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April 30, 2010

HP reaches out to Palm a new environment

HP announced its plan to purchase the people and assets of Palm for $1.2 billion, reminding me of another  grab from the past. That acquisition of Compaq more than eight years ago signaled the end of HP's 3000 futures, even while the company took on new environments. Embracing Palm seems an echo of that strategy (buying innovation that was being thumped in the market) and it marks a notable turn on HP's course.

Hewlett-Packard is purchasing an operating system, one that's not open or an industry standard. You have to go a very long way back to find that sort of play. In fact, it's that very Compaq deal that marks the last time HP acquired an OS or two.

In this week's case it's WebOS, widely praised but under-adopted, developed by top talent and well-loved by the modest base of users who use it for their Palm Pre smartphones. “Palm’s innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP’s mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices,” said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group. “And, Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team."

Eight years ago HP's acquisitions were OpenVMS as well as the NonStop environment, a pair of operating systems that had built loyalty and ardor among IT pros. Like WebOS, they weren't growing. HP didn't pursue Compaq for these environments, but it didn't cut them off like MPE/iX, either.

The history of acquired software is not a pretty one for HP, however, from the Allbase relational database for the 3000 in the 1980s right up to the Mercury Interactive test software purchase in 2006 for $4.5 billion. OpenVMS and NonStop at least had critical mass when HP took them in. WebOS has technical superiority over other mobile environments. Adding it to the HP portfolio shows that control of technology is becoming important in mobile computing, at least. It's a start, or maybe a return to the days when Invented in Here was an asset HP knew how to sell.

It's been easy to believe that HP was getting out of the OS business with its enterprise embrace of Windows and Linux. Perhaps the Palm deal is a sign that HP wants technology that it can control once again. It used to be the only way to turn a profit, win new customers and build loyalty.

Windows changed all that for HP, but it's had to swallow the development and investment decisions of Microsoft or chase the Linux evolutions to reduce its appetite for en-suite operating systems. The smartphone and mobile environments count far more devices than the typical HP-UX customer, and HP's had to make its profits with its proprietary Unix by selling it to massive companies. Some say that Global 400 is where most profits lie in IT, but you'll get an argument from Apple Computer -- which has little presence in such markets but was only $2 billion behind HP on profits while Apple sold nearly $80 billion less. None of it was in the ultra-profitable services business, either.

The purchase of Palm won't close until the end of HP's Q3, but at least the HP acquisition of WebOS may stem the brain-drain of engineers leaving the on-its-heels Palm. In the mobile marketplace, much was whispered and even promoted by HP of an HP Slate tablet. The Slate was to run Windows 7, and some saw that OS as the ankle weights that would keep the mobile device from leaping into competition with Apple. HP insists that its relationship with Microsoft is strong as ever in the face of the Palm pickup. But for mobile, Windows can't compete. WebOS is full of promise but lacking an App Store, so critical mass is the element HP must concoct to make its $1.2 billion pay off.

Of larger value: The ideal that HP should own OS intellectual property, environments it should enhance and propel into new customers' enterprises. HP-UX sites might be glad the Palm deal cleared the HP boardroom, a place where eight years ago HP's steady but slow-growing MPE/iX didn't make the casting call for the future.

Duane Percox, whose company QSS has moved among MPE/iX, HP-UX and Linux environments while it sells K-12 apps, thinks the Palm deal will prove interesting as HP assimilates the new tech. Some community members talked up the idea of buying WebOS to kill off a competitor to Apple's iPhone. Percox, who's been in IT for 30 years, said buying an OS holds a lot more promise than hospice care.

The best way to wipe out WebOS was for Palm to do a lousy marketing job and to place the Pre with Sprint. Based on the numbers it appears that Palm already tanked so no need to worry about HP messing it up.

So, why would HP buy something with so little market share that appears to be going backwards? The same reason Steve Jobs doesn't like Flash on the iPhone/iPad. Think about it...

• HP has mobile devices that are dependent on Microsoft.
• Android is technology that HP can't control
• WebOS gives HP a platform to create a controllable solution that offers the best possible user experience vs. the iPhone/iPad

Now, add to the mix the fact that ex-Palm and Apple heavy hitters now work at HP, and you start to see some interesting possibilities. Can HP execute and pull this off? Only time will tell, but it should be an interesting ride.

The cultures of the Personal Systems Group (new owners of WebOS, come the summertime) and Palm are disparate as any $1.2 billion and $35 billion entities could be. You can start with the fact that reports say nearly all Palm employees are using Apple systems, owning to the company's leaders coming out of Apple. HP's had a culture disconnect like this in a past that impacted the 3000. Compaq was known as HP Red, the old Hewlett-Packard as HP Blue. In the end, the Red overtook the Blue and pulled HP's $22 billion Compaq deal into growth and profits, given about four-plus years.

Perhaps Palm will have a hand in the rise of the unique value of the OS at HP. That concept would deal HP's Unix users a lift that could help if the Business Critical System Integrity numbers fail to grow. For those who understand that the 3000's treasures lie in MPE/iX, it's good to see HP go after an operating system.

03:50 PM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 29, 2010

Integrity servers roll out with Tukwila chips

BladeLink HP promoted solutions for banking, convergent telecom and healthcare providers in its introduction of new Integrity blade servers this week, calling the models that will use the Tukwila Intel 9300 chips a foundation for mainframe-class computing.

Blade servers that are hosted in HP's C7000 chassis were introduced at the portfolio announcement Tuesday, part of the vendor's Technology@Work customer event in Frankfurt, Germany. The new systems are the single-blade BL860c i2 server, starting at $6,490, the 2-blade BL870c i2 at $13,970, and the 4-blade BL890c i2 whose configurations start at $30,935. The blades' pricing doesn't include storage, but each has double the resource capacity (memory and IO)  of the model below it in the new lineup.

These are servers aimed at companies that need to scale their computing upward in the near future. "When applications outgrow their server, it usually means a new platform," said HP design engineer Shawn Kroeger of the Enterprise Systems Lab in a rollout video (below). KrogerBlades HP calls the designs "scale-up" blades, compact servers that are connected with a crossbar called a Blade Link (shown above) to combine two blade servers to create a single SMP server. Blade Link can combine up to four servers together to connect eight sockets' worth of the new chips. Each blade can contain up to two of the Tukwila processors.

While the Superdome 2 blade servers will not ship until the second half of the year, -- HP's event featured window and door manufacturer Pella promising to deploy the new Superdomes -- the new Integrity blade systems are available immediately. HP says the new 870C i2 is up to nine times more powerful than the previous generation of Integrity blades. The blade system design makes upgrades simpler and conserves datacenter space, something of an issue for the larger customers moving mission-critical apps onto HP-UX from 3000 systems.

The C7000 enclosure also accepts HP's ProLiant blade systems, powered by the latest generation of industry standard processors built up from the x86 Intel family. HP promotes this mix of vendor-proprietary and industry standard processors as a way to combine platforms in a single unit.

The converged hardware is controlled by new HP Infrastructure Orchestration management software. The  online tool provisions and reallocates resources quickly to meet "dynamic business needs." HP has also released a third generation of the Integrity Integrated Lights-Out 3 (iLO 3), a Web-based remote management tool for server setup, administration and maintenance that also optimizes power usage.

The Tukwila processors introduce some new fail-safe features. Cache Safe Technology detects potential cache failures during computation. At the memory level, the Integrity blades provide double chip spare, a hardware feature that HP says "enables 17 times higher reliability than a server with single-chip spare."

Large manufacturers such as Pella were among the target customers testifying at the Integrity rollout. HP also showed video of Bill Keese, senior VP of R&D at manufacturing solution vendor QAD, explaining that his customers "want assurance that, as they grow, they will not outgrow their hardware or software systems." In addition to his testimony that the upgrade path is simplified, he reported that the QAD suite was migrated from an RX 8640 Integrity Server -- a more common high-end choice among 3000 migrators who've already made their move -- to the Tukwila-based servers with no hangups.

"QAD software was compiled on a legacy Integrity RX 8640 server system," he said, using the legacy label to describe HP-UX systems online at migrated 3000 shops. "There were absolutely no stability or compatibility issues encountered when the software was run on the new Integrity system. Prior to testing, we had not seen or touched a next-generation Integrity system. The installation went flawlessly and within a day our application was up and running."

The transformation of Integrity to a bladed platform is a new message from HP. Keese said "HP is moving mission-critical computing to a bladed environment," a form factor that will help the vendor maintain and evolve the Integrity systems at a lower cost than standard rack-based systems already running in migrated sites. The bladed systems, which represent all of the growth of Integrity servers, also tout improved cooling that reduces power bills and "helps our customers remain in their current data centers longer."

By moving the platform's future releases to blades, HP says it can enhance capabilities more easily, including memory, processor enhancements, operating system offerings, partitioning abilities, and field product upgrades. An array of PDF white papers and brochures -- including a Technologies in HP Integrity Server Blades technical overview -- plus video tours of the new hardware, are available at the HP Witness mission-critical computing Web page.

01:25 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 28, 2010

Intercepting PCL to Extend 3000 Printing

HP 3000s generate Printer Command Language, the format syntax HP created for its line of laser printers. The 3000s were glad to get PCL abilities in their applications and utilities, but PCL is not for everybody. Multifunction devices not schooled in HP technology, such as those from Xerox, need a go-between to extend the 3000's printing.

The easiest and most complete solution to this challenge, one recently posted on the 3000 newsgroup, is Minisoft's NetPrint, written by 3000 output device guru Richard Corn. When we last reported on Corn's creation it was helping the Victor S. Barnes Company pass 3000 output to Ricoh multifunction printers.

