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March 30, 2012

Ordering a Hamburger, HP-Style

BurgerThis Friday might be a day of heavy lifting for your IT department, with it being the final week of March as well as the end of the first quarter. Even though that HP 3000 will be running reports, it's good to have some oversight ready. You might be eating lunch at your desk -- or supper, if anything needs attention. Maybe something as simple as a hamburger.

But a classic style to HP hamburger ordering -- one that might be as old as the eldest 3000 in your shop -- could leave you dizzy. Not long ago, your community shared this gem. One manager said "I remember telling my HP Sales rep that you needed a PhD to read the configuration manual. The sales rep took the manual from my hand to explain to me how wrong I was. After a 30-minute tutorial, the rep decided it was best if he could call me from his office with the answer."

On a day when you might need a smile from satire, the Hamburger Guide follows after the jump. As the late, great Warren Zevon advised, "Enjoy every sandwich."

By Stephen Harrison and Noel Magee

This is the story of a different kind. No melting CPUs, no screaming disc drives, just the kind of psychological torture that scars a man for life.

I had a nine o'clock meeting with my sales rep. I needed to buy an entire Series 70, the works. He said it'd take about an hour. Three hours later, we'd barely got the datacomm hardware down on paper, so he invited me downstairs for lunch.

This was my first experience in an HP cafeteria. Above the service counter was a menu which began

MMU's (Main Menu Units)
0001A Burger. Includes sesame-seed bun.
Must order condiments 00110A separately.
001 Deletes seeds.
002 Expands burger to two patties.
00020A Double Cheeseburger, preconfigured.
Includes cheese, bun condiments.
001 Add-on bacon.
002 Delete second patty.
003 Replaces second patty with extra cheese.
00021A Burger Upgrade to Double Cheeseburger.
001 From Single Burger.
002 From Double Burger.
003 Return credit for bun.
00220A Burger Bundle.
Includes 00010A, 00210A and 00310A.
001 Substitute root beer 00311A for cola 00310A.

 My eyes glazed over. I asked for a burger and a root beer. The waitress looked at me like I was an alien.

"How would you like to order that, sir?"

"Quickly, if possible. Can't I just order a sandwich and a drink?"

"No, Sir. All our service is menu driven. Now what would you like?" I scanned the menu.

"How big is the 00010 burger?"

"The patty is rated at eight bites."

"Well, how about the rest of it?"

"I don't have the specs on that, Sir, but I think it's a bit more."

"Eight bites is too small. Give me the Double Burger Upgrade."

My sales rep interrupted. "No, you want the Single Burger option 002 'expands burger to two patties.' The Double Burger Upgrade would give you two burgers."

"But you could get return credit on the extra bun," the waitress chimed in, trying to be helpful, "although it isn't documented."

I looked around to see if anybody was staring at me. There was a couple in line behind us. I recognized one of them, a guy who nearly mowed me down in the parking lot with his cherry-red '62 Vette. He was talking to some woman who was waving her arms around and looking very excited.

"What if... we marketed the bacon cheeseburger with the vegetable option and without the burger and cheese? It'd be a BLT!"

The woman charged off in the direction of the telephone, running steeplechases over tables and chairs. My waitress tried to get my attention again. "Have you decided, sir?"

"Yeah, give me the Double Burger--excuse me, I mean the 00020A with the option 001. I want everything on it." She put me down for the Condiment Expansion Kit, which included mayonnaise, mustard and pickles with an option to substitute relish.

"Ketchup?" I hated to ask. "I want ketchup on that, too." "That's not a condiment, Sir, it's a Tomato Product." My sales rep butted in again. "That's not a supported configuration." "What now?" I kept my voice steady. "Too juicy. The bun can't handle it." "Look. Forget the ketchup, just put some lettuce and tomatoes on it."

The waitress backed away from the counter. "I'm sorry, sir, but that's not supported either. The bun can take it but the burger won't fit in the box." The sales rep defended himself. "Just not at first release." "It is being beta-tested, sir," added the waitress.

I checked the overhead screen. Fries, number 000210A, option 110. French followed by option 120, English. "What the hell are English Fries?" I turned to the sales rep. "Chips they call them. We sell a lot of them."

I gave up. "OK, OK just give me a plain vanilla Burger Bundle." This confused the waitress profoundly. "Sir, Vanilla as an option is configured only for series 00450 Milkshakes." My sales rep chuckled. "No, Ma'am, he just wants a standard 00220A off the shelf." I wondered how long it had been on the shelf. I didn't ask.

"Very good, sir." The waitress breathed a sigh of relief. "Your meal is now on order. Now how would you like it supported?" "Supported?" She directed me to the green shaded area at the bottom of the menu, and I began a litany with my sales rep that I'll never forget.

"Implementation assistance?"

"You get a waiter."

"Implementation analysis?"

"You tell him how hungry you are and he tells you what to eat."

"Response Center Support?"

"He brings it to your table."

"Extended materials?"

"You get refills."

I shoved some money at the waitress and told her to take it. She gave me my check on three sheets of green-bar paper. I studied it on my way to the table, and decided it'd pass as an emergency napkin.

Table? My sales rep had been bright enough to order us a table. He hadn't been bright enough to check on a delivery date. The table waiter, slouching in his corner surveyed the crowded room, looked at me and said, "Two weeks. But I can get you a standalone chair by the window right away."

I handed him the tray. A woman rushed up to me with two small cups of chili and sauerkraut for the hot dog somebody else had ordered. The room began to grow dim, my eyesight faded....

I woke up clutching the water-glass at my bedside table. It was 5 a.m., four hours till my meeting with HP. I had had a vision; I did what it told me to do. I dialed my office, and I called in sick.

08:49 AM in History, Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 29, 2012

Community links in on migration, emulation

A lively discussion of migrating off the HP 3000 is on the LinkedIn HP 3000 Community discussion boards. (We're bearing down on the magic 500+ member count for that group; joining such a group makes your profile on LinkedIn rise up for people seeking IT experts.) Members in the discussion included developers of the MM/3000 MRP application built for MPE/iX -- maintained by HP until it was sold to eXegeSys -- and then revamped as an independent app. Others sharing their experience included consultants from Speedware and MB Foster migration teams, plus some advice about the hardware emulator alternative that might pump more useful years into such an MPE app.

Randy Thon of Cessna Aircraft said that “one of the main reasons we are still on this application and platform is that it is cost effective and solid, and all development and management of the system is within the Maintenance Department. But this year we as a company are looking at moving from the HP 3000 due to supportability, mainly due to hardware.”

Advice below followed a line of study about size of migrations as well as other alternatives.
   
Randy, why not move to the newer A-class hardware? It supports native fibre for high speed fault tolerant arrays. Plus it would run circles around the KS969.
- Craig Lalley

You could also consider using MB Foster to migrate the same application over to Unix.
- Tony Ray

Tony, the eXegeSys team spent years trying to migrate MM/3000 to Unix and ultimately gave up and sold the intellectual property. 11.7 million lines of COBOL, SPL, and Pascal is a big beast to move.
- Jeffrey Lyon

Ah, the COBOL is not a problem, but re-creating the SPL and Pascal would be the problem. I understand. It is quite unfortunate that the HP 3000 had to stop. There will never be a better machine. I have worked on them since 1976 and know that several are still running. I own two myself.
- Tony Ray

The SPL and Pascal can be done; the issues are with the tight integration of the application and the hardware platform. There were many things done in the application that cannot be replicated on other platforms. I am sure with enough time and money these could be overcome or replaced. But the size of the application is daunting.
- Scott T. Petersen

Scott, correct me if I'm wrong, but it wasn't its integration with the e3000 the made the MM/3000 port difficult -- it was its integration with MPE. I seem to remember you explaining to me that there were MPE system calls which were provided specifically for MM/3000.
- Jeffrey Lyon

The 11.7 million is not that big. I did a migration at Speedware; think it was about 4 million lines of COBOL and 300,000 Pascal and SPL in about a year. Our team was 14 members and we started not knowing the app. A bigger team, knowing the app, could get the MM/3000 migration done in under two years.
- Brian Stephens

Jeffrey is correct, the integration with MPE and the features of the platform increased the complexity of the problem. And also having special features built into the compilers just for the application did not simplify the issue, either.
- Scott T. Petersen

Technical possibilities aside, what really happened is that eXegeSys management realized that a fully migrated MM/3000 would not compete for new sales in the then current market and de-funded and, thus, terribly hampered the effort late in its cycle in the hope of developing a new technology ERP. I'm pretty sure that Scott et. al could have gotten it done, but the new sales market was uninterested and the existing MM/3000 base was tired of waiting.

We'll be having this same conversation about SAP 20 years from now.
- Jeffrey Lyon

Any thought of trying the Charon-HPA/3000 product from Stromasys? Seems like your 969 license would qualify for for the emulator. Then hardware would no longer be an issue.
- Tracy Johnson

11:35 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 28, 2012

Making An HP 3000 More Secure

The Internet includes a wealth of advice, but it also harbors guidelines for IT malice. Not long ago the HP 3000 mailing list and newsgroup included a message that pointed to a pair of documents about hacking into the HP 3000. One expert in the system said these were dated, but still effective.

