September 30, 2011
Global manufacturer emulates 3000 schedule
Measurement Specialties, one of the most extensive users of HP 3000s and MANMAN in China, the US and elsewhere, has adopted MBF Scheduler to manage its Windows batch job scheduling. The MANMAN user has been busy managing growth. The director of business systems Terry Simpkins couldn't attend the recent HP3000 Reunion because he was installing a system in France.
I really wish I could be there, but there was just no way. We are installing the MANBAR 'add-on' to MANMAN at one of our sites in France. [Director of IT] Bob Andreini and I are both members of the CAMUS board of directors (which also met this week at the Reunion), while the two of us are both here in France this week.
The company is headquartered in Virginia and does business in 65 countries, producing sensors. They include fluid property sensors, photo optic sensors for medical applications, temperature sensors, position sensors to help control a Segway, pressure sensors to measure inches of water, chemical properties and salinity; and rotational position sensors for Gilbarco fuel pumps to measure the flow of fuel.
Andreini has a staff of 32 to help him manage operations. Simpkins is responsible for ERP implementation and support with primary focus on the MANMAN manufacturing app. Using Windows, MBF Scheduler is able to emulate the HP 3000 scheduler. The Measurement Specialty team immediately understood the concepts -- it talked the same language they did.
The company was using internal resources to manually manage Windows batch jobs and living within the constraints of Microsoft's Windows scheduler. The pain was compounded as Measurement Specialties developed other processes and internally grown systems with similar job scheduling needs.
Andreini and Simpkins said MB Foster and the Scheduler stood apart because of MB Foster’s responsiveness. "The way they have reacted to questions, problems and requests was outstanding," Simpkins said. "They made our team feel like they had a dedicated support team, and that we had guys that were really paying attention and wanted us to succeed and wanted the product to work for us."These IT experts said MB Foster’s product services and support has been stellar. “MBF Scheduler is a great solution and absolutely solved our problem," said Andreini, "because it is flexible and expandable and can be moved into other applications we weren’t thinking of initially. Our next implementation plans for MBF Scheduler include France and China."
Measurement Specialties' Production Planning System (PPS) is independent from MANMAN as an Oracle web-based solution. It runs at three Measurement Specialties European locations; several more are planned. PPS runs thousands of jobs every day. Measurement Specialties was accustomed to having one or two resources logged on all day, or numerous times every day, to ensure that batch processes were running and didn’t hang up.
One task launched a web page from the windows scheduler that would run for 12 hours and would eventually stop processing due to a timer they included. If errors were generated during the job run it would stop dead in its tracks. Then if the IT team wasn’t watching, they would get complaints from the manufacturing production users, because they wouldn't be receiving expected updates to help monitor and schedule manufacturing processes.
Implementing MBF Scheduler let Measurement Specialties include individual batch jobs at each of the three sites that run every minute. They no longer need to continuously log into the server, monitor or check jobs and status, read through jobs and or standard lists.
For example, the MBF Scheduler email notification feature and functionality doesn't exist in the Windows scheduler, and it was a huge benefit for Measurement Specialties. A log file analyzer and email notification capabilities gets the IT team an email alert, plus provides enough detail in the job listing that they can see exactly what the problem is and are able to resolve it immediately or forward it to someone who can solve the problem.
Andreini pointed out that with every-minute restarts, if a job does produce an error it flags the record and continues on with the rest of the stream and doesn’t stop all processes. “MBF Scheduler’s email notification is invaluable, as it takes daily operation requirements out of the hands of our developers” he said.
The Measurement Specialties leaders found it easy to train the whole operations team. Training a desktop support person, with windows and office experience, has a relatively straightforward task. Within a day and a half they were up to speed and able to do all status checking and make sure all jobs and process were running, while others enjoyed their vacation.
The learning curve was somewhat flattened for Measurement Specialties personnel who knew the HP 3000. Staff which was new to scheduling concepts found that what they couldn't do in Windows, they could do in MBF Scheduler. New to system administration resources was command line interface and scripting capabilities that provided more flexibility and were easy to use.
Productivity and Efficiencies
Andreini said MBF Scheduler did not increase sales or reduce the budget. Where they have gained the most, he explained, is in capacity and efficiencies. Measurement Specialties has been able to free up resources and higher level IT professionals to work on other projects that have greater value for the business -- rather than monitoring batch jobs.
MBF Scheduler has expanded efficiencies beyond the IT group, said Simpkins. He no longer receives calls at 4 in the morning to resolve production line issues. They continue to run as production floor workers have what they need to do their jobs.
Measurement Specialties leverages MB Foster’s training services for a quicker return on investment. In two days' time, MBF's Raymond Bilodeau delivered on-site, hands on professional training services to Andreini and his team. The goal was to ensure that Measurement Specialties was self-sufficient.
Measurement Specialties experienced some challenges when implementing MBF Scheduler. Those challenges included a steep learning curve and a very short window of opportunity to implement. MB Foster needed to learn Measurement Specialties' vision and long term requirements -- and as earlier adopters, some needed functionality was not included in the original specs when MBF Scheduler was developed.
“MB Foster's professional services responded to our sense of urgency and turned issues and concerns around quickly," said Simpkins. All those important features were added in one week’s time, adding planned functionality ahead of schedule and easing our implementation concerns."
September 29, 2011
HP girds for battle with activist investors
A report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday notes that HP has hired investment bank giant Goldman Sachs to create a strategy to hold off "activist investors." These are insitutional shareholders who vote as a block to force changes in a corporation's board of directors.
No such group has announced itself yet, but HP's lost $60 billion of valuation over the last year since the Mark Hurd ouster. After Leo Apotheker's firing, HP's valuation is now down to $46 billion. That would make it a large takeover target by a single firm (like Oracle). But investors could take over control of the board with much less than that figure in stocks. HP acquired Comaq for about $25 billion in a friendly 2002 takeover.
Quoting an unnamed source, the WSJ report notes
H-P has felt vulnerable to possible activist investor pressure amid questions about the company's performance and strategic direction, the people said. The concerns intensified earlier this month when Leo Apotheker was ousted as chief executive and replaced by Meg Whitman.
As a result, Goldman was recently brought on board to help H-P formulate defenses in case it becomes the target of shareholders seeking change, the people added. Typically, companies with such a concern put in "poison pills" – shareholder rights' plans that make takeovers more difficult for activist investors.
Hiring Whitman immediately to replace Apotheker -- then hearing Whitman rubber-stamp HP's strategy -- has investors worried. Meanwhile, HP's customers are pulling back on large deals. HP 3000 sites are only tied into HP plans if they're migrating to an HP environment, using HP's gear elsewhere, or still buying HP support for 3000s and MPE. Those are all long-term relationships, however.At the recent HP3000 Reunion, we heard confirmation of HP's continued presence in supporting 3000s. Steve Suraci's Pivital Solutions, an all-3000 support firm, is still bidding against HP proposals to support 3000s, he said.
"We don't see the other third party support companies when we're approaching businesses," Suraci said at the CAMUS user group meet during the Reunion weekend. "Just HP, really. We thought at first they'd be out of this market by now."
A support contract is usually a multi-year agreement, although some of HP's offerings are worded more carefully in 2011, according to customers. But signing on for multiple years of business with a company using a poison pill to maintain board control -- this sounds like the kind of risk HP 3000 managers have resisted up to now.
September 28, 2011
HP board picks the wrong woman once more
And what makes overlooking Ann Livermore for a fourth time worse? Livermore is now a member of the board which chose Meg Whitman. So let the wisecracks about Whitman's eBay legacy begin -- like her being a natural to run a legendary firm now selling off its assets, considering her eBay CEO experience.
Livermore is a lifer at HP. She's never held a job anywhere else in almost 30 years of working. She wanted to lead HP after Lew Platt was invited to step down as CEO. Carly Fiorina was ushered in by Dick Hackborn's board with stock analysts in tow, then proceeded to marry HP to a computer business it now wants to divest. People are saying that Carly's impact on HP will be undone when the HP PC spinoff is renamed "Compaq."
Later, after Carly irked the board with no desire to share power, these HP leaders chose a man over Livermore, who was then running the largest part of HP's business at the time, services and enterprise technology. Mark Hurd went on a mission to burn the furniture at HP to keep the accountant's offices warm, slashing tens of thousands of jobs and R&D down to a level best suited for a company the size of eBay.
Which brings us to the latest HP managment error, the ascent of yet another wrong woman into the HP driver's seat. Not Ann Livermore, because now-dumped CEO Leo Apotheker had kicked Ann into the boardroom earlier this year -- during his brief honeymoon while the board was letting the software exec have his way with WebOS and other buy-ups. Hey, you couldn't promote anyone from the board to CEO, because that's never been done in the history of HP, right?
Wrong, by this week. Right alongside Livermore's seat on the board was perched Meg Whitman, the former eBay founder who paid $45 per voter (of her own money) to lose the California governor's race last fall. After 12 years of failing to do so, Hewlett-Packard has finally promoted from within once again. Just not very far within. It only matters to the declining share of companies who still believe HP's got a future in enterprise computing. If you're not yet migrated, it's not too late to change your target to a vendor with fresh gusto for enterprise computing. That might be Sun, by the looks of this week's processor news -- being made by Hurd.People have calculated that CEO Leo, whose term is the shortest of any non-interim CEO in HP history, made about $12,000 an hour in his 10-plus months as Dear Leader. He also led the company in swiftest fall from the respect of employees. That's pretty incredible considering how battered the HP workforce was after Hurd's ouster. Glassdoor's chart on CEO Leo's approval during 2011 looks like a map of the company's stock price over the year. His contract gave him a $25 million payout, another record for a departing HP executive. (Compaq's Michael Capella had the old record set up by Carly's board, at $22 million. Carly emerged at about $21 million.) There's stock options on top of that for all of them, but as many a 3000 retiree from HP noted last weekend at the Reunion, there's a whole new level of value in those assets.