But for the company that can't find about $995 in a budget for that 3000-ready product, there's a commercial Windows alternative of about $300 less you might try to integrate into your system designs. Charles Finley of Transformix explains that the path to print outside of PCL is two-fold.

Finley says of the fundamentals:

1. You need to get the print output from the HP 3000 to some device that is external to the HP 3000
2. You may need to intercept the PCL generated on the HP 3000 and format it for the intended device.

On the one hand, you can license the product of either Richard Corn or Minisoft to manage all this -- or if you want to use what MPE provides, you need to intercept the stream by using something that pretends to be an HP LaserJet.

In the second scenario, assuming you can connect the printers to Windows computers, you can use LPD and an interceptor of some kind. A commercial product we have used is RPM from Brooks Internet Software to accomplish the communication part of the process, plus some other PCL translator product to convert the PCL to whatever you need on the printer.

We had two projects in which, instead of the RPM product, we provided our own little interceptor (described at www.xformix.com/xprint) that does the same kind of thing as RPM. We have the Windows machine pretend that it is an HP PCL printer and configure the HP 3000 to print to it. We used other commercial software (two different products) to intercept the output intended for what it thinks is a LaserJet and format the print output so that it prints correctly.

I believe in each case the customers wanted to translate the PCL to PDF and do other stuff with it on the Windows computer before actually printing it. In one case, they wanted to store the PDF on the Windows computer and store reference data in a SQL Server database so that customers could selectively view and print the file at will.

12:11 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 27, 2010

HP intros "Best Mission-Critical Platform"

Wiehardt intro Hewlett-Packard introduces "The World's Best Mission Critical Platform" today in a series of Web chats, online video shorts and specification sheets, all designed to let prospects like 3000 migrators "Witness" the rollout of Superdome 2.

The Superdome line, first introduced more than a decade ago, will be rejuvenated with the latest Intel 9300 Tukwila processors, plus innovations in the massive server's FlexFabric Matrix designs that tie together processors, storage and networking. HP's new Executive VP of Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking David Donateli, said that the vendor's enterprise solutions benefit from HP's classic one-stop mantra.

"We're the only company out there that designs its own networking, storage and servers," Donateli said in a Flash presentation that's being hosted today. HP has a registration page to enable access to the presentations, timed to coincide with this week's Realise the Future HP Technology@Work 2010 event in Frankfurt.

PartitionInterface The online show is set to begin at 11 AM EDT, while an online chat is starting up at 10 AM. Both can be accessed through the Witness event's Resource Center. Engineer Wendy Wienhardt of the Enterprise Systems Lab (above) conducts a video tour of the massive box at the site, plus shows off an old-school-style interface (left) that lets administrators inspect and troubleshoot Superdome 2 partitions that are not even online.

The Superdome remains an enterprise solution for the top end of HP's customer line, and the Witness event is pitched at the Global 400-style customer who is concerned with datacenter sprawl: the proliferation of multiple silos of networking, storage and processing. HP wants to consolidate and integrate all of that for the big-scale shops, and perhaps for the companies that aspire to create a datacenter large enough to need to worry about sprawl.

9300 Series The two 9300 processors are mounted in blade enclosures, a first for Superdome and a design aimed at reducing the cost of the systems by as much as 40 percent. HP calls this design "scale up Unix" because of its blade foundation. Even though the Tukwila chips are in systems that won't ship until the second half of 2010, they've been engineered in sockets to accept two additional generations of processors. Intel has announced it has two more generations of this Itanium chip in the planning and design stages, so the design will enable Superdome 2 to have a long lifespan as Itanium continues to roll forward.

09:13 AM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 26, 2010

An iPad as a 3000 remote terminal?

Diagram_ipad_vnc Last fall Terry Simpkins, IT director at 3000 shop Measurement Specialties, asked if an Apple product could be used to check on HP 3000 operations. The director wanted to use the iPod Touch as a remote terminal to connect to a 3000.

Simpkins represents the kind of outside-the-box thinking that kept the 3000 vital and high in value over three decades. He asks about Virtual Private Networks -- a feature the 3000 supports -- as a conduit to drive a console over wireless nets.

Whatever might work for the 3000's controls could work as well on Apple's latest groundbreaker, the iPad. The solution would look a lot like the Virtual Network Connection that drives a medical practice application today, on both the iPad and the iPhone.

I have VPN access into our network, and would like to use my iTouch to perform simple system checks and job restarts.  Nothing fancy, just the basics. It would allow me to solve  many problems very quickly.

Measurement Specialties runs a significant manufacturing operation, across the US and in China. In 2008 Simpkins reported that "We have no plans to leave the HP 3000 platform. It currently hosts our applications for GL, AP, inventory control, purchasing, production scheduling, order entry and invoicing. With 11 locations around the world, we have a substantial investment in its continued operation."

iPad to 3000 is not out of the question or science fiction. One veteran 3000 developer and consultant, Bruce Hobbs, is looking at development projects for the new iPad.

VNC may not be widely-known among the millions of consumers who use iPhones, but the business world is tapping the technology. Virtual Network Computing allows any user to send keyboard and mouse input across a wireless network, or even through secure Internet connections, in one case to a Mac application like MacPractice. VNC has been built into the Mac's OS since the 10.4 Tiger release. But a multitouch mobile device like the iPad, with its larger screen, is pushing VNC into service at medical practices -- not the type of customer that IT pros would count among Mac users.

Medical records access is the goal for MacPractice, and it does rely on VNC technology that doesn't exist inside the 3000's MPE/iX. That may not be an insurmountable problem, but that's not the point. Homesteading customers continue to think of the 3000 as their business critical keystone, some to the point of thinking about novel technology integrated with a classic computer.

If a company's path keeps them using the 3000, this style of architecture management justifies staying on the MPE/iX trail. Architecture management and strategy has become a rising asset in IT. Birket Foster of MB Foster said that a mobile aspect is important to consider while planning any architecture that will last 3 or more years.

"You ask what the applications are that run your business, are they server-based, and what do they need to look like in five years," he said. "Is there a mobile plan in that? You could have the guy on the receiving dock use a mobile device. You could be automatically be notifying your sales reps when something happens. There's lot of things you could do with mobile devices to get the best bang for your buck."

Foster also noted that he believes a major share of the 3000 customers who are staying on the platform are handling very modest growth rates. And others have made a choice to stay because the migration teams for their corporations won't complete the work until 2012, or later. Looking at Simpkins and Measurement Specialties, you might see another type of homesteading site: The one that looks for ways to connect newer tech, right down to mobile, with the 3000's reliability. You won't see a wave of this kind of architecture planning. Just a modest swell from the companies rolling along into a less costly future.

11:33 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 23, 2010

Grow or Decline: What OpenMPE Counts On

Second of two parts

Yesterday I talked about the challenges to OpenMPE and what it needs immediately. Complete communication is the keystone, from my viewpoint. But I communicate and persuade (and even sell) for a living. I suggested five committees: Communication, Development, Membership and Events, Guild and Training, and Community Resource. (In a company, you'd call these departments.)

There are several unique assets that OpenMPE holds or can leverage if it hopes to develop as an enterprise. The alternative is a decline -- but committee work and simple oversight from directors could stem that slide.

The assets seem to be, in no particular order

1. The Invent3k server
2. The Contributed Software Library
3. A role as a neutral repository for MPE/iX source -- and perhaps patch coordination. (Neither of these missions were part of HP's licensing terms for the source.)
4. An Exchange for training, technique and perhaps certification.

No. 3 gives the Community Resource committee a mission. No. 4 gives the group a way to justify a Training and Guild committee. The top challenge to 3000 homesteading is brain drain from the community. Fewer experts mean they'll need a centralized place to offer work on very small projects, even one-answer engagements. There's a good support network out there to do this right now, and many have relationships with developers and consultants. If there's any hope of doing critical work on a 3000 in five years, or even three, someone has to stem the brain drain.

With Communication, Training and Guild, and Community Resource set in motion, that leaves Development, and Membership and Events. The former is a means to develop what the group has called a Virtual Lab. This is probably a Committee chaired by a contracted developer of deep MPE experience. Patch-level operations are resolved and organized here. That leaves the community needing a way to gather, online and in person. Nobody is serving the latter need, and the former is an uneven effort among blogs, a newsgroup, and Linked In groups. OpenMPE needs to meet such unserved needs.

Membership and Events is the recruitment and community building part of this group. Companies can join to enjoy access to some MPE/iX online resources, connect through online social networking, and attend events focused on 3000 issues and skills. (I have reason to believe there would be good support for an organized and well-marketed meeting of 3000 pros, both in transit and homesteading. There are lots of DIY sites out there, and some will realize that outsourced services are a better choice once they face the DIY tasks.) Events might be served by the Connect user group, but it focuses on HP's supported environments: HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop as exclusive missions, Windows, Linux and HP Storage and Software as adjuncts to other group efforts.

There's a vast array of HP-specific sessions at June's Tech Forum run by Connect. Just very little for any 3000 user but the one who's already moved to one of those environments.

Committees are not new, and Connect is proof of what they might do. The group has a board of more than a dozen directors, and each is tasked with chairing a committee. In a healthy organization, the full board meets to vote upon and discuss the work done outside of a meeting like today's. In a challenged group, a board meets to sink into the weeds of details that a committee -- charged with the trust of the board -- could resolve quickly and fine-tune on successive efforts.

This is work just like a job at times. Connect's president Chris Koppe told us that he logs 20 hours a week on average presiding over the user group. A committee chair could devote 6 hours a week to the work as a start, just to see if it would move the needle on real accomplishments. A chair could serve for a year, with a plan to recruit a successor after six months and train a second volunteer. Relationship skills are just as important as technical and operational experience.