There's always been a lot in MPE that makes your servers more secure, of course, plus independent software to bolt its doors shut. (Security/3000 from VEsoft comes to mind. User Robert Mills says that "it is well worth the cost and time involved in setting up.") Even MPE's included passwords and permissions usage might be in the dim recesses of your memory, however. Consultant Michael Anderson of J3K Solutions supplied some refresher material.

An easy way into a MPE box is when the default passwords are left unchanged, like the TELESUP account and a few more third-party accounts that are well known. Securing your HP 3000 is simple.

1. Set unique passwords on all user/accounts, and maybe even groups.

2. Use PASSEXEMPT to avoid keeping passwords in job streams, enabling you to change passwords frequently.

3. Make sure ACCESS= & CAPABILTIES are set properly to avoid the use of the RELEASE command.

4. Programatically audit, audit, and then audit some more!

When anyone does log on, there are more options as well.

Write a simple script/program to check the remote IP address at logon, and if it is from the outside you can add additional security requirements, keep a table of allowed addresses, log these events, track outside sessions more rigorously, or simply not allow it.

I don't have my HP 3000 plugged directly into the Internet. However, if it wasn't behind a firewall, I believe it would take the beating and keep on ticking.

I've configured my firewall to forward all telnet traffic to the HP 3000 directly, and I do see attempts to hack it everyday. But none are successful. On the other hand, I've had my Unix and Linux machines hacked, using buffer-overflows and brute force attacks, several times.

11:23 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 27, 2012

Protecting HP 3000s Using Linux

While HP 3000 sites deploy Linux servers this year, some of them are using the environment as a buffer for 3000s which need to be in range of the Internet. James Byrne, who's hosting the hp3000links.com website as well as managing IT project for Harte & Lyne, outlined his setup to use Linux for 3000 protection.

Byrne has his HP 3000s and the internet buffered by a dual-homed Linux box in front of the HP 3000, using that to provide firewall, SSH, and proxy services. He describes his setup a fairly primitive (where  GW/FW=gateway/firewall):

Internet-> GW/FW <-> Eth0:Linux:Eth1 <-> HP 3000

The network connection to the gateway/firewall provides our public routable access.  The link between the Linux front-end host and the HP 3000 is a x-over cable using a 192.168.0.0 block address. Direct network connections to the HP 3000 NIC are physically impossible. This ensures physical network security over the non-encrypted portion of the network (for SSH access).

There are a wide assortment of Linux-based firewall appliance distributions which may simplify set up somewhat for novice users. Alternatively, one can simply use a mainstream Linux distribution, or a derivative like RHEL/CentOS or Debian/Ubuntu, and add and configure the packages desired.
We use a CentOS-5 based host running IPTables, Squid, OpenSSH, VSftpd, and Denyhosts as the front-end to the HP 3000. IPTables is configured to log and drop for 7 days all addresses performing obvious port scans. IPTables similarly counts, logs and blocks IP having excessive failed connection attempts on visible ports.

Denyhosts scans the logs for other issues and really does not add much to our setup.  However, Denyhosts can be used to do itself everything I have chosen to do in IPTables. Therefore, one may concentrate on learning the configuration of just Denyhosts and leave IPTables configuration to the minimum necessary to allow access.

The proxy server handles FTP but we do not allow FTP access to the HP 3000 at all -- so I could not tell you if we have that set up correctly or not.  We have it there in case the need ever arises.

The intellectual load of dealing with these things is non trivial.  However, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Once the front-end is setup ,we run logwatch to send daily reports on connections and consider whether further configuration changes are necessary.

11:11 AM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 26, 2012

Unix futures take Odyssey to good enough

Customers who are being wooed toward Unix from the HP 3000 have some good right-now reasons to choose HP-UX. The power of virtualization and ability to exploit an OS+hardware solution make the HP Unix an enterprise-grade choice -- one of the reasons that HP and its partners work to sell AS/400 and IBM mainframe sites on this switch. If just as with the HP 3000, you have an integrated value in the IT center, software built for specialized hardware like Itanium makes sense today.

The future might not be great, but good enough. HP's Odyssey project wants to bring "hardened" features to Linux, an OS more 3000 sites are now choosing when they move. Europ Assistance is the latest 3000 site we've learned about that's adopting Linux. HP doesn't want to be left out of the Linux currents. While there's a clear five-year future of HP-UX, the years beyond that are less defined. Since companies like Europ Assistance are going to take multiple years to make a migration, few of them want a future shorter than a decade.

Even the friends of HP's enterprise strategies see HP's Unix as an early casualty of the Odyssey. Dr. Bill Highleyman edits the High Availability Journal and judged the prospects of Odyssey success.

If Project Odyssey is wildly successful, it may drive a huge competitive advantage for HP. However, if HP customers embrace the move to highly reliable standard operating systems, HP-UX may be the first to go, since migrating Unix applications to Linux is a reasonable task.

It's commonplace to find HP-UX administrators on the LinkedIn forums who see Linux as their natural evolution path. But those companies are already enjoying the value of Unix, instead of paying for the move. It takes unusual features in an OS to protect it from this kind of wild success -- and as HP 3000 customers know, even a tech solution that is great can be overrun by good enough.

Odyssey can't deliver as much as HP's proprietary environments, such as MPE. Highleyman noted in his article that the fault-tolerance -- 3000 customers would call it reliability and planned-only downtime -- in HP's operating systems won't make the Odyssey.

Achieving the fault tolerance provided by NonStop systems and OpenVMS Split-Site Clusters is probably not in the cards. Sadly, if the reliability provided by hardened Linux and Windows systems is good enough, the market may see a declining need for great, continuously available systems. Let’s hope that great triumphs over good enough!

In the same way, the Odyssey analysis at the High Availability Journal hopes that IBM's multi-OS mantra will mean success at HP.

IBM’s proprietary operating system zOS has survived living alongside a hardened Linux. Hopefully this is an indication that the HP proprietary operating systems will survive alongside HP’s hardened Linux and Windows.

But HP's Business Critical Systems GM Martin Fink points out the differences in the HP and IBM enterprise strategies for Linux, not their similarities. 

IBM’s strategy is not at all like Project Odyssey. IBM’s Linux is a proprietary Linux. Applications have to be recompiled to run on the mainframe. IBM’s strategy is to extend the reach of the mainframe, and its proprietary Linux has not been all that successful. Project Odyssey is radically different because we do everything with one open platform.

HP 3000 customers have heard this single-platform pledge before, when the Spectrum Project was supposed to span three operating systems with a single hardware architecture. By the time it was released, one of the OS's was on its heels (RTE) while the other two fought it out for dominance in HP's strategy. The more popular and standards-based OS won. We're still looking for a reason why Linux won't do the same to HP-UX, the least fault-tolerant of HP's environments.

10:38 AM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 23, 2012

HP 3000 Product Futures at Fresche Legacy

InfocentreAdLong ago -- in the distant past of a computer so storied that it has a distant past -- 4GLs promised extra hours on the clock and extra days on the calendar. Although HP tried for a foothold in 4th Generation Languages, only two companies made a 3000 business of it. Both Cognos and Speedware products still drive 3000s today, 28 years after the ad above appeared in Interact magazine.

Speedware didn't use its product name to indentify the company back then. Starting this week, it will once again have a name that differs from its established 4GL. It was Infocentre back then, a company with a word in its name spelled differently. Now it's Fresche Legacy, but it's still supporting the same 4GL that it was selling three decades ago.

Fresche Legacy's president and CEO Andy Kulakowski said this week that Speedware, the 4GL, remains in place on the new company's price list. He even promised there will be enhancements, some to the version of the 4GL that runs on 3000s -- if customers demand them. The ISV Softvoyage, for example, still builds its travel-business apps on a bedrock of Speedware.

"As they need new features in the wide variety of operating systems they support," Kulakowski said, "we continue to evolve Speedware to support them. That will continue based on customer demand. We feel very loyal to those customers. We still have resources in house that are continuing to make changes to those products. There are a couple of enhancements that were made over the course of this year for the 4GL."

Several other products at Fresche Legacy have HP 3000 connections, but they relate to the ability to migrate or alternative-host MPE/iX applications and data. Kulakowski said those products have a future in the new company business plan, too.

"We continue to invest in the Speedware software tools," he said in the re-branding interview last week. "Our customers are still on active support contracts.We don’t have any plans to decline our interests anywhere. This is a growth story, this isn’t a replacement story."

New sales of 4GLs on MPE/iX are a long-shot at best, for both Cognos as well as Fresche Legacy. The president acknowledged that customers who want new Speedware features, for example, are much more likely to deploy them on non-MPE versions of what are now called Advanced Development Tools (ADT).

"We see much less demand from the 3000 customer, but we’ll evolve the [ADT] product to meet their needs," the company's president said. "With MPE being in the state that it’s in, if customers have environments where applications are evolving, growing or critical to the business, it’s quite likely that they’re looking to migrate and transform that onto a lower-risk platform."