Some people have counted up the exit packages given to these departed execs, and between Carly, Mark and Leo, the bill is about $83 million. Maybe a rounding error for a vendor who's booking $120 billion a year in sales, for the moment. But think about what $83 million might have bought HP, instead of a full-circle where Compaq is being spun off and new CEO Meg says the current management course is just right.
Back in 1999, when HP was deciding the future of the HP 3000's MPE/iX OS, someone had to prepare an estimate on what it would cost in engineering and testing to bring the fastest HP chips to the environment with the greatest legacy in company history. HP had tried to make HP-UX and MPE/iX boot up on the same system -- after all, just a processor dependent code string stood between turning the 3000 into the MOST project (Multiple Operating System Technologies). HP couldn't get that 1994 effort out of the labs, because it would have taken wind out of the HP Unix sails, billowing with cannibalized sales off 3000 sites. In '94 Unix couldn't compete with an established 3000 business, unless HP tilted the playing field.
Flash forward by five years, a period where HP spent no time engineering any advance off of PA-RISC and onto its clear future of Itanium. Customers were assured in 1997, and again in 1999, that nobody running a 3000 needed those new processors.
Through it all Livermore was there at HP, working at an executive VP level, during all of those miscues. She identified the 3000 in 2000 as a niche product with a bona fide place in the company's strategy. By then that strategy included operating environments Windows NT, Unix, Netware, and MPE for enterprise work. Within a few years the list would balloon to include VMS and Tandem/NonStop, plus the ill-fated Tru-64 from Digital.
There might have been tens of millions of spending in the way of getting MPE/iX to run with Itanium chips on a PCI bus. But let us pause and estimate how much $83 million might have done to get MPE engineered onto Itanium. The same sort of work HP did for its acquired OS VMS, after Carly's Compaq merger. The US defense department insisted on long-term VMS support, so HP had to comply or drop even more enterprise sites.
Oh wait. That Itanium adoption wouldn't have made that much difference in the Very Long Run. But the port surely would have made some members of this community more prosperous, though. Instead of the 10 years which VMS and NonStop has gotten to slide down the roller coaster of Itanium declines in the face of Windows and Linux, some of that decade might have benefitted from part of the $83 million of CEO bailout money.
It seems that stepping away from the HP 3000 was only the first of a decade's worth of HP mistakes, scattered across software, OS and hardware. Not to mention hiring decisions. There's little evidence -- much like Apotheker's annointment -- to confirm Meg Whitman as HP's savior. The company needs some kind of miracle to pull out the tailspin. With the company's stock under $24 a share, while posting billions in profits, its 5.5x stock price-to-earnings ratio makes it ultra ripe for a hostile takeover.
HP endured a takeover once before, after it began choosing the wrong woman for CEO. Fiorina executed a Hewlett-ectomy of the shareholders in a very close proxy vote of 2002. Now the company is owned by 70 percent institutional investors, who are just as unimpressed by Whitman as they were by Apotheker. He's a man who could mourn the loss of the HP Way, but wanted to do little to revive it into what he called HP Way 2.0. A plan as ephemereal as a PowerPoint software slide.
Enter Hurd, wingman for the ever-sharky Larry Ellison of Oracle. This week Hurd announced fresh funding and research to push Sun's SPARC to the fore of non-Intel business processors. Yes, SPARC is back from the dead, thanks to Oracle's spurning of Itanium. Sun will deliver a multi-generational road map next week. SPARC has the blessing of Oracle's database and app management, of course. With an announcement that might have some spending reality behind it, Oracle/Sun has committed to what only IBM desires to do: sell alternative enterprise environments which are not Linux or Windows. IBM has done this as regular as an HP CEO mistake, ever since it turned the System 36 into the AS/400 almost 25 years ago.
Whitman's got neither the experience to turn a battleship taking on water like HP, or the technical visions of a leader like Steve Jobs, to apply to her new work running Hewlett-Packard. There are still more than 300,000 people working at HP, but few of them bring so little insider experience to this daunting task. Livermore may not want this job like she did in 1999 and 2005, or even in the vacuum the board created during the ouster of Hurd just last summer. Nobody could blame her, and she's never cost HP a penny in a golden parachute after steering HP into low-margin icebergs or bleeding out top talent in personnel pogroms.
Not very long ago, HP invited the Stromasys technial management to restart an HP 3000 emulator project that was frozen by an HP legal team. Stromasys CTO Robert Boers, head of the company in 2008, said HP told him that 300,000 HP 3000s had been sold since introduction, and 90 percent of that base was gone to competitors by 2005. It didn't want to lose more of the remaining 10 percent. Perhaps $83 million might have kept 30,000 HP business servers running beyond 2005. It might have been proof HP wanted to be in the enterprise server business, rather than masquerading as the No. 1 computer company since 2001.
September 27, 2011
Networking legacy-style lifts toasts, smiles
Eight-score friends and relations of the HP3000 gathered at the Computer History Museum last weekend. Some of them have known the system and the community since 1970, even earlier. Others only arrived in the 1980s (like me) or even later. But we felt like we'd arrived just in time at the Great Room of the fine building in Mountain View.
Supper was on service through much of the night, catered for both meat eaters with massive burgers and hot dogs and vegetarians with tasty beans, salads and veggie patties as large as I've even seen them. Outside in the courtyard patio, the bar served up refreshments hard and soft. Those who came for these several hours of a Saturday arrived early and stayed late. They had stories to serve up and news on which to catch up.
Many of these people were delighted to see the guest list while they picked up custom badges. Then they signed the commemorative "Dancing with the HP 3000" poster (go ahead, click on it for high details) marking down the year they first became aware of and worked with the HP 3000. A wide swath of the poster listed years in the 1970s. Even Vladimir Volokh came in behind these vets, because he'd arrived in the US later in the decade. Like so many at the party, he was celebrating the time of his life.
History was on tour during the event, led by museum docent and community icon Stan Sieler. The Engima machine and a computer whose results were calculated using mercury were in the early stages. The crowd of veterans which Sieler led had their own memories of history. They carried their tales into the Great Room, eager to revisit with old friends, or meet people in person for the first time. Some were at the Reunion because they wanted to gather before it might be too late -- not for the server, but for those who served. Absent friends of several kinds were toasted.When Alan Yeo, who sparked the event with ideas at the start of this year, raised his glass of J Wine sparkling rose he mentioned Bruce Toback, Wirt Atmar and others who are no longer alive to celebrate the many years of learning and sharing and battles with technology and executives. One common phrase we heard all night was "Thank you for putting this together," but there was no reason to take much credit. The community has always stayed within reach. Many who wanted to be in the Museum on the special night were drawn away only by unbreakable duties or the delights of things like a cruise to celebrate a 55th wedding anniversary (Chuck Piercey, executive director of Interex for more than a decade.)
For a group that had been scattered by a business decision from Hewlett-Packard, the night was time spent without recriminations. Jeff Vance, who as an HP engineer built and contributed countless hours of work on the MPE interface, came away from the night with a massive poster of the Migration cartoon commissioned by Alan Yeo during the dark year of 2002.
Dave Wilde, the business manager of the HP that worked in the aftermath of that decision, was also on hand and smiling while he found friends, collegues and partners (l-r, Wilde, David Greer and Birket Foster) who traced back beyond his own start with the system. Former GM Harry Sterling, whose group dreamed up the first "Dancing with the HP 3000," was absent because of an overseas trip, while 1990's era GM Glenn Osaka had an LA family trip already scheduled. "Great idea to have a reunion of the wonderful HP 3000 community," he said.
While there were many on hand who still work with the HP 3000 every day (Valdimir and Donna Hofmeister -- who brought both son Tyler and husband James) the absent friends did not just include only those whose voices have been stilled by death, like Toback, Atmar and ROC Software's Danny Compton. Regrets to the RSVP came from Alfredo Rego, Fred White, MANMAN/3000 bulldog Terry Simpkins, from Brian Edminster (working hard on the open source MPE/iX repository), Jon Backus (the OpenMPE founder), Jack Connor (the current OpenMPE chair) support wizard Gilles Schipper, Lee Courtney (ex-HP 3000 division), and Paul Edwards of both Interex and OpenMPE boards.
But the list of attendees was long, including many whose presence was a delightful surprise. Bob Green of Robelle (left) came in from travels in South America; Orly Larson from a far closer locale. Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions, a 3000-only support resource, and Chuck Nickerson of Hillary Software (still selling byRequest for MPE/iX) were both on hand through their last-minute commitments. Right alongside Nickerson (below right) was Dick Toepfer, who'd helped create the very first HP 3000 hardware.
A lengthy list of attendees follows, but there's some chance to add your name to a Reunion list. Whether next year, or the one beyond that, there was a feeling in this room that these swallows would return to Cupertino once more.
The evening was made possible by both long hours of volunteering, as well as financial support from Speedware, Robelle, CAMUS plus ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software, and a lot of words from the 3000 NewsWire. Three of us (at left) took a moment to pause and enjoy the smiles and laughter we'd gathered -- with hard work from CAMUS' Terri Glendon Lanza and QSS' Duane Percox -- around us. Lanza bid to win the original Dancing signed poster, but there will be reproductions available based on that original community art.
If you couldn't count yourself among the group below, it might be a good idea to keep track of the hp3000reunion.com website. September feels like a good month for Reunions, so linked to the school days. This weekend's reunion smiles and laughter taught everyone a lesson: the memories of the HP 3000's legacy are still there for the community to enjoy and use. More are on the way.
Attendees for this year's Reunion:
Maria Di Gregorio
Terri Glendon Lanza
September 26, 2011
Small emulator box raises large hopes
One HP 3000 veteran leaned over to whisper in my ear during the HP 3000 emulator demo this weekend. "I feel like I did 37 years ago," said Eric Sand, "when I saw the first HP 3000." He was talking about the public debut of a box only a little larger than your typical satellite TV receiver. The box runs MPE/iX, creating an HP 3000 for $600 worth of Intel processor, SSD disk and countless hours of patience.