People like to say that OpenMPE has never done anything but meet. But the software licenses were pushed into existence once OpenMPE started to meet with HP. The serious dialogue began in February of 2002, when founder Jonathan Backus sat down to breakfast with HP's Dave Wilde. I saw the meeting begin in a California dining room, but I was just watching from behind my placemat, out of earshot. All three of us had hope, however.

Hope needs a renaissance at OpenMPE. I believe the software licenses for MPE/iX source never would have happened for so many companies without OpenMPE's six-plus years of pushing and persuading HP to improve its offer to homesteading customers. I also believe that source code licenses would have been arranged by some companies in the support and development fields, independent of OpenMPE. HP contacted some licensees to encourage them to apply. The blanket application process was a result of the hours and hours that have winnowed down to today's minutes posted on the OpenMPE Web site. Now the group has nobody to talk with but itself and prospective customers.

If OpenMPE's board wants to send its do-nothing rep to the memory bin, it needs to trust committees and vote on their work, not try to manage the details itself. That, and open up the Contributed Software Library -- which has been invisible or in private exchange for nearly five years. The CSL will show HP, which still holds the source license, something that OpenMPE will do for everyone. The CSL is also an invitation to join for a token sum just to log in and download. (Use PayPal; we all do. Discount a full membership for these charter members until July.) Put some programs out for free, others behind a paywall. Content is regaining value as currency today. It's time for skin in the game from the community, mirrored by a genuine sales and recruitment effort to take any business plan into reality.

Only a release of control, and an invitation to volunteer and contract, will help this group mature. These are the same things that made the 3000 an extraordinary value and investment: when users collaborated with HP through the early 1990s. It's time to work together.

And if this all sounds like a lot of work, well, the community will be building an enterprise, not a club or an advocacy group. HP said it extended the licenses for 3000 internals to three kinds of groups:

Those whose business model is to provide technical support on HP e3000 products; software providers whose products have an intimate knowledge of MPE/iX internals; and software providers whose products emulate one or more aspects of MPE/iX and the HP e3000 on other HP products.

OpenMPE won't build an emulator and has no tech support customers. There's no need for that; third parties are offering those. In the CSL it has "products which have an intimate knowlege of MPE internals." The CSL is only thing that's open today about OpenMPE, and it hasn't opened the CSL doors yet. It's time to it to open up and see what the community can do to collaborate toward a meaningful future, one cooperating with the rest of the 3000 ecosystem.

08:30 AM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 22, 2010

Minutes show OpenMPE ready to collaborate

First of two parts

The OpenMPE volunteers have taken another step along the path to communication this week, posting the second set of minutes for the year 2010. Even two postings in a row is an improvement for this group, which has met via conference call on Thursdays for many years.

Today is a meeting day for this group, the people and their successors who started with talks about obtaining a license for MPE/iX source code. Those minutes show that it's time for this collective to gain help from a classic user group resource: committees. Its work to negotiate in confidence is over; HP has closed its labs and ended talks about future 3000 work.

This group was named OpenMPE during 2002, in the same vein as the term open source. Even though HP dismissed that ideal -- that the 3000's OS would become shared, collectively-developed software like Java or perl that could be improved and extended -- the 3000's internals are now in the hands of eight licensees. Seven of them have a business plan for using the source. OpenMPE does not today, and it will need more effort to assemble a realistic plan before the bill comes due for HP's source code license.

I suggest forming five committees to mature OpenMPE. Invitations should be sent, in public and reaching out in private, to chair work efforts in

Communication
Development
Membership and Events
Guild and Training
Community Resource

The first committee's need is evident and immediate. If this group is ever to attract the talent and passion it needs to survive, those talented people need to know what OpenMPE's mission has become -- and learn what it will offer to make continued meetings like today's make a difference to any 3000 owner. The work of these committees is the only way the group can justify holding a source code license, or meeting much longer.

I don't want to discourage any other emerging missives from these volunteers. But under the heading of Business Plan, the minutes of the April 8 meeting say "This portion of meeting under executive session."

If you're unfamiliar with executive session, it's a term for private discussions usually regarding HR matters or confidential business negotiations. As of today's meeting, it's a term for "we're working on it." An update on these ideas very soon, even in draft form, might help attract some talent.

You can argue that commercial enterprises like Adager, Speedware, Pivital Solutions, Allegro Consultants, Beechglen Development and Terix, or tools and software-focused licensees like Ordat, Neil Harvey Associates -- all source code licensees -- have such business plan discussions in executive session all the time. But those privately-held companies don't need low-cost, volunteer talent to make their missions succeed. Revenues, expenses and profits rule their decisions and plans. All are established and successful companies. Many have done very hard work with tangible results for years, even decades.

In contrast, this month OpenMPE is still looking for contributions. It has a desire to sell access to its Invent3k access development server, a 3000 loaded with some tools to help build and test 3000 software. But immediate seed money for its operations is needed from companies using the 3000 for the immediate future. No matter how much OpenMPE might help any single software company smooth out the 3000 ownership in 2011, it needs to appeal to the entire community.

The problem in 2011 will be a set of workarounds and even patches created by seven companies. They haven't announced a plan to coordinate these fixes, to ensure any single company's software will operate without failure on a patched system. This is testing, the hardest part of development and support. Some of the testing for independent software will be done by support companies or developers who hold licenses. But a clearinghouse, to organize these patches so they don't crash into one another? That seems to be the best way OpenMPE can help -- and so a Community Resource committee dives in to build a clearinghouse.

(If you can't tell by now, this is just my business plan ideal for an organization I've reported on for eight years. What the board decides to do, or table, is whatever it will be. I'm on the outside like most of you looking in, but talking to board members for context.)

I list Communications first among committees because 105 words in minutes every week doesn't tell enough to attract much talent. You must look at OpenMPE's unique resource and missions to justify why anybody would bother to join this group's mission. I'll take a look at these, as well as what those committees might do to mature OpenMPE, tomorrow.

12:43 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 21, 2010

Early gravedigging surrounds HP solutions

MartinFink "This IT choice won't survive much longer without customer support," the analysts and experts and community have said. "It's too niche, and HP can't prop it up forever." Those predictions -- the gravedigging around a choice that's not an industry standard -- have been heard about the HP 3000 since the middle 1990s.

But such forecasts are not heard anymore about the HP 3000. HP's favorite replacement, the Itanium-based Integrity, draws such dire predictions these days. Itanium may deserve them just as little as the HP 3000 did, at least until Hewlett-Packard announced its exit from the market in 2001.

Doubts about long-term Itanium success are not difficult to locate. Although the most dour analysis comes from the industry-wide The Register IT Web site, developers and founding partners in the 3000 community see declining prospects for Itanium, too. Some doubts might be based upon phantom chills from HP's 3000 pullout. One developer who has customers on the 3000, with others migrating, said HP ought to be engineering ahead for the inevitable.

"I would be more interested to hear HP quietly assembling a group of engineers to get HP-UX to run on the Intel/AMD true commodity server CPU -- Xeon/Opteron -- and finally admit Itanium is a bust," he said. Few HP partners want to go on record with their skepticism, but their development dollars make louder statements. Some are using Dell servers and VMware to host HP-UX in emulation.

But this chip has been tarred for more than five years. Despite those doubts, HP still swears by the only processor which can run HP-UX. Martin Fink, the VP of HP's Business Critical Systems unit, most recently testified when the Tukwila Itanium generation rolled out.

I have turned the spade of Itanium gravedigging myself several times over the past two years. That's been a period of delays and redesigns to build a successor to the current Montecito generation of the chip. In early March the chip's creator Intel and its chief customer HP touted the new Tukwila 9300 generation. HP trimmed up a 20-minute Webcast into 2.5 minutes of Fink's headlines, preceded by the VP of Intel's Architecture Group Kirk Skaugen.

"More than 80 of the top 100 companies in the world have deployed Itanium for their most mission-critical environments," Fink said. He added that HP's implementation of the chip, which employs a subsystem only HP can provide, makes Itanium a success among such customers.

"There's storage, there's networking, there's managability, and integration capabilities. Now take a step back and think, who's been building servers for 30 years? Who's been doing networking for 30 years, and who has the No. 1 and No. 2 position in storage, internal and external, and who's been doing IT for decades"

Of course, to go back 30 years would point to HP's success with the 3000. One supplier of migration and data management solutions for the 3000 notes that such fully-integrated systems offer a stable, superior environment. Birket Foster of MB Foster says that people who focus on a chipset alone miss the complete picture.

"There's a lot of things that are more important than speed these days," he said. "Some of those are things HP has built in for virtualization, and others are the things like digital signal processing and caching that HP anticipated when they first began this design." (It's easy to forget that Itanium started in HP's labs in the late 1980s, engineered until the company chose to pass on building its own fabrication facility.)

Foster pointed out that HP took the main Itanium CPU and built chipsets. He said he's seen evidence of companies employing Itanium for white-box systems, as well as vendor-labeled enterprise servers.

And industry adoption and critical mass in the marketplace? Foster said that customers seem to be willing to let the chips fall where they may. Intel's Skaugen said that 85 percent of the world's Itanium systems are HP's, running HP-UX. Groupe Bull in France and Hitachi enterprise systems also employ the chip, but the growth ramp-up is still in the future, according to Fink.

Foster said HP-UX and Itanium look like safe choices for enterprise-grade customers, rather than small and medium-sized businesses. And the adoption pattern for migrations bears out his analysis: the overwhelming majority of customers reporting on their 3000 migrations -- small companies, many of them -- are choosing Windows and the Xeon/Nehalem chipsets. But Itanium has more improvements to come.

