April 30, 2009
California aims at changes for offenders
HP 3000s track offenders in California prisons. Ever since he left HP's COBOL labs, OpenMPE director Walter Murray has worked in the Enterprise Information Services division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. HP has announced a big contract to revamp the department's computing through the vendor's EDS subsidiary.
HP's press release says that the engagement "streamlines dozens of databases, record keeping processes and systems with a single integrated solution. The resulting highly-automated environment will include software, hardware and processes designed to transform paper-based adult and juvenile offender records into digital records."
The HP release calls this work "applications modernization services." Making applications more modern in the prison system probably won't eliminate their building block: COBOL.
The HP 3000s may now have an exit date set for them -- it looks like 2013, more than two years beyond HP's end of support deadline. But the language these systems use is likely to remain in Murray's toolset for the department, which he calls CDCR.
However, speaking only for myself, I don’t think I’ve written my last line of COBOL just yet.
COBOL is another way to define a platform for customers' applications, especially apps created and cultivated in-house. Other platforms include databases (IMAGE vs. Eloquence vs. Oracle), vendors of systems, and complex, enterprise-sized packaged apps such as ERP systems. Migrating more than two of these platforms at once increases risk for anyone but the shops who can afford to hire outside expertise.
A CDCR release says that 40 systems will be consolidated in a project budgeted at almost a quarter-billion dollars. The four-year effort from EDS "will allow custody and programs staff to better manage the offender population, which should lead to a reduced recidivism rate."
April 29, 2009
HP pushes blades with solution blocks
Hewlett-Packard enjoys a leading position in blade server market share. The company's margin is a key element in the message that bladed servers are the vendor's new heartland for IT enterprise solutions. Both Windows and HP-UX can be deployed on blades. The former represents the bigger part of HP's blade share, so the latter was the topic for a recent Webcast hosted by the Connect user group.
Connect has posted the slides for the Webcast, a 60-page deck that might have been difficult to finish during the one hour time slot. One at the end stood out as a new offering, packaged like old 3000 products. HP calls these Solution Blocks, "hassle-free ordering, configuring and customizing of multiple applications. Starting with... HP-UX 11i on an HP platform provides a foundation for adding the required server, storage and tape backup blades to complete your infrastructure."
Solution Blocks are packed and deployed by HP's application resellers, so the business model aligns with the part of the HP 3000 customer base that purchased turnkey solutions, like Summit's Spectrum credit union app. HP's Webcast stressed that Solution Blocks reduce risk while optimizing deployment. Mitigating risk is high on the typical management list when a 3000 shop chooses to migrate.
There's the risk in remaining on the 3000, mostly the reality of declining community resources. But migrating also poses risks. A Washington State college consortium is regrouping this year after a $14 million project bottomed out. A Solution Block might not have helped there, but the point is to simplify any deployment.
HP and Connect didn't position the HP-UX blade server Webcast as a migration message. But the 3000 community is evaluating HP's Unix blades as a transition target. For the mid-sized customer with lean Unix skills, Solution Blocks might help. HP has the blocks organized by enterprise-size solutions and those targeted at mid-size companies. As an example, the SAP Business All-in-One is offered to mid-size firms with what HP calls "overbuilt" hardware.
Solution Blocks will probably be on the list of offerings from any reseller who's packaging HP's Unix along with applications. Unix has been a roll-your-own, highly customized solution for a long time. The blocks might make a Unix migration less complex.
April 28, 2009
Size up maximum drive capacity
Hewlett-Packard created a forward-looking feature for the HP 3000 before its lab retired. One of the biggest enhancements gave MPE/iX the ability to use drives sized up to 512GB. Getting this size of drive to work involves going outside of the 3000's foundation, both literally as well as strategically.
External disc drives supply storage beyond the 73GB devices which were fitted inside the HP 3000 chassis. This Hewlett-Packard part numbered A6727A was an off-the-cuff answer from Client Systems to the "how big" question. Client Systems built HP 3000s with this part installed while the company was North America's only 3000 distributor. But nothing bigger ever came off a factory line before HP stopped building 3000s in 2003.
Outside of HP's official channel, however, a drive twice as large is installed on a N-Class. Two, in fact. Matt Perdue reports that his Hill Country Technologies site boasts a N-Class with a pair of 146GB drives inside. The Seagate ST3146855LC spins at 15,000 RPM, too, a faster rate than anything HP ever put in a 3000. Perdue said he picked up his drives from online reseller CDW.com.
Older 3000s, however, need single-ended drives for internal use, according to Allegro Consulting's Donna Hofmeister. She says the 3000's drive size limit is controlled by two factors: internal versus external, and HP "blessed," or off-the-shelf specified.
Hofmeister, who joined Allegro's customer support operations after many years at Longs Drugs managing 3000s, said the Longs systems accessed disk clusters, called LUNs, of many hundreds of GB.
The "blessed" question was debated from the late '90s onward between HP engineers and 3000 consultants and veterans. HP would only support disc devices that passed its extraordinary reliability tests. Nobody was surprised that only HP-branded discs ever got this blessing for the 3000. Once disk storage got inexpensive, drives from the same manufacturers who sourced to HP gained a following with the veterans.
"There’s the whole supported/blessed/holy aspect to the question," Hofmeister said. "[The Client Systems] answer is technically correct. On the other hand, my current favorite MPE system to torture has a 400-plus GB drive attached to it, and it works great. I certainly wouldn’t classify this disc as falling into the supported/blessed/holy category."