The CHARON-PA/3000 emulator was demonstrated on a laptop over this weekend, too. But the smallest bit of its hardware technology comes from a USB dongle plugged into its faceplate to deliver an HPSUSAN number. Stromasys has the legal and technical ability to write those HPSUSANs onto those dongles, so long as a customer has a valid MPE/iX license. That ID is crucial to using MPE software and applications -- almost as essential as the license agreements which software vendors will need to deliver to the community if Stromasys hopes to make the CHARON a real option for the future. Whether that's a future of just a few years, because a migration isn't complete, or unlimited use in homesteading, the length of the 3000's tomorrows looked like it can change now.
But vets like Sand and a dozen others in the Cupertino Inn suite were also calling the product a game-changer for the years to come. Not everybody in room 336 was attending that evening's HP3000 Reunion celebration, but most were friends of the the computer starting decades ago. It was a suite of skeptics that soaked up the specs of this Stromasys product started in 2002 and revived three years ago.
HP's emulator license fee for transferring MPE/iX to the CHARON is almost as high as the cost of that hardware, but it's still inexpensive compared to the product's price scope. The fee is $500. The emulator could run from $10,000 to more than $100,000 if Stromasys follows price points for its Alpha and VAX emulator product line. Even at that level, the CHARON is cheap enough to land in 3000 shops within 12 months.
A 1.0 release will go on sale in January, and CTO Robert Boers said that even if the community takes a wait and see approach, it will be fine with him. The list of items to complete is still extensive in order to make the emulator a reality.
- Add Ethernet card support (works already with PA RISC Linux)
- Add console command interface, auto-reboots, ^B (escape to console) etc.
- Add CHARON configuration manager
- Finalize floating point unit support (a few performance tweaks)
- CPU performance: P0.0 → P1.0 (Boot time: P0.0 ~ 60% of e3000-A400 hardware)
- Virtual console terminal (replace putty/xqhpterm, both are inadequate)
- MTD utility (tape ↔ tape image) for Linux
- CHARON product installer
- RTC precision (now about 1-2% faster than real time)
- Proper handling of non-standard disk image sizes
- QA on specific hardware configurations and VMware ESX 4.1
However, the view in the prototype X11 terminal window looked like a real HP 3000 console. Craig Lalley, who's been helping Stromasys polish the product into debut mode, ran the system through diagnostics commands and even launched HP Glance to measure performance.
A 1.1 release of CHARON-PA/3000 was promised for the end of May, one that will run four times faster than the initial release. The company will be gathering up interested customers and software suppliers for a serious field test period over the next three-plus months.
The most interesting moment of the two hours of demonstrations and Q&As with Moscow-based developer Igor Abramov, Skyped in to answer questions? It might have been Boers' philosophy, expressed as a religion, that hardware should never get in the way of any legacy environment again. Virtualization can keep an OS like MPE alive as long as there is a customer need for using apps that are proven and extensible. So long as a vendor will let go of its OS property -- and HP has done this in a way Boers said the corporation cannot take back -- he believes you can eliminate the releases and limits of physical hardware that's been needed for a workhorse like the HP 3000.
"You know all about Moore's principle that performance of hardware doubles every 18 months," he told the suite of 3000 experts. "So why not let a computer do more than linear programs? Why not build a mathematical model of the underlying hardware, so you can discard the hardware itself?"
Stromasys started in 1998 with this kind of engineering for Digital, then started a "midnight project" to create an HP 3000 in 2002 when HP "figured they might be able to push you to Unix by terminating your old platform. Usually those things don't work that way. But large corporations have another view of their power. And if it doesn't work out, typically the CEO leaves."
Those words were spoken just days after HP's CEO had departed with a $25 million parachute and its strategy in tatters. HP's 3000 exit plan might have been the first large mistake it made in a 10-year series of miscalculations. But the virtual HP 3000 unveiled on the Reunion weekend could remake the future of the server's lifespan. A USB dongle plugged into a gaming PC that runs Linux and atop that, the CHARON emulator, describes a product chain that can be controlled by customers, rather than a large corporation which changes CEOs even more often than enterprise strategies and hardware.
September 23, 2011
What we might expect from Reunion reports
News of a new Eloquence database release, the latest in migration strategies, and the delights of the Computer History Museum's exhibits are sure to be on hand at the HP3000 Reunion. The wild card will be demonstrations, both Friday and Saturday, about the new Stromasys HP 3000 emulator. Top tech management and in-trench experts will talk about a product that could open up new years for the the 3000's useful lifespan.
Some larger customers, and some not so large, could use the product much sooner than later. Over at Boeing, Ray Legault says that the product "would buy us time. We will see if we throw dollars at a conversion project first. Then it depends on the cost, licensing from HP and the third-party product issues." Boeing drops back to two production systems and two DR 3000s by year's end, he added.
Questions to be answered will include handling HPSUSAN numbers -- Stromasys has said they've got a plan for these, and the third party tool vendors could well be moving along into transfer-for-support payment arrangements. That would mean things like Adager, Suprtool, byRequest or UDACentral could be hosted on Intel hardware. There are bigger questions out there for an emulator like supporting TurboStore, for example, and especially the big-name application companies such as Infor (MANMAN), or Cognos/IBM (PowerHouse) and the like. What users at the Reunion will see is a laptop running MPE/iX, run atop Ubuntu Linux. That sight alone might be worth the few hours of Saturday morning at the Cupertino Inn starting at 10.
What can you also count upon? That the legends and founders of the system are making their stories available in person. One party-goer was on the original hardware team that created the Series I HP 3000. Another has served for more than two decades keeping MPE on the improvement path. Everybody will have a story, even if HP's George Stachnik won't be able to re-form his band for a 3000 theme song. But then Orly Larson, HP database advocate, will be at the party and could be induced to lead a song from the HP songbooks of the 1980s.Dick Toepfer says he's looking forward to the reunion.
I was hardware section manager responsible for the development and release of the HP 3000 series 1. The project included the mainframe and a complete set of peripherals. When the 32-bit 'Omega' machine project was cancelled I was assigned by Dick Hackborn to lead the 16 bit 'Alpha' project. There was a parallel MPE software development headed by, I believe, Mike Green. The Series 1 was crippled by inadequate memory size and a troublesome power supply at introduction.
I have the original org charts in my files and will see if I can find them for the reunion. That original 3000 team spread out over the valley and was responsible for some great technology. Jimmy Treybig, Tandem founder was one of the marketing team, as was Ed McCracken who later became CEO of SGI. Bill Foster was a major SW programmer on the first MPE. He founded Stratus Computer, a fault tolerant machine in competition with Tandem. John Sell came in late in the HW dev cycle, and later helped found Ridge computer. My immediate manager who worked for Hackborn was Steve Vallender. Steve founded a third fault tolerant machine company.
Also on hand at the meeting: Robelle's founder Bob Green, who's got a history online which he wrote. For those who don't know, Green was involved with the software and documentation side of the early machine. The early history, Toepfer reminded us, can be found at www.robelle.com/smugbook/classic.html. Green's former partner at Robelle, David Greer, will also be on hand. Then there's Vladimir Volokh of Vesoft, and the well-connected Birket Foster, as well as Connect user group president Chris Koppe of Speedware.
Jeff Vance, who would add value to MPE/iX on rainy weekends on his own time while an HP wizard, will attend. Former SIGSYSMAN chairs Jeff Kell, Scott Hirsh and Donna (Garverick) Hoffmeister will provide wisecracks and lessons. And frankly, given the average age of the attendees, there's bound to be plenty of grandchildren pictures on iPhones and Androids and the like. The details of the supper were scouted by Duane Percox, whose COBOL and 3000 experience goes back three decades -- and who now counts on Vance as part of his QSS lab team. Mark Klein, who created the bootstrap program of GNU C++ that made all the open source possible, is on the guest list, too.
There's a host of others who might feel overlooked by not being noted now, but they've got great stories too. Some of us are bringing partners and spouses who made it possible to get to this celebration with support -- or in my wife Abby's case, made the 3000 NewsWire possible by believing in it before anybody else.
More than 70 friends, allies and essential cogs in the 3000s history will be at the Reunion's party, and even more will be around the CHM and the CAMUS group (think Terry Floyd, and Terri Glendon Lanza, still supporting 3000 ERP sites) at the Cupertino Inn over the weekend. There will be a closer look at the system's future in Zelus, but even more admiring glances at the 3000's legacy.
3000 emulator heads into beta on i7 PCs
Stromasys has announced that its Zelus project, launched to create a virtual version of the HP 3000, "has achieved its goals." The company issued a brief press release today in advance of the first public exposure of its emulator at this weekend's HP3000 Reunion. Stromasys reminded the market that HP 3000 is more than 30 years old, although the emulated systems are from the HP Precision Architecture era which started 24 years ago.
It only seems that long that the community discussed the holy grail of an emulator. It's been long enough that Zelus is now the name of the project that created "the CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual system." HP changed naming conventions three times while it created its Itanium processors, so a single name shift seems minor. "After multiple years of development, the CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual system executes the unmodified MPE/iX operating system, its applications and even HP 3000 hardware diagnostics on an industry-standard server. The CHARON-HPA/3000 virtual platform has been released in Beta test on September 7."
“The power and versatility of our CHARON virtualization architecture clearly demonstrates that users of business critical legacy HP 3000 systems have now a very compelling alternative to a costly and lengthy migration” said Robert Boers, Corporate Technology Officer and Founder of Stromasys. The company's statement reminds the 3000 community that Stromasys has a heritage of emulation in the Digital market, where that CHARON brand is better known. "The decision last August to transfer the results of our Zelus projects into product development has rapidly resulted in a new member of our CHARON virtual system architecture," Boers stated, architecture "proven in an installed base of over 4,000 virtual VAX and Alpha licenses worldwide.”