"They're going to do chip releases every two years," Foster said, referring to the Paulson and Kittson generations. "In every company there are going to be people who are detractors of a technology. While there are multiple, different lines of products, people are always going to say their choice is better. Or at least trash the other one, so it leaves it open for people to pick something else."

Guy Smith, the founder of marketing services firm Silicon Strategies and a name familiar to readers of the NewsWire, posted a message about the continued slide of Itanium, in 2005. "Most of my rants are merely showing how it is not winning in the marketplace," he said yesterday looking back on that post, "when defining 'winning' as outselling alternatives." He said nearly five years ago

Any time news starts to sound like a Monty Python script, you know the end is near. [InfoWorld's 2005] headline reads "Itanium: not dead yet," which is so close to a scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail that one has to laugh.  But the article turns sad by paragraph 3, and shows in this [Itanium] Alliance the same insanely hopeful straw-grasping that people display when loved ones are about to become the dearly
departed -- fanciful fits of abject hopefulness.

The timing of a demise is subject to much estimation, Smith adds today. "We write obits long before the corpse is cold," he said. "Many people predicted the death of COBOL in the 1980s, yet [IT consultant and 3000 volunteer] Bob Karlin will give you an earful about how it is both a programming language and the undead."

"Itanium may indeed be the best there is and ever was," he said. "So was Betamax for video. The market turned its back on both." Detractors and defenders of the Integrity's fundamental chip may both be right, he added.


12:16 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 20, 2010

3000s still busy enough to make messes

Robelle's lead Suprtool developer Neil Armstrong laughed yesterday when I asked him about the state of the 3000 market. He was not snickering at whether the 3000 market's state was history, either.

"I was just poring over a HowMessy report from a 918 when you called," he said. "That should tell you something."

Armstrong has been hard at work servicing the 3000 customers -- we'd estimate several thousand -- who continue to rely upon the Robelle products, including Suprtool and HowMessy. He's been leading the former in steps toward other platforms to serve the needs of migrating Suprtool sites. But HowMessy is strictly an HP 3000 tool, used by companies who want to improve the database performance on their systems.

Not exactly a leave-the-platform utility -- and the generation of the computer said something about the market's state, too.

Community veterans, customers and developers have been using HowMessy since I started covering the HP 3000 25 years ago. Maybe before, since HowMessy is one of those programs that's not sold, but bundled with a Robelle purchase. Those kinds of tools have a life off the books, a lot like that Series 918.

HP won't support a Series 918 in about eight months, but that doesn't mean that this 3000 that's at least 10 years old is going out of service. This is the smallest of the 9x8 line, which began its life in 1992. It's not a challenge to find a 918 still working at a development lab, as a disaster recovery system, sure. But in production? You'd think that a 3000 with a meager Performance Rating of 10 would be out of everyday critical use.

After all, the Series 979 in the OpenMPE rackspace hosting center sports a Rating of 184. And that server ready to go online Very Soon Now isn't even the fastest generation of 3000s. If you want to survey the Relative Performance of the 3000 line, the best table of the entire lineup is at AICS Research, makers of the QueryCalc reporting tool. HP also created a matrix of times-more-powerful-than systems, using the N-Class servers of the final RISC era. A single-processor N-Class is still 7 times more powerful than that Series 918.

But power is not really the issue that is separating 3000 lovers from their systems, nor is it the reason that Armstrong still gets HowMessy reports from a Series 918. These Elder Era computers are in place and working at a phenomenal value, considering how long they're been paid off. HowMessy reports aside, the 918 is working because it always has, and even in an improving economy that's valuable. With migrations restarting and making headway while IT spending rises, a system built in the 20th Century still can do the job in the 21st -- if it's an HP 3000, and you can count on the experience of a supplier like Robelle.

If you're new to 3000 management, or just want to remember what HowMessy helps clean up, you might recall this advice from Adager (which also bundles HowMessy in its installation packages). In its technical paper Do Migrating Secondaries Give You Migraines? Alfredo Rego writes:

Messy synonym chains, with entries scattered all over, will probably contribute numerous bad synonyms. Cleanly-packed synonym chains, on the other hand, may contribute good synonyms which will be, for all practical purposes, equivalent to primary entries. Intra-memory operations are, after all, significantly faster than disc operations.

Under any circumstances, short and tidy synonym chains are much better than long and messy synonym chains. Use Robelle's HowMessy (available in the Robelle and Adager installation packages) to get a good view: www.robelle.com/smugbook/howmessy.html

11:54 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 19, 2010

SuprtoolSQL slips into Windows to migrate

A pair of developers are taking the first steps to bring Robelle's Suprtool database language to Windows servers. Transformix's Charles Finley and Suprtool guru Neil Armstrong are introducing SuprtoolSQL into 3000 shops which are migrating. The software will be sold as a combination of code and migration/development service, a tandem assembled when an Ecometry e-commerce site needed to take Suprtool along on its migration journey.

Suprtool is often embedded at an essential level in HP 3000 shops which use the Extraction, Transform and Load (ETL) language. HP's Alvina Nishimoto said at an HP user group meeting in 2007 that Suprtool plays a significant role in prompting 3000 sites to move to HP-UX. Until SuprtoolSQL started to emerge this month, keeping the infrastructure of Suprtool working meant moving to HP's Unix.

HP-UX, Nishimoto said in March of 2007, was the target platform most favored by migration sites. She chalked up the choice to one 3000 essential tool: Suprtool, unavailable on Windows until now and in wide use in the 3000 community.

Armstrong has ported the product to both IBM's and Sun's versions of Unix since that time. Those brands of Unix along with HP's share a common denominator: the Big Endian chip set. But the software hadn't made the leap to Small Endian chip sets which run Windows servers and some distros of Linux.

When developers at Transformix leveraged the capabilities of Oracle and a deep knowledge of Suprtool, however, the ETL language started to take steps toward a life on Windows systems. Ecometry sites have been migrating in large measure to Windows rather than HP-UX, and Suprtool is a crucial part of the surround code for these HP 3000 customers. The solution works only with Oracle today, according to Transformix. But it can be extended to work with any relational database, according to company officials.

The companies are positioning SuprtoolSQL as a Suprtool replacement for some non-MPE platforms. It works with SunGard Bi-Tech Transport, the migration software used by the lab-for-hire developers at Transformix, that company's Charles Finley reports. When Transformix employed the power of Oracle and its own tools to duplicate some of the capabilities of Suprtool, Finley said he next approached Robelle for a license and sales agreement.

Suprtool only runs on Big Endian machines, "and this presents an obstacle for the many Suprtool users who want to migrate to small endian platforms such as Linux on x86 or Microsoft Windows," a data sheet at last week's Ecometry user conference states.

SuprtoolSQL is a solution that resolves this migration obstacle. NOTE: SuprtoolSQL is not available as a standalone product, since it requires and is dependent on tools and services available from Transformix.

It's still early in the process of bringing this ETL tool into the grasp of Suprtool users who need to adopt Windows or Linux. Both Transformix and Robelle said they've got a pilot customer who's employing the software and services this year, once the busy season for that e-commerce company settles down.

Employing this solution requires a services and support agreement with Transformix, which has been migrating HP 3000 sites since Hewlett-Packard announced its intention to leave the market. 

Finley said SuprtoolSQL has many of the equivalent commands as Suprtool for MPE and addred that the list of commands continues to grow. Suprtool's scripts are used within many MPE job streams on HP 3000s. They have been an essential and unique part of the 3000 experience that's been costly and difficult to duplicate in some projects.

In order to provide a comprehensive replacement for Suprtool scripts, what's needed are replacements for MPE-specific features including JCL statements and intrinsics, a replacement for the TurboIMAGE database, KSAM file types, MPE flat files and message files. The Robelle-Transformix solution requires two components: Transport, installed for the target platform, and SuprtoolSQL.

Transformix is the distributor for SunGard Bi-tech Transport. Transport provides the missing functionality to enable SuprtoolSQL to replace the Suprtool suite of products, using Java to make it platform-independent. The companies say that most of the Suprtool code or intrinsics found in MPE/iX application environments can remain untouched and continue to rely on MPE concepts and access MPE files on the target platform.

The solution also generates SQL statements to access the relational databases. A planned feature will give it the ability to translate the Suprtool script into a SuprtoolSQL script which will contain the generated SQL. This will permit users to edit the SQL and access the data with greater power and flexibility than currently allowed by Suprtool scripts.

04:36 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 16, 2010

HP sticks in Fortune 500's Top 10

Fortune magazine released its annual rankings of American corporations today, and Hewlett-Packard maintained a spot in the Top 10 companies as measured by revenues. HP slipped one spot to No. 10, just as perennial leader ExxonMobil slipped to No. 2. WalMart leads the 2010 list with revenues of $408 billion -- and profits of $14 billion.

When measured against other computer makers on the list, HP's $114 billion leads by a comfy margin. The next three suppliers of systems: IBM at No. 20 ($95.7 billion) Dell at No. 38 ($52 billion) and Apple at No. 56 ($36 billion). The real trick in this kind of measurement victory is profits, however. HP posted $7.6 billion, while IBM earned close to twice as much at $13.4 billion on 20 percent less sales. (Dell eked out $1.4 billion, but Apple reported $5.7 billion.) In profits, HP ranks 17 and IBM is No. 5.

These numbers matter because HP touts them to prospects and reports them to customers, suggesting that bigger is a safer choice. HP 3000 sites who are choosing migration environments, or outsourcing the 3000's IT ops to major vendors, are encouraged to feel more secure in their own boardrooms because HP remains big.

