one week, I have felt on multiple occasions just heaving the phone as far as I could throw it -- if it weren’t so damnably expensive. The iPhone currently resembles the most beautiful cruise liner you’ve ever seen. It’s only that they haven’t yet installed the bed or the toilet in your stateroom, and you have to go outside to use the “facilities,” and that’s irritating even if the rest of the ship is beautiful. But can you certainly see the promise of what it could become.
The postings were classic Wirt: Funny and insightful, cut precise with honesty, and complete in needed details. A cruise through his postings on the 3000 newsgroup stands as an extraordinary epitaph of his passions, from space exploration to environmental science to politics to evolution and so much more. He was a mensch and a brilliant polymath, an extraordinary combination in any human.
Less than 24 hours before he died, Wirt posted an lively report on migration performance gains he recorded after moving an MPE/iX program to faster hardware running Linux. It was an factual observation only Atmar could have presented, an example of the scientific practice the community loses with his passing.
One of the 3000 founders who was best known by his first name, Wirt was respected in the community for his honest and pragmatic vision of the 3000's history and potential, expressed in his countless e-mails and postings to the 3000 newsgroup. But alongside that calculating drive he carried an ardor for the platform. His was essential in sparking HP's inclusion of SQL support in IMAGE, a feature so integrated that HP renamed the database IMAGE/SQL. In 1996 Wirt led an inspired publicity effort that brimmed with a passion for possibility, conceiving and executing The World's Largest Poster Project (shown above) with the help of hundreds of volunteers on a Southern California football field. He quipped that after printing the hundreds of four-foot rolls of paper needed for the poster, loading them into a van for the trip to California represented "the summer corporate fitness program for AICS Research."
Wirt's software company survives and perseveres, reports his widow Valerie, who's been AICS general manager since the company's inception, a start in a trailer with New Mexico State graduate students doing the coding in the early 1970s. AICS has evolved across more than three decades, its success and invention maturing and expanding around the HP 3000 user, ones both homesteading and migrating. Evolution has been essential to the company as well as its founder. Wirt lived a life that sprang from his career as an evolutionary biologist and research associate at the Center for Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.
Wirt was no stranger to the realities of death, having worked for a time as a scientist calculating the fatalities from various throw weights of nuclear attacks. He saw the 3000's treatment by HP in 2001 as a death of the system, a step he was the first to publicize before HP had released the news, one he abhorred but accepted with an outsized effort to evolve onto a new platform for his company's software. In the process of that evolution AICS gave away one of the most substantial gifts the 3000 community has ever received in QCTerm, terminal emulation software which is still free to anyone who downloads the program.
As news of Wirt's death spread through the community over the past day, tributes and condolences poured in through message on the 3000 newsgroup he enriched with his writing. Words connected Wirt to the life of the community, since he seldom traveled to 3000 user events. His travels were reserved for his pursuits in science. The tone of the online tributes showed that he touched the members with a certainty of opinion white-hot in its passion.
Wirt's work evolved along with his views and beliefs. So AICS' QueryCalc software became QCReports in the years after HP announced its 3000 exit. He told the community in his final public message that he tracked the performance gains of the migration across 25 years, starting with an HP 3000 Series 33 system of the 1980s. He timed the improvement in value of evolving a QCReports process onto a Dell Linux-based system.
The same report now runs in 3.1 seconds. That's a 412,000-to-1 improvement in price-performance over our original HP3000. Perhaps more importantly, that's more performance than we could get out of the largest and most modern HP 3000, regardless of price.
To assist in pricing used 3000s, his company created what remains the best performance comparison report on every HP 3000 ever released. The firm's Web site is another testimonial to what he created and what will go on in the years to come. It's a wonderful resource.
Last spring AICS considered its first cross-platform release of QCReports for the HP 3000, bringing the company's software offerings full circle. Wirt suggested in a posting that even though the HP 3000 had "died in 2001," there remained a place for a reporting app in the 3000's new generation as a server scuttled by HP. He made a case for life going on, even after death.
Atmar's departure may follow a similar path for the community. His writing and instruction is spread all around the Internet and will live on beyond his days on the planet. His best memorial is what's captured on the newsgroup, really, and there's just no better way to know what's been lost to us than to read what Wirt had to say about himself and his world. He has such a body of work out there; it's safe to say that he's written 10 million words about the HP 3000 in the past decade and a half.
It might be fitting that one of the most heartfelt testimonies came over that same 3000 newsgroup where he held court for so long. Jim Phillips, a friend and client, reported that he'd enjoyed that complimentary enchilada with Wirt. Phillips shared a portion of a sermon from 19th Century English clergyman Henry Scott Holland, a message that speaks to the continuum of existence in evolving forms.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again.
