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September 30, 2015

The Re-baking of an Abandoned Classic

About five years after Hewlett-Packard stopped building the 3000, another legend ended its sales. Hydrox, the original sandwich cookie and the snack that Oreo copied and knocked off in 1908, fell off the world's grocery orders in 2008. Sometime tomorrow morning, Hydrox Cookies will arrive at ardent fans' doors and mailboxes. 

Hydro_stuffed_biteThis resurrection of a beloved cookie has several things in common with MPE systems of the past. At the heart of each revival is a belief that a better-known product is not necessarily better. That, plus a devotion to research that any return to sales demands. Some 3000 owners believed, from 2004 up to the year Hydrox left the market, that HP would return to 3000 sales. By 2010 there were few who retained such hopes — but by that year a better 3000 was already in development.

Like MPE users, Hydrox consumers know their cookie is superior to something better-known: the Oreo. Leaf Brands made tomorrow's return possible by rescuing the Hydrox trademark from disuse by Kellog's. The cereal company was the last firm to make a Hydrox, but by the end the cookies were being baked using high fructose corn syrup instead of genuine sugar. Unlike Oreos, though, the first ingredient in a Hydrox is flour, not sugar.

Hydrox schoolHewlett-Packard never tinkered with the composition of MPE/iX or the 3000 hardware at the end of its HP lifespan. But the company has transferred its "HP3000" trademark to a VPN server appliance series. A set of HP inkjet printers called the 3000 has also been on the product list since the last HP 3000 rolled off the line in 2003. HP has not abandoned that trademark, but the server's owners haven't dropped their devotion to the product, either. Like the Hydrox fanatics, some 3000 users look forward to a return of MPE-capable systems.

It's like making a new cookie from an original recipe: new MPE boxes have growth options. And like Hydrox, you purchase them in different ways today.

Oreo chased Hyrdox from grocery shelves by out-marketing Hydrox's creators Sunshine Bakeries. But Oreo was not better to many households, and to some in ways more than taste. Hydrox never used animal lard and so was a kosher cookie. The HP 3000 was cut off Hewlett-Packard's shelves by superior marketing of Windows, starting with NT and onward through Windows 2003. The valuation of these Windows systems outstripped HP's proposition for 3000 ownership.

Today you purchase a new 3000 through any high-end Intel server supplier. As of this week, you buy boxes of Hydrox from Amazon, but the distribution chain will widen, say the new makers of the cookie.

What the sandwich cookie world had been left with, after the Hydrox exit, were a dozen brands of Oreos, from Double and Ultra Stuff, to Thins, to mint and peanut butter stuffings. Key lime Oreos were an improvement to the sandwich cookie world, yes. Likewise, the 3000 replacement markets have a wider array of tastes because of much-improved Linux options, and the scope of Windows and Unix choices alone outnumbers even the Oreos products.

Over the last 12 years we'd sometimes receive a message or query about the prospect of taking back the 3000 brand and legacy from the hands of HP. By this year, there were only a few companies doing business with Hewlett-Packard regarding their MPE systems, after all. Most of them were paying to transfer existing licenses, a $432 transaction. Why not cut "3000" loose from HP's intellectual property?

Unlike Kellog's, Hewlett-Packard hasn't moved on. It has little to gain by cutting the trademark loose. For eight years, the OpenMPE advocates worked and wished for independent ownership of source code, but nobody was driven to carry forward manufacture of that PA-RISC chip line that powers 3000s. The OS — that stuffing that makes the computer cookie so special — was another matter. Without the value of MPE, the Charon line from Stromasys has no reason to exist today. Virtualizing that chipset made a 3000 with a better future.

Hydrox cookies have two essential elements that make them superior, their fans say. The trade-secret vanilla of the stuffing is unique, and the cookie is baked with cocoa flour in addition to regular flour. Cocoa flour is the equivalent of the Intel x86 line that powers Charon. Everybody knows where to get it. But the classic vanilla for the stuffing, manufactured in Texas for the new owners Leaf Brands, is the equivalent of MPE/iX: a trade secret. But this one was carried forward.

Leaf's owners first confirmed Kellog's was finished with the Hyrdox brand, rescued the unused trademark, and then set about re-crafting the cookie. They needed to match the taste that Boomers remember from their childhoods, research that reminds me of the Stromasys development that matched the HP 3000 boot process. Leaf's Ellia Kassoff found archived Hyrdox cookies on Craigslist, worked to match the ingredients on the package, then tested his cookies on the most ardent of fans.

The most fun version of this cookie revival comes from NPR's Planet Money. The report says that on the subject of trademarks, Kassoff sought evidence of a Doctrine of Abandonment.

The trademark is this relationship between a company and its customers. And so if that relationship is broken, if the company stops using the trademark, there isn't really anything to protect anymore. The trademark is deemed abandoned.

The good fortune for the devoted fan of MPE is that HP didn't have to abandon the 3000 trademark for the server to regain a growth path. These days when you type "HP3000" in the HP website search window, the first two results point at Stromasys and its distributors. The trademark lives on, along with its delightful stuffing.

09:06 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 29, 2015

ERP migrations move classics onto clouds

Order to Cash


The largest company that's moved its ERP onto the cloud sells pet foods. Pets are one of the fastest-growing industries, and so demand agility and scalability. When Kenandy hosted a webinar today, the $2.3 billion Big Heart Pet Brands was at the top of the company's customer list. But there's also a family-owned sewing machine manufacturer in the Kenandy lineup.

That sounds like a mirror of the 3000 manufacturer community — companies large like Big Heart, a division of the JM Smuckers. And privately-held firms that have devoted followings. Everyone would like to be leaner in the IT department. If your reaction to that statement is "Well, not me," then you might be representing a view that won't sync with company directors and owners.

OTC AdvancedCloud ERP promises to take the IT plumbing off a to-do list, but it can't carry business intelligence to outside applications running on web-connected hosts. ERP applications are notorious for being fine-tuned program suites that have been tempered and shaped by decades of insider business practices. From the invoice to the bill of materials practices, ERP touches every aspect of work.

Kenandy's Director of Client Services Rohan Patel dove deep into the particulars of what Kenandy can do to match a migrator's business intelligence. There's a whole new level of functionality in a modern ERP system. Patel mentioned that Kenandy (the name of the product is the same as name of the company, like Adager) can optimize sales order aggregation, "to combine orders to maximize the stuffing with trucks, define transit routes so you can have distance-based decision making -- in terms of if can you fulfill that order so it will arrive on time."

A manufacturer which hopes to sell to Wal-Mart will have to work around a delivery window the retailer sets. There's a fine at America's largest retailer if you deliver late. The next generation of ERP is supposed to give its users the tools to manage this new commerce.

The Kenandy demo today started with sales and moved through leads to opportunities to cash. These are the classic features of a Customer Resource Management toolset, and they represent the power of Salesforce underpinning Kenandy. But a site could migrate its ERP to Kenandy without a commitment to becoming a Salesforce customer, Patel said. 

"You can use our ability to create sales order lines quickly," he said. "There's a lot of hyper-search features that allow users to quickly input the data. Our system is tweaked around usability and speed."

That last sentence is as old as software sales itself. But integrating the functionality with available-everywhere cloud services, plus the delivery of reports to mobile devices using iOS and Android, is the reason for an ERP migration. Not the lifespan of vendor support for an OS, or the age of hardware, or the decline of the size of experienced IT personnel pools. People migrate because their companies need to do more to integrate with a more complex world of business.

Not that everything has changed. Paper documents are still part of nearly all workflows. The Kenandy app includes "a nice friendly toolkit that allows you to configure all the printed source documents," right down to disclaimers and company logos on pick and pack lists.

Sales orders can be processed automatically as well as manually. Batch jobs provided by Kenandy can automatically release sales orders and process validations. Orders can move from draft to open to allocated. "In all of these cases, if the system finds an exception, it will log it and stop that sales order, so someone can evaluate how to address that exception. You can get an automated end-to-end system that really is touchless."

Ever since enterprise-level companies have been moving their 20th-Century apps to commodity platforms, the effort has required intense energy to map existing processes onto the new apps. SAP was the first of many, followed by Oracle's software, that became legendary for presenting thousands of switches to set. Where Kenandy seems to have an edge is that it's built upon Salesforce, and this implementation was launched by the founding partner for ASK Computing, Sandy Kurtzig.