The Fortune 500 is a phrase quoted often to measure the success of a system vendor's solutions, too. HP's partners invoke the F500 incantation as well, all to demonstrate that large-scale customers maintain their investments in HP solutions. In an American business sector much closer to the HP 3000's roots, the company says it services 1 billion Medicaid claims per year and manages $100 billion in assets.

Bigger sells less often with the smaller companies, however, that 80 percent of the 3000 community that will never get within shouting distance of a Fortune 1000 spot, let alone F500. It's not in HP's best corporate interests, profit-wise, to dominate its drive with a solution that satisfies small customers. (That's Microsoft's turf, for many of the 3000 migrators -- and the Redmond giant ranked No. 38 in the Fortune list while it posted even more profit than IBM, at $14.5 billion.)

The hard truth about selling information technology around the world is that 85 percent of all IT spending flows from the Global 500 corporations. It's also important to remember that today's Fortune list covers only US firms. Fortune's most recent list of international corporations -- which includes companies that don't consider the US to be home for their HQs -- ranks HP as No. 32 and five energy companies in the Top 10. Even Toyota is more than 20 slots higher than HP in the global economy -- as measured by sales.

02:51 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 15, 2010

Cross over lines from disk's unknown state

I had a mirrored disk drive in a Jamaica Enclosure attached to my N-Class 3000 go bad.  The DSTAT results showed that it went into a ‘BUSY’ state, and nothing short of a reboot could clear it. During the reboot, I replaced the drive. But when the system went through “Mount All Volumes” it complained about a duplicate volume. My 3000 now shows this replaced drive in an "UNKNOWN" state. How do I resolve this partially mounted volume issue?

Gilles Schipper replies

You should use VOLUTIL's suspendmirrvol command. After you've replaced the drive, you simply:

:volutil
replacemirrvol IT_UV:member2 (plus volume number)

There’s really no need to perform a store-to-disk or buldjob stuff. But if really want to do that, there are a few steps that are needed.

I would first perform a directory store, as in:

:store command.pub.sys;directory;onvs=mpexl_system_volume_set,diskdump,it_uv,a_uv,b_uv;*t;show

Then, store the files on it_uv, ..
Then, after vsclosing, etc,

:restore *t;;directory;show

Then restore of files on that volset -- with the ;olddate;create;keep;partdb options. But I don't think any subsequent steps (vsclose, scratch, then rebuilding the volume set) will be necessary.

What's more, you really should not need to do a FORMATVOL. I've only once actually ever needed to do that -- and I did not do it with MPE, which is extremely slow.

A simple VOLUTIL replacemirrvol should do the trick after you've replaced the drive. The fact that the drive is in an "UNKNOWN" state is perfectly normal for the situation you described.

04:08 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2010

The Payoff of Being a Pricer, Not a Cheaper

Recent news about Microsoft's end-of-support notice for Itanium could be read as another nail in the HP-UX coffin. How does a Windows Server 2008 end-game trouble the future for HP's Unix and its proprietary processor? By people thinking short-term and adopting mass market strategies for enterprise computing. It doesn't have to be this way, but you need to think different than a Cheaper, if you can arrange any way at all to afford it.

What's a Cheaper? That's the manager or consumer for whom the price is the most important concern. They look at today's cash flow instead of the coming five years of ownership cost. They buy $299 netbooks with glee until the slab of plastic is better suited to prop open windows than run Windows.

You could be a Pricer instead. This kind of pay-what-it's-worth thinking made the HP 3000 the best value in enterprise computing, circa the 1990s. So long as HP put its engineering muscle behind a platform that was a walled garden, adding features and embracing new tech, you couldn't buy a business computer that was a better investment than a 3000. When HP bagged its responsibility, you got left looking for something else. Cheaper looked attractive, being just stung by the top-shelf expense of dropped promises.

Then came Unix, and the promise of everywhere adoption, cheaper than a BMW-grade MPE/iX OS. Then Windows, tuned up for running an enterprise with Windows Server and SQL Server. Each cheaper than the last. Oh, except for that SQL Server piece, which MB Foster's Birket Foster points out has become a lot less cheap since it must perform for enterprises.

Foster says that despite Windows Server 2008 being the last version to support Itanium and Integrity, he likes the outlook for HP-UX and the only server which runs it. It all depends, he says, on how far out you're looking to expect an environment to deliver value.

"One of my first questions would be, what's your timeframe?" Foster asks. "How long do you want this platform to be in existence for you?"

He says customers are not planning out timeframes longer than 3-5 years for any other operating system, so why expect the HP-UX and Itanium picture to run farther toward the horizon? 

"There are things people can do while they're making their conversions from the 3000 to make it easier to shift the next time," Foster said, processes that will make isolation happen. "HP already figured out how to build a hardware abstraction layer so they could run five operating systems on this Itanium chipset. Who's to say you can't build an operating system extraction layer and isolate yourself?"

Foster said his company did that kind of isolation when they migrated a large oil company off the 3000. And that abstraction layer? OS experts in the 3000 community surmise that eventually, instead of Itanium hosting x86/Xeon programs in hardware, the reverse will happen.

It probably would be cheaper for Intel/HP to develop Itanium emulators that allow better HP-UX virtualization on the x86 family to protect customers, rather than trying to maintain HP-UX on ever evolving hardware.   Remember, the original Itanium was supposed to have x86 hardware emulation embedded to allow it to overtake the applications from that platform.

Cheapers may not embrace this choice, since it includes an OS priced for cost of ownership instead of the entry price. They really don't want to consider the extra 25 percent it takes to adopt a better-built, longer-lived product. Not when they can save that money from this year's budget. Pricers think about having to defend their choice in more than five years, instead of looking for another investment to replace what was never built to last.

Built to Last could describe HP-UX and Itanium more than Xeon and Windows Server. But a Pricer needs to know the vendor will be there for them many years to come, to justify the extra expense up front. Think BMW to consider how much vendor zeal you will need. Can you feel that zeal from your migration platform vendor? Have they spent more in R&D, percentage-wise, than HP does as a company?

Windows will do the job adequately for many migration-bound companies. But the long-term value of anybody else's environment except Linux seems fuzzy. Even the Windows desktop applications get replaced every 18 months. The future of HP-UX is probably not a "we're killing it off" demise like HP planned for MPE. Instead, Foster says, "In the long run, HP-UX will probably morph into something like Linux." That will be the point when being a Pricer instead of Cheaper might pay off -- because your shop is full of experts in enterprise-grade IT management solutions, built off the 20 years of Unix extra-cost investments.

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

April 13, 2010

School District Goes Native for Migration

By James Harding
UNICON Conversion Technologies

Second of two parts

When Oregon's Medford School District looked at a long-term plan for the student information systems on its HP 3000, MSD looked at options to purchase a new student system application for another platform, homestead on the 3000 for the foreseeable future, re-write the system in house, or hire outside help to re-write.

MSD ultimately selected what UNICON calls its ‘native’ approach. FUJITSU COBOL .NET was chosen as the target programming language running on Microsoft Windows and utilizing Microsoft SQL Server for the database. VPlus screens were converted to Winforms using Visual Basic as the code-behind.

MSD said the the benefits of going native were immediately apparent. From a staffing perspective, IT Manager Keith Brabham would on the one hand be able to retain his HP COBOL programmers along with their invaluable knowledge of the applications and business rules — since transitioning from programming in HP COBOL to FUJITSU COBOL was relatively straightforward, But when these staff members moved on, replacement would no longer be a concern.

“When staff turned over, we wanted to be able to select from a large pool of qualified applicants,” Brabham said. “We wanted a system that would be viable for at least 10 years or more. By migrating to native Windows .NET. further development could be achieved in any .NET-compliant language.”

Another benefit for MSD was user impact. “Minimizing change [to our user community] was a driving force of every decision we made” Brabham said. “We didn’t want the users to have to learn a new system. And while we knew some changes would be unavoidable when migrating to the new platform, UNICON helped us minimize the impact of our changes by working closely with us.”

With up to 800 concurrent users on the system, MSD wanted a Windows platform that not only adequately handled the workloads, but one that would provide them room for growth and scalability well into the future. MSD selected Dell for its hardware needs and procured a system that effortlessly handled the required workloads at a price in the region of $50,000.

In addition to meeting MSD’s needs to migrate away from the HP 3000, UNICON’s pure, native approach also delivered major modernization to the applications. Not only did the solution empower MSD to preserve all the valuable investments made over the years in its custom software, it brought them to the forefront of today’s computing and database technologies.

The school district is now able to leverage the rich features and benefits that come with open systems architecture — and benefit from the power and versatility of full relational database management systems. Brabham is in no doubt that UNICON’s solution was the right way to go.

“We are very happy with our migration,” he said. “I am extremely confident in the direction we have chosen. This will make it much easier to continue rewriting and enhancing our system in the .NET world. I would definitely recommend UNICON to anyone seeking to migrate to open platforms.”

10:54 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 12, 2010

School District Learns to Migrate

By James Harding
UNICON Conversion Technologies

First of two parts

Medford School District 549C (MSD) serves 19 K-12 schools with over 12,000 student enrollments. Over the years, MSD has developed a highly customized Student Information System (SIS) written in HP's COBOL for the HP 3000. In 2001 MSD upgraded to a new HP3000 N4000/200 to resolve performance issues, but a few weeks after installation, HP announced its ‘end-of-life’ decision for the platform.

Over the next few years, MSD took a very close look at all the options available and reviewed five main paths

1: Purchase a new student system
2: Stay on the HP3000 for the foreseeable future
3: Re-write the system in house
4: Hire outside help to re-write
5: Migrate the existing system to a modern language and platform.