HP released patches to MPE/iX 7.5 to make this possible. The project the vendor called "Large Disk" gives 3000 users "the ability to initialize an MPE/iX disk volume of up to 512 GB on SCSI-2 compliant disks. SCSI-2 Disks that are larger than 512GB will be truncated at the 512GB limit and the space beyond 512GB will not be usable by the MPE/iX Operating System or any user applications running under MPE."
HP started the engineering to release the patches for the 6.5 and 7.0 versions of MPE/iX, but never finished testing for those more common versions of MPE/iX. The 7.5 patches, available for download from HP's ITRC, are
MPEMXT3 SCSI Disk Driver Update
MPEMXT4 SSM Optimization (>87GB)
MPEMXU7 CIERR.PUB.SYS, CICATERR.PUB.SYS
HP sells a disk of 300GB that might qualify for "blessing" if the labs had ever put the device through the 3000 tests. But the vendor has always erred on the side of caution about larger drives, even in an era when disk had become cheaper than $2 a GB. HP's Jim Hawkins offered a white paper on Large Disk that advised caution for using 3000 disks larger than 36GB.
The other aspect of HP's blessing a larger disk is tied to HP's support of a 3000. But as of the end of next year, HP's support exit will eliminate that issue. HP never did support the full drive bus speed for the larger disks. 3000s get only Ultra-160 throughput, while HP-UX supports Ultra-320 on the very same devices.
Those larger disks offer a significant value over the blessed drives. CDW sells the 146GB device for $256. The HP drive with half that capacity sells for $273. It's important to order a parallel SCSI version (LC) when purchasing a drive. SAS drives are replacing the LC drives and cost much less.
April 27, 2009
Oracle buys MySQL, to ease moves to 11g?
Oracle is purchasing Sun Microsystems, a transaction which includes acquiring control of the popular MySQL database that's been freeware for many years. There's some possibility that Oracle might be killing off MySQL, a relational database that's been attractive because it's a no-cost platform for the frugal business computer enterprise.
But Charles Finley, whose Transformix firm migrates HP 3000 customers to platforms including IBM and Linux, says that MySQL probably doesn't sit on Oracle's hit list once the Sun deal goes through. One reason for MySQL's safety is that Oracle has improved the entry-level cost of using the 11g version of its database. Oracle hasn't reported what it intends to do with MySQL, but one possibility is to create an automatic converter to bring MySQL databases into Oracle.
How can a solution like Oracle present a value proposition to compete with a free relational database? Finley says the vendor has made good strides toward affordability for Oracle 11g.
"On the low end they've got some interesting pricing," Finley said. "If you've got fewer than 20 users and an Oracle license for a single application, if you get the license through an Oracle partner the price is very reasonable."
It's not always impossible to compete on price with a free solution. There's value for money to consider, too. Finley says that when a customer evaluates functionality of Oracle versus MySQL, or even PostgreSQL, Oracle's offer looks pretty good. The vendor has become sensitive to the pricing of SQL Server, an obvious choice for those who migrate to Windows.
"When compared to the price of SQL Server, [the low end of Oracle] is about the same," he said. "Oracle gets more sales from the low end than you would think. There are a lot of people who are only buying an application. Those people aren't paying a ridiculous amount for Oracle. Where Oracle gets you is when you do general purpose usages."
But that kind of customer, especially those who need clustered databases, can see a big payoff from choosing Oracle, he added. "Very sophisticated users get value out of choosing Oracle. It has application-friendly features that are valuable to a developer, because they save you time and money."
Like any free solution, MySQL has blind spots, and some have emerged in Finley's migration engagements. "Our complaint concerns how we re-implement TurboIMAGE on a given database, especially how MySQL implements scrollable cursors," he said. "To re-implement TurboIMAGE we need these, and MySQL doesn't have them it its API. This limits our ability to clone TurboIMAGE on top of MySQL."
To be accurate, MySQL is in use at Amazon, Google, YouTube and Flickr. But the database with 11 million users is also known to have extremely poor subselect performance, something Finley confirmed his company experienced.
PostgreSQL can support scrollable cursors. That open source relational database has been deployed in some large projects, Finley said, such as Skype. PostgreSQL also has the advantage of not being splintered (a spin-off version of MySQL was launched some time ago). And PostgreSQL isn't under Oracle's control, either.
Open source databases such as these can be popular with the customer who doesn't ever want a vendor to control platform choices. HP did this when it canceled its 3000 business, a move that triggered all of this movement to new databases. Once the deal goes through, Oracle could make MySQL a friendly place to stage an ultimate move to Oracle, rather than kill off the free alternative.
"I doubt seriously they would make any attempt to kill it," Finley says. "It would seem that a better strategy would be to leave in its current limitations so that users can 'grow into' Oracle."
The good news coming from Oracle's Sun purchase seems to be on the Java front. "We use Oracle a lot," Finley says, "and Java is very prominent, even in their database product. It is used to install and administer the database engine... and it seems to define their surround strategy for development tools, application servers, and more. Therefore, I expect them to further capitalize on those two areas."
April 24, 2009
Keep 3000-Mac emulation up to date
Macs aren't in wide use as HP 3000 clients, but the popular publishing and Web design computers do work for a number of 3000 community sites. One such is the US Cat Fancier's Association (CFA), where manager Connie Sellitto needs an emulation program built for the Mac's modern-day OS X.
The most straightforward solution comes from Minisoft. Its MS92 software, a longtime competitive solution to WRQ's Reflection, is designed and maintained for Macintoshes. Sellitto says that MS92 "is what we're using on the newer Macs. Excellent product."