There are other features that manufacturers have integrated in an era where credit flows from Visa rather than lines of credit. Kenandy can be configured to process a credit card payment for any order. Outside PCI-compliant credit card processing is the only way a 3000 can integrate this kind of feature with orders. Making credit cards native to an ERP app will become a necessity for plenty of audits, and soon. Authorize.net handles this feature in Kenandy, so it's not like the app has its own certification, though. But Authorize does work with Chase PaymentTech, eBay and Wells Fargo.

One newer piece of functionality lets a user custom-configure a product on an order. A large list of SKUs can be combined to build out a sales Bill Of Materials. "The configurator helps the sales agent put that order together," Patel said. 

Can requisitions be multi-line? Can they be converted to one or more POs? For one or more suppliers? The string of questions relayed to Patel during the demo never seemed to stump him. This is the payoff for the hard work of migrating away from a system that has served a company for several decades. The things you've done for your business can be replicated. Those things you've needed to add are now within reach, too.

06:08 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 28, 2015

Cloud ERP app suite to get demo event

WideBodyObjects_Diagram


Kenandy will be demonstrating its Cloud ERP suite on Tuesday, September 29 at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM Eastern) in a webinar led by Director of Client Services Rohan Patel and Marketing VP Stewart Florsheim. It will be an opportunity to see how the creators of MANMAN have re-imagined the benefits of resource planning software, using the "single source of truth" concepts that are inherent to the cloud.

Registration for the event is at the Kenandy website.

HP 3000 sites which continue to rely on software like MANMAN often don't have a migration target app vendor who understands the nature of MPE-based ERP. Kenandy, launched in 2012 by MANMAN's founder Sandy Kurtzig, has built a comprehensive ERP suite that includes order-to-cash, planning and production, procurement, and global financials, all upon the Salesforce1 platform.

The software promises scalability and agility, which may be important for a 3000 shop that's been acquired by a larger entity. On the other hand, The Support Group's Terry Floyd has said, "We think the latest Kenandy release is capable of handling some of the smaller, simpler MANMAN sites." This seems to be a software set that fits with two ranges of IT enterprise, although its first generation of success leans more toward the smaller than the larger.

The Support Group has been a Kenandy partner since Kenandy's day one, Floyd added. His support, development, and consulting firm has been evaluating the needs of classic MANMAN sites against the projected benefits of Kenandy. The outlook has gone from "too early to tell" to a readiness that can give 3000 ERP users a better-connected solution.

Built as a native application that's driven by the Salesforce Platform, Kenandy automates all core business processes — order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, planning and production, global financials, and trade promotion management. The vendor calls it a cloud ERP platform for the modern global enterprise.

03:37 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 25, 2015

Taking the Measure of HP's Ex-Leaders

We're waiting for more information about the HP 3000s still doing service by working with Apache CGI scripting, as well as an upcoming confluence of CAMUS advice about Stromasys and Kenandy, to help ERP companies to homestead or migrate. So while we wait let's take a break for Friday Funnies. The story is funny in the way a two-headed calf wants to win a blue ribbon at the fair.

The latest news in our election cycle features the prospects of a woman who impacted lives of many of our readers, as well as the direct fortunes of any who work at or have retired from HP. Or any who will be separated from the vendor soon in the latest layoffs.

BackfireThat would of course be Carly Fiorina, subject of scorn in both Donald Trump's eyes as well as derision from Yale economics professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld. The professor wrote this week that Fiorina has learned nothing from her failures, or even admitted she's had any. And so, there's a criticism of his column afloat in the bowl of the 3000 world. Sonnenfeld's talks with former CEOs were not first-hand knowledge, the takeaway read.

Here I offer a subjective summary, and that criticism of the professor goes, "Do not measure Carly's impact on HP -- or her ability to lead -- by how other corporations fared during the same period when she was CEO. Or on the valuation of the company before and after. Measure her by how anybody would have fared, given what she took over starting in 1999. Also, understand that whatever you add up, it will be conjecture."

It's a good word. Conjecture is "an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information." By setting up a measurement problem so there is no constant -- to compare against, say, the veteran insider Ann Livermore, who HP passed over so Carly could get her job -- the measure will always be incomplete, clouded in imagination. In Catholic school, we were usually told at this point of our hard questions, "Well son, it's a mystery."

HP PhenomenonI believe the only way we'll ever see first-hand Carly-era information is an insider other than Carly who was an HP executive would write a book about the era. Say, Chuck House did that, didn't he? For those who don't know him, he was the leader of HP's software management, and that would include MPE. He was the only winner of what Dave Packard called HP's Medal of Defiance, for extraordinary defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty. In 2009 House wrote "The HP Phenomenon; Innovation and Business Transformations." House has quite a bit to say about Carly's leadership (lordy, pages 403, 427, 443, 460, 471, 477, 480, 497, and 597) her Compaq decisions.

There's also  a sheaf of pages indexed as "Vitriolic reaction." You probably would believe House has some first-hand experience of HP management, given that he was an executive manager throughout her HP service. House wasn't CEO, though. The only CEO who's created a book is Carly. She's so certain of her story she had to write two books.

Come to think of it, maybe conjecture won't be the best word here. 

When you look at the full history of HP's CEOs, it's not a group that's likely to deliver an insider's take on a hopeful story. After Bill and Dave retired from those posts, they died. John Young took the job and still lives, but he has enough sense to keep his head down in these leadership debates. Then there's Lew Platt (also retired and died), Fiorina, Hurd and Apotheker. Meg Whitman has been trying to pull HP's cart out of the ditch for more than four years. The latest tug is to pull away from the albatross PC business Fiorina pushed.

Fiorina's successors were bad, indeed. But no matter how bad any successor is, that doesn't change the mortal wound that the first savage can strike. A CEO who took the names of the founders off the company's logo, then removed one of their children from the board, might be summed up as having savage tactics. The leadership of Haiti comes to mind. Just search for "tontons macoutes" to get a peek at how such people stay in power. Haiti was once visited by cruise liners, before Papa Doc.

I was told a story by a well-loved HP executive who had the opportunity to lunch with his successor after retirement. "What in God's name has happened to HP stock?" he asked his replacement. It was second-hand experience the fellow was seeking, I suppose, to explain the first-hand experience that the retired manager was having over his retirement portfolio. I don't know who paid for lunch.

I continue to look for an HP employee or retiree who's feeling better about their portfolio, in the wake of Carly's ugly business decisions. Of course, once I hear that report, it will still be second-hand information. First-hand information, in case you were wondering, appears in print as "memoir" (business or otherwise) or "autobiography." Sometimes it could be labeled fiction, if its facts are not always so crucial. People do love a story.

I invite you to visit the bit of HP's story that includes choosing such a boat anchor for a CEO. "Perfect Enough" by George Anders includes a section where the author "discloses the role played by a powerful recluse in Idaho: the only person at HP who could bridge the old era and the new." That's the passing-over you read earlier, if I've kept you this far. As for that person's bridge, I think it's out. He's long gone, too.

In business, where Carly claims to have succeeded, the established coin of measurement is valuation. Either that, or love from the customers and employees. You don't need to be a professor of anything, let alone economics, to add up the former. Start your meters at the last HP stock split, in 2000. And for the latter measurement of love — well, you can go to the previous HP spinoff Agilent to find your Atomic Force Microscopes. I bet they still know something about measurement at Agilent.

We can't know if cruise liners will revisit the shores of the American dream in a Fiorina Administration. (My fingers just seized up trying to write those last two words together.) But it's not really conjecture about how HP's shoreline looked once her leadership dredged the company's passions for innovation.

09:29 AM in Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 24, 2015

TBT: An End to 3000 Management Verve

Sixteen years ago this month, the HP 3000 community learned it was losing an essential component of the platform: A general manager who'd stuck his neck out for the server's customers. Harry Sterling announced his retirement from Hewlett-Packard and the world of the 3000.

Harry at HP WorldSterling came into the 3000's wheelhouse from a technical role, moving through product development and into the job of R&D manager for the server. On his watch in the labs, IMAGE gained B-trees for state of the art searches, MPE gained a Posix interface and namespace, and MPE/iX got its first Internet tools and utilities. MPE/iX 4.0, 5.0 and 5.5 were developed in the labs that Sterling managed. When Olivier Helleboid moved up from his GM post in 1996, Sterling was ready to make business distinction for the 3000. He was the first 3000 GM whose roots where wholly in tech. 

While Sterling led the division for four years he never lost touch with the customers and their perspective. Even though the overwhelming majority of them worked at small companies, he knew their needs were important to HP. No other leader of HP's management team believed this and acted upon it better than Sterling. Many GMs chose to work for HP, instead serving the vendor's customers. At its worst, that kind of allegiance sparks protests, lost accounts, and untold waste of budget and manpower. Business in computing is hard, but Sterling usually managed to make it look smooth while he kept it personal. He made mistakes, like all of us, but it rarely seemed like the decisions were being made at the customers' expense.