MSD’s IT Manager Keith Brabham explained, “While many companies panicked and spent vast sums on reactionary measures, we knew we were okay for a while and just kept on drilling down to identify the solution that made most sense for us, both technically and financially.”

Option 1, to purchase a new student system, was a path chosen by other Oregon districts, but on review MSD found these systems to be significantly behind its current SIS in functionality. In addition, the cost of such software was nearing $1,000,000. Even if MSD outsourced to another district, it still carried a heavy premium, compounded by high annual fees for life. When you added to that the cost of modifications and dependency on outside entities, the overall risk became too great.

MSD looked at option 2, remaining on the HP 3000, also known as homesteading. Brabham wasn’t convinced.

“While the system might have been viable for another 3 to 5 years, if it went bad, it could do so dramatically and in a very short period of time. Our hardware was already getting old and leaving that potential for disaster to a future administration to deal with seemed wrong. They’d end up with a multi-million dollar problem!”

The prospect of option 3, re-writing the system in house, was also daunting. MSD spent resources exploring two different re-write paths, each time realizing it would be a painful 5-7 year process – those timelines and resource pressures were simply too risky to continue pursuit of that route.

This left options 4 and 5... have a third party re-write the system in a modern language, or migrate the existing SIS system and database to run on a modern platform. Previous review of such solutions suggested costs in the seven figure price range. Regardless, MSD issued an RFP to the market and in response received multiple bids and proposals.

As expected, option 4, re-writing, turned out to be prohibitively expensive, carrying long timelines and exposing MSD to too much inherent risk. In addition, there were other major considerations such as the culture shock and learning curve facing programmers and users when attempting to implement the new system.

Option 5, Migration, could be achieved in two ways: Either emulate the HP 3000 environment on UNIX or Windows and run the existing applications on the emulator, or convert the existing source code to a modern programming language to run in a native open systems environment without proprietary middleware. The problem with the emulation option was that it would have left MSD bound by the restrictions of the proprietary HP3000 environment AND inherently dependent upon the vendor of the emulation software going forward, a situation MSD definitely did not want to get into given that emulation by definition is a ‘dying’ industry. Also, emulation wasn’t cheap!

The option to convert the code to run in a native open systems environment, made much more sense to Brabham.

“Our Student System was highly customized," he said, "so we liked the idea of being able to continue development after migration using .NET-compliant modern languages. UNICON would automatically convert all our source, job files and data to run in native Windows, targeting .NET and SQL Server, leaving us full ownership of our programs and in a position to further develop leveraging modern technologies.”

03:08 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 09, 2010

OpenMPE restarts its meeting minutes

After the arrival of two new board members, the OpenMPE advocacy group published its first set of meeting minutes in more than 18 months. Many topics were discussed in a meeting that ran more than three hours on April 8, but the group is discussing more than it is making motions to accomplish at the moment.

Tangible progress has been made on naming two members to officer posts. Keith Wadsworth has become the vice-chair of the group, after earning his first term on the board during last month's election. Tracy Johnson, whose diligent efforts made these latest minutes surface, has now taken over the group's secretary duties.

Wadsworth and Johnson have drafted a business plan for the group which has met since 2002 but has not yet released a product or sold a service to the 3000 community. No vote was taken as a result of a discussion about how to bring revenues to the group. The group has made one cosmetic change to the language in an updated Web site: references to "donations" are now being called "contributions." As for fees, the group is looking toward billing support companies for virtual lab work to create patches.

OpenMPE has not announced any members of its virtual lab yet, the group which in theory would develop fixes for MPE/iX problems starting in 2011. But a list of the prospective support group customers mentioned in the minutes includes the Support Group inc., Beechglen, Allegro Consultants, Gilles Schipper Associates and Abtech. New board member Jack Connor works at Abtech, while Allegro's Donna Hofmeister recently resigned a board position.

The nine board members continue to approach the revenue issues as a fundraising effort rather than a sales pitch. Fees are being discussed, but not proposed, for access to the Invent3k development server that OpenMPE now controls. One commercial company, which is not named in the minutes, is interested enough in Invent3k time that OpenMPE will be asking the company to resend a Request for Quote. These online resources represent the only spots where OpenMPE might generate fees, rather than reply on fundraising. One meeting item stated that HP has said source code licensees can collaborate with one another "for minimal fees."

More than six months after the invent.openmpe.org and jazz.openmpe.org were offered at the 2009 Community Meet, with an expected go-live date sometime in October, the servers are not online or open to the community.

Invent3K should be accessible in the same role as it had by HP. Invent3K-2 would be an internal machine. [Matt Perdue, hosting the systems] suggests the roles be reversed as the disc space is greater on 3k2. Matt suggested patches be current before going “go-live.” Chairman Birket Foster suggested “go-live” be performed and patches be done later. Matt suggests we need a policy statement and a fee structure. No vote was taken.

More assistance to get these servers open might be on the way. The group's next meeting, scheduled for April 29, will include volunteer Paul Raulerson, who's been working on a new Web site for the group. He's also been tasked with bringing the Jazz resources online for OpenMPE. Jazz programs are already being hosted by Client Systems -- which donated one of the Series 9x9 servers OpenMPE runs -- as well as Speedware.

05:13 PM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 08, 2010

How HP's Unique Enterprises Stay Alive

The HP 3000 launched Hewlett-Packard's groundbreaking computer community. Designed as an enterprise-grade solution, the environment's technology was unlike any other at its bones. Internals and intrinsics shared little with other computing choices for a long time -- even the connections with Unix starting in the '90s were not essential. But by the '90s the vendor's competitors had a slur they used for the design that once powered all enterprise computing: proprietary.

Today the most sophisticated enterprise replacement for the 3000, at least from the HP stable, qualifies for the same title. HP-UX is Unix at its bones, albeit a distinct dialect of the OS. Choosing UX has become a more serious matter by now because it only runs on one processor, created by HP and Intel and becoming more of a niche choice with each year. We're talking Itanium here, and the Integrity servers and blades, an ecosystem for HP-UX that can be best kept alive by HP's contributions.

That's not a hopeless task for the long run. IBM continues to achieve this for its AS/400 environment, now called Series i in its 2010 incarnation and running on the proprietary POWER chips. HP achieves the same thing for OpenVMS, although much of the sustaining power is generated from outside the vendor from an installed base of hundreds of thousands of systems. Remaining in the HP-UX community after accomplishing a migration, or joining it if you're making a decision on where to migrate, should include some review of community in any proprietary world which HP still develops, sells and supports.

OpenVMS, whose future is also tied to Itanium, is being enhanced by its advocates this week, this fall, and throughout 2010. HP has not said anything about an end-date for its OpenVMS business. In fact, there's a revival of the OpenVMS Boot Camp this September 12-16 in Nashua, NH.

The HP 3000 used to have this kind of boot camp. It was called the SIG 3000 symposium, and it often followed the Interex Computing Management Symposium. Together these events focused on the 3000 and MPE/iX, and little else. If you wanted to learn about 3000 tech without the distraction of a broader set of non-3000 tracks, the ICMS and SIG 3000 would offer instruction and news similar to this week's OpenVMS Technical Update Days in Dallas.

2007 Boot Camp The Boot Camp is an even bigger event, a full week that costs $1,595 and is chock full of hundreds of sessions covering only OpenVMS issues (2007's lineup is shown at right). Sue Skonetski is near the top of this OpenVMS community, because she logged 25 years of advocacy service to VMS working at Digital, then Compaq, and finally HP. She's become a leader independent of HP, and still strong in the community, after HP laid her off last year. Now she's a VP at third-party vendors Nemonix (strictly OpenVMS support) and eCube (multiple platform tools.) and Of the boot camp, she reports that the annual event was put on hiatus last year "because the economy was so bad." It's held in Nashua because until 2008, an HP facility in the city was one of the places where VMS grew up.

The 2010 Boot Camp is in the stage where its filling with speakers. "Many of your favorite speakers will be there," Skonetski wrote in her March Tech Tidings, an online newsletter that chronicles the latest in OpenVMS developments.

We just opened up the call for participation but some of the things I can tell you is that, one of the different things this year is we will be having not only hands on storage but a full OpenVMS storage track as well. Another area that might interest you is a block on OpenVMS File System Performance Topics and another on OpenVMS Dynamic Volume Expansion, Using Shadowsets with more than 3 Members, C7000 Virtual Connect for OpenVMS.

TUD-Dallas The TUD event this week is one of several sponsored by HP, Software Concepts International and Nemonix. HP's OpenVMS engineering team -- plus a familiar face at the 3000 marketing effort, Coleen Mueller — will address technical issues along with OpenVMS partner companies, discussing innovations. TUD includes a strategy update for OpenVMS and Integrity servers. These Tech Days are free, but everyone must sign an HP Confidential Disclosure Agreement, so the press isn't allowed to attend.

More to the point, this kind of community exchange is exemplary of what keeps an HP proprietary platform alive and vibrant. It's a blueprint, perhaps, of how HP contributes and feeds a community that is not powered on industry-standard servers. The non-HP contributions look to be a crucial part of TUDs and the Boot Camp, although it's hard to imagine either succeeding without HP participation.

Is there a HP-UX Boot Camp dedicated only to H'sP Unix tech details? Not that we've been able to find, although the Parsec Group in Denver offers paid training which it calls the HP-UX Virtualization Tools Boot Camp. Tech is becoming tougher to rally a community around. Technologists have seen their influence decline among user groups. Connect's HP Technology Forum extends the widest and deepest array of HP-UX training. However, the content at any Tech Forum's technology track changes from year to year. The user group must respond to the popularity of a platform among customers.