Kulakowski was speaking of a Speedware platform. The company says it's been migrating 3000 sites for 15 years, farther back than the HP exit announcement -- because a migration before 2002 was likely to be from one platform of Speedware to another.

That experience in 3000 migrations gave Speedware a road into the future. Activant purchased the company to capitalize on the newer application-based customers which Speedware Ltd. acquired in the post-HP-exit years. But Activant only cared about the migration business at Speedware because it was high-profit, Kulakowski explained.

"In that era, having been owned by Activant Solutions, they were not interested in sustaining this business for very long," he said. "They didn’t know the HP 3000 migration community, and they were somewhat indifferent to it. Because we were a very solid business, they were very interested in the operating margins we generated with it."

Migration skills can be transferred between markets, however, if a company can locate and acquire the human resource and tools for a fresh market. In the MPE world the tool AMXW, purchased from Neartek in 2003, powered many of the Speedware migrations. Over the past year its legacy modernization business has been in the IBM marketplace. Speedware has acquired software tools there, as well as skills in the OS 400 and mainframe Series Z technologies. Kulakowski says the IBM success in 2011 reduced the element of risk in buying itself back from Activant in 2010.

"This year we got a lot of validation on how to sustain our business," he said, "and why we were anxious to buy our business from the previous owners. We got validation on the kind of skills we have and how leveragable they are in other markets. With our ability to provide new skills there, we reduced a lot of risk in that original [repurchase] investment."

So while software will remain a part of business at Fresche Legacy, newer opportunities beckon from outside an era where a product which cut code faster than COBOL development was the engine for company growth. Moving customers gave Speedware a way to move itself, even while its software remains in place.

"While we were developing our expertise in HP 3000 migration, we were sitting back and looking at this in self defense," Kulakowski said of the other platform skills. "We have expanded beyond the HP 3000 community to something larger than only the 3000 space. Especially after this year, we can say confidently we got a lot validation in those new markets. But we have abolutely no plans on sunsetting enhancements to the Speedware family of products."

 

10:04 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 22, 2012

How old is HP, anyway? Now its CEO knows

Whitman-2012Computerworld is reporting this morning on another element in HP's annual shareholder meeting. Yesterday the company announced its Global Sales group is now part of an uber-unit including enterprise servers. Oh, and PCs and printers now come from the same group. But the gathering of officers and investors, some less institutional and older than its CEO, included a history lesson. The newest CEO apparently didn't know the age of HP.

Meg Whitman, who's been on the HP board even longer than her seven-month tenure as CEO, has been telling the world HP celebrates its 70th birthday in 2014. HP's one of the few Silicon Valley companies that old, she brags. Except that birthday already arrived almost three years ago. In 2014, HP will be 75, "according to the company's website," Computerworld said in its story. Of the "70 in 2014," it said

It's a line Whitman's been using for the past few months as she tries to drum up enthusiasm for the new, reinvigorated HP she hopes to build. The only trouble is, it appears to be wrong, as an elderly shareholder gently pointed out to her.

"I believe HP was founded in 1939," he said during the question-and-answer session after her talk. Wouldn't that make HP 75 in 2014?

"For three or four months I've been telling people we're going to set HP up for the next 70 years because we're 70 years old, and you're the first person to correct me on that, so thanks very much," Whitman said.

The Computerworld story also noted questions from the shareholders about why HP couldn't be as successful as Apple (whose market valuation is now 10 times HP's). Or why there couldn't be HP stores, like Apple's, to get a product repaired, instead of a three-week shipment of a replacement printer across the US. In her Apple replies, Whitman acknowledged the genius of Steve Jobs -- a fellow whose brief history of HP employment occured less than 40 years ago.

There will be fewer sales people employed at HP soon, based on a reading of what Whitman said at the meeting. Adding sales executives didn't produce extra sales, she said, "so we're going to reorganize ... and make sure we get our costs back in line with our revenues."

09:41 AM in News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 21, 2012

HP shuffles to protect print-ink, server biz

Remember when the HP printer business drove the company's profits and revenues? As recently as 2003, the Imaging and Printing Group generated 55 percent of HP's income, an amount that led one IBM speaker at a 3000 conference to call HP "Inky." Today HP poured its printer and ink business -- which spews its profits from those $20 cartridges -- into the company's PC bucket.

JoshiAt the same time that the declining fortunes of printing triggered this sea change, Hewlett-Packard sent its Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) group into a much broader new segment, called the HP Enterprise Group. ESSN joins HP Technology Services (think consulting and cloud) and Global Accounts Sales -- which will be getting a new sales chief. Jan Zadak, a Czech EE with a Ph.D. from the Czech Technical University, is stepping down as Sales EVP after 10 years at HP. He arrived in the Compaq merger. David Donatelli, who joined HP in 2009 from EMC in a contested hiring, will lead Sales, Tech Services, and ESSN .

Few sales efforts in HP have battled headwinds as hard as the ones buffeting ESSN. It sells Linux and Windows servers based on the popular Intel Xeon family with some success, but also the HP-UX, NonStop and VMS environments that are subsisting on an existing base. Hewlett-Packard is working the IBM markets for new Unix installs. But that ex-mainframe business tends to go to Windows when HP succeeds, as it did at Yale-New Haven Hospital not long ago. The hospital wasn't replacing its HP 3000s, by the way.

The slackening sails of printer and ink sales pulled EVP Vyomesh Joshi into retirement. Known as VJ during his 32 years at HP, the executive also arrived with an EE degree, going to work in R&D. He's on the Yahoo board of directors.

Todd_bradleyTodd Bradley, who joined HP from Palm Computing and took over PCs in 2005, now takes the helm on an HP vessel that analysts are calling "trailing business." It's market-speak for products in decline, and for the moment the decline is around printing -- selling at 2005 levels by now -- rather than PCs. But HP hasn't shown any more PC growth in the last three years than anyone else in the business not named Apple. PCs have been flat to declining. Bradley now is the king of the consumer end of HP, the one that former director Dick Hackborn puffed up through the '90s with retailed ink and printers, and in the early Oughts with PCs. The days of HP-branded music players, TVs and cameras as leading businesses are over. A single camera pops up on the HP website today, and the HP flatscreens are history, too.

HP still says it's the leader in PC and printer fields, and by market share this is true. "This combination will bring together two businesses where HP has established global leadership,” said CEO Meg Whitman. “By providing the best in customer-focused innovation and operational efficiency, we believe we will create a winning scenario for customers, partners and shareholders."

It's not the first time the businesses have been combined. Carly Fiorina pushed the move through just a few weeks before HP ousted her in 2005. The replacement CEO Mark Hurd reversed the move soon after he arrived.

HP portrayed the combination of the ESSN business with Sales and Services as a way to "streamline certain key business functions." It's making these moves to "speed decision making, increase productivity and improve efficiency, while providing a simplified customer experience." HP still must cut its expenses to feed the refreshed R&D spending that Whitman said the company needs immediately. Streamlining can be corporate code for headcount reductions. A simpler customer experience can be handled by fewer employees in sales when there's less being sold.

The impact on the 3000 community from the HP moves will be limited to any sites which are still in the process of migrating their enterprise servers. Hewlett-Packard hopes the new setup will make it simpler to shift from HP 3000s to Integrity servers, for example. Or simply update storage and networking; the latter is one of the few spots that showed year over year growth in the latest HP report.

 

05:11 PM in Migration, News Outta HP, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 20, 2012

Speedware leaps into Fresche Legacy brand

FrescheLogoSpeedware is growing beyond its 36-year-old company brand starting today, becoming Fresche Legacy. The move that completes the company's 2010 repurchase of itself from Activant aligns it with a new business focus on IT legacy management. While the company continues to support HP 3000 software products like its 4GL and migration tools, it will take mission-critical applications and enhance them to support the growth of business needs.

It's also aimed at making IT less of a fire-fighter at a company, to evolve into more of a value generator for customers. The rebranding includes a motto of "IT can make you smile." President Andy Kulakowski says the expansion of the Speedware mission flows from engagements with legacy users outside of the HP 3000 community.

Kulakowski"We know this is very bold," Kulakowski said. "Rebranding ourselves is a demonstration of how much we believe in this. Here we are dropping a name we’ve held for 36 years. We felt it was a good to rebrand ourselves according to the new value propositions we offer. Legacy tends to have a negative connotation because it refers to old stuff. We call it Fresche Legacy because that’s what we do: freshen up legacy environments. We make people happy with our 100 percent referenceability track record, and we really believe that IT can make you smile."

The HP 3000 business opportunities for the company over the past fiscal year didn't include any migration project start-ups, he added. It was the first in 15 years without a transfer or replacement of a 3000 customer's operations. Kulakowski noted that three application support contracts were launched last year for the HP 3000 segment at what's now Fresche Legacy. The Speedware 4GL enhancements are still being engineered as needed by the customers, along with migration-related software such as AMXW, he added.