Harry Sterling TestimonialSterling was one of the best things that ever happened to HP 3000 customers. I can be accused of a clouded assessment because he was a key ally while we established the NewsWire. We never got better access or more cooperation than when he ran the 3000 business. He also green-lit a 25th Birthday Party for the server in Germany in 1997 that made people believe the best was still yet to come. We all needed to hear that while HP made Unix the favored child.

But one proof of his positive impact is the recovery of the platform as a strategic choice for HP. One of the most interesting things that happened in the period he ran the division involved resetting beliefs about computers in the 3000's age group. HP had thought such products were the children that it needed to eat in order to keep growing and improving. After a few weeks talking with Sterling's division managers, technology marketing guru Geoffrey Moore decided his own beliefs about legacy products needed revising.

"There are a lot of technology companies in particular that never take advantage of a mature market," Sterling said. "Their technology ages and they go back and start over, rather than really understanding how they can leverage that investment into new opportunities. [Moore] has since adjusted his model, and he’s now writing a new book that will be focused on how to invest in mature companies. His theory is that the real opportunities for making money are in the mature markets, not in the emerging markets.”

Sterling's strategy helped pave the way for his decision to support IA-64 on the HP 3000. He committed to lowering profit margins for the division while it ramped up for the new architecture. IA-64 looked important, and Sterling convinced HP it should pay for the transfer. It was the most significant investment plan for the 3000 customer since HP committed to RISC processors for the box in the middle 1980s. In the end, his intention to rework MPE for IA-64 — now known as Integrity, and vital to enterprise survival in HP's product line at the time — got scuttled after he took an early retirement.

Things didn't get more inventive, or even better, after he left the job for good at the end of 1999. The 3000 passed the technical muster of Y2K, and in time the delayed N-Class systems were finally released for sale. In less than two years after he retired, though, his replacement helped HP stop thinking of any future for the server. I think of Sterling in the same way as I do another Harry, US President Truman. That President's strength was his connection to the citizens, and Sterling's bedrock was his closeness to the customers.

Sterling assumed his GM job under the same cloud of doubt that surrounded Truman — some said he was not classic 3000 GM material, coming from the technical side of the division. A classic GM for the 3000  would have been looking for better post inside HP. Those before and after did just that. Sterling stuck to his job in spite of long odds against the system.

Harry-sterling-realtorSterling kept his management style authentic and realistic. Just before he left HP, he gave us an interview where he came out to his customers as a gay man, this during an era when business had far less opportunity for a gay executive. One small-minded subscriber canceled his subscription when he read the article. It was not the first notice HP had received about Sterling's life, though. Years earlier, he'd been part of a Reader's Theatre for top HP brass, and the result was Hewlett-Packard extended same-sex benefits to its workforce — the first Fortune 500 company to do so. He retired early to set up a Palm Springs real estate practice, where he continues to sell with a personal touch.

There were other challenges ahead for the 3000 community, places where Sterling's successor had a chance to leave a mark. The N-Class release and Y2K tech notwithstanding, what was left was a blemish rather than a beauty mark. If there was a zenith to the 3000's renaissance in the 1990s, it could be pegged at 1999's HP World conference. Sterling came out wearing a tuxedo to make his State of the Product Line speech, then unspooled a yo-yo. He had knack for knowing when different would be better for the crowd.

04:09 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 23, 2015

Where Do Those DBEs Go In MPE?

Where can I get help with storing and restoring an Allbase DBE?

Gilles Schipper replies

SQLUTIL.PUB.SYS should let you access the DBE. IMAGESQL is to a DBE what QUERY/DBUTIL is to TurboIMAGE.

Denys Beauchemin adds

ISQL.PUB.SYS is used to access the data in a DBE. If a TurboIMAGE database is attached to a DBE, there is a DBTC file for each Turbo database and an ATCINFO file with the DBE.

How can I find all the IMAGE databases on a system?

Michael Anderson replies:

IMAGE database root files all have a unique filecode value, -400. IMAGE datasets all have a value of -401. So if you want to find all IMAGE databases on a MPE system I would use the following command:

LISTFILE @.@.@;SELEQ=[CODE=-400];FORMAT=6

This will give you all the IMAGE root files and only the IMAGE root files. If you use something like “listf @01.@.@” you get the first dataset in the database, but also any file where the filename ends with “01”, and that may or may not be a database file. Also, the MPE file system allows filecode representations to be alpha (“PRIV”) and Numeric. When you see “PRIV” as a filecode it simply means that the numeric value of the filecode is negative, and again this can include non-database file types.

What is the command to kill a session that refuses to die?

Ernie Newton and Sam Knight reply:

If it is a VT or Telnet session, try NSCONTROL KILLSESS=#Snnnn

What is the maximum sized LUN that MPE 7.5 will recognize?

Guy Paul replies:

You should be able to have up to a 146 GB LDEV. Trial and error over the years has taught me to put no more than 70Gb/FWSCSI on a busy system. If you have Hyper-Volume extension, I would suggest slicing the mechs up a little smaller.

I have a couple of configuration questions about an N-4000. Does it make sense that an A6795A (PCI 4x 2Gb/s Single-port Fibre Channel Adapter) would be installed in PCI slots 1 or 2? The system's docs indicate that PCI slots 1 and 2 are 2x PCI slots; so the fibre channel would be limited to 1Gb/s. Does it make sense to have two Fiber Channel cards for a single VA7110?

Craig Lalley and Guy Paul reply:

The VA7110 does have two fiber connections, and both CAN be used. However, in order to be consistent with HP’s maintenance criteria, you should have one connected to a Command View workstation. Everything in Command View can be done through the serial port on the VA7100, except for logging. It is also a lot easier to define LUN’s graphically (Command View) as opposed to the command line (cryptic) language on the serial port.

Also on the VA7110, one of the fiber channels is “passive” and is for the command view workstation. I would not install a A6795A HBA into slots 1 or 2. Slots 3-12 are the twin-turbo (4x) slots you should use.

09:02 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 22, 2015

Meetings serve futures. Most rely on pasts.

Last week I got a note from Terri Lanza, consultant to MANMAN and ERP users, asking about any forthcoming meetings for 3000 customers. Terri was a big part of the last HP 3000 meeting, the 3000 Reunion meeting that kicked off four years ago today. Lanza also queried ScreenJet's Alan Yeo, since Alan drove the engine of that Reunion while I helped organize and publicize.

Alan and ReunionLanza is on the board of CAMUS, the user group devoted to ERP and manufacturing tech. "CAMUS was offered a place in California to gather," she said, "so our board wondered about choosing between San Diego and LA." Alan replied in short order that nothing is being planned for a 3000 meeting, and if anybody would know, it would be him. He kickstarted the meetings in 2005, 2007 and 2011. He even tried to turn the crank on a 2013 meeting. These things need financial support.

There's a great deal less purchasing among 3000 users four years after the Reunion. Purchases drive these tech meetings, but not just the sales pursued on an expo floor. Purchases of the past prop up meetings, as people try to better use the tech they already own.

That's why it's interesting to look at the content for many meetings among seniors like those who were at the Reunion. Tech meetings serve the drive toward futures, with talks about the Internet of Things or the Etch-A-Sketch wisdom on rules for social media. Learn, erase, learn again.

Legacy technology, though, tends to pay the bills for the bright-future meetings we used to attend. CAMUS is the exception, since its futures cover the survival of datacenters and legacy servers. Those are the servers that don't seem to get airtime, because their days of futures are supposedly over. Even HP seems to think so, if you look at what it's talking about at user meetings.

 HP's not counting on its legacy servers -- and an Integrity box is legacy like the 3000, just further up the road -- to float much of the company boat. Continued support of legacy systems can finance a visit to a sunny-futures meeting, though. The older generation does this support, and it pays for the dreams and foresight around newer technology. Or you hold a reunion, and remember what made you close friends, while you fought the fires of yesterday together.

But these days everybody is looking forward at expected change. Not much is changing about 3000s except for the age of their components. Humans always overestimate the amount of change coming into their lives, though. There's talk about manual driving becoming outlawed as self-driving cabs abound, or signboard ads at Macy's that will work better than an Onion gag about them. Someday we may be living in a world like those of the movies Total Recall or Minority Report. Walk slowly past that signboard. It could be sharing data that might live in an archived IMAGE database, which will be more reliable than split-second smartphone recognition.