But Reflection's scripting is entrenched at CFA. That developer's Mac emulator long ago lost its development team, in the same way that the WRQ brand name has disappeared into its new owner, Attachmate.
WRQ was once the largest supplier of HP 3000-related software, if you counted individual licenses on PCs. The company was acquired by Attachmate in 2005. Reflection lives on in a Windows version. The company also pointed to a Web-based solution that requires an intermediate server to use it with Macs.
Melissa Liton, a PR rep for Attachmate, reports that "Reflection for HP is a Windows only product. However, Attachmate’s Reflection for the Web product — a Java-based “thin-client” that runs in the browser — does support Mac and is a great HP emulator."
The diagram at left shows the configuration needed to run Reflection for the Web. Adager's Alfredo Rego, one of the 3000+Mac advocates in the community, has also noted that running Reflection for HP is possible inside an emulator such as VMWare or Parallels. He's tested the latter, which recently proved to be more secured against a Windows malware exploit than its competitor. (That's right: Macs could get hit by a Windows virus with older versions of VMWare.)
No matter how you solve for giving Macs 3000 terminal access with Reflection, any in-between step adds complexity. When WRQ dropped Mac support late in the 1990s, the Mac was a niche solution in IT. Times have changed: A recent study showed that 68 percent of companies surveyed plan to add Macs to their IT mix. Minisoft has hung on long enough to see the world expand.
April 23, 2009
How to Peer Into TurboIMAGE databases
I am looking for a way to permit ordinary users (programmers and support staff) to see who is using a TurboIMAGE database, and what locks are in effect and are pending -- the information you would see with DBUTIL using SHOW ... USERS and SHOW ... LOCKS or SHOW ... ALL.
I have to work within these constraints: (1) Can’t let them log on with SM capability. (2) Can’t let them log on as the database creator. (3) Can’t reveal the password on the MPEX GOD program. (4) Can’t reveal the password on DBUTIL. Is there a utility to do this?
Eric Sand replies
To keep things simple, I would just create a “RELEASED” job that can execute DBUTIL with the proper passwords to the DB that you want to examine and direct the output to a file that anyone can read.
The job that wants the locking info would stream this DBUTIL job using the “COMMAND” intrinsic and then parse the output file. This could be done by the “CALLING” program repeatedly if needed and report its findings. Each file could be created unique by composing its name based on a sequential numbering scheme from the results of a LISTF.
April 22, 2009
HP serves up Integrity blade broadcast
Hewlett-Packard will promote the virtualization features of its bladed Integrity HP-UX servers in a Webcast tomorrow (April 23). The broadcast begins at 11 AM CDT (1600 GMT), led by HP's Tom Vaden, who works on HP-UX architecture.
Registration for the Webcast is available at Gotomeeting.com Web site. You won't need anything special to access the Webcast other than a recent Windows or Mac OS version. A VOIP option is available for audio in addition to a standard phone dial-in number.
HP says the training broadcast — if you consider its hardware-software presentations training — will also cover power, cooling and management features of using blades with HP's Unix.
During this presentation, we will examine how HP-UX delivers its mission critical value proposition in bladed configurations. It will explain how the marriage of HP-UX and Integrity Server Blades enhance the core areas of the Adaptive Infrastructure especially for mission critical applications. The presentation will pay particular attention to the virtualization, power and cooling, and management advantages of HP-UX in a bladed environment.
April 21, 2009
Community needs HP support users to test final FTP patch
A new patch to repair a broken command in FTP/iX needs testing now, but the 3000 community must now rely on HP support customers to test HP's lab work. The FTPHDK7A patch repairs the MGET command in the 3000's FTP file transfer program, the industry standard to move files between servers. But like a significant number of HP's 2007-08 lab projects, this patch is trapped in beta-test limbo.
HP's release policy remains unchanged about the patches it's created. Each one must be tested by 3000 owners before the vendor will release the patch to all 3000 sites, even the customers who don't use HP support. The beta-test limbo has seen a lot of patches check in, and far fewer checked out for public release. HP was supposed to be considering reducing the test requirements. But the vendor closed its lab without altering the policy.
OpenMPE has a list of unresolved 3000 issues like this one that HP left behind. MGET isn't critical unless a customer needs bulk transfer of many files in a directory. The bug also existed in last year's HP-UX version of FTP, according to Allegro's Donna Hofmeister. But the HP-UX version of this patch received the tests needed for a full HP release.
Even though HP now has only support division level engineers working on 3000 issues until 2011, nothing is different for the vendor. HP wants to avoid giving any supported customer an under-tested patch. But only HP's support customers can free up this beta-test software. HP won't let the full 3000 community do any beta testing — even after OpenMPE asked to set up a non-customer beta test team.
What's more, HP's engineering load was so heavy last year, the 3000 labs only had enough manpower to create MPE/iX 7.5 patches. FTPHDK7A is only crafted for this latest MPE/iX. At least half the 3000s today are running an earlier release. But even this 7.5-only software needs HP support customers to help the homesteaders.
"If you still have an HP software support contract and are willing to apply the patch -- for the good of the community, frankly -- please call the Response Center," said Hofmeister. Her husband James, who's in the HP's networking support center, discovered the bug last year. "In order for the patch to be General Released, more people need to request and install the patch. Be a good sport and place a call," Donna added.
Until the patch is sprung from beta jail, the GET command, one file at a time, will have to be workaround for FTP. HP had better reasons for its exacting test process when the community of 3000 users was bigger and patches still rolled out of the lab. In 2009, the policy is a relic, outdated procedure designed to protect HP's liability rather than assist the full 3000 community.