"We’re still very loyal to the HP 3000 and active in the community," he said. "That doesn’t change for us. It’s served us well for 36 years, and we’ll continue to serve our customers with the same care. The Speedware brand will continue. It’s a brand that represents the software tools of the past, including the migration tools of the last several years."

What's been growing for awhile at Speedware has been engagements in the IBM mainframe and AS/400 replacement business. In July, 2010 on the heels of its buyback from Activant, Speedware joined HP in a drive to get IBM customers onto HP's Unix, Linux and Windows servers. That effort provided AS/400 legacy modernization solutions in tandem HP. Hewlett-Packard has worked since 2003 to get IBM customers to adopt HP-UX. Speedware also purchased the ML-iMPACT code conversion tool for AS/400s in 2010.

"We realized we had developed another skill: how exactly to perform migration projects, and how to modernize legacy environments," Kulakowski said. "Hence, this dream we started in 2010 to get back our company, and convert this skill in migrating and managing legacy applications into bigger markets. It’s bigger opportunity and bigger business."

Fresche Legacy will be run by the same group of executives, handling greater responsibilities. Christine McDowell, who's been focused on strategic alliances and sales, now has an expanded role in marketing. McDowell has pointed to "customers frustrated with the limitations inherent in the [IBM] platform," adding that owners among IBM's 200,000 AS/400 and Series 1 servers are reaching out to Speedware and HP.

Chris Koppe, formerly the company's marketing director and more recently its business development leader, has stepped up to be responsible for building corporate strategy, exploring new opportunities in new marketplaces. Maria Anzini, the company's director of customer support for many years, will expand her responsibilities into human resources. "She’s not only responsible for relationships with customers, but more importantly, relationships with our own employees," Kulakowski said of Anzini.

The shift to a legacy management strategy has been urged along by curtailed 3000 migrations. “Quite frankly, we thought that would take a little longer," Kulakowski said. "We thought that HP 3000 migrations would be a significant contributor to the business. As it turns out, we were forced into this transition a lot sooner than we thought — and it ended up being a good thing for us. We’ve completed our transformation a lot quicker than we might’ve envisioned two years ago."

Application support engagements for 3000 sites have arrived from both new and existing Speedware customers. “Because of a great relationship, they trusted us to do application support for them," the president said. "In another case, it’s a brand-new customer who was looking for someone to mitigate their risk of their retiring HP 3000 skills.”

The fresh business at Speedware over the last year came from IBM sites where legacy management meant reducing risks. These newer customers "are running projects on the AS/400 and IBM mainframe replacement," Kulakowski said. "This is why we’ve repositioned ourselves as a legacy management company, for environments that have complex, mission-critical applications in them. We transform them to lower-cost, lower-risk, more modern operating platforms."

That doesn't limit Fresche Legacy to migrations and replacements, he stressed.

"We have something to offer regardless of where a CIO wants to bring their legacy," Kulakowski said. "We respond well to retiring, rehosting, and re-architecting legacy environments, or just looking for app support services. We’re positioning ourselves as a legacy management company, instead of just a legacy moderization company."

The company's preparing for a move in May to new offices in the up and coming Griffintown section of Montreal.

"Springtime is a great time to be aligned with what we’re doing with the business," Kulakowski said. "As we freshen up our image and the company, we’re very excited."

11:01 AM in Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 19, 2012

Finding Vintage App Support: Protos

Commitments to the HP 3000 for enterprises demand support resources. There's a limit to how much expertise a company can carry for applications and code that might be more than 15-20 years old. At some point, homesteading firms need to reach out for application support that's not on the payroll.

ProtosOne good example is software written using Protos, a 3+ GL used in the '80s and '90s in HP 3000 environments. Protos gave its sites a way to code using advanced, time-saving functions, but the output from this language was COBOL. The company gave way to changes after Y2K and ended support, but Protos code lives on in a few mission-critical uses.

We've run across an independent support pro who counts Protos among his skills. Clint Ellis, of Ellis Dodge Technical, included Protos among a toolset of 3000 staples such as COBOL, Pascal, Fortran and Basic. He's also consulting on Linux, so there's a range of services available from him. Protos has been found at migration sites, too.

These are the sorts of skills that any application support provider should be able to locate and engage on behalf of a 3000 customer. Application support is a growing segment of business for 3000 vendors who are serving the homesteading customer. As migrations decline in your community, the experts who made them possible are making a transition into such support.

Protos is a favorite of Ellis's experiences, but it's in his past. "I have not done any Protos stuff for quite awhile," he reports. " I was at the Wichita Eagle newspaper in the mid '80s -- we used Protos for all our new development (and since it generated COBOL it allowed us to be compliant with corporate standards)  I attended at least one advanced course with Protos in Austin. Haven't seen it since. While I was a strong COBOL programmer, I liked Protos very much."

07:16 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 16, 2012

IBM's legacy platform grapples with future

20i2IBM has risen on the radar of the companies supplying expertise to legacy tech users. While "legacy" has a distinct sound of a sneer coming from a pop-tech provider, these legacy systems like HP 3000s, AS/400s and mainframes drive a lot of business in our modern day. When you drive even deeper into legacy to consider COBOL, the population using it swells to a majority.

The situation in IBM's legacy world bears a close look, so you can see how a vendor the size of Big Blue is handling less-trendy tech customers. IBM has continued to update the server system that's viewed as a close cousin to the HP 3000. However, a lot of the customers who use what's now called "System i" haven't updated anything since the servers were called AS/400s. As it turns out, the term AS/400 is considered a sneering epithet, according to a report at the System i Network. Trevor Perry, a consultant in that market, explains.

The debate is not about the name, but how we perceive the platform. If we see it as an AS/400, we will use it like it is 20 or 30 years old. If we see it as IBM i on Power, we will use it like it is a modern platform. IBM i can do so much that AS/400 could not, yet much of the community is still using old technology, old techniques, old standards, and writing outdated applications. If the community were more aware of IBM i, and what it could do, our platform would have an improved reputation out in the community and in the industry at large. What a fabulous thing that would be.

The definition of legacy extends to whatever technology can be out-featured by a more popular solution. Unix trumped by Linux. IBM z mainframes trumped by Unix big iron, the kind that HP yearns to sell to find new HP-UX customers. Legacy is stable technology and cost-effective. But even a vendor of legacy tech like IBM wants those customers to advance their abilities by installing newer System i "legacy" releases.

ChrisawardsmThis kind of advocacy is called championing at IBM. The vendor devotes a webpage to System i Champions, culled from the customer and consultant community. HP used to do this for 3000 users with its annual e3000 Contributor of the Year award (2006 winner Chris Koppe of Speedware, shown above), whose final recipient in 2008 was the entire customer community. But every one of those winners mounted the stage past 40 years of age. The System i user group COMMON sees a need to try to connect with younger IT pros -- but there's not much online evidence that it's finding the target.

IBM calls its younger turks the Young i Professionals. At a webpage dedicated to this mashup of recent IT graduates and younger-than-usual legacy managers, the youth movement is described.

The Young i Professionals are an international group of technology professionals that represent all “young” entrants into the job market or “young” users of IBM i, iSeries, System i, and AS/400. While already simple due to the nature of the system, we want to help make the process of learning the both basic and advanced topics of IBM i administration, development and management a little more accessible.

The lack of a youth movement in legacy systems is one of the biggest springboards for renovation and replacement of computers like the HP 3000 and the System i. Somehow, at a vendor just as serious as HP about serving the enteprise, IBM is at least paying webpage-service to the concept of grooming a new generation. Reading lips for IBM's System i, however, has become a practice as common as handicapping MPE system improvements during the late '90s and early Oughts -- a period when HP was still awarding prizes for 3000 system advocacy.

10:33 AM in Migration, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2012

Migration Toward Futures, Staying or Going

After 25 years serving 3000 customer needs and expansions, MB Foster became an HP Platinum Migration Partner right out of the box a decade ago. It arrived amid the fresh chaos of that 2002 springtime along with Speedware, MBS and Lund Performance Solutions, and only Speedware remains in the 3000 business among those three cohorts. As his company celebrates 35 years in the 3000 market this spring, we asked founder Birket Foster about the start of the migration era. He notes that hundreds of customers remain as devoted to the 3000 as they ever were.

When did the migrations start in earnest?

    People started getting serious in 2006. But we still have customers that are running on an HP 3000 today, hundreds of them. They're doing what they need to do to stay where they are. I was talking to one yesterday running a very big contracting business. They were just getting their SAP live and now realizing they have to decommission their 3000. People get their replacement application but forget they have regulatory reasons to keep their data around.

    It's really important that people think these things through before they start migrations, because they can do things during the migration that will simplify things during the decommissioning process.

What are the latest prospects, from the perspective of a company working 35 years in this market, for the long-term HP 3000 user?

    We're just in the beginning of setting things up at MB Foster to work with Stromasys, benchmarking the access of our ODBC and JDBC access to data. We're making sure our UDA product line will run in the Stromasys 3000 emulator environment. That environment was cleared by a little side project I did as a volunteer: helping the 3000 world deal with Hewlett-Packard from an advocacy point of view. OpenMPE was something I chaired, after being recruited by John Marrah of Amisys.