Meetings serve a social need, and you never want to slag anything people are still investing time and money in. You can talk about the future with its uncertain changes, or gather survival advice to extend investments past. Maybe Google Hangouts or YouTube will give 3000 users a no-travel meeting option by next year. Since there's nothing under non-disclosure, the cybersecurity won't need to be advanced.

I remember attending a BARUG conference back in the 1980s in Santa Cruz. We enjoyed an expo space that overlooked the beaches and the suntanned pulchritude all a-frolic on the sands. Good times, but there was also talk on how to improve and extend what was still in use. We're betting that's become a mission for today's Web. If there's no travel budget, that'll work — and you won't have keep those bright-future shades trained on the changes that may never wash up on the sands of your datacenter.

04:24 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 21, 2015

Throwback: FlashPaper strikes fresh match

FlashPaper No. 1


Twenty years ago today your community was gaining one of its best database chiefs at HP, a development we illuminated in the first FlashPaper. In September of that year only a handful of 3000 vendors were operating websites, and we were not among those — so we drafted a last-minute news report sheet to deliver the latest developments into envelopes along with the first complete issue of the NewsWire. We were so full of confidence about a wave of news for the 3000 that we'd come to give the FlashPaper a slogan of "News so hot it might ignite."

We'd made a test-run at printing HP 3000 news, but that FlashPaper of September 21 was our genuine debut into breaking stories as fast as print would permit. The flame of change had been kindled in the 3000 division. We started work to change the forum for the computer from glossy magazines to something chasing newsmakers. We've always called October our birthdate because Issue No. 1 needed a date to match print-time waiting. Nine days was the fastest that print could be written and mailed in 1995.

FlashPaper First IssueThe IMAGE/SQL lab had a hot seat at the time, its third project lead in three months. Tien-Yu Chen took over for Reynold Schweickhardt, who'd taken over for Jim Sartain at the start of the summer. R&D manager Harry Sterling promoted Chen from advanced development projects like the Critical Item Update team. He was a choice who made changes happen like increasing the scalability of IMAGE. We reported that Chen was the kind of leader who, while meeting with database tool vendors at HP, would grab a file system engineer on the spot to help along a discussion. (Just click on the paper above for a full read.)

Choices between Windows NT and Windows 95 were on customers' minds; the latter was still just a month old, while the former would take its DEC operating system roots and become Windows Server — but the Y2K challenge would be in IT's rear-view before NT grew into enterprise-grade Windows.

Headcount and job assignments were important to that community of 1995, since leadership was in flux and the 3000 was embarking on a renaissance era in its database developments. Sartain had moved away from the labs to pursue a Master's degree and Schweickhardt was going to Washington DC to help with Congressional campaigns. The '96 elections were 14 months away, though. Chen turned out to be a database chief who'd work on the 3000's heart through the end of the computer's futures at HP.

We reported that a new DBQUIECE command was coming in the 5.5 release, too, a way to support "true online backups so customers can back up system while users are still logged into the database." There was also Etherprint, software that used an HP 9000 workstation to link a 135-page per minute Xerox color printer with a 3000. And what we called an Internet watcher was software to monitor FTP requests for MPE processes, then kill any process with an "unwanted activity of service." Netwatch/3000 never made a big splash in a market much more focused on data exchange over peer to peer networks.

Being able to watch for news at the last moment helped us sharpen our focus and the vision of the community, though. We'd only get so specific on the date of the FlashPaper once more over the 20 years of print: November 14, 2001, the dismal day HP called a halt to its futures for the server.

07:25 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 18, 2015

Passing audits: MPE privileges can be keys

Migrated HP 3000 data can become forgotten while making provisions for an audit. Since some HP 3000s work as mission-critical servers, these active, homesteading systems must weather IT and regulatory audits. The 3000 is capable of passing these audits, even in our era of PCI, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley challenges — all more strenuous than audits of the past.

However, establishing and enforcing a database update procedure is a step onto filling the gap in the security of an MPE/iX system. HP 3000 managers should take a hard look at how their users employ System Manager (SM) privileges. (Privileged Mode, PM, and System Supervisor OP should also be watched. Overall, there can be 21 capabilities to each user.) In their most strict definition, those privileges can expose a database. Hundreds of users can be created at Ecometry sites; even seasonal help gets SM users, according to one consultant's report, users which are seldom deleted after the holiday has passed. One site had a script to create new users, and each had PM capability, automatically.

Privileges are often a neglected aspect of 3000 operations, especially when the system's admin experts have moved on to non-3000 duties, or even to other companies. (Then there's the prospect that nobody knew how to use privileges in the first place.) Some SM users have disturbed the integrity of 3000 databases. It's easy to do accidentally. A creator of a database can also update a 3000 database — a capability that can foul up a manager's ability to pass some audits.

VEAudit from VEsoft, using its LISTUSER @.@ (CAP("SM")) filter, can give you a report of all of the SM users on your HP 3000. You can even ask for the SM users where password="". (Now there's a good list to find: SM users who have no passwords.) There is no MPE command that will do such things, we are reminded by VEsoft co-founder Vladimir Volokh. Even after more than three decades of his business as a 3000 software vendor, he also offers consulting on MPE operations and management, and still travels the US to deliver this. 

If you are worried about arbitrary access via QUERY, you can "disable subsystem access" via DBUTIL. This will, of course, only disable the access on QUERY.

Some less-adept auditors can also demand that a database's password be changed every 90 days. It's quite impossible to do, considering the database password is built into every application program.

So a database's security might be compromised through SM privileges, but it depends on the meaning of "update." This term can be construed to be as restrictive as using DBUPDATE to change an entry. It can also refer to UPDATE access DBOPEN MODE 2. 

To get very specific, an update can mean that the modify date has been changed in the file label of one or more IMAGE-related files. In a very general definition, an SM user can update the database simply by way of a restore from tape. (OP privileges permit this, too.)

Auditors sometimes ask broad questions, the sort of inquiry that fits better with the everyday use of HP 3000s in an enterprise. But for MPE/iX experts, "update" means any kind of modification capability.

So you can answer your auditor's question and say "no, SM privileges don't permit any of our users to update a database in another 3000 account." This answer is true, to the extent that the auditor's concern is about changing data — not just making a minor date change or using DBOPEN MODE 2. For auditors without MPE/iX and IMAGE expertise, well, they might not go so far in their examinations.

As for the SM user's ability to muck up an IMAGE database, it’s a mistake that is not difficult to make. An SM user who obtains a database password can corrupt an IMAGE database just by using the restore command. We’ve heard a story that such a user might explain, "Oops, I thought I was signed onto the test  account."

It's important to make a system fool-proof, because as Vladimir says, "fools are us." 

04:31 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 17, 2015

Making a Migration Work Like a Factory

There are many things to overlook or underestimate in a migration, and having a factory to move the data resolves plenty of questions. This week MB Foster took its UDA Central software for a webinar spin as a coming-out party, of a sort: The first briefing pitched directly to other integrators, consultants, and migration experts.

Cortlandt Wilson was on the call in the webinar, discovering more about how to help the MANMAN and ERP sites he's assisting in a migration onto other solutions. "He's really been the go-to person for moving data," he said of Birket Foster, CEO of the company.

Departmental TriageFoster explained the triage of deciding if an application should be rehosted, replaced, or retired, and the factory concept shows how those decisions can be made more easily with UDA Central. The software has built a reputation for delivering insights about data.

"A lot of the customers out there don't know enough about what they own," Foster said in explaining the mission for UDA Central, which will rent by the job in the integrator-consultant model. The pricing will be offered in small-team and large-team tiers, meaning the size of the customer's IT team. The number of data targets, and the number of databases being migrated, will determine the price of the rental.

"Our goal was always to help in migrations so they're 10 times faster than using scripts," Foster said during the webinar. Scripting is the old-school way of moving data, something that UDA Central removes from the process. The software's been growing for 15 years, Foster added.

Among the list of practices polished during that time, Foster notes that Application Portfolio Management is crucial to knowing where to send your migrated programs.

Replacing Applications“About 40 percent of your apps in a portfolio will only require A to A mapping,” he said. “It is almost like a backup and restore for rehosting. You move infrastructures: the same database exists, it’s already in the right format, and the data is already current. This happens when someone decides to put a VM under it, or change the hardware out, or move the datacenter."

About 10 percent of apps will require A to B mapping, if you’re not on the current database version. About 5 percent have A to C mapping. This is moving data and apps to a new database type, new data types, or a new flavor of SQL.