April 20, 2009
HP-UX sidesteps system vendor bullet in Sun deal
Oracle announced today that it will purchase Sun Microsystems. The deal dials down the competition to HP's Unix solution. IBM was near a deal to buy Sun last month, but talks fell through. Oracle said that the $7.4 billion acquisition brings it the most important piece of software Oracle ever purchased: Java. But the world's biggest database supplier sees the Solaris operating system, key to Sun's server solution, as an important prize, too.
Oracle's statement goes on to place the Solaris-Oracle combination of OS and database as the best possible for a company choosing Oracle. The future seems to hold special features for Unix customers who choose Sun's hardware.
There's nary a mention in there about HP's HP-UX, but this is an announcement to validate a $7.4 billion Sun purchase. Sun shareholders, and stock regulatory agencies, still have to approve the deal. An HP Unix customer might be glad that Java isn't going inside IBM, but to another software company. Oracle's efficiency, however, has sold and retained many HP-UX customers.
HP 3000 customers who are migrating to one of the Unix or Linux solutions — HP's, IBM's, or Sun's — have seen IBM display egalitarian strategy toward operating systems in its solutions, according to migration service supplier Charles Finley. Solaris was on an equal footing with Linux, unlike the OS at Oracle.
Moreover, IBM is so committed to Java that you would swear that they already own it.
Pending the deal closing this summer, Oracle will own Java, technology that runs in a few HP 3000 sites but never was a big hit in the 3000 community. The fact that the leading database provider to HP-UX sites now owns a competing OS and hardware platform poses some strategy study for customers. Market share growth has been nonexistant for HP-UX in recent years. Seeing a competing OS land in the hands of a company that Hewlett-Packard must retain as a partner — well, it's never happened before in this market.
April 17, 2009
Migration good for Ecometry's economy
HP 3000 customer migrations are pushing business higher for Ecometry, the e-commerce/retail solutions vendor with scores of 3000 sites still running MPE/iX. Birket Foster, just returned from his annual trip to the Escalate/Ecometry conference, said the vendor's 3000 unit is enjoying business growth better than the Escalate units which serve the retail consumer market.
In a recession which is acting like a depression in some markets, retail sales have driven down revenues for software that serves consumers. Ecometry, retooled for Point of Sale as well as online and catalog business, has been pushing transitions to the Unix or Windows versions of the software. Foster's company does data migrations as well as datamarts for Ecometry sites, and he said those migrations have contributed significantly to net a good 2008 for the supplier.
"Ecometry is doing really well, and part of that is because so many people have to do the migration," he said. "In the other divisions, their job is to hold their own." The consumer durables, or "buy now pay later stores, are down 21 to 30 percent," he added.
Migrations are a pressing issue for Ecometry customers because of changes to the credit card industry banks' policies. Visa, Mastercard and American Express will soon require security features unavailable in HP 3000 versions of Ecometry. The only homesteading solution will be to outsource the credit card part of transactions, Foster said.
The migration from MPE/iX has a strange path to adding value to a 3000 Ecometry site. "Less and less people are capable of supporting the HP 3000," Foster said. "As an example, we had a customer last week who had a  backplane fail on them. It took way longer than they expected to replace it."
Foster said that customers are discovering how crucial support is for "pieces of the 3000 puzzle that never failed. Cutting it would be like saying, 'Let's cut the fire insurance.' "
April 16, 2009
Open source sites losing free resource
One of the few Web sites hosting genuine freeware for the HP 3000 removed its open source software this spring. After discussion with Speedware's product manager Nicolas Fortin, Mark Bixby decided to remove the copies of programs such as the Apache Web server that he'd ported to the 3000. Bixby, who also worked on HP 3000 Internet and networking software at HP, said that neither Speedware or HP asked him to thin out his versions of the open source software.
Speedware's Fortin said he e-mailed Bixby "to ask if he was interested in having us host some of his files, as a backup to his own site, or even just point a link to his site. I never would have asked him to remove his content; that, surprisingly, was his suggestion."
Removing the open source software is only an issue for anyone in the 3000 community who wants unrestricted use of it. The programs on bixby.org were not controlled by the HP rehosting legal agreement which regulates access to such software. Bixby created and released his ports under the industry's GNU Public License (GPL), which permit alteration, updates and unrestricted redistribution.
These 3000 open source programs are coming online this spring at Speedware's new 3000 software resource site, and are already hosted at former HP 3000 distributor Client Systems. A 3,000-word HP End User License Agreement has been applied to all the Jazz software being re-hosted, including the open source programs. One open source expert has doubts the HP agreement is in line with GPL freeware licenses.
Brian Edminster, an expert on open source solutions for HP 3000s, has been working on an open source repository, free to the 3000 community. Edminster took note of the removals on Bixby's site and said the HP license might violate public license terms — but only a lawyer could be sure.
Considering that the 3000 community is made up of companies with legal departments, the dense HP agreement applied to open source could have a chilling effect on how much the software might be used. Edminster said it appears to his eye that HP may be countermanding the redistribution rights of the software.
But while HP had no hand in Bixby's decision, the result is that HP's agreement now covers even more of the 3000 open source spectrum. Speeware, for its part, had to accept the HP license terms in order to be able to rehost other software from Jazz such as HP-written free programs. The EULA covers everything, however, with an "Ancillary Software" provision for public freeware. Of this, Edminster said
April 15, 2009
Free Jazz utilities en route to new resource
Speedware's new HP 3000 Web resource will be gaining programs from Jazz soon.