   We've had tremendous people there at OpenMPE to carry the ball and make things happen, like Tracy Johnson making the Invent3k server happen. We ran an emulator project in conjunction with HP. The OpenMPE folks did the work to make sure there was a license transfer process in place for that. Making that legal has been a huge element in the potential for the emulator market.

A little while ago, in addition to your ventures in Storm.ca wireless Internet and Canada's Stay at Home assisted living services, you got more involved with a local restaurant to help out a friend. What new tricks has that taught you that can apply, 35 years later, to the HP 3000 market?
    Two years ago I got into an investment for a friend who wanted to run a restaurant.  I put a management team in place in 2011. When I got more involved to try to recoup some of my investment, it taught me some technologies that I'd had no exposure to. When you have a 240-seat license, you need to fill the room. So I learned a lot more about Facebook to put up a page for the Kemptville Pub to drive events. Once Facebook users Like us, they automatically get messages that tell them about us.
    From that Facebook piece I'm applying what I learned back to MB Foster. We've done our first page for MB Foster Associates. Not so much because people buy from that page, but it's a good placeholder - if they're buying our Windows scheduler, they'll find us on Facebook. It's a different twist from the days when you'd go to visit people in person, back in 1977.

08:26 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 14, 2012

Marking History with a Link to 3000 Futures

BirketReunionOn the 35th anniversary of MB Foster’s entry to your market this spring, we wanted to ask its founder Birket Foster about how your group grew experience and connections. The old warning that braced conversations in the 1970s was “don't trust anyone over 30.” It's probably flipped over for the advice to 3000 customers today, since the over-30s have the best set of resources and reminders of how to move into a confident future. Much of his research is gathered in classic style, in person, wearing conference badges like the one shown at right.

Foster's MB Foster Associates was one of the first to deliver an alternative information stream for 3000 solutions, creating a catalog of MPE applications and tools. That one was a good enough idea to prompt HP to copy the catalog concept in those days when a thick book of HP and third-party apps was part of a 3000 manager's toolset. Foster moved right on to the next solution, whether it was selling millions of dollars of 3000 connectivity software, or building an ODBC engine robust enough for HP to ship inside MPE/iX, or becoming one of the first Migration partners after HP made its 2001 exit announcement. Lately the company has added a Windows scheduler and even more database access through its UDA Link lineup.

How did you enter this community back in those very different days of 1977?

    I'm just out of undergraduate school and I'm in charge of getting the next computing jobs for a team of us. I decide I'm should start a company to do this, so I talk to my law professor and he says he could give me part of my grade for my second year law class for just opening a company. I took the theory and turned it into practice. At the time I'd taken income tax law. I could deduct the $400 worth of textbooks and reference books I'd purchased to build a random number generator that would support benchmarking software -- written in COBOL and platform-neutral -- we were building.

Platform-neutral suggests a lot of server vendors, right?

    In addition to HP, I'd worked on Burroughs, IBM, DEC and even a Xerox Sigma system. So I'd written things in FORTRAN, BASIC, assembler and COBOL. When people would put a problem in front of me, I had to pull a team together to solve it. In the 1977 ecosystem there were a lot of different languages available. Every manufacturer had its own proprietary stuff. I had an assignment to train government DP staff to use terminals instead of punching card decks.

    Terminals were just terminals, grey screens. Lots of line printers around. I liked terminals with big memories, so you could actually scroll back a lot of pages. At that time the default terminal memory had two pages in it. Disk space was really expensive then: 120MB was $60,000.

    People had service bureaus. I worked with one for one of my customers. The reason we were there was because the 3000 was so expensive. Now the reason people are looking at cloud, the new service bureaus, is because the people are so expensive.

PCs were not an accepted part of business server strategy when you started. How did you get in on the start of that?

Print-ExclusiveWe've been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time a number of times over 35 years. We were helping customers out with some pretty big problems, like integrating PCs with their 3000s. We sold millions of dollars of WRQ's Reflection that way. This helped automate processes that went between the 3000 and the desktops. That led to us working with David Dummer, using his DataExpress, to move that product into working on spreadsheet formats. We sold DataExpress starting in 1985, and by 1989 we made him an offer and ended up owning the product, with David working on it from an office in Seattle. DataExpress gave us worldwide customers, which was another thing we'd been working on.

At least once a year you travel to Texas to visit customers and colleagues. What's that about, since MB Foster's Southern Ontario HQ is so far away?

    When I started in this market it was before the Internet. You couldn't look anything up. You had to know somebody, get ahold of them and find out what they were doing. I had a huge advantage because I traveled a lot starting in 1979. I got exposed to the Quiz report writer in the earliest days, before it became Quiz. I sold [Cognos'] Quiz before Quick and QTP existed. I got to see people all over my district of Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico. I met people as a result of coming out to speak at regional users groups. People didn't feel the need to call each other. They just got together once a month to talk about a topic. I did the initial deal for [MANMAN creators] ASK Computing. As a result of that, at one point 25 percent of all HP 3000s were using Quiz as a report writer.

But those reports remained on the HP 3000. How did they make the transition to being PC tools accessed easily by end users?

    We did some work inside the 3000 to do what we were calling Host Initiated File Transfer. We worked with Doug Walker of WRQ to have the PCs put themselves in receive mode to get handed a file, mostly spreadsheets at the time. We'd figured out how to download things to PCs by 1989, so I was teaching classes in Reflection. We were helping people put PCs on a desk instead of a terminal.

    As more PCs showed up, people wanted these 3000 numbers in a spreadsheet so the finance people could look up stuff. Although DataExpress ended up with 33 formats it supported for data extraction, in the beginning it was things like Lotus 1-2-3, VisiCalc and Word Perfect mail-merge files. Now that the product is UDA Link, we've just added MySQL, Postgres, Cache, Ingres and Progress databases, plus those already supported.

How about the MB Foster database work with HP on IMAGE?

    We got a contract with HP from 1996-2006 to supply the ODBC middleware for IMAGE/SQL, included software people remember as ODBCLink/SE. It was supposed to be called ODBCLink Jr. but somebody in HP marketing decided that wasn't a good idea, so they changed it to Special Edition.

    In 1999 we got involved in a project for a Large Midwestern-Based Insurance Company. Our job was to connect 80 HP 3000s with 8,000 Windows servers. We had to write code called XA Compliant Two-Phase commit to do this. It gave us a lot of experience in cross-database access and understanding deeply how SQL Server worked. We could melt down Microsoft's OS before our middleware driver would fail. It gave us experience in cross-platform databases, the next stage in the 3000's life.

And that would be HP's plans to exit this 3000 market?

    HP announced in 2001 that the 3000 would fade to black in a mere five years. Ha-ha-ha. It made it to 2010 before it went away at HP.

08:38 AM in History, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 13, 2012

Vision from the past predicts 3000 futures

Print-ExclusiveA span of 35 years is pretty much all of the HP 3000's useful lifetime. Birket Foster's company has lived and thrived on the stage of your 3000 community for 35 years this spring, stretching back to the days when his custom-written programs had to reside in a space of less than 8 kilobytes and exchanging information about 3000s was best done in person at a user group meeting.  

   It's not all just looking backward after 35 years with Foster. When we last interviewed him in 2009, he made predictions about the state of the 3000 community in 2012. He gave a forthright review of how those turned out, including those that could be judged either way. 

   We spoke with Birket -- a first-name fellow who we consider one of the best hubs for 3000 data -- just before Superbowl Weekend started. A few community veterans have a saying about him. “He was the Internet before there was an Internet. And he's still the Internet.” We like to stay online, and believe you'll benefit from his connections, too, whether it's links to a 3000 foundation, or connecting the dots for the future.

Let's look over your three-year-old predictions for this year. How'd you do on who remains in the market? You said maybe 10 percent of the original installed base is left.

   There's still hundreds of machines out there. There might even be low thousands.

You believed PCI credit card security would be an issue in getting migrations underway.

    PCI has been an issue with some customers. Some have worked it out by installing a PC between the 3000 and all those PCI requirements, and the PC manages it properly for them.
HIPAA regulations were going to be a factor in migrations, you believed.

    More and more people are moving to packaged software there, because the cost of administering healthcare is now being regulated by the amount of funding people get from the government. The government won't give them the money if the administration cost is too high, and the 3000 packages won't necessarily meet that.

And your prediction of the difficulty of getting 3000 IT professionals?

    It's still harder to get an HP 3000 programmer. Have you tried to find one lately? I know where to find them, but if you were just putting an ad in the local paper, I don't think you'd get as many resumes as you'd get for a Windows, .NET, Java or Linux programmer. For the people who thought they'd cut the expensive programmer positions and leave the operators, even their operators are retiring. They don't even call them operators now; they're sysadmins. But without a programmer you can't make any changes. That means if your business evolves, you're stuck.

You believed there would mostly be small companies using the 3000 by now.