Foster said typically about 40 percent of applications in a portfolio need to be replaced in a migration. That’s a 1-3 year project. Up to six months of that is the bake-offs between candidates and sign-offs from the users. "If you’re doing this, you really need a toolset," Foster says.

The third R is Retire, and MB Foster said it finds about five percent of applications need to go away. But this choice involves Policy Management, something you should be building. You need to have a process to get data in context; you can’t just shut down the system.

“We’re the guys who work with the customers to figure out how the database moves," he said, in explaining his company's role in working with the integrators and consultants. "We also know a lot about moving application code, because we’ve done it a bunch of times.”

10:40 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 16, 2015

HP's latest layoffs chop a fresh slice of jobs

Enterprise job and budget cuts


A report from HP's semi-annual Analysts Day yesterday included news of an extra round of 30,000 job eliminations. The letters "HP" still appear on the front of many 3000 customer's servers, either on the original 12-year-old or more hardware, or a replacement from the ProLiant or even the Integrity lines. The fate of the enterprise vendor is of differing interest to these groups of migrators and homesteaders.

Some of those customers who've left, or are leaving, will keep an eye on the shrinking headcount. HP means to keep itself healthy by keeping its costs low as it heads into its first split-up year starting this fall.

CEO Meg Whitman told analysts things are still falling in the enterprise services group, an operation that consults, outsources, and manages co-located business servers. Enterprise Services is the unit that grew up around the EDS workforce that HP acquired in 2008. Even back then, HP needed to trim back the job count as part of the acquisition.

In an '08 HP message called Streamlining for Growth the vendor said, "HP intends to implement a restructuring program for the EDS business group that will better align the combined company’s overall structure and efficiency with the operating model that HP has successfully implemented in recent years."

Enterprise Services generates about 40 percent of HP's Enterprise revenues. But the unit hasn't grown recently. Whitman said yesterday, "A big step forward will be if enterprise services can stop shrinking." The unit has posted $4 billion in losses over the last three years.

The game plan for Enterprise Services will sound familiar to an HP 3000 customer: move professional jobs offshore, outside of North America and Europe, to reduce costs. In 1995 the 3000 division opened operations in India, sending database development and other subsystems design into Bangalore. At the time India's pay scale was one-fifth of California's. Lower costs are going to look attractive for the split-off HP Enterprise.

The EDS merger added 140,000 positions in 2008. The running total of job eliminations since Whitman took over as CEO, three years later, will be almost 90,000, and the latest cuts are part of the HP split that's now six weeks away. Whitman said last month the company would be done cutting Enterprise operations for the year, but today's slice is a fresh one from the workforce that wants to sell cloud services to enterprises, now that HP's customer-located hardware sales aren't growing.

HP is aiming its Enterprise business at "growing customer share of wallet." That's the part of IT budget HP hopes to win from its customers. It's also a term from finance markets, and just new to IT. Hewlett-Packard made a case for keeping its Enterprise Services business after the Nov. 1 merger, but some rumors floating in the market have the vast unit being cleaned up for a sale. 

HP said it expects to take three more years, until the end of its fiscal 2018, to make the Enterprise Services unit cost-competitive. It will increase the number of jobs outside Europe and North America by 50 percent, so by 2018 60 percent of its IT consultants will work from offshore locations.

The cutting goes beyond workforce, including discretionary expenses like travel, datacenter eliminations and consolidations, and reduced procurement budgets. HP had developed a home run strategy up to 2013; the general manager of the Enterprise Services unit said three customers made up 65 percent of operating profits. No single customer represents more than 10 percent of profits today.

But HP continues to make note of wins like landing the largest single deal of the year in the industry. HP's Professional Services were aimed at the largest of its customers throughout the migration push from 2003-2010. Independent companies offering software tools or MPE-focused experts were more likely to be leading a customer onto non-3000 servers.

A series of over-reaching mergers, including Compaq and EDS, came to a halt in 2010 with the $10 billion purchase of Autonomy. Whitman took the helm the next year and has reined in the company's growth aspirations using the old methods. "We haven’t done anything stupid in the past four years, I think you would agree, and we don’t intend to do anything stupid in the future,” she said in the analyst meeting.

A report in the Wall Street Journal quoted an analyst who said HP was working to increase its business in cloud computing, for example, an operation HP expects to grow by 20 yearly for the next three years. But HP's share of the cloud market is slight, compared to Amazon's or even IBM's. In today's report in Fortune, the publication recounted the story of an IBM and an HP rep visiting a major account. As they stood at the elevators, the IBM rep pushed the up button to head for the executive offices. HP's rep, the story went, pushed the down button to head to the IT department in the basement.

Servicing such hardware needs brought HP to the fork in the business road it faces today. The company is proud to report that it leads in market share for Linux systems, x86 server revenues with ProLiant, and "shipped more than 4 servers per minute on average in the 2nd calendar quarter of 2015." But hardware acquisition and replacement is not a growing business in enterprise IT planning. The tigers from the management ranks of Compaq, who took over HP's strategy as the vendor stopped building 3000s, now must find a way forward with enterprise IT business alone. They'll do it with fewer employees. Those who remain from the 3000 division may well be getting a better future on Nov. 1, along with their new hpe.com email addresses. 

 

06:35 PM in News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 15, 2015

COBOL Tools for Comma Separated Values

CSV exampleIt's been a long time since I wrote in COBOL, and I have an elementary question about creating a comma-delimited file. If I want...

"item one", "item two","","","item three"

How do I create the "," between item one and item two?

And the ","",""," would it be the same?  Just put that inside double quotes?

Something tells me that there is an escape sequence, but the mind is not cooperating. 

Walter Murray, who worked in HP’s Language Labs before moving on to other 3000 work, replies

The STRING statement is helpful. I don't advocate using an apostrophe to delimit nonnumeric literals, preferring to stick with standard COBOL. And yes, QUOTE is a figurative constant guaranteed to give you a quotation mark.

Murray offers a COBOL sample program to illustrate.
000100  IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.                            
000200  PROGRAM-ID. COBTEST.                                
000610  DATA DIVISION.                                      
000620  WORKING-STORAGE SECTION.                            
000630  77  ONE-COMMA    PIC X       VALUE ",".             
000640  01  1ST-ITEM     PIC X(6)    VALUE "ITEM 1".        
000650  01  2ND-ITEM     PIC X(6)    VALUE "ITEM 2".        
000660  01  3RD-ITEM     PIC X(6)    VALUE "ITEM 3".        
000670  01  MY-RECORD    PIC X(72).                         
000700  PROCEDURE DIVISION.                                 
000800  1000-START.                                         
000900      INITIALIZE MY-RECORD                            
001000      STRING  QUOTE 1ST-ITEM QUOTE ONE-COMMA          
001010              QUOTE 2ND-ITEM QUOTE ONE-COMMA          
001011              QUOTE          QUOTE ONE-COMMA          
001012              QUOTE          QUOTE ONE-COMMA          
001013              QUOTE 3RD-ITEM QUOTE                    
001014              DELIMITED SIZE                          
001015              INTO MY-RECORD                          
001016      DISPLAY MY-RECORD                               
001020      STOP RUN.       
001100  END PROGRAM COBTEST.

And the output...

"ITEM 1","ITEM 2","","","ITEM 3"

Tony Summers adds

It's worth putting a final comma at the end of the line, otherwise some versions of Excel can make the last column very wide.

Ken Roberston notes

One item worth noting, is that right before the STRING statement, you should move spaces to your output buffer.  STRING will not clear the buffer, so if your current string expression turns out to be shorter than your last, whatever was there before will remain - and you will get bad values in your output.

MOVE SPACES TO OSTRING
STRING XYZ etc. 
  INTO OSTRING

WRITE BIGREC FROM OSTRING

Finally Robert Mills has a macro for COBOL that creates a CSV record (copy and paste to retrieve all the characters in every line of the macro).

*> *************************************************************************
*> %AppendCsv(Field#,CsvRecord#)
*> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
*> Append Field to CsvRecord. If Field contains a comma (,) then Field is
*> quoted (") before being added. Quotes (") within Field will be replaced
*> with single-quotes (').
*> *************************************************************************

01 AppendCsv-macro.
05 AppendCsv-comma-count pic s9(04) comp value zero.
05 AppendCsv-field pic x(512) value spaces.
05 AppendCsv-field-length pic s9(04) comp value zero.
05 AppendCsv-index pic s9(04) comp value zero.
05 AppendCsv-pointer pic s9(04) comp value zero.

