April 03, 2013
Decommissioned data forgotten in migration
"It's the most forgotten piece of the migration puzzle," said Birket Foster while he recently led a webinar on best experiences with 3000 transitions. "People are not always remembering that at the end of the day they want to shut off the old 3000."
What Foster means is that even after removing data -- the most essential 3000 and company resource -- project managers need to track what data they must keep to satisfy an auditor. Many companies will still need long term access to historic data. That's either a 3000 and its services that can be outsourced from a third party, or maybe even an emulator virtualization of a 3000, perhaps based in a cloud. Some audits demand that the original 3000 hardware be available, however -- not an Intel-based PC doing a letter-perfect hardware emulation.
After the Great War, the returning soldiers were not welcomed as productive citizens ready to return to work. This kind of veteran was called The Forgotten Man, from Golddiggers of 1933. Perhaps the information in aging 3000s is marching in the same kind of veteran step.
Managers have to consider if they want to move their forgotten 3000 data after a migration, or leave it in a searchable format -- several questions to consider for an auditor's satisfaction. Many 3000 sites we've interviewed have a 3000 running for historical lookups. This is the sort of task that would meet the needs of an audit.
"We often remind people who are migrating that even through the classic steps are assess, plan and execute, there's also decommissioning," Foster said. "So you can shut off the box."
Organizations which must meet extra-stringent requirements -- such as healthcare service providers facing HIPAA, or corporations bound by the Sarbanes-Oxley laws, or even credit card-processing merchants -- bear the greatest burden of auditing. For example, those PCI credit card audits are performed by PCI Qualified Security Assessors. One of the only companies, among the 302 listed as QSAs, which is likely to hold tribal knowledge of HP 3000s is Forsythe Solutions -- which once was a Systems Integrator for the 3000.
Archival 3000s have been an important part of the air travel business, due to the use of credit cards to process transactions. A few years ago, one consultant reported out on the 3000 newsgroup that more than a dozen MPE/iX systems demanded archives for old data.
"We have 21 HP 3000s," said Mark Ranft, "and 18 of them are the largest, fully loaded N4000 4-CPU 750 systems you can get." In 2010, he said, "We have migrations to Windows in various stages, but there is also a very real need for legacy data access after the migration. The alternative is to migrate all the data and all the archival history, and that can be costly."
And perhaps less costly with a good plan for decommissioning data, drawn up by experienced providers of daa migration services. Shadow 3000s run in the community with little to do but wait for an audit from one of those 302 QSAs. There's enough shadow resources needed to demand power, lightweight adminstration, and support contracts for these servers -- the budget that might help to defray the costs to decommission.
On the other hand, shutting off these systems hasn't become urgent in many homesteading sites who are transitioning. What might make it matter more are the systems a responsible 3000 IT manager will leave behind for the next pro who takes the job.
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