    The big guys haven't all moved. But I was told by one company we're dealing with, “Our SAP team, which is replacing all the apps around the world, has us scheduled for this year.” There are some large customers who know they're a merger and acquisition candidate, so they're not going to mess with migration right now.

You were predicting a real embrace of what we call cloud services, and hardware would be becoming irrelevant.

It's no different than any other invention. It started with service bureaus, moved to Application Service Providers which failed, so then we called it Software as a Service, which kind of set some stages that would allow cloud to happen. It's only different because you have much higher speed Internet. People from 1977, when we started business, would think they had unlimited resources. You can roll your own machine, on Amazon or other places on the fly. You can say you want this much memory, this many CPUs, running this OS and these databases. This machine is built and ready to go in 20 minutes now, all virtual.

Do you care what hardware it's on? Hardware is not relevant. The application is the thing that's relevant.

08:24 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 12, 2012

Set your 3000 clocks all the time

It's not too late this morning, even if it seems like it when you look at your watch on the first Monday after the time change. There's still time to get your HP 3000 clock set accurately. Last Friday the community was trading tips and technique about how to get on time. Donna Hofmeister, whose firm Allegro Consultants hosts the free nettime utility, explains how time checks on a regular basis keep your clocks, well, regular.

This Sunday when using SETCLOCK to set the time ahead one hour, should the timezone be advanced one hour as well?

The cure is to run a clock setting job every Sunday and not go running about twice a year. You'll gain the benefit of regular scheduling and a mostly time-sync'd system.

In step a-1 of the job supplied below you'll find the following line:

    !/NTP/CURRENT/bin/ntpdate "-B timesrv.someplace.com"

Clearly, this needs to be changed.

If for some dreadful reason you're not running NTP, you might want to check out 'nettime'. And while you're there, pick up a copy of 'bigdirs' and run it -- please!

Also, this job depends on the variable TZ being set -- which is easily done in your system logon udc:

    SETVAR TZ "PST8PDT"

Adapt as needed. And don't forget -- if your tztab file is out of date, just grab a copy from another system. It's just a file.

This job below was adapted from logic developed by Paul Christidis:

 !JOB SETTIME,MANAGER.SYS;OUTCLASS=,5
!TELLOP       SETTIME  
!TELLOP       ALL MPE SYSTEMS
!TELLOP ==SETTIME -- SYNCs SYSTEM CLOCK W/ TIME SERVER !
!# from the help text for setclock....
!# Results of the Time Zone Form
!#
!#   If the change in time zone is to a later time (a change to Daylight
!#   Savings Time or an "Eastern" geographic movement), both local time
!#   and the time zone offset are changed immediately.
!#
!#   The effect is that users of local system time will see an immediate
!#   jump forward to the new time zone, while users of Universal Time
!#   will see no change.
!#
!#   If the change in time zone is to an earlier time (a change from
!#   Daylight Savings to Standard Time or a "Western" geographic
!#   movement), the time zone offset is changed immediately.  Then the
!#   local time slows down until the system time corresponds to the
!#   time in the new time zone.
!#
!#   The effect is that users of local system time will see a gradual
!#   slowdown to match the new time zone, while users of Universal Time
!#   will see an immediate forward jump, then a slowdown until the
!#   system time again matches "real" Universal Time.
!#
!#   This method of changing time zones ensures that no out-of-sequence
!#   time stamps will occur either in local time or in Universal Time.
!#
!showclock
!showjob job=@j
!TELLOP =====================================  SETTIME   A-1
!
!errclear
!continue
!/NTP/CURRENT/bin/ntpdate "-B timesrv.someplace.com"
!if hpcierr <> 0
!  echo hpcierr !hpcierr (!hpcierrmsg)
!  showvar
!  tellop NTPDATE problem
!endif
!
!tellop SETTIME -- Pausing for time adjustment to complete....
!pause 60
!
!TELLOP =====================================  SETTIME   B-1
!showclock
!
!setvar FallPoint &
!   (hpyyyy<=2006 AND (hpmonth = 10 AND hpdate > 24)) OR &
!   (hpyyyy>=2007 AND (hpmonth = 11 AND hpdate < 8))
!
!setvar SpringPoint &
!   (hpyyyy<=2006 AND (hpmonth =  4 AND hpdate< 8)) OR &
!   (hpyyyy>=2007 AND (hpmonth =  3 AND (hpdate > 7 AND hpdate < 15)))
!
!# TZ should always be found
! if hpday = 1
!    if SpringPoint
!# switch to daylight savings time
!      setvar _tz_offset   ![rht(lft(TZ,4),1)]-1
!      setclock timezone=w![_tz_offset]:00
!    elseif FallPoint
!# switch to standard time
!      setvar _tz_offset   ![rht(lft(TZ,4),1)]
!      setclock timezone=w![_tz_offset]:00
!    endif
!  endif
!endif
!
!TELLOP =====================================  SETTIME   C-1
!
!showclock
!EOJ

Mark Ranft of 3k Pro added some experience with international clocks on the 3000.

If international time conversion is important to you, there are two additional things to do.

1) Set a system-wide UDC to set the TZ variable. (And perhaps account UDCs if accounts are for different locations)

:showvar tz
TZ = CST6CDT

2) There is also a tztab.lib.sys that needs to be updated when countries change when or if they do DST.

:l tztab.lib.sys
ACCOUNT=  SYS         GROUP=  LIB    

FILENAME  CODE  ------------LOGICAL RECORD-----------  ----SPACE----
                 SIZE  TYP        EOF      LIMIT R/B  SECTORS #X MX

TZTAB            1276B  VA         681        681   1       96  1  8


:print tztab.lib
# @(#) HP C/iX Library A.75.03  2008-02-26

# Mitteleuropaeische Zeit, Mitteleuropaeische Sommerzeit
MEZ-1MESZ
0 3 25-31 3  1983-2038 0   MESZ-2
0 2 24-30 9  1983-1995 0   MEZ-1
0 2 25-31 10 1996-2038 0   MEZ-1

# Middle European Time, Middle European Time Daylight Savings Time
<< snipped >>

09:37 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 09, 2012

Some 3000 time services labor to serve

ClockforwardEditor's Note: Daylight Saving Time takes hold this weekend in most of the world. The 2AM changeover can give a 3000 manager a reason to look at how the server manages timekeeping, including the potential for the open source tool ported to the 3000, XNTP. Our Homesteading Editor Gilles Schipper is working on an article to address some of the laborious steps needed to utilize it. His research took him to a few experts in networking and open source over the Web, Chris Bartram (our first webmaster, and creator of the DeskLink and NetMail apps) and Brian Edminster (operator of the MPE-OpenSource.org website.)

Chris: As I recall, ntp services never worked well on the 3000. It won’t work at all as a server for other clients, I believe. And as a client it seemed a waste; my vague memory says it had issues because you couldn’t set the time with the resolution it wanted. It ended up oscillating.
 
There’s a very simple standalone NTP client, ntpdate, though that you can run from the command line -- that’s what I use on my systems. I simply run it a couple times a day – it pulls the time from whatever NTP server you point it at and sets your local clock. We even shipped a copy with every NetMail tape. Look for ntpdate.sys.threek if you have a NetMail/3000 or DeskLink equipped system available.

Brian: The latest version of XNTP was the 4.1.0 version hosted on Jazz, and ported by Mark Bixby. It includes both ntp client and server functionality. Through the magic of the 'Wayback Machine' there's a link to HP's install instructions and other resources. The bad news is that HP put the actual download link behind a 'freeware agreement' page - and that download link wasn't wasn't saved by the Wayback.  Some community members who 'archived' Jazz that might have that download package.

However, there is an earlier v3.5.90 version from October 2008 hosted on Mark Bixby's site -- and although Mark's took site down after his departure from HP, the 'Wayback Machine' comes to the rescue with a downloadable install file.

This Bixby website archive has Mark's excellent install instructions, and it well documents the 'time update granularity' issue that the XNTP client has on MPE/iX. In short, it can cause the time to drift if left running continuously -- where it's trying desperately to update the time, but cannot do it to its satisfaction due to the precision it expects to be able to use.

The workaround for xntp is to run it periodically, perhaps daily, for a single update. Mark wrote about this on his xntp page, and even put in a SR with HP to get the underlying MPE/iX internal issue fixed.  And no, it didn't get done in time.

Edminster noted two other server time-sync tools (both ntp clients):

nettime -- a program created Brian Abernathy of HP.  Source and binaries are included, and can be found on Speedware's Jazz page. Note: this program has the name of the time server 'hard-coded' as 'time-server'. But since source is included, it can be changed and recompiled with HP's C compiler for MPE/iX.

timesync -- a 'client only' solution from the folks from Telamon, Inc. It's a binary-only distribution, but it works quite well, and apparently was designed to work with their network engines too. I have a copy of this and can email it to users and managers as a Store to Disk file.  It's the simplest way I've found to get time synchronization for your 3000s. It's literally just a 'restore and run', and has a 'preview but not do' mode to ensure you've got it configured correctly.