$define %AppendCsv=
initialize AppendCsv-macro
move function trim(!1) to AppendCsv-field
move length(function trim(AppendCsv-field)) to AppendCsv-field-length
move length(function trim(!2, trailing)) to AppendCsv-pointer
if AppendCsv-pointer > 1 then
move "," to !2(!3:1)
add 1 to AppendCsv-pointer end-add
end-if
perform
varying AppendCsv-index from 1 by 1
until AppendCsv-index > AppendCsv-field-length
if AppendCsv-field(AppendCsv-index:1) = "," then
add 1 to AppendCsv-comma-count end-add
end-if
if AppendCsv-field(AppendCsv-index:1) = quote then
move "'" to AppendCsv-field(AppendCsv-index:1)
end-if
end-perform
if AppendCsv-field-length > zero then
if AppendCsv-comma-count > zero then
string
quote, function trim(AppendCsv-field), quote delimited by size
into !2 with pointer AppendCsv-pointer
end-string
else
string
function trim(AppendCsv-field) delimited by size
into !2 with pointer AppendCsv-pointer
end-string
end-if
end-if#

03:58 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2015

We keep meaning to shut it down, but...

There's always acquisitions and mergers afoot in business, and the events have triggered some HP 3000 migrations. An entity gets acquired by a larger company that doesn't want to integrate MPE. The next thing you know, Windows is getting its call-up into a batting order where the 3000 used to play. (Sorry, baseball season's heating up as it winds down to the playoffs.)

AmadeusA transaction that was announced this summer continued the journey of the Open Skies application that began in 1998 in the 3000 division of HP. In that fall, CSY General Manager Harry Sterling purchased the application that had helped to drive the 3000 and MPE into the airline business. "Harry, did you have to buy the company?" HP's next-level execs reportedly asked him. He bought it to show how Software as a Service could work on 3000s. HP called it Apps on Tap at the time.

Roll forward to July and see that the Amadeus Group started the purchase of Navitaire from Accenture. Navitaire became the proud owners of a farm of HP 3000s when the company purchased Open Skies early in the previous decade. By 2008, work was underway to move off those 3000s, a farm of more than two dozen of the N-Class servers. The software tracks mileage revenues and reservations and has been used by airlines including Canada's WestJet.

We got a report last week that a final N-Class server still is in operation, but it's destined for a shutdown. If only the overseas airline customers would stop needing historical reports from MPE/iX.

A large-for-its-time array is still connected to a 3000 that's escaped the reaper's scythe so far. Mark Ranft, who's chronicled the transition away from MPE at Navitaire, let us know what's keeping a computer built 12 years ago serving some Navitaire customers.

All the customers have been switched over from HP 3000s. We still run an N-Class connected to an XP128 disk array for historical legacy purposes. It could be shut down soon, but we occasionally have a customer ask for some information from it. I guess other countries have unusually long timeframes for keeping detailed records of airline flights.

Navitaire had plenty of airline data business before it purchased Open Skies, but the reservation revenue-tracking software covered a new niche aimed at small carriers. HP only owned OpenSkies for about two years, then sold it to a subsidiary of Accenture. Within 18 months, HP announced its takedown of its 3000 operations. Accenture began developing a replacement called NewSkies, and by 2005 it started to inject it into spots where OpenSkies had served. Before that time, OpenSkies got upgrades from Navitaire, until HP called its halt to MPE/iX futures.

Open Skies, and its progeny New Skies, was always aimed at the low-cost airlines like RyanAir and WestJet. The 3000 had its introduction to airline reservation systems at what was a low-cost airline at the time, Southwest. Of course, Southwest is now the largest US domestic airline in passengers carried, and is paired with overseas partners. At the end of 1993, it bought tiny Morris Air to acquire 14 new Western US destinations, and discovered it'd bought the Morris "online reservation system," back when paper tickets were the absolute standard for air travel. It was like finding change in sofa cushions, including a rare coin.

Herb KelleherThe New York Times account of the transaction that brought the 3000 into the airline business makes no mention of the server or the software developed in Utah. Legendary CEO Herb Kelleher of Southwest was sharp enough to know low-cost operations would grow the company he founded, however. Morris was shaped like the Southwest of the 1990s, a company that knew a good server when it found one.

Southwest is more focused than Morris on attracting business travelers and is likely to try to attract more by offering more frequent flights. No Southwest routes overlap those of Morris, which will give Southwest a new presence in the Northwest and West, adding 14 cities to its schedule.

Asked about the Morris acquisition, Delta executives appeared sanguine yesterday. "We really don't see that this is changing anything," said Bill Berry, a Delta spokesman. "If we've got to face a competitor, we would rather face a competitor with costs that are much closer to ours."

Delta's reaction prompted a burst of laughter from Mr. Kelleher during a telephone interview yesterday. The cost structures of Southwest and Morris "are virtually the same," he said.

Southwest's adoption of the reservation software made e-tickets so essential that much larger airlines were forced to take up the service. By now, ordering a paper ticket carries a surcharge. Today's Southwest fleet of 600-plus 737s -- built at 3000-user Boeing -- now average six flights per aircraft per day. Delta had to merge with Northwest Airlines to keep up. Southwest turned off its last 3000 in the previous decade, though.

JetBlue and the 3000The deeper you go into the Morris-Southwest story, the better it gets. June Morris built her airline out of a travel agency business she ran in the back room of her husband's photo finishing business. Eventually there was a small fleet of chartered planes. Morris was the only female airline leader in the US at the time of the acquisition. The president of Morris Air at the time of the sale was David Needleman, who after leaving Morris went on to found a little operation called JetBlue. And JetBlue used HP 3000s as well, relying on Open Skies software from the start — the App on Tap that HP booked from Day One of JetBlue's operations. JetBlue and Southwest signaled a victory of midrange servers running TurboIMAGE/SQL over mainframes. JetBlue started up with less than a $1 million yearly IT budget.

Open Skies made its money by charging a fee per ticket booked. At the time JetBlue took off, a Computerworld article reported that flight reservations could be made on the Web "and by Touch-Tone telephone."

More than 500 Navitaire employees will go to Amadeus, a company that did 3.4 billion Euros of business last year. Navitaire's sale price was reported at $380 million in a July announcement, a deal that may close as early as next month. In the meantime there's one N-Class 3000 waiting for its retirement date, flying a route with a terminal destination — if one without an ETA.

07:22 PM in History, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 11, 2015

Fiber and SSD discs boost 3000 speed

Jackson-TubeWhile getting an update an IT manager at the welded carbon steel tubing manufacturer Jackson Tube, we discovered a field report on the combination of Linux, Fiber Channel networks and large disk that's being installed by Beechglen. Early this year, Mike Hornsby briefed us on the basics of the setup, one designed to bring fast storage options using Storage Area Networks to 3000s. Dennis Walker at Jackson Tube supplied some specifics.

We are currently using Beechglen's Linux Fiber Optic SAN on solid state drives with Distributed Replicated Block Device (DRBD) replication, which gave us a giant increase in speed. It's very cool; they use a Linux server with SCST Target SCSI for Linux to act as a Fiber Channel SCSI device. It uses Qlogic Fiber Channel boards to connect to the HP 3000.

Our setup is in-house, using their hardware on a hosting contract with Beechglen. We have two of their SAN devices and two of their HP 3000s, one production and one development system. The SANs are connected over an Ethernet fiber converter in two different buildings 1,000 feet apart. They have set up Linux's DRBD, and so can cross-mirror the HP 3000 logical block devices.

Before they told me about their setup, I had already been investigating  a similar solution with the same software but with a SCSI-iSCSI adapter. They offered what I wanted all set up and tested, and using Fiber Channel. Plus they said they had to patch MPE to work correctly, which I could have never have done.

The Linux Fiber Optic SAN doesn't have a fancy user interface, Walker added, "but having used Linux since 1992, the text configuration files and shell commands are just fine for me. Most people have them do everything and just know they have a Beechglen SAN, so it's all transparent to them."

The HP 3000 LUNs are just flat files pointed to by the SCST configuration and can be copied for one kind of backup when the 3000 is shut down, which is a super-fast backup and recovery. Although we don't back up that way, we have a base system backup of the LUN files for a quick recovery, and we do disk to disk backup using TurboStore True Online to a private volume LUN setup on a regular disk drive. Those backup files are FTP'd to our company backup servers.