The vendor purchased host rights from HP for all the 3000- and migration-related content that Hewlett-Packard is releasing from 3000 division servers. Some HP content related to the 3000 has been retired by the vendor, such as the George Stachnik migration Webcasts of 2002-05. After Speedware posted streaming files for three Unix courses and one on IMAGE workalike database Eloquence, the vendor turns its attention to presenting the open source and HP-written utilities for MPE/iX.
Speedware's Nicolas Fortin told users the vendor could arrange early delivery of Jazz utilities for customers; send an e-mail to email@example.com to request Jazz programs or HP white papers. Fortin estimated that the package of Jazz programs will be online next month. "I expect the process to take a few weeks, without unforeseen obstacles," he said. "So a few weeks from now would probably put us sometime in the month of May, to be realistic."
Jazz programs first surfaced this spring on the Client Server Web site. The software, often written directly by or with the help of customers, makes management of HP 3000s easier.
Ultimately the programs will reside on the OpenMPE server as well. Of the multiple host sources, Fortin added, "more than one company signed the agreement with HP, and so there will be more than one source to find the HP-licensed Jazz stuff, and some additional material. It's good for the community to have several sources to pick from. I’m sure there will be some differences between the sites, in the way they make the information available, its organization and user-friendliness. Ultimately the user will pick the location that suits them."
Sources of freeware outside of the HP host license restrictions are dwindling, even as these three Web sites come online. We'll have more on that aspect of 3000 freeware tomorrow.
April 14, 2009
Speedware hosts Eloquence, HP courses
Speedware opened an HP 3000 resource this week for online courses, the first step in Speedware's mission to host 3000-related training materials and free software. The initial service in the hosting covers HP's Unix training, but a more 3000-specific course is also online: Eloquence training from Marxmeier Software.
The Eloquence course was hosted on HP servers until Hewlett-Packard closed its HP 3000 labs last year, according to Speedware's Nicolas Fortin. Speedware will also be hosting the Jazz freeware as well as HP's 3000 documentation on the new 3000 resource site.
Registration is required to access the materials at the Speedware site, www.speedware.com/hp3ktraining. The company wants to collect name, company, address, telephone and e-mail information in exchange for access, "so we can track course usage and contact you when we have related news." The good news is that the materials do not require a "click to accept" button beneath several thousand words of HP's hosting agreement.
Nothing is perfect in life, or on the Web for free, so the training classes have a flaw: you cannot view them in anything other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer. HP built these materials to require Active X controls installed in the browser, and only IE supports ActiveX. Firefox, Opera, and Apple's Safari won't show video from the training courses, so the slides are unavailable. The shot above shows everything we could get out of the "streaming" option which Firefox users will see. The IE version of the same Unix course, below, includes the slides.
About 2 users out of every 5 use something other than IE by now, in part because of the security threats that Microsoft's browser makes possible. The Mozilla Organization, which makes Firefox, explains why Active X is less secure than plug-in options.
The access to online materials HP created and once hosted has always been problematic for some HP 3000 users who are making a transition, but 60 percent will experience no delay at all in viewing the courses at the new site. Speedware has done its good deed of offering these transition materials in the same format as HP created them.
April 13, 2009
Connect upgrades social network
The HP enterprise user group Connect leads a tour of its enhanced social networking tools and features tomorrow. Social networking is a key benefit of the group, formed last year when Encompass, the Tandem user group and HP Interex-Europe allied as one entity. Connect needs younger members, according to its leaders, so social networking was added last year to attract participation from a fresher demographic.
The one-hour tour of the new myCommunity begins at 10:30 CDT on Tuesday, April 14, a WebEx presentation that attendees must register for in advance.
Connect says the new features and tools at the social network myCommunity were built and implemented by Pluck, Inc., an Austin-based company that offers integrated social media for publishers, retailers and brands. Pluck says its technology platform powers more than 2.5 billion monthly interactions. Some of Pluck's clients include the Lance Armstrong Foundation, The Economist and Whole Foods.
Connect is calling the new myCommunity an "improved social media site," the second generation of a social net introduced last summer after the 2008 HP Technology Forum & Expo. The group says myCommunity "myCommunity is up and running in its new and improved format, and we'd like to show you how to get the most out of the site."
Gaining critical mass can be a lengthy process for any social network, especially one like myConnect that's focused on one vendor's enterprise solutions. The most dedicated of social networkers maintain profiles on multiple nets, such as Linked In (which has three groups devoted to some aspect of the HP 3000), Facebook, or Plaxo. The traffic on myCommunity up to this spring has been in a growth phase, and the prior tools and interface were created by another social net supplier, Leverage Software.
Pluck is part of the Demand Media social networking corporation, an enterprise that includes branded sites like science-fiction/fantasy site mania.com, how-to site ehow.com, and studios to help content providers build their own communities. Demand Media purchased Pluck, which was founded in 2003, last year. Tomorrow's WebEx tour is being hosted by Demand Media.
Some myCommunity members have included HP 3000 experience among their profiles, but the majority of the social network's participants are HP Unix, Windows or OpenVMS users. Since two of those three groups represent typical migration target platforms for 3000 migrators, Connect membership could be useful in creating an new wing of your IT network. You need to belong to Connect to join myCommunity, but membership is only $50 yearly. The tour tomorrow doesn't require membership.
April 10, 2009
HP helps network 3000s with classless IP
HP is still offering free technical advice for the HP 3000 through its IT Response Center experts Web site. Just this week, an Hewlett-Packard support specialist who moderates the board answered a question about configuring a 3000 for a private network.
