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June 28, 2011

Will telephones deliver patches on time?

This year HP has opened a door for its HP 3000 users to get patches without a support contract. This month's changes in the HP support operations may require that door to be pushed open wider.

Late in 2010, HP announced that the 3000 community was getting an exception to the current pay-for-patch edict. Hewlett-Packard remembered that it told you those MPE/iX patches were going to be free once HP left the support marketplace. So any 3000 shop can order a patch, including some fixes that didn't even get through HP's test process, with a phone call. Yes, a phone call, in an era when a lot of support contact doesn't get anywhere near the phone.

Some users are wondering if the telephone conduit is wide enough to serve in times of collective need. HP's got extensive hoops to jump through for all non-3000 patches online: "Patch access through the ITRC support portal requires a valid ITRC user ID and password. Additionally, an active HP support agreement including Software Updates service must be linked to the customer’s ITRC profile to access patch content and services."

Donna Hoffmeister, who served as an OpenMPE director for years and is now part of the Allegro Consultants support team, said OpenMPE negotiated for the open access to these patches. But "you have to call (that ancient 20th Century communication method). They shut down the [ITRC] FTP site when they cut off [free] access to all patches."

Craig Lalley of EchoTech wondered if a telephone is the most effective way of distributing patches. "Maybe, if we all called the response center at the same time, or on the same day and requested a patch, HP might see a flaw in this system. Granted at best, I think we could only get 40-60 people to call. How about July 5th?"

There's a good reason to ask for a specific patch for almost any HP 3000. HP allows 3000 customers to access online diagnostics (CSTM) without requiring passwords, now that the "Worldwide End of Support on December 31, 2010" has arrived.

The “General Released” patch “ODINX25” (“GR Patch”) provides this functionality. This GR Patch has a built-in mechanism to disable the requirement for the online diagnostics password effective January 1, 2011. The GR Patch is available for customers running MPE/iX versions 6.5 (ODINX25A), 7.0 (ODINX25B) and 7.5 (ODINX25C). If you have already installed the previous ODINX19 patch, you must also install the ODINX25 patch to ensure that the Diagmond process will run successfully.

MPE users should contact their HP Call Center to make their patch requests. (For North America, please call 800-633-3600. For other countries, please visit http://www.hp.com/go/assistance.)

There's a way to bypass this telephone queue. But only customers with an HP support contract can get direct download access to this patch (and others) from the ITRC. About 10 days ago, HP renovated the access and password process needed to get to its online support resource. The telephone path, while 20th Century, remains in place as a stable alternative.

10:12 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink

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