02:19 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 08, 2012

This weekend, it's all about 3000 timing

Time-changeEditor's Note: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2AM local time around most of the world this weekend. A lot of HP 3000s run around the clock to serve companies, so a plan to keep the 3000 on time is essential. The founder of the MPE-OpenSource.org, HP 3000 open source repository, Brian Edminster, offers a plan, experience and a sample jobstream to help get you through our semi-annual time change.

By Brian Edminster

Here's an important implementation note for anyone that wants to put up a 'time synchronization' client on their HP 3000: Do not use it to adjust for spring and fall time-changes!  Use a job that runs on the appropriate dates/times to do a 'setclock timezone=' command.  I have an example below that is a derivative work from something originally posted by Sam Knight of Jacksonville University, way back in April, 2004 on the 3000-L mailing list.

I've updated the job to be more readable, to account for a 'looping' effect that I found in the fall from running on a fast CPU, and to run at 2AM -- the 'official' time that time-changes apply. I have this job set to be intiated by 'SYSSTART.PUB.SYS' on server bootup, and then automatically reschedule itself each Sunday at 2AM.

I'd suggest doing whatever sort of time synchronization necessary before this runs each weekend - so the time corrections complete before this job runs.

Here's the spring and fall time change jobstream code. All are welcome to use, and modify for specific needs. Note that it's set up for the Eastern US time zone. (That's the TIMEZONE = W5:00 -- meaning the number of hours different than GMT -- and TIMEZONE = W4:00 lines.)  Modify these lines as necessary for your timezone.

!JOB TIMECHG,MANAGER/user-passwd.SYS/acct-passwd;hipri;PRI=CS;OUTCLASS=,1
!
!setvar Sunday,    1
!
!setvar March,     3
!setvar November, 11
!
!showclock
!if hpday = Sunday and &
!   hpmonth = November and &
!   hpdate < 8 then
!   comment (first Sunday of November)
!  SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W5:00
!   TELLOP ********************************************
!   TELLOP Changing the system clock to STANDARD TIME.
!   TELLOP The clock will S L O W   D O W N  until
!   TELLOP we have fallen back one hour.
!   TELLOP ********************************************
!elseif hpday = Sunday and &
!       hpmonth = March and &
!       hpdate > 7 and hpdate < 15 then
!   comment (second Sunday of March)
!  SETCLOCK TIMEZONE = W4:00
!   TELLOP *********************************************
!   TELLOP Changing the system clock to DAYLIGHT SAVINGS
!   TELLOP TIME.  The clock jumped ahead one hour.
!   TELLOP *********************************************
!else
!   comment (no changes today!)
!   TELLOP *********************************************
!   TELLOP No Standard/Daylight Savings Time Chgs Req'd
!   TELLOP *********************************************
!endif
!
!comment - to avoid 'looping' on fast CPU's pause long enough for
!comment - local clock time to be > 2:00a, even in fall...
!while hphour = 2 and hpminute = 0
!   TELLOP Pausing 1 minute... waiting to pass 2am
!   TELLOP Current Date/Time: !HPDATEF - !HPTIMEF
!   showtime
!   pause 60
!endwhile
!
!stream timechg.jcl.sys;day=sunday;at=02:00
!showclock
!EOJ

04:40 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 07, 2012

Windows Tools from HP 3000 Experts

Google Cloud PrintSpooled printing and scheduling are a pair of features tough to duplicate for migrating companies. A pair of software programs floated into our spotlight today, each offered by a developer with decades of HP 3000 experience -- and now serving Windows enterprise users. In expanding their lineups, these companies are making products that create a more productive experience on this platform where migrating 3000 shops are headed.

From the notable spooling and printer developer Rich Corn of Software Devices comes Cloud Print for Windows. Corn's used his expertise at RAC Consulting, attaching print devices to HP business servers, to help create software that helps Windows systems employ the Google Cloud Print virtual printer service. So long as your printer's host can connect to the Web, Cloud Printing can be accessed from other desktops online.

Cloud Print for Windows then monitors these virtual printers and prints jobs submitted to a virtual printer on the corresponding local PC printer. In addition, Cloud Print for Windows supports printing from your PC to Google Cloud Print virtual printers. All without any need for the Chrome browser.

People expect Windows to be a more affordable platform per desktop, but the costs can add up. Employing cloud services can keep things more manageable in a budget. Cloud Print for Windows costs just $19 a seat.

Another 3000 stalwart is demonstrating its new Windows solution for scheduling today. MB Foster is running a 45-minute Webinar starting at 2 PM Eastern Time to show the extensive feature set of its MBF Scheduler. The Webinar is free, and registration is live on the Web.

MB Foster created the product, which made its debut in 2011, based on the insights from enterprise customers who needed HP 3000 power in their scheduling. Windows has a Task Manager included. But it's limited in the number of jobs that can be controlled at once.

The MBF Scheduler GUI gives administrators fine-grained control over schedules and automating windows processes such as operator notification. The GUI interface is also an enabler for job submission, monitoring and review. MBF Scheduler will not increase sales or reduce your budget. What it will do, and where you will gain the most, is in maximizing productivity and in efficiencies when processes have been automated.

The company adds that the Scheduler was built to extend legacy [3000] job scheduling ability to Windows. That's still the transition platform being chosen by most 3000 migrators.

04:17 AM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 06, 2012

Assisting Off the 3000, En Route to Linux

Europ AssistanceA worldwide travel and healthcare insurer is making the move off their HP 3000 starting this year. While that's not remarkable, the destination is notable. Europ Assistance is starting the work to replace its MPE host with a Linux system, right down to considering a Powerhouse license re-purchase.

Adrian Hudson is part of the IT team at Europ, a firm which sells insurance for travels as well as supplemental healthcare. Since these policies are purchased one-off, as the UK-based firm might say, customers pay for them with credit cards. That's the spark to replace the HP 3000 with Linux, Hudson says.

"As Europ Assistance is involved in the Payment Card Industry, one of the key drivers for the migration away from the 3000 is regulatory compliance," he reported. The PCI regulations have been a challenge for some companies to master using the 3000. Last year Hudson was researching a way to permit the HP 3000 to process payment card information using Secure File Transfer Protocol. SFTP was not entirely supported by HP prior to the Hewlett-Packard lab closing in 2008. Hudson was diligently working on a way to involve the 3000 in these data transfers. The alternative, to use intermediate SFTP support on non-MPE servers, turned out to be the solution.

"We ended up piggy-backing files through a Windows server with SFTP installed," he said, "and then FTPing them to and from the 3000." Now the operations once handled by that 3000 are heading to a Linux server. Hudson is investigating the cost of keeping Powerhouse in place on the application. It's one of the simpler ways to migrate code to an alternative platform.

One of the first steps, with the most exciting outcome, is discovering what the charge to moving to Linux will be on the Cognos price list. In the years since Europ Assistance first bought Powerhouse, Cognos has become a part of IBM. The 4GL -- it's called an Advanced Development Tool -- is licensed differently for Linux developers than on the MPE/iX systems.

We received a quote from IBM and it is for a license per ‘named’ developer. I understand the licensing structure is now only for a development license and there is then no need for a ‘Production’ license.

In the past, one would buy a Full License for the Development machine and a Runtime (maybe with reporting) for the Production box, and I believe there was no limitation on the number of users.

The Powerhouse product manager Bob Deskin explains that the definition of user under Linux Powerhouse has shifted only slightly from the classic 3000 terms.

The license model has not changed very much. What you're probably thinking of is the HP 3000-MPE/iX platform, where we would typically license by machine size. Therefore, it was unlimited users for however many you could run on that machine. With other platforms, the approach was to use the number of users. In most cases this became the number of sessions, rather  than unique named users. In other words, if a user opened two terminal emulator windows on a PC, that would count as two sessions and two users.  The only exception was PowerHouse for Windows, where it was assumed that there was only one user.

Under IBM, instead of sessions, it is truly a concurrent user. And further, they specify named user as in unique user. They do not expect you to name all the users. So under IBM, the above scenario of a single user opening two sessions would only count as one concurrent named user.

There is still a distinction between development and runtime, but it depends on the platform and use. If someone purchases a single development license on Windows, there is no need for anything else. It's a single-user machine. But if you buy a single development license on a Linux server, you require runtime licenses for your users.

License structuring for other development tools on Linux may not require runtime purchases as a matter of course. But it's interesting to note that Powerhouse Linux demands this extra cost, while Powerhouse Windows doesn't. Many migrating HP 3000 sites have chosen Windows as their alternative platform. However, of late many others are looking at Linux -- with its improved and still-enhancing enterprise features -- as their best alternate to MPE/iX reliability. IBM/Cognos might be choosing its license terms in response to the enterprise's migration to Linux. Managers routinely point at Linux's affordability as important to their choice, however.

The runtime licenses you didn't need on an HP 3000 are required for Powerhouse Linux. The overall cost is likely to be less. MPE/iX licenses for Powerhouse were legendary for their cost -- support alone can easily be five figures a year -- and inflexibility during upgrades. Current customers like Europ Assistance, with services and servers on five continents, may be considering how many runtime purchases they can afford to purchase for what was supposed to be a more affordable platform.