You can browse that HP Forum for answers to questions at the MPE/iX Web page. HP's advice might not be any better or worse than a third party support expert's, but at least the vendor is still answering questions from the 3000 community. For example, here's a recent Q&A between a user and an HP Canada networking expert.
HP moderator Emile Kwan Fong said
This is done using the NMMGR program. To configure the IP and Subnet mask, go to the path NETXPORT.NI.<NIname>.PROTOCOL.IP.
Kwan Fong, who's been answering questions for the past eight years on the site, added
To configure the gateway, go to the path NETXPORT.NI.<NIname>.INTERNET. You can leave the the default @ for the "reachable networks" fields. Make sure you validate NETXPORT.
You may want to stop/restart the network or hard boot (start norecovery) the 3000 for the changes to take effect.
April 09, 2009
IBM suggests other migration route
IBM has pulled away from its proposed purchase of Sun Microsystems, but Big Blue is always on the hunt for ways to swipe HP business. Buying Sun and its Solaris OS would have given IBM a way to put pressure on the survival of HP-UX, HP's recommended migration solution for complex HP 3000 installations. But even the network management nodes, often monitored by HP-UX servers, are targets for a migration.
IBM is now tracking customers who use OpenView, offering a 25 discount to get them to migrate to IBM Tivoli Netcool, the latest version and name of IBM's net management suite. Chris Bartram, who set up the NewsWire's first Web site and remains one of the best networking experts for HP 3000s, called our attention to the IBM promotion.
Five different kinds of "Who should migrate" HP customers are listed on IBM's Migrate from HP Web pages. We found this one most interesting:
HP hasn't officially abandoned MPE/iX — unless closing the software's lab counts, or setting an exit date for supporting the OS.
3000 customers with complex job management might remember the Tivoli name. That IBM division took over the Maestro MPE/iX products when it purchased them from Unison in the late 1990s, then sold them back to the 3000 marketplace. ROC Software took on the software, which it still sells and supports for the platform.
Tivoli waded into the HP Unix marketplace with Tivoli Workload Scheduler. Now the vendor will offer a cash discount to earn the business of HP customers who use HP-UX network management. IBM still likes to portray HP's Unix as a platform in migration mode. Actually, HP says this about its Unix customers, too. But Hewlett-Packard thinks of the migration as a PA-RISC-to -Itanium hardware swap, or a HP-UX 11v-whatever to 11v3 move.
IBM has its success stories to pump, of course, the reference accounts where the news is always good (and nobody knows what cost kickbacks the vendor exchanged for the testimonial). Big Blue calls them Case Studies. If you're headed for an IBM-centric migration target, reading a few of these might be worthwhile.
April 08, 2009
HP leads G6 virtual tour online
HP showed off the future of online training yesterday during its three-hour ProLiant G6 Web Jam. The event that introduced the latest generation of Windows servers consisted of several recorded briefings from inside HP's ProLiant labs in Houston, live chats between viewers and HP staff, as well as documents such as white papers and data sheets.
That last element was provided in an Event Bag, a zip file of documents you select during the broadcast of the videos. HP ran the production out of its Virtual Events Central Web site. The interface conjures up a visit to a computer conference with separate entries to a networking lounge, exhibit hall or auditorium. On the main page of the conference "lobby," animated attendees pass across a carpeted area. (Traffic this light would have exhibitors upset at a real event.) It's all meant to invoke the spirit of attending a show. In some aspects, HP's Tuesday presentation did more than the vendor might have intended to cook up the show experience.
HP would not go to the expense to create this event without making it available afterward. You can still go to www.hp.com/go/web-jam to register and see the G6 team's videos and fill up your event bag. Being there yesterday would have put you in the company of several hundred other "attendees" for networking inside chat rooms.
If you'd dedicated time to watch the full event, and had a prerequisite knowledge of the ProLiant hardware, yesterday would have been training time well spent. HP essentially turned on a video camera when it briefed partners and staff about the sixth generation of ProLiant servers. Like at any good conference, HP's more technical presenters told the unvarnished truth about product design. One member of the Blades SWAT Team showed mentioned a component whose failure erases a ProLiant's midplane board serial number.
The unidentified member of the HP Blades SWAT Team also offered assurance that ProLiant customers will be able to recover from such a failure.
There’s only one active component on it. I always thought it was a bit ironic that if [this component] dies, the only thing that will happen is that you will lose the serial number as well as the spare part replacement number — the two things you need to replace this. Luckily, if you’re using System Insight Manager, the information is stored in your SIM database. But besides this component, this is nothing but a big thick piece of plastic with a lot of wires running through it.
HP includes an Onboard Administrator in every G6 that communicates with the SIM. HP says the component "is like having a programmable administrator inside each server. On HP ProLiant 100 series G6 servers, ProLiant Onboard Administrator Powered by iLO100 works hand-in-hand with HP Systems Insight Manager, RBSU, ORCA, and the embedded Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) to provide entry-level remote management and control."
The briefings unfolded in presentations of up to 20 minutes that reminded me more of reality TV than an HP infommercial. The camera work was on-the-fly instead of rehearsed, and sometimes the audio was a little light on the volume. When the attendees in the meeting rooms posed questions, HP identified the speakers with a caption at the bottom of the screen. (You couldn't capture that bit of information in a real conference.) You can look at a few minutes of video from the teardown briefing by clicking on the screen shot above.