Such popularity is crucial to the life of any environment labeled proprietary. Predicting the lifespan of any environment is an inaccurate effort, because market forces are always at work. The rest of what the vendor sells and markets has an impact on the adoption and retention of HP-UX, OpenVMS, even NonStop. These proprietary choices had a hand in HP's exit from the 3000 business. Tomorrow we can take a short look at using the Itanium roadmap to discuss lifespans -- and how much these predictions might matter to 3000 customers already migrating.

01:15 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 07, 2010

Microsoft closes another Window on Itanium

Microsoft has reported that it will no longer develop its Windows Server software beyond the current 2008 version of the product for Itanium. Some analysts see the development as another step away from the processor that powers the only servers which can run the HP-UX environment.

In a Microsoft blog, the company reports

With the increasing scalability and additions of mission critical features of the x86-64 server platforms, customers are taking advantage of these new technologies available for industry standard servers, such as those coming to market built on both the newest Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors. In response to these changes Microsoft is streamlining our product portfolio. Therefore Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 will be the last versions of these products to support the Intel Itanium processor.

Per Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy, these current versions will continue to be supported via Mainstream Support until mid-2013 and Extended Support until mid-2018.

If you thought you'd left the phrase "Extended Support" behind you while migrating from the HP 3000, you have a rerun of the experience if you've moved to an Integrity server and are operating under Windows Server. This might be a small slice of the migrated 3000 community -- many have chosen Xeon or Opteron systems. But this is a troubling sign for a chip that grows deeper into a niche with every year.

HP 3000 customers have built careers on working in a closed, one-vendor environment. HP built the 3000 hardware and carried on development of MPE/iX for decades. Now the HP-UX customer is working with the same situation, and seeing the popularity of the chip which runs HP's Unix continue to decline.

An extra three years of mainstream support, followed by another five years of Extended Support, will do nothing to inspire application development of Windows Server solutions for Itanium. This is the same kind of end-chime that HP pealed for the 3000 and MPE/iX.

App developers working in the 3000 community have been edging away from Integrity and Itanium for several years. Few want to go on the record about their retreat, since they're HP channel partners and don't want to jeopardize a longstanding business relationship. But concurrent development of 3000 alternatives, using industry-standard hardware rather than Itanium, is commonplace in the enterprise world which knows 3000 sites.

The only other business HP operates like this is its OpenVMS community. This week they're meeting to swap technical solutions, a development we'll talk more about tomorrow.

05:34 PM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 06, 2010

Middleware, QSS tech breathe life into 3000

Editor's note: Minisoft's Mollie Greenup offered us this vendor-reported customer case study of renovation and migration at K-12 software provider QSS. We've covered the QSS migration for many years, from selection of operating environments to tools and servers. Minisoft reported on how its products impact the QSS mission.

When Hewlett-Packard announced that their future plans did not Include the HP 3000, Duane Percox (QSS senior partner and a company founder) developed a two-phase strategy for moving the company’s suite of applications off the 3000 in a manner that would minimize customers' risk of running mission-critical applications (think payroll) on servers soon to be obsolete. The solution would at the same time modernize the QSS product offerings.

The first step involved replacing the HP 3000’s VPlus screens with a Windows GUI developed using Visual Basic and .NET. This new GUI would connect to a similar COBOL application server and use the same IMAGE databases. This step was labor-intensive and represented the most dramatic changes for the end users. This is the stage of the migration where most QSS customers are today.

The second phase of the project was to replace the 3000s with Linux servers, running SQL Server, or an open source relational database as the back-end. Netcobol was used to migrate COBOL program changes and the associated retraining of the COBOL development team. This phase requires customers to purchase new servers and to potentially retrain IT and application maintenance staff; however, end users would see few differences. But some challenges stood in the way of minimizing customer risks.

Challenges

These steps, coupled with the new direction QSS was going in relation to the new Web-based applications, made for a tricky situation. The new Web-based applications were developed using Ruby on Rails as the framework, a relational database as the data store, and a variety of browsers as the GUI. Ruby on Rails is a Model-View-Controller (MVC) technology which isolates business rules, data access and storage (model) from the Web protocols (controller) and presentation (view) layers.

The Ruby on Rails technology precludes the HP 3000, and thus can only be used by the few QSS customers already running on Linux. Unfortunately, this leaves the majority of the QSS installed base with no Web-based solutions. QSS evaluated various approaches to allow their Ruby on Rails applications access to the vast amount of data stored in Image. If this could be achieved it would provide all QSS customers a modern Web 2.0 browser front-end able to move data to and from their existing HP 3000s. QSS would also have an opportunity to earn new licensing revenue.

The Solution

Enter Minisoft and their ODBC driver for MPE/iX. Minisoft's approach was simple, required no changes to existing system backups, was straightforward to configure. QSS reported that the support was exemplary. In a nutshell, QSS could create Ruby on Rails models that reflected the IMAGE datasets. These models return to the controllers the same information whether it came from the new relational databases or from Image. Once the controllers have the data, the rest of the application, including all generated HTML, JavaScript and Ajax calls, is identical.

Thus, the bulk of the code in the new Web-based applications was entirely database agnostic, thanks to Minisoft's ODBC Driver. This is a promise often cited by Web-based development technologies, but they certainly are not referring to a 30-year-old navigational database known as Image when they make that claim! It would have been even easier to support Image, but QSS made significant structural changes to the Image databases when converting them to relational databases. Much of the effort spent getting Ruby on Rails access to IMAGE was mapping the old IMAGE structures to the new tables and columns.

QSS Conclusions

Jeff Vance, QSS Senior Technologist, said the change and improvements were transparent. “QSS demonstrated the new Employee Self Service Web-based application (ESS) at the QSS Users Group Conference in March 2010," he said. "The audience was unable to guess which screens were populated from the relational databases and which came from IMAGE -- and that is greatest praise of this technology."

As a result of this Users Group Conference, two large California school districts have adopted the ESS technology and are on their way to providing greater functionality to all of their users.

Minisoft's ODBC Driver can extend the life of the HP 3000 -- and in this current economic climate, such product longevity and savings can be crucial to a business's survival. This environment transformed the ODBC driver from a product that was convenient to a mission-critical product overnight. ODBC not only provides greater functionality for all end-users, but it also allows for a consistency among reporting functions. It is truly a seamless and database-agnostic solution for a trusted but slightly aged legacy platform.

Minisoft’s Perspective

To use HP’s “free” ODBC driver, users must set up and define DBE’s (Data Base Environments) before any data can actually be accessed. With Minisoft’s ODBC driver, customers can have direct access to Image and TurboImage databases without having to incur the overhead of Allbase or IMAGE/SQL. Minisoft’s ODBC supports advanced features such as linking to multiple databases, KSAM, and MPE files.

In the case of QSS, Minisoft was able to supply a modern interface, and so extend the value of the HP 3000. This opened up their databases to the end users for reporting and greater functionality. Our family of ODBC, OLE DB and JBDC middleware drivers can meet the task of Web-enabling a legacy application via Java, or implement a VisualBasic or .NET application that facilitates access to a company’s corporate database.

03:20 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 05, 2010

HP alters chiefs in enterprise business group

HP announced new leadership for the worldwide marketing posts in its enterprise computing group, the unit which sells and develops the alternatives for HP 3000 migrators. A former Siemens executive will now lead as senior VP of marketing.

David Shirk will direct the marketing efforts to sell solutions including the Integrity enterprise server line as well as the company's ProLiant Windows and Linux solutions. HP named him as a VP, while it also moved Deborah Nelson, who currently leads HP Enterprise Business Marketing, into a spot as chief of staff for the Enterprise Sales, Marketing and Strategy unit at HP.

Shirk and Nelson will report to Thomas E. Hogan, executive vice president, Enterprise Sales, Marketing and Strategy, HP. The company's Enterprise Business unit notched $54 billion of HP's sales in the past fiscal year, but that total includes all business servers, storage, networking, software and services.

HP explained that Nelson, who has overseen multiple groups' marketing efforts over a period of declining sales of HP's business-critical enterprise servers, is going to be focusing on HP's enterprise business.

The move from leader of marketing to chief of staff was presented as extra wood behind HP's enterprise arrow.

Nelson will be responsible for driving the HP Enterprise Business sales and marketing agenda to establish HP as the partner of choice for enterprise solutions and the clear leader in client loyalty. Previously, Nelson held senior leadership positions for multiple HP business groups and client segments at both global and regional levels.

“Deborah has done an exemplary job the past five years leading a significant transformation in marketing," Hogan said. "I look forward to her continued contributions as we partner to bring HP’s enterprise clients a new standard in service and value.”

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

April 02, 2010

Popularity, Predictions, and Redemption

I just got done preaching how popularity works in the ad business to a couple of HP 3000 community members. I did my lecturing on Facebook, so not even 150 people have a chance to see the lesson. But the insights are important today to 3000 owners, migrating customers, and the people who make a living helping either group.

In a distant past we started the 3000 NewsWire when the computer was at one of its multiple low-water marks, like an IMAGE database. One expert told us we'd be so unpopular nobody would even pay $10 a year to read it. Another suggested free would be an apt price. A third was baffled about what could go into a second issue, after we produced the first. See, the 3000 was as unpopular a computer to HP as it made at that time, unless you counted the HP 1000. (The 1000 could be no more popular than the people who knew it existed, which was a lot less than its customer base. The 1000 was stealth, embedded, in thousands of sites and products. It never stood a chance of national acclaim.)