Hans-Ole Kaae, an IT consultant, also wants to understand these costs to migrate MPE/iX-based Powerhouse to Linux. "If you have, say, a new or a current customer, heading for Linux or Unix, is this all it takes these days: X developer licenses and Y run-time licenses -- plus, of course, X + Y data access licenses?" Deskin says that's about it.

You may need an extra runtime if you're running batch jobs as a separate user. And data access is per source. So if you're using  C-ISAM and Oracle, you would need two data access per user.

Also note that IBM does not distinguish between platform. If you're on HP-UX and move to Linux, you can move the existing concurrent user licenses over as long as you don't exceed the overall entitlement.

Deskin said nothing on the Powerhouse-L mailing list about moving MPE/iX licenses over, because the HP 3000 Powerhouse was licensed by system, not by user. There may be a need for custom quoting to determine how much Powerhouse on Linux will cost. There's support to be paid on every extra license, after all.

01:35 PM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 05, 2012

Telnet opens 3000s with a key cut long ago

Print-ExclusiveEngineering from the past permits us to take the future for granted. In your community the connections between past and present run strong, ties which are now lashed tight by the links of the Web. Programming from long ago stands a chance of tying tomorrow’s computers with the 3000s put into service on a distant yesterday. This technology lay under-appreciated for years — which makes it a lot like the 3000’s design.
   
Once the executives and sales wizards and marketing mavens grab their tablets and go into your offices, they’ll want to use their iPads to work with information residing in safety on the HP 3000. This year the conduit for the connection is telnet, a protocol given the pshaw in the '90s when nobody could see a tablet anywhere but Star Trek episodes.
   
I remember telnet gaining traction in feature lists for connectivity software from WRQ and Minisoft. The access method got strongest praise from Wirt Atmar at AICS Research. His engineers were building their own 3000 terminal emulator, QCTerm, and the NS/VT mysteries were not the primary path for data through that free software. (It hasn't been tested on Windows 7, but the software runs on XP -- which is still running 46 percent of the world's Windows PCs.)

The engineering choice of Telnet at AICS rose up in the face of enabling access to the oldest of 3000 programs. A wide majority of MPE applications used block mode in the '90s to exchange data with terminals and desktop clients, largely because telnet was deemed too slow. Atmar, however, took exception to the accepted wisdom about telnet. The protocol was a standard and vendor-neutral, something NS/VT would never be — and network speeds and bandwidth were on the rise. QCTerm even used an Advanced Telnet setting to take full advantage of a faster network whenever and wherever available.
   
Now the world’s networks pulse at a common rate we couldn’t conceive just 15 years ago. No, the block mode interfaces written in the 1980s are not going to transmit data this year to mobile tablets. A more extensive project needs to pass that protocol to the latest of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) computers. But in the meantime the 3000 can prove itself worthy of a spot in the IT future, so long as it can link some of its programs to a tablet. Telnet never got much respect from the developer ranks of your community in the era of the terminal emulator. But now telnet feels like a piece of 3000 engineering which is finally no longer ahead of its time.
   
Once networking standards swept through the industry, the gamble that HP took to break open 3000 connections became essential. This was catch-up engineering that followed the magic of PA-RISC emulation. There’s other fundamental technology that’s been built or ported to make the 3000 a web-capable database host. The miracle that paves the way into tomorrow is that there is any Perl, or telnet, available for an environment first launched 40 years ago. In a fall when America still hadn’t felt the pulse of disco, a computer took its first steps on a path that would lead to tablets.

01:20 PM in History, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

March 02, 2012

Timely recovery can be no mean feat

By Birket Foster

MTTRO is not just an acronym. For years people have thrown around the acronym MTBF -- mean time between failures. This is how long before things fail, which is not really what people need to know. Once things have failed the challenge is to get them back online. In your personal life it could be an appliance like a washer or dryer or a furnace or air conditioning unit -- all of these are readily repaired. There are some interconnections that need to be considered, but the people in the business know all about the choices that are available. They can have a new device hooked up in hours.

Do you have a plan for getting things back online if your HP computer system fails? What is the impact on the organization? What does it cost your organization to have the computer system unavailable? What is the plan to get things back on line? You want to know long will it take, and what the costs will be for your organization while you get things back up and running.

MTTRO stands for Mean Time to Recovery of Operation. It deals with how long it would take to have your operations back online. Knowing the best case and worst case recovery times from different kinds of disasters will help put bounds around the how much will it cost your company to be down.

As an example, if your computer system fails on a Friday night before the backup is complete, you must know the steps to diagnose the problem -- and then there's a plan for recovery from different kinds of failure. How will you know what data is impacted? In the worst case maybe it's just this week's, or just today's transactions. What will it take to know what is missing and how will you recover the data -- can it be re-keyed? Was it from a website and it's gone? You'll want to log those website transactions so you can recover.

In a Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery Plan, the details of plans from different kinds of failures should be spelled out. This will make things easier than building a recovery plan on the fly.

Once you have the general disaster (or failure) and subsequent recovery scenarios scoped out, you can look at the costs of each scenario, the business processes impacted, and decide if there are steps to take to mitigate the risks. This makes the recovery plan a driver for business decisions, regarding investment to mitigate risk. It becomes a cost vs. benefit item

Take a look at your plans and make sure they have been updated for the latest methods of doing business. A backhoe severing a fiber optic cable can cause service outages that last for days. With everything interconnected this could impact VOIP telephony, web interfaces to applications, IT processes for inter-company transactions and more. Understand how the different stakeholders will be impacted: customers, employees, suppliers, and business partners.

If you know what might happen, you can plan the recovery. That will make it less expensive because your team will have a plan to follow with a known cost -- and you can calculate the cost of MTTRO.

Birket Foster is founder and CEO of MB Foster, an HP 3000 Platinum Migration partner and provider of the UDA line of connectivity software.

04:53 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 01, 2012

IBM offers alternate migration database

Db2Migrations probably begin with an application review that shows too much at stake to stay with MPE. It's not the OS of the 3000 that's found wanting, however. Usually there's a decline in support for a subsystem, or a development environment (think 4GLs). The 3000's databases have the same support ecosystem they've had for awhile: Third parties (indies) with database tools and expertise, or one company selling an IMAGE-compatible database for non-3000s. It's good to have the 3000's data structures known and emulated.

But migrations, once they're triggered by M&A or boardroom jitters or exiting 3000 staff, need a database. Here in the first week of March we're marking the one-year anniversary of the Oracle Stink Bomb. That's what the company threw at HP's enterprise customers who use Unix. Oracle won't develop for the HP-UX version of that database any longer. Your database choices in a migration have drifted away from the obvious.

While Oracle thinks that's a great way to turn HP's Unix customers into Sun Unix customers, the last year hasn't delivered the riches of database FUD to Oracle. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd has been explaining away a lack of Sun uptick at recent analyst meetings. Instead of Sun, HP's Unix users who wanted to migrate to a more stable DB environment are choosing IBM. Big Blue, after all, is still selling its iconic DB2 for Itanium servers.

It's worth noting that Speedware's legacy modernization services, and migration team, has been working with IBM customers for quite awhile. AS/400 accounts have been in that company's pipeline. DB2 has got to be familiar to one of the two remaining Platinum Migration Partners. A couple of research houses have whitepapers that report on IBM's success in taking away Oracle accounts. It's an odd mix but might be a potent one, if your migration budget is deep enough: HP's Unix, plus IBM's database.

Up at the Forrester Research website, Simpler Database Migrations Have Arrived! IBM, ANTs Software, And EnterpriseDB Offer Innovative New Options promotes Oracle alternatives. (That's a $499 paper, by the way, something else to add to the migration budget. But Forrester has been turning out research for more than 30 years, so the data probably stands up.)

We'd be remiss to omit what we consider the obvious migration database choice for 3000 sites: Eloquence. This is the only database ready to work with IMAGE conventions.

But if Eloquence isn't a big enough household name to sell a migration, well, "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM," the saying goes. (It's not all roses inside the Big Blue corral. We just heard from a 3000 shop whose IBM email system started rejecting all inbound mail for a day.) DB2 might qualify as the Next Most Obvious Choice for a migration database replacement. While Oracle continues to tick off more than 140,000 HP Unix customers, all to toss some coal in the Sun boilers, it's been making opportunity for IBM. At the least, for the IBM software group. IBM's got price advantages it can apply to make choosing DB2 look attractive. How can it do that? There's the IBM Services operation to counteract any database discounting. What IBM gives away in DB2 it gets back in system-wide support for HP servers.

While you might not be thinking of hiring IBM to support an HP-UX system, you're definitely not thinking about hiring Sun and Oracle to support that system. Not after the full year of Oracle Stink Bombing. Birket Foster of MB Foster pointed us to a useful website about the impact of the bombing, Conor O'Mahony's Database Diary. You'll find IBM DB2 Welcomes Oracle Database/HP Itanium Customers up there, a shelter from the stink bombs.

06:53 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)