Those asking questions were clearly already well-versed in the ProLiant lineup, so this event might not have been much help for the novice Windows server administrator. You wouldn't find much contention in the Q&A, either, something that enriches a genuine conference session. It's not a stretch to say that those on hand were only examining how much greater the ProLiant-Windows solutions had just become. For example, John Obeto of SmallBizWindows.com (center, below) spoke up during the hardware tear-down session. Obeto wrote in 2006
We, contrary to current thought, encourage small businesses to upgrade to Windows Vista immediately upon release. Why? Barring any unforeseen last minute eventualities, [we count on] our experience with Vista [starting with] the release of Beta 1 back on August 3rd of 2005. Without a doubt, the security and usability enhancements alone make upgrading to Vista a no-brainer.
There's not much need to color that exhortation in 2009, considering the disappointment that Vista has visited on so many customers. But with Miocrosoft and HP reportedly extending the Windows XP experience well into 2010, Vista is no reason to avoid these new ProLiant G6 units. They'll drive an enterprise with Windows 7, as an alternative.
If you've ever wondered what a factory tour at HP is like, the Web Jam's contents will give you a taste. Watching units come off an assembly line might not solve many system management problems in the future; it never did that for the customers who earned HP 3000 factory tours, either. But you could develop relationships with factory staff on those tours. At least in 2009, a tour like the one at the Jam will still enhance your confidence about investing in HP's solution. That was always the point of the 3000 factory tours, too.
I'm looking forward to a Web Jam for the HP Integrity server line, too, since the vendor has been promoting the Integrity as a 3000 replacement. The G6 Jam was produced by the Industry Standard Server (ISS) part of HP -- an operation with roots in Compaq's business and based in Houston (thus, the Central Daylight Time schedule for the event.) Integrity rolls out of a different HP unit.
April 07, 2009
HP shows off Gen 6 ProLiant servers
Register this morning for today's Webcast series to take the complete tour of HP's newest G6 ProLiant server line. The event is a string of seven Web presentations from HP covering the alternative hardware the vendor offers to many HP 3000 migrating customers.
HP calls this sixth generation G6, and these Webcasts start at 10 AM CST and run through early afternoon US Central Daylight Time. HP says
Although the production values of these events will remind you of commercials, there's usually a good share of information to be picked up from evaluations like this from your desktop. Windows is shaping up as the most likely migration target for a 3000 customer, and the ProLiants are built for Linux as well.
HP's tentative agenda (times CDT) as of the evening before the event:
10:30 Intel Xeon 5500: HP has taken Intel technology to a whole new level. Check out what's under the hood: An HP ProLiant G6 server deep dive
10:45 Meet the Blades SWAT team. Take an in-depth look at HP's BladeSystem with the Blade SWAT team in their engineering lab.
11:15 See how easy HP makes it to dramatically simplify server set-up
11:45 Get "Greener IT" from HP -- Use your power wisely and dramatically reduce wasted energy
12:15 Factory Express – See a quick view of where it all comes together: HP’s customized and integrated factory solution tour
12:45 Squeeze every bit of productivity out of your server with ProLiant G6
April 06, 2009
PING, IMAGE made easier on 3000
I’m looking for a program that will read IMAGE log files. I know Bradmark has something to analyze these files that I can purchase, but at the present time I really don’t have any money in the budget. What’s available for free?
Cathlene McRae of HP helps out:
I have a new HP 3000 A500 installation that I can't Telnet to. Ping works both ways, but I get nothing with Reflection's Telnet. What do I need to check on the 3000 to get Telnet running?
Robert Schlosser says:
OpenMPE director Donna Hofmeister adds:
There's a collection of 'samp' files in .NET that in most cases need to be copied to their 'real' file name in order to make TCP/INETD networking work.
Hofmeister, one of the community's more experienced hands with the standard Unix and Posix utilities built into MPE/iX and the HP 3000, explained.
BPTABSMP -- bootptab (most people don’t use)
HOSTSAMP -- hosts
INCNFSMP -- inetd configuration
INSECSMP -- inetd security
NETSAMP -- reachable networks
NSSWSAMP -- nsswitch
PROTSAMP -- protocol
RSLVSAMP -- DNS resolving
SERVSAMP -- services
I believe each of the files also has a counterpart in /etc which is a link to the real file in .NET.SYS. If the real files are missing from .NET.SYS then many things (including Telnet and FTP) won’t work.
April 03, 2009
OpenMPE in final stretch for Jazz
The OpenMPE advocacy group has finalized an agreement with Hewlett-Packard to host the contents of the Jazz Web server. Paperwork has been filed at HP's offices, and the group is taking delivery of media which contains the complete contents of the server which served the 3000 community with freeware for more than a decade.
The hosting facility for the OpenMPE offering will be the datacenter at OpenMPE director Matt Perdue's Hill Country Technologies, a secure disaster recovery hotsite and outsourcing facility that serves HP 3000, Unix and Linux customers. A Linux server was used to retrieve the Jazz files from HP's servers in late December as an interim step. Perdue confirmed that he's testing the linkages from that interim download.
OpenMPE also has the capacity to share the Interex CSL MPE/iX shareware from the OpenMPE servers, Perdue said. In addition to this long-standing resource of contributed programs, OpenMPE will be delivering the Invent3k public access development services which HP curtailed in late November of last year.
Fellow board member Tracy Johnson has already posted the CSL software on his 3000, but Perdue said that "I have no problem with it being hosted on invent3k.openmpe.org as well." Perdue will be managing that OpenMPE version of the Invent3k server.
OpenMPE hasn't made a format announcement yet of its extensive collection of 3000 online resources. But the volunteer group will join Client Systems and Speedware as a community warehouse of 3000 tools and information. Only HP's migration materials haven't been mentioned in the OpenMPE offering; Speedware has signed on to host them.