The performance is radically faster. We've seen 4,000 to 5,000 logical IO's per second, compared to a couple hundred at the peak on our old Model 20 Arrays. We've been on the system for 15 months with no problems. I consult with a company in town that uses much fancier EMC arrays with Windows servers and they cannot say the same. Plus, they have lost data because of EMC problems. This solution is not nearly as fancy, but it's very simple and reliable using just regular Linux subsystems.

The vendor recommends an upgrade to an A-Class or N-Class to take advantage of native Fiber Channel. The solution uses CentOS Linux. 

08:31 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 10, 2015

TBT: The End of the HP 3000's Beginnings

HP moved toward its RISC future in small steps. The hardware was first released in 1987's fall. It took another 11 years, but in September 1998 MPE V, the OS that lifted the 3000 into the highest systems count, fell off of HP's support radar. The CISC hardware such as the Series 70 fell away from HP's care, too.

Series70MPE V was the last of the 16-bit operating systems for Hewlett-Packard. DEC had gotten a leg up in the middle '80s by promising that Digital Has It Now, with the now being 32-bit computing. Removing MPE V from the support tree at HP didn't remove the systems from the field. Paul Edwards, the trainer, consultant, and user group director exemplar, used to note that a Series 70 MPE V system was still running in the Dallas area even after HP announced its end-game for the entire line in 2001.

Calling the products its "vintage" software and systems, HP's Customer Support organization announced end-of-support-life dates for all MPE V products running on CISC-based HP 3000s, as well support for what the community called "Classic" HP 3000 computers. 

Series 70 with Disk FarmClassic HP 3000s continued to operate in companies around the world after 1998, even though HP had stopped selling them 10 years earlier. A Classic-to-RISC trade-in program was still underway in 1992. HP estimated that it had shipped more than 20,000 Classic 3000s as of 1986. The Series 37, 37XE and Micro 3000 systems left support in 1997, and Series 39 through 70 systems went off support in January, 1998. By September of that year, HP turned out the lights on the last of the Classics -- the LX, RX, GX and XE models of the Micro 3000.

HP also pulled support for Compatibility Mode software products that had a Native Mode equivalent under MPE/iX systems. Stalwart products like Edit/V and NS/3000 V had equivalent NM counterparts, for example.

Two longtime HP 3000 developers, both now passed away, suggested that HP donate the use of the MPE/V versions of its compilers as teaching aids and freeware. In particular, Basic and SPL came in for praise from Wirt Atmar of AICS, who noted that "If HP has abandoned Basic, it would be an extraordinary gift to the MPE user community to make it as well as SPL legal freeware. Basic still remains the easiest language to build complex, easy string-manipulating software that must interact with IMAGE databases."

Atmar noted that HP originally expected that the vast majority of the application programs written for the HP 3000 would be written in Basic. Therefore, he said, HP invested heavily in 1973 to put together an extremely well designed language.

Bruce Toback, a developer of HP 3000 software, added that Basic/V "is an incredibly useful API scripting language. If it's no longer of any value to HP, either placing it in the public domain or releasing it with a GPL-type license would be a no-cost way of providing a substantial benefit to the user community."

Chris Bartram, whose company continues to host HP 3000 technical papers, software, and MPE resources, said in 1998 that donating the MPE V versions of Basic and SPL would mesh with HP's then-new policy of relying on shareware for its HP 3000 customers.

"It certainly doesn't hurt anything at this point to make it freeware," he said at the time, "and it fits in well with the wealth of other freeware programs that are becoming available on the platform — almost all without "official" support or significant investments from HP."

Bartram and the next generation of 3000 OS software have survived long after HP missed that chance for source code donation. The source of MPE/iX was put up for licensing for a brief period — but only the old hardware has even been offered as a donation. One HP 3000 Series 70 was for sale in 2011 on eBay, but lately the newer N-Class servers have been seen at nearly the same price.

06:00 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 09, 2015

Still Emulating, After All of These Years

The Dairylea Cooperative was among the first of the North American 3000 emulator users to testify about making the choice to dump its HP hardware and keep MPE/iX. We ran a detailed story about Jeff Elmer and the organization that covers seven US states with sales, distribution and marketing for dairy farmers. There's a long history of Dairylea success, as well as success with the 3000.

Milk BottlesWe decided to check in after a couple of years and see what everyday life with Linux, MPE and the Charon emulator looks like today. The IT director Jeff Elmer answered our queries straight away, as if he was ready for the questions. He's making good use of VMware, so in that he's right in step with the virtualization strategy that was celebrated at the recent VMworld.

By Jeff Elmer

We started with the emulator in December 2013 and never looked back.  We always loved the HP 3000 hardware, but with the emulator we no longer have any significant concerns about hardware failure since we aren't dependent on a RAID array consisting of disk drives built when some of our web developers were small children.  

Even if we did encounter a hardware issue with the Proliant server that hosts the emulator, we could just fail over to an instance of the emulator we have standing by to run under our VMware environment in our business continuity site. We can "power up" that emulator in another city without getting out of our chairs.  We would then restore from our most recent full backup (we do a full every day of the week which is written to disk and copied to the business continuity site) and then tell people to use the Reflection shortcut that points them to the emulator in the business continuity site.

Our users never saw a difference between the "real" HP3000 and the emulator. Performance has been equivalent and it has also emulated that legendary HP 3000 reliability since we have had no downtime. The worst experience we have had with the emulator is a couple of instances when the system time got out of whack.

While we would prefer that something like that never happen (and recognize that it could be a disaster in some shops), having it occur roughly once a year isn't much more than an inconvenience to us. Stromasys let us know that this is corrected in the latest version; I'm assuming it was pretty difficult to track down since it was an intermittent problem.

It has been business as usual for us in the almost two years that we have been using the emulator, and our expectation is that it will be business as usual as long as the organization needs the systems that run on it.

I would recommend the product to anyone who wants to use their HP 3000 indefinitely.

06:07 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 08, 2015

Emulation does not include HP's slowdown

One of the prime reasons for extending 3000 application life is investment protection. It is difficult to justify, however, if a company continues to grow while its hardware performance remains capped at 2003 levels That's the incredible hamstring that most MPE/iX applications labor under. Aside from refusing to put MPE/iX onto Itanium chips, there was a fresh generation of PA-RISC processors available to HP by the middle of the last decade. But those PA-8900s were never employed in 3000s, just 9000s. Then there's the matter of hardware down-clocking. It's a feature not included in 3000 emulation.

Intel-i7Owners of 3000s probably know their systems were hobbled by HP during the design of the ultimate generation of the servers. They should also know that protecting their application investments with an emulator eliminates that hurdle to modern-day performance. The recommended top end today is an Intel i7. Whatever comes next will be available to keep MPE application performance growing.

In the wake of the just-completed VMworld show, it's easy to see that virtualization -- the other name for emulation -- is mainstream technology by now. Five years ago this month, though, we interviewed the Stromasys CTO Robert Boers about the design goals for the Charon emulator for PA-RISC 3000s.

Is your emulation going to get rid of the slowdown code that has hamstrung PA-RISC processors on 3000s?

We’re not using that. They’ve clocked them down to the equivalent of 55 MHz on the low-end models. HP actually had a back-door to allow their support people to turn up the performance if they were in a hurry. We’re actually building an accelerator.

The reports of Charon use in the field do not include any notes on clipped performance. The company made good on its promises of acceleration -- an area that can be enhanced by more upgrading hosting hardware, too.

There can be other reasons to leave MPE/iX behind, aside from lagging performance. An emulator won't do much for MPE brain-drain, or software suppliers who shutter up their business, or even the lack of a vendor-supplied support system. But it's been close to five years without HP in the picture. MPE expertise is still out there for hire. Software has been rescued or moves along as strong as ever in tool provider's cases.

But there's that hardware future that looks brighter. An N-Class server might not be as costly an investment burden as it once was, but emulation offers more growth. We asked Boers (who's retired now after a mainstream management team adopted the Stromasys solution) whether the clock would run out for a meaningful product release of Charon.

Some in the community say too much time has passed to make this a relevant product. What’s your take?

To tell you the truth, HP’s been pretty slow. I feel concerned, because we should have been ready much earlier. We’ve been waiting about a year until we got an agreement on the Processor Dependent Code information, because HP's overriding worry was the ability to run HP-UX. What concerns me is that there’s only about a half year left to get additional HP licenses. We might have a working beta by then, but not much more by the end of the year.

The emulator started to generate references by 2012, about two years after HP halted its additional license sales. As it turns out, MPE/iX licenses are still out there for sale in the form of rock-bottom used HP 3000 hardware prices. HP recognizes this value of these licenses. That's why it's operating a license transfer business almost 12 years after it sold the last of those down-clocked 3000 servers.