Phillips proposed that today, "everyone have an enchilada in memory of Wirt."
Like any death that arrives too soon, it makes me consider what I've done this week, and try to do more, believe more, love and enjoy more.
What's too soon? Definitely any week where, like Wirt, you're still pushing out faith, research, teaching or passion. He had all of these on offer this week. And today I regret never having visited him in his hometown to take him up on that enchilada invitation. A great reason to put more friends on your travel list. So death can move a fellow to do more travel, more sharing, and keep fit to enjoy many more years.
All I can add is a moment of silence in memory of a good guy's light winking out, and the hard fact that he can add no more to the bounty of teaching that has enriched the life of the 3000 community. His work lives on in AICS, in the work of his son Mark (a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur), and the emotion and thanks now flowing to Valerie. Our hearts are with his family on this evening, when my own partner Abby and I will enjoy that enchilada in memory of what he created.
February 05, 2009
Online classroom doors close for 3000s
Keeping the brain drain to a minimum is more of a challenge for a computer community of more than three decades. Unless the system gains fresh users over such a period, its knowledge base will age, retire or move on to other, more lucrative projects.
Losing any education opportunity for the HP 3000 sets limits on how long it can thrive. But Paul Edwards and Frank Alden Smith didn't have much choice when they decided to close up mpe-education.com. It was to be a Web-based 3000 classroom, running on a proven, online teaching app. The two seasoned training pros worked hard at getting HP 3000 instruction materials out of HP's hands, once the vendor ended its 3000 classes. The HP Development Corporation has made the turnover of such HP intellectual property a serious task for third parties like Edwards and Smith.
But even when independents like that duo step up, customers need to follow in their footsteps. The 3000 community is full of entrepreneurs, not organizations running off endowments. Business has to materialize to promote an idea into an enterprise. It didn't happen for mpe-education, despite interest from 3000 customers including HP's Bangalore operations. Nobody could seem to find their checkbook.
Edwards and Smith have not abandoned education altogether. But to learn anything about IMAGE, Suprtool, MPE/iX administration, networking or other computing arts, you will have to contract with them to appear at your site. The mpe-education.com venture was established to let you learn online.
Alden Research and Paul Edwards and Associates invested in modernizing the old HP class materials. In some cases these two teachers were returning to materials they'd created for HP. They became the exclusive training partners with HP for 3000 education. HP's education Web pages even routed customers to the mpe-education.com site.
It wasn't enough to light up the electrons, in spite of all the work Edwards and Smith performed. The community still needs training, of course, and these two consultants with HP certifications are available.
We are sorry that the many changes in the HP e3000 community forces us into this decision. The web site www.mpe-education.com will be shut down shortly and you will be directed by the HP MPE/iX education pages to the www.peassoc.com web site of Paul Edwards & Associates. Go to the Education Services page of the Paul Edwards site for a list of courses offered and contact information.
February 04, 2009
Security issue surrounds IPv6
HP's Unix endures much of the same onslaught of hacker vulnerabilities as other Unixes. A Security Bulletin from this week, one of the steady string of reports which keeps up with needed patches for HP-UX, illustrates how new Internet features expose new breeches in the OS that HP prefers for replacing migrating HP 3000s.
The latest bulletin warns users of HP-UX v11 that the IPv6 capabilities of the OS can provide a back door to Denial of Service attacks. HP devised a patch to close the DoS vulnerability before it warned customers about the exploit. In contrast, last week HP simply advised HP 3000 sites to stop using a compromised part of MPE/iX, the seldom-employed BIND/iX DNS module.
BIND/iX seemed like a good idea at the time, to give the 3000 a full complement of Internet tool and enable intranets. It never caught on. "I never did understand why it was released," said 3000 consultant Joe Horrigan. "A cheap white box [PC] can do the same function using Linux or Windows. Not a good use for a 3000 system costing $100,000."
For customers who have access to the HP IT Response Center Knowledge Base, the IPv6 bulletin can be read online at the HP site. HP never put IPv6 into MPE/iX, so the 3000's OS already has its usual patch: security through differences with the rest of the world's Unix users. In this case, the security has been provided by HP's lack of protocol support. Call it Security Through Omission, if you want.
If you're keeping score over the past week on Security Bulletins, the resolutions are tied: HP-UX 1, MPE/iX 1.
An HP-UX Security Bulletin is not a rare creature at all. Here's one from this morning, even more wide-ranging:
Potential security vulnerabilities have been identified with HP-UX running Apache-based Web Server or Tomcat-based Servelet Engine. The vulnerabilities could be exploited remotely to cause a Denial of Service (DoS), cross-site scripting (XSS), execution of arbitrary code, or cross-site request forgery (CSRF). Apache-based Web Server and the Tomcat-based Servelet Engine are contained in the Apache Web Server Suite.