The product requires, "at minimum, a dedicated 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 system with 8 GB of memory." The virtual system emulated is an A400 Class HP 3000, presumably one that does not have its processing power hamstrung as was done to HP's A400s. Perhaps most significantly, the emulator requires the 7.5 version of MPE/iX. Upgrading a 6.5 or 7.0 license to 7.5 "is a matter of HP," a company document stated.
The new HP 3000 product is set to launch in January. Stromasys described it as "a virtual version of an HP e3000-A400 server, executing the unmodified MPE/iX operating system, database and customer applications on a standard Intel/AMD server or as a VMware client. With a simple re-installation of the software, not requiring code or data conversion, the longevity of MPE/iX customer applications is guaranteed, without significant migration costs. For more information, go to www.stromasys.ch/virtual-hp3000." The company has also made a Q&A PDF available online.The emulator will "install itself on 64bit I86 hardware with its associated Linux package (Ubuntu or Fedora), that remains hidden below the virtual machine. At startup of the software, you will get control of the virtual HP 3000 console. The same process takes place if you install CHARON- HPA/3000 as a virtual client in VMware. The Linux kernel has some facilities to configure host system mapping, for instance the assignment of the Ethernet adapter."
Direct support for tape devices from an HP 3000 is coming in a later release, according to the company, during Q2 of 2012. A single-CPU configuration leads off the product line, but multiple-CPU models are in the works. The first version of the product "provides the functionality of HP 3000 hardware, but not yet the performance. This is the next step in the CHARON-HPA/3000 development process. That is far simpler than the functionality development."
September 22, 2011
Reunion's events roll out to Saturday's toast
The HP3000 Reunion has now arranged nearly all of its scheduled activities for the Thursday through Saturday evening gathering. It will be largest HP 3000 meeting in more than five years, including some original HP 3000 engineers and some of the best-known advocates and entrepreneurs for the platform.
Among those leading the way will be Allegro Consultants VP Stan Sieler, who's leading a tour of the exhibits on Saturday evening. Stan, who's a docent at the museum, starts his tour at the cafe in the museum at 6:30. He says there's a special prize for the first person who can spot the only direct reference to an HP 3000 on the exhibit floor. The prize is a signed copy of Beyond RISC, the seminal book -- now out of print -- on the HP 3000 of the modern era. This is a tour not to be missed. Supper is available between 6-8:30, so there's plenty of time to tour and grab some grub. Details on the menu are at the Reunion's website, hp3000reunion.com. Check there for updates through Saturday.
Most of the Reunion's meetings take place in the Boole Room of the Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd in Mountain View. The CHM is located just off the 101 freeway (directions here). While the 3000 members celebrate and extend learning about a computer first built in 1972, most of the events are just a quarter-mile down the road from the Google-plex empire.
Thursday's meeting is the Eloquence User Group conference, hosted by the database's creators Marxmeier Software. Starting at 10 AM (reception open at 9 with coffee and refreshments), the meeting will update recent Eloquence enhancements. It will show how to make best use of the Eloquence database over a range of tasks, including backup and recovery, replication, database security. The meeting, open to all, will also review the upcoming Eloquence 8.20 release.
"Most important to us is getting in touch with our customers," said Marxmeier's Ruth Schürrle, "and we are happy to include additional topics of interest."
Thursday is also the first evening of discounted hotel room rates at the Reunion's official hotel, the Cupertino Inn. Thursday's nights are $149, while Friday, Saturday and Sunday are $99 nightly. One lucky attendee will receive either a free room night, or a free ticket to the Saturday night party. Tickets remain on sale online at $60 through PayPal. Friday's events span both the CHM and the Cupertino Inn, as do those on Saturday.Speedware is leading a 10-4 Friday gathering in the Boole Room, briefing users and managers on migration strategies. This is also open to all Reunion attendees. Starting at 4 PM that day, the Stromasys Chief Technical Officer Robert Boers will present an overview briefing on the Zelus HP 3000 emulator product. That briefing will also be held in the CHM. Both Speedware's talks and the Zelus overview are free.
Later that evening around 6:30, the CAMUS user group will have a meeting followed by a poolside reception at the Cupertino Inn. Members of the group will meet at the pool, then proceed to the DeAnza Room at the Inn for their meeting. Then it's back poolside, for socializing.
Saturday marks the busiest day of the Reunion. The DeAnza Room at the Cupertino Inn will have a technical in-depth presentation on Zelus from 10-12. Lead developer Igor Abramov will answer questions via a WebEx link to the room. Lengthy US State Department delays led to Abramov missing a visa opportunity to attend the Reunion in person.
The CHM is open to the public for regular admissions on Saturday, Sept. 24. By 5 PM Saturday the museum closes to the public, and its exhibits re-open at 5:30 for the private use of Reunion partiers. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 8:30 or so, a round of sparkling wine will pass across the glasses held high on the floor of the museum's Great Room. Those gathered, ranging from as far back as 1960s HP'ers to those still planning for the future of the computer in the coming years, will toast nearly four decades of service and stories, and success, foolishness and memories.
If you're not registered, you can still sign on at the Registration website. We hope to see you walk up with your $60 in hand at the door, to savor the experience of meeting and reconnecting with kindred spirits.
September 21, 2011
Report suggests CEO Leo may be dismissed
A story on the Fortune website, and repeated up on Financial Times, says that HP's CEO Leo Apotheker may be replaced as early as today. Apotheker came to the job of leading HP less than a year ago, chosen during September, 2010 and going to work on November 1.
Ever since those days, the HP stock didn't recover its losses from the Mark Hurd fiasco that led to Hurd's ouster as HP CEO. Since HP announced it wants to spin off or sell its PC business -- as well as focus on enterprise computing and software -- the company's share price has hovered near all-time lows. Shares dropped to $22.21 until the rumors of Apotheker's replacement surfaced. If he leaves, HP may gain its second female CEO.
The replacement, according to the rumors, could arch a few eyebrows. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who after a failed gubernatorial campaign became a current HP board member, has been mentioned for the job. The last two times that HP dumped a CEO, it went outside both the boardroom and the corporation for new leadership. That led to Hurd (NCR) after Fiorina, and then Apotheker (SAP) after Hurd.
HP's stock rose on this news that came from "a person familiar with the matter," the nouveau reference to an unnamed, insider source. Shares climbed into the $24 range before HP's board was supposed to meet on the decision this afternoon. Whitman has been an HP director since the start of the year. Unlike Carly Fiorina, she earned her stripes before coming to HP. Whitman built eBay into an $8 billion company before leaving. A Fortune poll named Whitman the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2004 and 2005.
Apotheker, while unlike either of the last two CEOs, might have been too out of step with HP's 21st Century passion for PCs and other low-margin consumer goods. The heart of that Compaq merger was being excised by the moves announced around WebOS, the TouchPad, and then the cancellation of the latter, plus a $10 billion deal to acquire SaaS software firm Autonomy. The Financial Times quoted its unnamed source as saying that Apothker "is like an organ transplant that didn’t take." (Full FT story here; watch out for the paywall barrier.)
September 20, 2011
Invent-ing a value of $99 for MPE tools, help
A cruise by the OpenMPE Invent3K server, as well as the openmpe.com website, shows that director Keith Wadsworth has resigned -- quietly and with the assent and good wishes of the remaining board. This leaves five directors volunteering for a group that negotiated the release of MPE source code during 2002-08.
As we suggested earlier this year, that Invent3K server's now become the focus of this group. Its chairman Jack Connor says that "We're in the process of regrouping and gathering our focus. Right now, making Invent3K a repository for the community is the primary focus." The group is thinking that "$99 a year to maintain access to all the 3000 tools is not too much a burden for the benefit."
That might be true. A $99 price target for MPE/iX development accounts, existing on the same 3000 server as CSL and Jazz programs, is a good goal. A yearly subscription of $99 is not simple to sell in 2011. That $99 sub wasn't easy for us in 1996, when the 3000 Newswire was growing up. We figured subscriptions would be the biggest revenue stream for our newsletter. But sponsors made this resource a reality, along with the readers who we still count upon today.
Our advice here -- to remaining board members Connor, Tracy Johnson, Birket Foster, Alan Tibbetts, and Tony Tibbenham -- is to do a complete inventory of the software they have to offer, and then put the list up on a webpage. It seems they'll need to do a listing of which CSL programs they've got, too. Maybe a complete tour of using the Invent3K development account services -- why not do a YouTube mini-tour?
Yes, it is heavy lifting to highlight all that Invent3K has to offer. Today, the Invent3K webpage says the server "is for the use of member accounts to compile and test their own programs. It is NOT for the downloading of HP SUBSYS material, that is why FTP, DSLINE, PCLINK2, and WS92LINK are locked down."
HP is not making it easier to find documentation on the HP 3000 hardware. So documentation is another area where access to Invent3K might offer value. There are limits there, like HP's restraint of documentation until 2015, or sooner. Client Systems and Speedware have signed on to distribute those docs for free, now that HP's cut down on manuals. But ManualShark.com and other places post HP docs that the vendor doesn't even serve up any longer. Plus, finding what you need in the new HP Support Center website is not simple, by now.That last item, the CSLs, is the most unique value out there. People could pay $99 a year to see five of those listings show up in their email each month, complete with downloadable links -- along with a running guide about what else is on the Invent3K server.
And if that sounds like a part-time job, well it probably is. For a volunteer. So maybe the first step is to advertise for an archivist-historian kind of unpaid intern on Craigslist. They don't even really have to be a current 3000 customer. This weekend we're going to host a healthy swath of 3000 veterans who are retired. Some miss the contact with the server's community. That's why they're spending some of weekend at the HP3000 Reunion.
