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January 03, 2014

Replacing 3000 meant dozens more servers

UTC shutdown

Tony Shepherd (left) and Jeff Kell switch off an A-Class and N-Class server at the December decommission of the UTC's HP 3000s. MPE drove the operations of the university for more than 30 years.

At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the HP 3000 was decommissioned last month. The university's operations had been managed under MPE and MPE/iX since 1976. After 37 years of service -- the last five as an archival system -- the servers went dark as the team of original 3000 experts executed a shutdown and a power-off.

By the time that legendary legacy system went offline for good, more than 43 servers had been powered up and maintained to replace its operations. Jeff Kell, who not only chaired the MPE Special Interest Group but also started the 3000 newsgroup on the Web, explained the replacement strategy that requires dozens of servers. Kell has gone into networking management for the university.

Every one of them are at the very least a virtual guest VM (and those are in the majority). Most of the database systems (Oracle) are standalone physical servers. There are a few dedicated blades left as well.

And yes, it makes me ill just looking at it, in contrast to the single 3000 we had running everything. Of course our new application Banner includes fancy report writers (Argos) and front-end web portals and Oracle management/monitoring -- but still, times change.

Networking inherited one of those blade chassis last year, and we run our own ESXi cluster on it. Our DHCP / DNS / etc infrastructure servers are all redundant. Typically we have a physical server in the main datacenter and a VM in our secondary datacenter for each, so you have "physical redundancy" for all of the core services that make things work.That includes physically redundant routers, network connections, and fiber as well.

There was a "whole lot" of my life poured into that beast. Not that specific model, but in the systems that it ran (we have had numerous chassis). It is something you don't see very often these days: "in-house code."

Kell pointed out, in an extensive report about the changes, that most computer owners only have web pages, by now, to represent in-house coding. At UTC there was so much more, including some programming that remained useful and vital for more than three decades. We'll have more on that next week.

04:32 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink

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