To resolve the IPv6 problem, HP gives the HP-UX customer any of three patches needed for versions 11.11, 11.23 and 11.31, which pretty much covers the v11 installed base. HP's Unix users don't have to apply the patches manually. These days the OS employs HP-UX Software Assistant, "an enhanced application that replaces HP-UX Security Patch Check. It analyzes all Security Bulletins issued by HP and lists recommended actions that may apply to a specific HP-UX system."
Software Assistant downloads patches and creates a depot for a customer site on a local server. Apple's OS X now does much the same thing, downloading patches to the Mac's variant of Unix and then prompting administrators to restart, if they want to accept a patch, to install it into the OS.
It might be something of a comment on the new world of Security Bulletins than an OS needs something like Software Assistant to check often for vulnerabilities. MPE/iX never needed that, so rare are its compromises. But at least HP has engineered an automated way to protect its Unix customers. You can learn more about Software Assistant at the HP Web site.
As for a full resolution of BIND/iX vulnerability on a 3000, Horrigan checked out the new generation of BIND, which is an open source tool. It's a project that, considering its security implications, might not find a lot of volunteers.
February 03, 2009
Advocates recruit fresh directors
OpenMPE has invited the 3000 community to continue advocacy on behalf of system owners. HP's lab is closed. Only a few items remain on HP's price list related to the server: support contracts, licenses, subsystem products that are going to be slow sellers at best. But just because there's no HP 3000 division to tangle with doesn't mean the war is over yet. OpenMPE is seeking candidates for its board of directors. The voting begins Monday.
It's easy enough to stand for election to the board; sending an e-mail to secretary Donna Hofmeister will do the trick. Things have been lost in your community. Advocacy is not yet lost, and asking questions remains good work in a good cause.
Joining 3000 leadership now might feel like Rhett Butler joining the Confederates near the end of the Civil War. ("But they're running away," says Scarlett. "Oh no, they'll make a last stand, if I know anything about them," Rhett replies, "and when they do, I'll be with them.") Rhett says he's always had a weakness for lost causes, "once they're really lost." During 2008 the community lost the vendor's lab, and perhaps a few hundred companies who migrated.
But OpenMPE's director Birket Foster believes that 2009 still holds advocacy goals the group's nine directors can attain.
"Just because HP's CSY  division has gone away does not mean there's not advocacy opportunities for OpenMPE," Foster said. He might as well have been Rhett, pulling on his hat at the turn to Tara, while expressing that hope.
There was never anything that any group of volunteers, even one full of customers who helped HP groom the 3000 — could do to stop the vendor from calling the 3000 a lost cause. But over the past seven years so many crucial points of process, policy and procedure flowed from OpenMPE's work: licensing and transfers of HP intellectual property that will be key to any last stand, no matter how far away the last bugle call sounds.
Hofmeister reminds candidates that volunteering involves a weekly meeting commitment and the to-do items which follow the conference calls. Whether a customer is late to the conflict over the 3000's ending, or just watching while waiting for the finish, there is still work to do with the two HP's which insist on controlling the server forevermore: HP Support, and the HP Development Corp. The latter owns all of the IP in HP. Someone can speak for the 3000 owners to HPDC. The most interesting advocacy might be yet to come, now that the division has left the field.
And who wouldn't want to be Rhett Butler, making a last stand before landing on his feet after the war? The 3000 community is old-school, so gallantry seems to fit among its members who are still finding their way toward the front lines of the future.
February 02, 2009
OpenMPE extends 3000's broadcast day
OpenMPE has announced another board election, which makes us consider if the end of the 3000's broadcast day will ever arrive — or if that signing-off concept is just too creaky to carry forward. In our podcast for today (5 minutes, 5MB) we talk about the election and broadcast endings. Back when television was the only mass media and the HP 3000 was new, TV stations would end a broadcast day. In the US they’d play the national anthem and the screen would switch over into a test pattern.
50 years ago tomorrow marks "The day the music died," deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, an event commemorated in the song American Pie. By coincidence, American Pie was a No. 1 hit the same year HP introduced the 3000. People wonder if any day anytime soon will be the day the 3000 dies. OpenMPE gets its vote in to proclaim it won't be this year.
The group's election kicks off one week from today, your chance to choose volunteers to advocate for your needs as a 3000 owner who will operate the system beyond 2010. Why care? There are items and issues that still need to be resolved and addressed. And OpenMPE recently scored an important concession to keep 3000s in service. Hear about it on the podcast.