As for the OpenMPE board, it's just five directors now, and that's the right size for a volunteer board anyway. They get a quorum with three, and a proposal passes with that many votes. Keeping the OpenMPE of 2011 a managable size with small kai-zen goal and rewards looks like a good plan for the near term.
In the future, another HP operating environment is going to need advocacy and a rally point. You probably know which one we think is closest to this ecosystem change. Maybe the best thing that OpenMPE can offer is some kind of downscaled template on how this can be done without a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
September 19, 2011
HP-UX upgrade hops-up 3PAR links, SAP
Why would a migrating shop even consider HP-UX, given that it's got a lifespan limited by the market's interest in Unix? The HP-UX migrator of today is following HP's lead, or they need more enterprise-scale management plus administration that's hard to deploy in Windows and Linux. Simply put, HP-UX is a business-grade OS that's more mature than Windows or Linux.
As HP 3000 customers know, maturity is a double-edged feature. This environment can be better at what a business needs. But it's older and less popular with app providers, not to mention that it runs on exactly one chip: the oft-maligned Itanium powering Integrity servers.
But we've reported enough about the one-bedroom house where Itanium lives. There's the ongoing lawsuit between HP and Oracle, the latter being a pretty key player in most HP Unix shops. Oracle wants out of the Integrity/Itanium bedroom. There's also the Intel view, where Itanium has a future of at least two more major releases, and refutes Oracle's claims of an impending demise.
Aside from all that, we see today's news about the September 2011 release of HP-UX v 11.3. HP has at least adopted a major-release schedule, every six months, to keep its Unix in front of the one from Oracle/Sun, or the biggest competitor in IBM's AIX. It gets a little troublesome to see the HP-UX improvements if you're new to Unix, however. HP's got plenty of technical/marketing details online already. If you know that your corporate parents will push you to Unix, that is. Several of these upgrades will only matter to the large-scale enterprise. But to keep things simple, HP's invoked a reference to an ad which the company once used to tout MPE/iX -- the Energizer bunny.For example, HP starts by telling its Unix customers they can double the size of their Superdome servers. The new top-end is 4TB of memory. That's RAM, not storage. The Superdome users can now have 32 sockets for processors, although at what price is still undetermined. All we know is that the OS is ready.
And HP-UX should be ready, because it's now in its ninth generation and has been on the market for more than four years. Not long in the HP 3000 chronology. It was commonplace to see MPE/iX 6.0 running more than five years after HP rolled it out. But HP wants to remind its HP-UX customers that the software is behaving like a famous advertising animal. Without mentioning the advertiser's name.
Have you ever wondered what the connection is between HP-UX 11i v3 and that famous bunny that just keeps “going and going”? Like the bunny, HP-UX 11i v3 has been “going and going” since 2007 delivering the key software enhancements most needed by our mission-critical customers.
HP's Unix is now integrated with HP 3PAR storage arrays, because what's the point of spending billions to buy a storage company if the newly-acquired products (and their customers) don't slip into your OS seamlessly? It's made possible by Serviceguard Metrocluster and Continentalclusters. The software-hardware combo does "synchronous replication and automated failover for rapid recovery of 3PAR Storage array data, giving you with more disaster recovery options. We’ve also made improvements in SGeSAP to help keep SAP up and running by guarding against failure and downtime of SAP."
Of course, SAP is a frequent corporate target platform to replace HP 3000 apps. So it's a genuine benefit to know HP is guarding better against failure and downtime of SAP.
There's more online about this ninth-gen HP-UX, written in brief by Sam Czertok, the HP-UX Portfolio Product Marketing Manager and now working on his sixth year at HP, after recent stints product-managing HP's netbooks and the HP Slate's software. For genuine meaty technical details (something that your Unix guru will want to study) head to the Quick Specs page on the latest HP Unix.
Winning the Race for the Longer Haul
Back in the 1980s, computers were all feeds and speeds and technology advantages. The kinds of things that only a DP expert could understand, because they were in charge of purchasing. Or in the case of the HP 3000, not always, because an office manager might be in charge of that task.
We spotted this gem above as a result of a Google Alert trot-line which looks for HP 3000 materials on the Web. This is probably more advertising than HP splashed around on the Series 68, which was a 3000 running out of gas for larger customers when this ad emerged.
BTI? Now a former systems provider, the UK company is in the observation business. Monitoring, cameras, mostly in use at computer rooms. Watching over the kind of systems they used to sell. The HP 3000? Still running some publishing company operations, projects at Boeing, and e-commerce retailers.
Today it's about a lot more than 3:1. You need user interface prowess and apps. Web security. The kinds of things not easily conferred by cartoons. Well, maybe one below, about the latest Windows football. (Click for a closer look.)
September 16, 2011
Tickets to talk up memories: still for sale
It's beyond 7 PM in the East of the US, and beyond midnight in the European regions of the HP 3000 Community. More than 60 HP3000 Reunion tickets have been sold at the best-value, early-bird rate. In addition to that threescore group, others will be on hand for next weekend's gathering of 3000 veterans, experts, users and devotees.
There's only a few more hours left to buy a Party Ticket at the best price of $49 -- but they will still be on sale right up to the evening of the party. Online at $60, or cash at the door.
CAMUS users are starting early with their own reunion at the official Reunion hotel, the Cupertino Inn. These users of MANMAN and ERP software will meet at 6:30 Friday around the hotel's pool.
Others heading to the Reunion site at the Computer History Museum include users, prospects and those researching the Eloquence database from Marxmeier Software. A User Group Conference on Thursday, Sept. 22 marks the start of all the activities. The very concept of meeting in person is a throwback as well as a look to the future of this community. This is a group that needs memories, the kind that are sparked by in-person talk.
At this time in the life of the HP 3000, the computer’s community doesn’t need a user group or even organized advocates (although the latter could help.) What we need is memories. We need to remember the skills and savvy to keep this computer a lively IT tool. Or we don’t want to forget what the answers taught us about our abilities to learn.While a newer generation tells us to keep learning or retire, we crave a measure of what we’ve done, our journey through challenge, to remind us that we’re hardy and clever and persistent. Many of you have never stood in one room with so many 3000 colleagues. You might be able to trace your path to the point where you raise a glass to toast your travels.
I’ll look at that glass in my hand and see some of those steps bubble up, backward. From that flute of brut to the man who built the app which manages that winery, Steve Smith. From him back to Doug Greenup, whose tip about 3000 resellers linked me to Smith’s tiny company selling used 3000s to new customers. From Greenup to George Hubman of WRQ, the arch-rivals of Greenup’s Minisoft. Then back to days before the WRQ’s marketing chief Hubman and his partner Doug Walker retired, beyond to the year when it the company was Walker, Richer & Quinn selling a pink box of floppy-based software that first did the magic of emulating the HP 3000’s 2622 terminal.
Yes, an emulation program was the first software for a 3000 I ever laid eyes upon. Like today, people believed it couldn’t be built. It sat atop a PC monitor at The Chronicle, where I reached out to write about people buying and using computers from an HP that sold just $6 billion in products a year. Less money than HP's sales in 13 weeks of just the business computers. Devices it created in a era when DP meant IT, not a Director of Photography.
That night’s air will fill with flashes, though, plus the buzz of grandparent stories of 300-baud modems and pratfalls like Q-MIT, New Wave and Allbase 4GL. We may share tales of people at the Coldstart conference parties broken up by cops in hotels, or an inflatable alligator that a cheeky vendor dragged around a show floor. If we’re aware and listening, we might hear the sound of studies and sentiment swell around us.
I hope you’ll be there to share your lessons, just in case your colleague needs them. You can never tell what can be useful. But it will feel wonderful to tell a story in a place that your industry has dedicated to memories.
September 15, 2011
Get paid, get a chance for free Reunion party
Organizers of the HP3000 Reunion have offered a sweet deal to encourage payments for Party tickets. A random drawing will select one winner of a free hotel night at the Cupertino Inn, or a free pass to the Sept. 24 party.
You must pay by Friday evening at midnight to qualify for your free ticket or hotel night. Alan Yeo of ScreenJet said, "As a little incentive to purchase your ticket by Friday, we are going to do a random draw of all those who have paid by close of business Friday. The winner will get one night's hotel room rental for the Cupertino Inn on the Saturday night if they've already decided to stay there -- or alternatively, a refund of their Reunion Party ticket charge."
Emails have gone out to those who have pre-registered, or registered but haven't paid for a ticket. "We need to give the caterers fairly accurate numbers by close of business this Friday," Yeo explained. "So we need some feedback from our registrants."
Attendees are bringing family members, too. The entire Hoffmeister family -- Donna of 3000-L fame, James of HP's networking support team, and their son Tyler -- will be at the Computer History Museum next Saturday night.
Ticket payments are being processed through PayPal and the 3000 NewsWire's Reunion accounts. Get paid and get a chance for a free ticket today. Tickets go up to $60 on Sept. 17.
September 14, 2011
Where to Get Your OpenSSH Starter Kit, Free
Brian Edminster has been making open source tools an avocation while he's consulted for HP 3000 shops. His consistent message is that these programs can make a difference in keeping an MPE/iX system current and vital. He's been working on a repository of such programs for quite awhile.
Now Edminster is offering a starter kit as an introduction to the SSL/SSH security tools and Secure FTP (SFTP) which companies like Rodale Press need for their 3000s.
I have an ''OpenSSH quick-start kit'' -- which is essentially all the bits and pieces necessary to install OpenSSH -- in a 'store-to-disk' file, and I can make it available to anyone that needs it. I've got a 'Reflection Labels' format version, a 'binary' version, and I'm working on getting something that'll work with Minisoft's terminal emulator as well -- all to make it easier to transfer from 'here to there' (where 'there' is the target 3000).