National acclaim, and the lack of it, sparked my blustery writing on Facebook. Being somebody who pays the mortgage with advertising revenue from beloved and devoted sponsors, I was interested in a news story about Glenn Beck and Apple participating in a boycott of Beck's network family. I've been in publishing so long that I started in a country weekly that went out of business 90 days after I got my first job. Ad revenues couldn't keep pace with costs. It was a hell of a lesson, fresh out of a 1981 journalism degree, to learn about popularity. What you have to report matters, yes. But how much it matters to buyers, and buyers of sponsorship, matters so very much more.

Anytimehp Everyone who creates something seeks compensation: a contract, a paycheck, a patron to pay the bills. HP has always pursued compensation to the point of Profit. People forget that the HP Way includes one of the industry's first employee profit-sharing plans. You need to succeed in a significant way, with major clients, to have enough profits to share with 30,000 employees. You need to throw a lot up on the wall and seek what sticks, which led to the stress-ball giveaway above from HP. This is where popularity comes into your life: how the lack of it through HP's actions made the computer a cast-off to the company, and how the migration alternatives should be ranked to ensure there's success enough to be shared for customers which remain.

BEING POPULAR is important to attract the business you can't see yet. There's a buzz factor about some human activity that we respond to instinctively. In your community -- the IT sector and computer technology -- it's the new design and novel market attraction that generate buzz. So much of the buzz looks unwarranted in a short while that we wonder why we ever react to it. The cynics and hard-nosed, the slide-rulers and spreadsheeters, they don't react much. They use numbers and statistics to show why something built but not proven, or carrying a long track record of mediocrity, should not be popular.

They spend a lot of time in frustration watching mass consumption determine what survives. One kind of TV watcher wonders why Survivor has survived. Another wonders what in the world Mad Men is all about, or where the heck somebody can even see it. The former is popular enough to celebrate its 11th season this year. The latter, which has won three Emmys, is watched by fewer people than Glenn Beck. A lot fewer.

The HP 3000, which was built soundly enough to run companies over decades with only the barest of care, never reached a total of 100,000 machines built and sold. Windows servers now sell that many units in less than two weeks, even though the care and feeding of them has sparked a massive enterprise of training, troubleshooting and replacement.

Quality cannot endure unless it can harness popularity, or survives on a bountiful niche. That is why numbers matter, and large sources of either support monies, sponsorship, or advertising determine the lifespan and growth of anything: Glenn Beck, the iPad, or other polarizing things. Like whether a vendor-created OS like MPE/iX had enough community left to support a newsletter, or keep software and hardware companies creating and caring for its future through 2010 and beyond.

On Beck and that boycott I won't take sides on the content of his program, except for this point: It seems to be driving away large advertisers, a development that is serious. HP said the same thing about the 3000 to Abby and I less than a year after we launched the NewsWire. Glenn Osaka, who was the GM of both the 9000 and 3000 groups at the time, said the big companies would never rally or stay loyal to the 3000. Without that kind of big-group popularity, he added, HP wouldn't keep the system around very long.

Osaka turned out to be wrong, and right, and then sort of wrong again. The large companies did not flee the 3000. He turned out to right only when HP cut the system off at its knees, and then, only the large companies began to leave. They had little choice and made decisions that were right for them. although costly at the time. HP had spent most of the time since the mid 90s saying a customer could go anywhere and HP would be okay with that move. But going to the 3000, without its popularity -- that was never going to happen by way of Hewlett-Packard advice, once HP understood popularity was the key to mass markets in the 21st Century.

Where Osaka turned out to be kind of wrong was in thinking all 3000 customers would exit following the big ones. Smaller sites still found value in the system, but the economic tide has been only seeping since HP told everyone to get out of the pond. Apple doesn't want to be part of anything that Fox broadcasts, apparently because of Beck. Tomorrow the computer maker launches a product derided and glorified all at once by thousands of experts, even though no more than 200 people not employed by Apple have ever used it. Predictions abound.

Apple is counting on popularity, just like Windows and Linux providers are riding a wave of mass consumption. A quarter-million iPads will be switched on by Monday and the buzz will begin. It may not be a torrent of success at first, but Apple believes and will spend billions to be right. That will be a commitment to watch and record for history, because no computer maker has ever put as much weight in dollars behind a product. Not even Microsoft launching Windows 95, and paying a fellow to rappel down the CN Tower in Toronto while the Rolling Stones "Start It Up" roared in the background. And you know that song wasn't cheap.

People predicted the NewsWire to be a bust before it got printed, predicted the 3000 would be dead before 2006, predicted Apple would be so worthless that it ought to be sold off and repay the shareholders. They predicted the iPad would turn no heads, being just another, bigger version of another product. People also predicted the Itanium/Merced/Tahoe chip from Intel and HP would rule the world of computing, that Windows would be ascendent throughout our lifetimes, that computer networks would always be owned by companies with their access controlled by attached wires.

Predictions are fun, but they are always about the future, and "always in motion is the future," said Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. You can be pretty sure of a lengthy ride on a popular platform, but it takes real guts to make a stand and push back against a tide. Apple did and became the third-largest valued company in the world this week by market cap. We've outlasted HP Omni, HP Professional, Interact magazine, Open Systems Today, and a few more that once told stories about the 3000. You could have gotten 2:1 odds from some that the 3000 would never boot up in a business beyond 2010 -- back in 2003.

So now comes the redemption after all the grave-digging for Apple. Abby and I used its products to create publications since 1987 for publishing companies including our own, and we heard the derision and exclusion and snorts of the kind you 3000 owners must have heard from Windows, Unix, even IBM users. Perplexed about how there could be more than One True Way to Compute. After a decade, I counseled an inclusive approach, with room for everybody's choice. This is what made telling the 3000's story such a natural act. We knew the facts didn't match the predictions of an everlasting demise.

No mistake -- companies who migrate do enjoy new attempts and solutions that the 3000 world will have to view from afar. Popularity generates the buzz of 100,000 apps on the iPhone, or hundreds of millions of PCs shipped with Microsoft environments which keep improving. Critical mass matters if you need the new to stay ahead. Tomorrow there's a new platform launching for information delivery that's likely to sell a few million units before Christmas, if Apple's prayers are answered. It will deliver a kind of redemption when Apple becomes an overdog for the first time, rather than an underdog. You can take comfort in knowing that both positions are available to you as a 3000 owner. HP still lets you choose your truth, just like in the old days when it offered more than it knew how to sell.

Beck will remain on the air for now, Apple will push the iPads -- and some of you will rely on your 3000 more than 15 years after that other Glenn's prediction, the one that we heard in the 90s. We all desire redemption, an outcome that often requires faith. Believing in the can, however -- rather than the can't -- is the heart of creation: a human's most blessed act.

05:13 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 01, 2010

New 3000 emulator project opens tablet offer

After more than seven years of pursuit of a hardware replacement to run MPE/iX software, a consortium of systems and architecture firms is ready to unveil the first enterprise solution capable of carrying 3000 computing into the coming decade.

The inspiration for the Corporate CloudPad came from a project far-removed from the 3000's architecture. Tandy Renascimento announced a device which relies on cloud services and non-3000 peripherals and networking to process a COBOL derivative's programs for peer distribution. Renascimento, the CTO of the Godo Group, said the answer to emulation lay in moving off the server foundation of the 3000.

"The community might not be ready for this thinking, but we know they're on the move away from Hewlett-Packard or the 3000, or both," he said in an exclusive shared with the NewsWire. "The key for us was a proprietary processor in a device the market has long discredited. We've tested and proven a pilot to serve enterprise applications through a tablet array."

Developed undercover in a skunkworks that the Godo Group calls Cupertino East, the CloudPad taps the cast-off powers of the Alpha 4 chips, reworked from the Digital designs for the processor model that HP never shipped. Renascimento claims that the powerful HP Development Company overlooked the intellectual property of Alpha 4 to let it slip into public domain. Alpha 4 by itself doesn't make the Cloud Pad viable, however. HPE, integrated with a Nunbase data engine, takes 3000 environments beyond Hewlett-Packard's visions for the vendor's founding business platform.

OpenMPE's community doesn't believe the pilot device is more than a wild misuse of Federal stimulus grant monies. "A recession doesn't make an emulator appear overnight," said former board of directors candidate Hoxie Howard. "You couldn't expect a real business to rely on this kind of information boondoggle. Not even a newspaper."

But in a sometimes-astounding and baffling WebEx demonstration, complete with DimDim streaming video as an adjunct, the Godo Group showed a peer network of massively redundant tablet computers processing for magazine subscriptions and digital catalog orders. Metryco, a Boca Raton clearing house which appears to have acquired operations from Golden Empire Alliances, has converted its HP 3000 Corporate Business Server enterprise to a CloudPad platform. The information company, which includes the Sebold Dispatch and the Sunset Cable Network, plans to take an online shopping system live on April 3.

"We know there's a lot of interest in tablet computer architecture this weekend," said Metryco's CEO Frampton Petros. "CloudPad thinks along these lines using its Systems Attract Programs. SAPs are superior to servers. Since the tablet concept is about to gain a big lift in the world's computer community, we can leverage the trust into the enterprise space. Moving COBOL first written in 1894 to Object-Oriented Ada, via SAP, is only the first step."

Rumors were afoot at presstime of legal action to block the Cloud Pad, driven by a collective of Microsoft, Intel and Hewlett-Packard. In a Twitter tweet that was cut off by the service's 140-character limit, a poster named @burnboom said, "This is unsanctioned use of discarded tech, built to limit pervasive value of 3 corporations It's April 1, 2010, not a new 3000 spring that..."

HP and the OpenMPE were unavailable for comment on the CloudPad, owing to the the onset of the Easter weekend. A Google Voice mailbox message referred inquiries to Mela, Ondernemingen & Canard, an IP law consortium with reputation as patent troll processors.

06:20 PM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)