April 02, 2009
Bloggy bits on several fronts
Clearing the decks here with a few news items of note for the 3000 customer:
• IBM might axe an HP-UX competitor. Today the Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue continues to pursue a deal to purchase Sun Microsystems. But if an acquisition takes place, one of the casualties could be Solaris, the Unix flavor that competes with HP's Unix and IBM's own AIX. Sound familiar, HP 3000 users of MPE/iX? The IBM move would benefit the lifespan of HP-UX, which HP will support and extend only as long as it contributes revenues and profits and attracts customers. Those were the rules for the HP 3000, after all. At present, HP has given a guarantee of 2016 for HP-UX, for whatever such promises are worth.
• Staying with HP 3000 alternatives, Texas has outlawed Vista. At least in government. The state senate down here (our offices are in Austin) gave preliminary approval to a state budget that includes a provision forbidding government agencies from upgrading to Microsoft's Windows Vista without written consent of the legislature. Sen. Juan Hinojosa, a Democrat from McAllen and vice chairman of the Finance Committee, proposed the rider because "of the many reports of problems with Vista." Vista is a desktop environment, but a piece of the enterprise solution which Microsoft continues to see as vital. (On the other hand, we kill things off in Texas faster than any other state.)
• 3000 advice and tech help resurfaced on the 3000 newsgroup. Once a vast collection of wizardry that dished out 2,000 messages a month, the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup weathered a six-day stretch without a single bit of tech advice. A score of Off Topic messages floated up about US politics, but the group has never seen so long a period with so little help offered.
To be fair, everything on the 3000 newsgroup is a voluntary effort, generous contributions from the seasoned vets of the MPE/iX world. But customers and community members usually ask questions to spark the rich advice on the group. Perhaps nobody needed help with a 3000 for close to a week. We have counted only 435 on-topic messages for the full 2009 year so far on the group, compared to the lush days before HP announced its 3000 exit. (Of those 435, 35 were testimonials to the late, great Wirt Atmar.) The stretch was broken at last yesterday, when advice emerged on how to add a UPS to an N-Class HP 3000.
Documentation on the configuration was proving to be elusive on the HP Web site.
Gilles Schipper, our homesteading editor, gave directions up on the newsgroup about how to connect the two devices and run Monitor/iX on the 3000:
The UPSUTIL manual is available in PDF format at docs.hp.com/en/14249/upsutil.pdf
Donna Hofmeister of the OpenMPE board added
April 01, 2009
HP plugs SSL exploit for HP-UX
Hewlett-Packard's support team announced a security alert for all HP-UX servers running any version of HP-UX 11, warning the community this week that the OpenSSL security mechanism can be used to breach HP's Unix system.
Unix exploits generate critical warnings on a regular basis for HP-UX servers. To mitigate the risk, HP patches up such breeches as quickly as possible. The latest information on how to keep the security tool SSL from becoming a Unix back door, by adding patch HPSBUX02418, is available at HP's IT Response Center (ITRC) Web site.
Content Type: HP-UX security bulletins digest
Release Date: 03/30/2009
HP notes that HP-UX users such as those who have migrated to the company's HP 9000 or Integrity platforms will need a Response Center login ID and password to read the security bulletin. And to comply with HP's requests, the information excerpted above is
You can sign up for automatic notice of these recurring alerts. HP instructs system administrators to initiate a subscription to receive future HP Security Bulletins via e-mail at the HP Web page for bulletins:
Under Step1: your ITRC security bulletins and patches
- check ALL categories for which alerts are required and continue.
Under Step2: your ITRC operating systems
- verify your operating system selections are checked and save.
User group survivors launch Treeware Project
Former members of the HP user group SuperGroup Association have announced a new project to preserve the history of the HP 3000, collecting and archiving the most durable medium for the platform: paper manuals.
"Since the 3000 performed its work for more than 20 years without even CD-ROM archive technology, we know where the good stuff lives," said Treeware Project organizer D. David Brown. "We're putting out a call to the entire 3000 community to send us their paper manuals and documentation, so we can erect a massive testament to the success of this system."
Brown said that even sales and marketing documents would be crucial items in the project's mission. "Most of the time HP's marketing materials gave the biggest clues to the 3000's true powers," he said. "We stopped publishing our SuperGroup magazine in 1989, once the vendor finally dropped its "cold dead fish" marketing practices."
Historians in the community such as Raul Paulerson were puzzled in their comments on the Treeware Project, apparently caught unawares by the bold, overnight move to catalog billions of pages of documents. "I'd estimate there's more than a million This page left intentionally blank sheets out there," he said. "These Treeware guys better have really good shredders to weed those out."
Project leader Brown said that he's designating a preliminary delivery address for donations: Hewlett-Packard's corporate headquarters, 3000 Hanover Street, Palo Alto, CA 94304. "What else would HP have had in mind, ultimately, by setting up HQ at the 3000 address?" Brown asked. "We're grateful that the vendor has the platform's history and preservation at heart."
Packages of documents should be marked "Treeware Project" in plain block letters. HP DeskJet-generated barcoding will be accepted as well. Brown believes that the HP Development Company, keepers of all HP intellectual property, will insist on compliance with all US mail fraud laws.
The 3000 NewsWire would like to chip in on the Treeware Project. Since our office space is more limited than the massive HP headquarters, we're accepting any 3000 paper documents with a staple in the middle, as opposed to loose sheets. (An example is shown at left.) Our mailing address is 11702 Buckingham Road, Austin, TX 78759. We ask the community to please send no contributions postage- or delivery-due.