Between that store-to-disk file, and the existing instructions on Beechglen's site, any site that wants to install SFTP on their 3000 has just about all they need (my quick-start kit eliminates the first several steps -- just restore the contents and pick up at Step 3). Let people know that I can email the 'quick-start' kit to them, but there's a catch: it's approx 70Mb. Many email systems can't handle that.
And so comes the need for Edminster's repository. We hope to have more on that later on this month. Meanwhile, you can email him with your request for that quick-start.
Migration partnering webinar airs today
MB Foster has spent every other Wednesday teaching the principles of HP 3000 data management, best practices which customers are still using to structure their IT transitions. At a webinar this spring, one attendee said his company has been talking about migrating from the 3000 "ever since I've been here, 13 years," he said. "From our standpoint, the first decision that has to be made is, 'What platform?' "
Today the company is taking a new approach to the subject by focusing on partnerships in migrations. In this webinar they'll outline partnering skills, strategies for organizations thinking of migrating legacy applications and best practices for major components of a legacy or data migration project.
The webinar is today at 11:00 AM Pacific/2:00 PM Eastern. You can register for the event at the MB Foster website.
September 13, 2011
Publisher seeks security to homestead 3000
Securing file transfers is a task on the critical path to keeping an HP 3000 in service at one of the larger publishers in the US. An IT pro there who's managing a 3000 at the corporation said the company is using an N-Class server and is nearly complete on PCI compliance.
"We are PCI compliant on everything except FTP," she said, "so we are looking at SFTP. We don’t allow anyone to come into our system, so I think we can use what is out there, if I can get to it."
The manager added that she’s trying to get to the components OpenSSL, OpenSSH, perl and a GNU C compiler for MPE/iX. OpenSSL was ported to the 3000 by HP, and the rest were developed and ported by volunteers in its community. Ken Hirsh, an early user of the Invent3K development server, worked his way through porting many pieces of the OpenSSH security package, but his development work dates back to the start of the prior decade. That work needs updating to remain suitable for a production environment, according to open source expert Brian Edminster.These open security libraries have been a crucial tool for some shops, Edminster said. "OpenSSH and its sibling OpenSSL have done more to allow the 3000 to continue to be a viable platform in our increasingly security-sensitive world — more than just about any other piece of software," he said.
"Without them, one of my clients would have had to give up use of their 3000s nearly a decade ago over PCI concerns. And nobody would have been able to serve up secure web transactions from their 3000 without OpenSSH and OpenSSL. Both applications are overdue for a refresh of their ports."
Edminster said he was launching an engagement with another 3000 shop that’s seeking security. "They aren’t that different than most 3000 shops, in that they have a small operations staff, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Small can mean flexible and nimble, and small can also mean narrow selections of talent and little time to spare. I can also tell you that they are a heterogeneous shop — and that making sure all the different systems play well together, both hardware and software, is important."
September 12, 2011
2001's 3000 sales didn't bother HP's Prather
It was somber day yesterday, looking 10 years back. But 10 years ago, less than one week off 9/11, HP also announced its plans to acquire Compaq. The merger would mix product lines from twin competitors in enterprise (Compaq's Digital unit, and HP) and in personal computing (Compaq and HP). The blending meant elimination for some enterprise products from Digital (its Alpha processors) and pruning some from HP. Two months later, the slow-growing branch of the HP 3000 got its pruning orders off of HP's futures.
Early that same year, the general manager of HP's 3000 business expressed no worries about 3000 sales running well behind HP's Unix. Winston Prather had other things to think about in January of 2001. He'd been running the group for about 14 months.
The fact that the 3000 business is a much smaller business than the 9000 portion is a fact of life. It doesn’t bug me. I understand that there are people who wish that wasn’t the case. But it just doesn’t bother me the way it bothers some people.
Customers are much less concerned about this than when I read 3000-L. That’s a whole different world. They are not representative of the majority of our customers. They’ve very vocal and adopt new technologies much faster than the rest of our customers. They are leading edge, and lead customers to new technologies. I can get highlights of issues that might come up from reading 3000-L, but those issues never seem to come up when I talk to the CIOs.
That was a January interview. By November, just beyond that merger announcement, Prather was announcing the demise of the 3000's ecosystem. His November reports included worries about that ecosystem heard from HP customers. These must have been customers Prather didn't know 10 months earlier.Before the cries rise up about turning over the past, let's admit that a study of history is important, sometimes. There's nothing that can be done about losses from the past but to learn and mourn. As for whether Winston Prather deserves this scrutiny, he took credit for cutting the 3000 away from HP. "It was my decision," he told us and anyone who'd listen.
Prather, who now runs one of HP's remaining in-house environment enterprises in NonStop, did admit that the first full year of his management was a sales disappointment. The problem during 2000, he figured, was that HP had better hardware models it'd been talking about all year with the customers.
I would say that the last year has not met my expectations for what the business should have done. And when I think about why, I think about the fact that there’s new products coming.
Any reader who's wondering if these quotes are out of context should have a look at the original interview. Those answers may have told resellers and software vendors that the towers of 3000 legacy were in jeopardy just months before the N-Class and A-Class servers went on sale. HP told everyone by fall of 2001 that MPE application ecosystems were in trouble. The app trouble must have dawned on Prather and his team suddenly, considering what he stated in January.
What really does matter is much more the customers, than the applications. If customers continue to invest, then the platform will be around forever. And if they don’t, it won’t. I know this isn’t palatable for a number of the extreme supporters. I work for a company that, to be honest, wants to meet the customers’ needs and it doesn’t have to be a 3000. As much as I love the 3000 platform, I’m here to meet a customer’s needs using all the products that HP has. If we meet their needs in the future with Unix or Linux, that’s success for me.
So today Prather is meeting HP customer needs with NonStop products, which are neither Unix or Linux. What he can count upon is that this September's HP no longer is distracted by striving to be Number 1 in computers, a bald-faced desire while it acquired Compaq. The merger provided a small moment of crowing when HP swallowed an old rival. But even in that September moment, we wrote that customers -- the ones Prather said held the deciding vote on 3000 futures -- were wondering how HP would sort out everything it owned.
HP now owns what remains of Digital’s technology, since Compaq acquired Digital in 1998. Digital’s war cry during that RISC delay of 1986 was “Digital has it now.” Seasoned HP 3000 observers noted that Digital win, but wondered about the work to integrate so much technology.
“I suppose the operative phrase is ‘HP has it now,’ ” quipped Michael Berkowitz, systems manager with Guess, Inc. “But let’s see: seven current operating systems, (MPE/iX, HP-UX, Linux, NT, OpenVMS, Tru64unix, Non-stop Himalaya). Yeah, it should only take about a hundred years to put this together.”
The story that started unfolding that season featured players like Berkowitz exiting from employers. "Guess went from in-house with the 3000 to a software package on January 1, 2004," he reported this summer. "On 3/19/04, my services were no longer necessary. However, they needed me back a couple of times since then to do work on the 3000 (move to new disc) and no one knew how to do an install. Needless to say, my rate for that was somewhat higher than my salary."
That's just about all Berkowitz has done with a 3000 since '04. He says he misses it, as well as COBOL programming. Today he's a software project manager on a Windows/Foxpro software package.
And those customers Prather counted upon? They have now watched HP take about 10 years to tease that merger apart. HP wants to refocus on enterprise computing and enterprise software. The sort of businesses represented by the HP 3000 of the 20th Century, and the unique design of MPE and IMAGE. They provide the lesson about the loss of vigilance -- and how leaders remain aware of which business is the foundation of succcess for both a vendor and its shareholders (now sellling $24 stock). And oh yeah, successes for its customers.
September 09, 2011
World of Web opens new pages, years later
I couldn’t be happier to feel the heartbeat of the NewsWire pulsing on our blog. September marks the month when our news services for the 3000 first went to press. But we had our eyes online from that very first month of Fall, 1995. This new forum here for news felt like a risk 10 years later, because my partner Abby and I learned our trade amid a passel of papers. From our first days in '95 we'd put news onto a website, post-print. Shortly after, we emailed mid-issue updates in Online Extras. Even while the dot com bubble rose, those mediums felt like enough for awhile.
But by this month I’m delighted to be conductor of three blogs that serve some part of the 3000 community. In addition to the NewsWire’s web address, I’ve administered OpenMPE News (openmpe.wordpress.com). Since the summer began, I’ve been stocking HP3000Reunion.com. There’s nothing like being able to blog onto a story as you hear more of it. The echo of updates has helped to draw scores of veterans to that in-person party, only about two weeks away (so get your Party tickets today).
People in your industry also have taken to blogging to have their voices heard. This summer I heard from Dave Elward, creator of 3000 software from 1987 onward, about his personal blog where he’s polishing writing skills. That’s the craft I teach evenings and weekends and spread through another blog, writestuff-writersworkshop.com. English is as rich and complex and confusing as writing in COBOL. In 1977 I took the fork down a road to writing in sentences instead of modules because I wanted a bigger readership. I can’t say for sure it’s turned out that way, but the English writing at least touches a more diverse set of readers than server CPUs.
We crossed the blog’s 1,650-article mark this week.This entry was a column in our August printed NewsWire, because that's its label in print. Here I’d call it an entry in the blogosphere. It’s longer than a tweet or a Facebook status update, although @ronseybold has been a way to tweet news about writing and storytelling. @3000newswire does the job for IT compatriots.
Why do writers need so many channels? It speaks to the evolution of our expression. We like to fine-tune our reception today. A bit of Apple news here, a slice of storytelling advice there, news tuned to the smallest detail of a sports team, the latest on mobile operating systems — all of this reflects how our communication has exploded into countless facets. Some people read the NewsWire through an RSS newsreader. These newsreaders stack up articles from all of your sources to save you time if your primary source is the Web.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the tone of the message I’m usually sharing. A reader recently lobbed a few complaints about what I’m writing to deliver 3000 news. "You write about all the sunny-sided things that happen," he said. He added that the stories are often from the usual sources. Both claims are true. Promoting the new and helpful improves learning, though there’s always room for the lessons of mistakes. The usual suspects often speak here because they teach, plus listen on our behalf. But you can discover unique user stories on these webpages as well.
This summer I read a dollop of hubris about newswriting. “News is something someone doesn’t want you to know,” it says on the reborn Byte website. "All the rest is publicity." That’s a simpleton’s mantra to messages. News is something you don’t know yet. All the rest is something you share, a task our Websphere makes joyful and easy.
September 08, 2011
HP sets record straight about PSG futures
After HP installed a new head of communications, the company dished out plain-talk emails today that described "HP's bold new direction. The facts." This vendor which is either a large part of migrated 3000 customer operations, or a candidate for those who haven't moved, pushed its own story about leaving the PC business. The vendor calls it "the new PSG--whatever form that may be." HP has innovated with a full-page ad in major newspapers to stem the talk of a Hewlett-Packard computing decline.
HP says it prefers to spin off a $41 billion business -- which would be one of the biggest spinoffs in business history -- because business computing has become its business focus. "HP is implementing a plan to fundamentally transform the company to better focus on its strategic priorities: cloud solutions and software for the enterprise, commercial and government markets," it said in its emails.
HP also invoked the "ecosystem" word while it described the future of an operating system, never a good sign based on the MPE experience 10 years ago. The vendor said that despite killing the future of TouchPads, the tablet's webOS never looked better.
The webOS ecosystem is stronger than ever. We received an overwhelming response from consumers to the recent price reductions for the HP TouchPad. Many of our retail partners and online stores sold out of the devices within hours. More than 90 percent of purchasers are new to webOS and we are excited about the increasingly growing webOS community.
Even though no one can buy a TouchPad at the moment, "Application downloads are hitting record highs, which further reinforces that customers are enjoying access to content they want and need." Customers are backing away from their wants and needs of HP's PCs, according to industry reports. One columnist noted that "Confusion is never a good business strategy." Thus, today's emails.Analysts are trying to sort out what this spinoff means. HP's helping today by using its emails to direct customers to a transcript of the Q3 analyst briefing where HP confirmed the Personal Systems Group will exit the Hewlett-Packard fold. One analyst interviewed on CNBC thinks that HP's board is "trending out of the hardware business" and going to concentrate on software, and become a software company.
If that's correct, a lot of HP's enterprise customers should be trying to calculate the rate of trending away from NonStop, VMS and HP-UX servers. All of these operate with Itanium chips, and all without significant growth anymore. (In another troubling sign of growth, the company's stock price remains in the $23 price range where it fell after the PSG spinoff news was announced -- three weeks ago.)
No matter what PCs the company spins away -- it said it would decide by the end of this year -- HP won't be spinning out its ProLiants, so profitable and leading in their space for blade servers. Windows and Linux users sometimes choose these servers to replace 3000s in a migration. HP is still signing up new ProLiant customers. Just this week it announced up to $800 savings on ProLiant AMD servers, including the latest G7 BL465c BladeServer. (Details on those sale prices were yielding a 404 Not Found error today, however.)
HP's CEO Leo is a software guy, but his idea of software isn't an OS, it's Autonomy -- the UK firm that managed to sell $850 million of SaaS last year. One dollar in three of Autonomy Sales comes from Software as a Service. But that yearly Autonomy business posts fewer sales than those stalled NonStop, VMS and HP-UX businesses record in half as many months. Analysts on the briefing call wanted to know what magic HP will manage to spin an $850-million company into a business big enough to replace its profitable hardware lines.
HP's leading message about the future of PSG is that "Our preferred course is to spin off our PC business into a separate company, creating a more agile organization to help us better anticipate change and quickly respond to customers." HP did promise Agility IT just back in June, during its HP Discover conference. At the time, there was no mention of any spinoff needed to enable that agility.
September 07, 2011
Partiers nab low-cost 3000 Reunion tickets
3000 community members are Going Green on the roster by buying their HP3000 Reunion Party tickets this week, filling up a room at the Computer History Museum with people who have helped make history. The party is Sept. 24 at 5:30 PM, but the lowest-cost $49 tickets will only be on sale (at this link) until Sept. 17. After that date it's a $60 admission -- so there's less than 10 days left to buy your way into an evening of food and fun, plus a couple of sparkling wine toasts. More than 120 community members have registered as of today.
Buying a ticket to the Party also earns another discount -- an all day Saturday admission to the Museum for just $10, rather than the regular $15 ticket. If you'd like to tour the museum during the party itself, it's being re-opened for the Reunion group from 5:30 to 8:30, included with that $49 party ticket.
Some attendees want to spend part of Saturday afternoon enjoying the exhibits which track the rise and miracles of your industry, so they're going to go to the museum reception desk and say, "I'm on the list for the Reunion Party tonight." Everybody wants to be able to say, "I'm on the list" at some point in their life, right?
Saturday morning will offer an in-depth review of the Zelus HP 3000 Emulator for the more technically-inclined, according to the emulator maker's CTO Dr. Robert Boers. That 10-12 briefing is at the Cupertino Inn and it's free, just like nearly everything else for the weekend. Another Zelus overview will be part of the Friday CAMUS meeting at the History Museum, Friday 4:30 to 6. But you'll want to register, to be sure the organizers know you're coming -- and then buy your party ticket now, when it's at its best price.The Cupertino Inn, just a short drive from the Museum, has a $99 weekend rate for Reunion attendees. Call 408-996-7700 and tell reservations that you want the HP3000 Reunion rate. There's also all-day briefings on the Eloquence database (a user conference for current DBAs and those considering the software for a migration.)
Speedware is also assembling a day of Migration Training, Sept. 23 at the Museum, which leads up to the Stromasys Zelus overview during the CAMUS meeting that Friday afternoon. A click on the schedule above will yield more details as of this week.
September 06, 2011
Suprtool opens to Linux, ready for Windows
Robelle is extending its bedrock 3000 data tool to popular migration targets. When HP 3000 companies consider moving to other environments, Robelle has opened up options for any who need Suprtool to stay in place. The creators of the key data management solution are releasing SuprtoolOpen, revamped to run on Linux and Windows environments.
Up to now, Suprtool was available only for HP's MPE/iX and HP-UX servers. HP told customers during the previous decade that Suprtool was responsible for a large share of migrations to HP's Unix instead of Windows, or other Intel-based environments such as Linux. The software has been a key element in the multi-channel commerce solutions from Escalate/Ecometry, among others.
It’s all about the Endians. Big Endian software runs on HP’s PA-RISC and Itanium, and that’s been the focus for Suprtool. The alternative is Little Endian environments such as the Intel Xeon line. Robelle has completed the engineering if people want Windows. But so far more of them want to go to Linux on Intel from a 3000 environment, if they have a need for a Little Endian version. Suprtool lead developer Neil Armstrong said the Linux-Intel interest drove SuprtoolOpen."We have been getting requests for platforms and Linux x86 has been the most prevalent." Armstrong said. "There are requests for Windows but the database requests are more varied and not areas where we have solutions as yet, so our tendency is to help provide solutions that we have. So the Eloquence database plus Windows will likely be a target for us. I've not seen much of a demand for Linux/Big Endian machines. We could have provided that nearly a year ago, but all the attention has been x86 Linux."
While Suprtool is moving to other environments, Armstrong said much of the Linux side development is done on VMWare virtual machines. A good deal of the code remains in SPL, "and converted using SPLASH and the SPL to C option that I've been using for some time," Armstrong said. "This has allowed me to focus on re-writing libraries bit by bit and still have a working core of Suprtool."
Robelle is dividing the project into two halves, with a Big Endian version and a Little Endian version. Currently for BigE, the company is looking at Unix environments from IBM (AIX) and Sun in terms of providing actual downloads.
"For LittleE the biggest interest is X86 Linux and the like," Armstrong said. "Windows is not yet part of the plans completely, but if we have some Eloquence customers that are going that way we will look at supporting them." Robelle is currently running and building more test suites on Linux distros Ubuntu, RHEL and SUSE, for the Little Endian Version.
"Part of this is writing new code in such a way as to reduce endian-ness," Armstrong said. "Also, writing higher-level code where possible makes each platform I test on easier with each iteration.
The Open version of the tool works exactly as it does on MPE/iX and HP-UX. Customers have been running with a Full Native C code version for two years on Itanium, so this revamp is an extension of that effort. Armstrong said the work has opened the way for streamlining the code that supports the tool's internals.
"The actual interesting part is that I've actually been reducing a lot of code for this project, Armstrong said. "As a case in point, Suprtool has used some routines that were written by Fred White and was part of the Coercion engine that converted from display to long to double integer and so on. This is an incredibly dense piece of code that we've been using for longer than I care to remember, which has now been replaced."
September 05, 2011
Fresh Witness Protection for an HP OS
It's a slow news day in the US (Labor Day here) but I spotted this report on HP's operating system futures. Four of Hewlett-Packard's OS's have met the end of their life at HP, though none have had an afterlife like the one of MPE/iX. HP killed off Rocky Mountain Basic, RTE, Tru-64 and tried to retire the HP 3000's OS. Now the newest HP OS, WebOS, has been "removed to a secure location," as they like to say in the spy thrillers.
WebOS goes into the OS Protection Program at HP's Office of Strategy and Technology. Shane Robison, who was once HP's Chief Technology Officer, leads the shovels in this product sandbox.
The executive team has decided that the webOS software teams will be best served joining the Office of Strategy and Technology while we investigate how to leverage the webOS platform and its ecosystem. This move also supports the teams’ continued efforts with over-the-air updates and the application catalog.
With our focus on business and technology strategy, OS&T will be able to provide these teams with the resources and support they need as we define the best monetization model. The webOS software employees join HP Cloud Services, Vertica, and Business Solutions as an incubating business group.
It's a little embarrasing to pay $1.2 billion for an OS and dated smartphones in 2010, then kill off the vaunted hardware flowing from said OS just 15 months after the Palm acquisition. HP shuttled WebOS into its Indiana Jones warehouse on the same day that reports surfaced of another tablet nearly a-borning: Amazon's Kindle, refitted to breathe its blessing on you through the cloud.
There's rich irony and a real lesson in seeing a massive retailer ready to deliver a cloud-driven consumer product while HP cannot leverage its own cloud technology to drive a tablet. In a few months, you'll even be able to buy a used HP 3000 over the newest Kindle. Commerce, after all, is the heart of the mobile hotspot. It's what has made the iPad the tablet to beat.
The new Kindle will arrive before the holidays, according to a report at TechCrunch from a hands-on tester. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Amazon is testing a new interface for its vaunted website, designed to flow onto a tablet with ease. The kicker to this proposition is the use of Amazon's Prime membership, included with each Kindle tablet purchase. The first year of Prime is free with a tablet, instead of the $79 price. Prime delivers free movies and TV to any browser and lots of mobile devices.
But there are no free movies and TV, at the moment, for the iPad or iPhone, because Amazon is leaning on Adobe Flash for the cloud-based watching. There's a market differentiator. Amazon is said to be using its own OS, a derivative of Android -- but pulled so far into Amazon labs that it is now more proprietary than open source.
This will be the first tablet that Apple will need to consider in competition. Kindle's going to have a $249 model, color, wi-fi, all with content integrated. Free Amazon shipping for a year, streaming movies, Instant On, music from the cloud.
See, Amazon's got a store. A really popular store. The new Kindle will get expensed by Amazon like the crates of shopping bags used at your local grocery.
It's the Gilette model, losing money on the razor so you can buy their blades. Except they're everybody's blades, because you can buy anything on Amazon, even an HP 3000. Amazon collects 55 percent of every dollar spent at its store. Amazon doesn't need to make money on hardware, and the company is not going to get into an app race with Apple, either. They'll have 'em, but who's gonna care? You can shop, read, watch movies, Facebook, email, share pictures, instant message from a Kindle. Want to take a picture? Use your phone.
And the OS? A long while ago (2.2) it was Android, but Amazon is leaving that behind by forking the OS.
The consumer's attitude vs. the iPad? Maybe summed up by a friend of mine, way low-tech, who says, "Interesting. I could see it possibly replacing my Kindle, but I doubt my husband would trade his iPad in for it."
So there you have it, the 2012 tablet market. Low-price consumers sucked into the Amazon vortex. Apple and maybe Lenovo feasting on the rest. HP dumps a few hundred thousand TouchPads into eager hobbyist and technie hands, then quits. And that leaves all the those other Android tablets sitting in warehouses, like the 980,000 Samsung Galaxys shipped -- but Lenovo says were never sold.
Because you need a reason for people to use these things. They're not really great laptop replacements, not yet. But a 7-inch color cart for your shopping, from the world's largest online retailer with the biggest profit margin? Always a market motivator.
HP didn't grasp the value in entering the tablet market, except to try to leverage its purchase of a new OS somehow. When the company built MPE it knew it needed multi-programming (the MP in the name) to differentiate from IBM's batch muscle. An OS is supposed to be the heart of a computing platform. It's been a long time since HP built something like that, crafted to last. The last one HP built? Probably HP-UX, which now needs some fresh hope -- before it's escorted to the Office of Stategy and Technology, too.
September 02, 2011
It's Time to Ticket-Up for Your 3000 Reunion
The organizers of the HP3000 Reunion have set a date for buying tickets to the Saturday night party. The $49 rate for tickets is only good for two more weeks. That's a midnight Sept. 16, Pacific Time deadline. After that, the Ticket is $60, payable online until Sept. 21. Then it's "cash at the door," as entertainers say. This week the Reunion opened up its Ticketing webpage (click to head there), the only place that anyone needs to pay anything for the weekend's gathering. The rest of it is free.
That $49 -- payable via PayPal account or credit cards on the webpage -- gets every attendee a private-party admission to the Computer History Museum, dinner, plus a few toasts of sparkling wine. Your purchase of Reunion Tickets is paying for that party, on top of the sponsor funding that's making this Reunion a reality.
It's important to pay now, sooner than later, so the planning and headcounts can go to party chefs and the Museum officials and all can be in readiness. If you haven't registered yet, the Reunion folks have made it simple. Go to the (pre) registration site and sign up, then head to the Ticketing webpage. Go ahead, go do it. We'll wait. (Use your email address and your password to sign on to the registration page.)
There, that was nice, wasn't it? Now everybody who's coming knows that you'll be there. If you're already (pre)-registered, be sure to update your registration to tell the organizers which events you will attend. It's a two-step dance, as we like to say in Texas. You register, then you buy your Ticket.
If you're coming from out of town, need accommodation for the events, the Reunion has negotiated a special rate at the Cupertino Inn for the weekday events, and an extra special rate of $99 for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nights. The booking code is "HP3000 Reunion," and the rate is available by calling the Inn at 800.222.4828 (408.996.7700 from overseas) to reserve.
The schedule has been beefed up with the addition of a 2-hour demonstration and presentation by Stromasys on the Zelus HP 3000 Emulator on Saturday morning, 10-12 at the Cupertino Inn. Ringleader Alan Yeo reports:
The CAMUS User Group Meeting and the ASK/MANMAN gathering have been split into two separate events. At the moment if you pre-registered for the CAMUS event you will be registered for both events — so please update your entry on the registration site to indicate which of the events you actually wish to attend so that CAMUS can plan for the correct numbers.
We have the final costs worked out, and if you pay on-line by the 16th you can get the early bird rate of $49.
This gets you entry to the Computer History Museum (a $15 ticket value), which is opening up its exhibit space outside of normal hours specially for this event — plus dinner and a couple of glasses of Sparkling Wine with an HP3000 connection for the odd toast or two. There is also a bar, but you are going to have to buy your own drinks. However the prices are very reasonable.
If you pay after the 16th, or at the door, the price is $60.
To pay on-line just go to the Reunion Tickets link — you can pay by PayPal or credit card.
September 01, 2011
HP's Autonomy: You never had a database
It's just sometimes amazing what bona fide journalists can swallow and republish. We've been guilty of being hornswoggled ourselves. But when the Wall Street Journal can't get it right, we feel a little better. Except now, when it's worse.
Let's explain. Hewlett-Packard, still the company which a migrating 3000 customer is likely to retain as a vendor, wants to buy a software company. It plans to spend $10.2 billion on Autonomy, which makes software to sort through the "unstructured data such as the contents of an email or video or a picture." What Autonomy likes best about its parent-to-be: HP never had its own legacy databases.
So, while you tend to the nature of your legacy IMAGE/SQL on your HP 3000, patiently making a data mart, doing a real-time data store, or just pushing a report through the likes of MBF-Reporter or byRequest, you're working with something Autonomy knows nothing about. Or maybe the WSJ Europe reporter just didn't check much. He didn't check with WSJ columnist Al Lewis (above), who called HP's past 12 months a march to suicide while he ripped the Autonomy buyout.
That doesn't even count HP Eloquence (now a Marxmeier product doing nicely with the "HP" gone and repeatedly upgraded), or Allbase/XL, or IMAGE for the HP 1000. Mike Lynch of Autonomy is certain that HP needs no flip-flop to sell software for data management.
Now it's possible that the sale of perhaps 75,000 licenses of IMAGE and Eloquence during the HP enterprise days of the '70s through the '90s never came up during Lynch's due diligence. After all, Hewlett-Packard really didn't exist until they bought Compaq, or squashed its printer business model onto its enterprise computing operations, right? Whatever drove that HP is the old enterprise strategy, we suppose.
Mr. Lynch said there were two things that persuaded him to sell to HP. The size and scale of HP, and the fact that unlike most other software vendors, it has no database business.
"If you are a traditional software player, the chances are that you have spent the last 10 years telling customers why they need to buy a bigger database. It’s very difficult to turn round and say 'Well, all that stuff I told you? Well it’s wrong.' HP are one of the companies that do not have that problem. It never had a legacy database business. That clarity is very interesting to us."
This becomes interesting while HP tries to re-invent itself through a new devotion to enterprise software. The fact that HP is suing Oracle to make that vendor revive the database's Itanium development -- well, perhaps that doesn't indicate HP's got a legacy database there. The 140,000 Oracle sites which run HP-UX might as well be a HP legacy database business, because every non-Windows computer has got some legacy database shipped by Oracle. If it weren't for the Windows platform, HP would be captive to the Oracle database operation.
If a database falls in the HP market and Lynch isn't around, does it make a sound? Here's the Journal, missing the sound of Rdb, the database still in operation on the OpenVMS servers in HP's enterprise lineup. Yes, VMS was a longtime Digital product. But it's only running on HP's servers by now, just like Rdb. Oracle bought Rdb in 1994 before HP bought Digital, and Oracle's been updating it for 17 years. Until this spring, when Oracle announced it wouldn't do any Itanium coding after this year.
HP CEO Leo Apotheker has been taking a shelling for the way the company wants to turn itself into the New IBM, using enterprise plays like buying Autonomy. In another section of the WSJ website, Lewis said one of the CEO's wrong moves is "it plans to buy British business software company Autonomy for $10 billion, because it makes enterprise software just like SAP, which is what Mr. Apotheker knows best." When you see the leader of an acquired company reporting HP never sold database software, you have to wonder what else isn't being shared about enterprise strategy.
The cliched phrase for this kind of selective vision is "The emperor has no clothes." Meaning that Autonomy thinks HP never had databases, or sells any of its own -- no matter what you can see on that console in front of your 3000. There is genuine need for managing something unstructured at HP today, to be sure. It might be any sense of its legacy, now that HP's returning to enterprise business -- even if its new partner doesn't want to see those legenday clothes.