10:57 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 04, 2015

Taking on Partners for Data Migrations

We'll be taking Monday off in observance of the Labor Day holiday. Enjoy your long weekends.

Enterprise IT managers have a broad brief, as the English like to call a scope of interest. They manage development, operations, networks, planning. That last mission has included migrations for quite some time by now.

PartnershipsAnd the most crucial part of a migration is moving the data. A lot of companies have never done this before on their HP 3000s, and so finding help is their next step. But who to step toward? More partners are going to get their stripes for this migration by the end of this year. MB Foster is opening up its expertise and software toolbox to get partnerships in data migration started with integrators, consultants, and vendors.

The company's CEO Birket Foster explained in an email, one that notified us about a September 16 webinar.

MB Foster has established a partner program that will enable others to leverage this data migration solution in their projects. We are excited to tell you how you can take advantage of this partnership opportunity and grow your project margins by creating a migration factory.

Fulfilling a migration request shouldn’t be difficult or time consuming. Writing custom migration scripts is the way of the past.

You can safely make such statements if you've got a proven alternative to scripting. That's the business that Foster's been in the longest, crossing four-plus decades of 3000 service. From the 3000's explosion in the 80s, through the go-go dot.com of the 90s, across the wilds of the migration decade of the Oughts, and here into the Twenty-Teens, data has been Foster's thing.

The company's been a force in the 3000 world for migration, and data access and delivery tools. They built Oracle loader files in 1985, using what was then called its DataExpress suite. MB Foster also established ODBC and then JDBC access to data on the 3000, then went onward to include Unix and then Linux. HP partnered with the company to create ODBC access for IMAGE/SQL. Eventually MB Foster took back lab support for their software that was bundled into every 3000's FOS package.

Foster said way back in 2006 that customer requirements kept things advancing. "With the persistence of our customers saying they need things simpler and faster, we now deliver data between all of these platforms using UDASynch, UDAConnector and UDACentral," he said. "Thanks to our customer base persisting on the HP 3000, we have been encouraged to evolve our UDA series to include the ability to allow BEA Weblogic, J2EE, Websphere and other Web Services Architectures to view the HP 3000 as a group of services."

It's a process of persistence, he added, to deliver the value of the 3000s, Unix and Linux to other parts of the enterprise. Teaching consultants, vendors, and system integrators to employ UDACentral — which works with 25 different types of data files and databases — looks like a natural next step.

The Webinar starts at 2 PM Eastern Time. Registration is at the MB Foster website.

05:07 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 03, 2015

TBT: In the Thick of Proceedings Season

ProceedingsBefore you even left your house for a flight to an HP user conference in the Eighties, you had to leave room in your suitcase for the thick books of proceedings. So much room, by the middle of that decade when the 3000 grew fastest, that you might have leave behind the booth swag you snagged from conferences like Interex annual meetings.

Word Star30 years ago this week, I was packing for my first national HP user conference. The Interex meeting was scheduled for Washington DC, the first time a HP 3000 users conference would meet in a national capital. We learned things afterward by packing up these fat tomes in our bags for the return trip. It was an era where you advanced your skill set by reading papers, printed in monotype Courier off HP 3000s which were running HP Word, or WordStar off a PC. HP could provide WordStar on its HP-150 Touchscreen PCs. It hadn't earned good notice for the utility of its touchscreen functions, though.

Road to SuccessThe graphic design for proceedings was spartan at best. At least half of the papers were written by users, and every professional who attended a show went home and hoovered up that wisdom that was shared without regard for reader comfort. The 200 papers from the Interex '87 show required three volumes of more than 700 pages each. The papers were printed in alphabetical order of authors' names, and nary a page number is to be found.

In addition to meeting in DC for the first and only time, 3000 users in September, 1985 could hear a speech from an HP CEO. David Packard was a former CEO and current HP board member when he addressed the multitudes at the conference. While Packard's speech has been lost to the wilds, those proceedings papers remain in closets, online, or fixed in the skill sets of the 3000 managers who have moved on to other platforms. Most printed advice that did not yet have the benefits of HP's LaserJet marked milestones on those hundreds of sheets printed each year.

Presenting a paper helped your career, whether you were a rock star of the community or just a hard worker moving up. Eugene Volokh, at age 17, published a 53-page paper in that 1985 proceedings set on The Secrets of System Tables.. Revealed! The paper started with parody of a Norse poem, revised to include 3000 terms.

During an era when the work in computing was called Data Processing, one paper from HP Major Accounts rep Bill Franklin cited a survey showing "in many organizations, less than 1 percent of all management decisions are being made using on-line interactive systems." Batch was big, apparently, but another paper provided methods to alleviate the 3000's "grave failings as a batch job machine." 

It was a time when the fastest growing segment for 3000s enabled a practice being called Office Automation. HP rolled out the Series 37 during the year that led to Washington, and the vendor dubbed it The Office Computer. You could use what the industry still called a minicomputer without special cooling or a raised floor for cabling. Setting up a 3000 on a carpet was still a fresh achievement.

"Our office workers had little if any, access to computing," Ellie East of Media General wrote in one paper. Her DP department "established the company-wide use of the HP 150 computer by approximately 150 executives, managers, accountants and secretaries." Those Touchscreen 150s were in the mix to reduce the computing load of the 17 HP 3000s across the company. Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets made that happen.

Proceedings FormatSpell-checking from word processing was not as important as vetting concepts and DP practices for the papers. You were more likely to get called out for formatting errors on your printed report. One paper delivered 10 pages of tips on "Writing Intellegent Software." It was an era when "compatability" could appear in a headline that I wrote the next year, a gaffe that didn't trigger even a handful of calls. At least that DP pro in DC could point to tech skills that I could not claim, not from the HP Chronicle editor's chair. Our very first booth, one we'd built ourselves, was a DIY number so heavy that it needed a fork lift to make it onto the expo floor, down in the basement hall of the Washington DC Hilton. The ceilings were not 10 feet high. We were upstarts in that hall, tilting at the Interex publications windmill with an editor who was more newspaper writer than proceedings aficionado. 

In that Washington DC September week, there was evidence of volunteering on every proceedings page. Interex '85, billed as The Information Crossroads of the 80s, was hosted by the Baltimore-Washington Regional Users Group. At the meeting's pinnacle where the volunteers took a bow, they all sported red blazers, the ones they'd been wearing all week. The RUG officers told us the coats were an invitation to "ask me" for help about finding which talk to attend, or where an event could be located.

The Interex 85 conference was among the last to be driven by a focused users group. 3000 managers and vendors from the Southeastern Michigan Regional Users Group hosted Interex 86 in Detroit. Users took home another two-volume set of proceedings. By Interex 87, held in Las Vegas in another September, the role of the RUG in national meetings was on the wane. An icon as flashy as a red jacket would not appear on the stage of another meeting. Those tomes of technical paper, gathering the advantage of desktop publishing to reduce their page counts, would survive for another 14 years of conferences.

A sampling of such classic proceedings from the 1970s through the end of the Interex era is online at the OpenMPE website. I've got no idea how those thousands of pages were driven into digital images, but the brute force that must have been required matched the rolled-up sleeve approach to 3000 DP of 1985. Captured in those online pages is advice on software which still runs on 3000s of today, such as IMAGE and its logging capabilities. The first TurboIMAGE Textbook was still four years away from that week in DC, and it also caught a 3000 wave that was powered by paper.

08:06 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 02, 2015

The Heritage of Enterprise Consumerism

ColaThe heritage of your computer marketplace is driven by many more failures than successes. HP attempted to build a multiple operating system technology (MOST) system in 1993, mostly by re-engineering MPE and Unix software for customers who needed both environments.

MOST failed in alpha tests and taught Hewlett-Packard a lesson: do not promise so much flexibility that you kill performance. MOST was too slow to do the work of a single-OS system of the early '90s. The technology for multiple-OS computing was still five more years away, in Superdome. By the time HP polished Superdome, it lost its taste for expanding its MPE business.

John_SculleyThat story has been echoed in the market many times. Virtualization and cloud solves such challenges today. But in 1993, NeXT Computer was killing itself by shipping a version of its OS that actually ran slower than the prior release. NeXT was the brainchild of Steve Jobs, who'd been kicked off Apple's throne by a board that was steered by John Sculley. Recent news has Sculley unveiling a new Android smartphone that won't be sold in the US. Aimed at China and emerging markets, this new Obi is, and so it avoids some competition with Apple.

Sculley, the former CEO of Pepsi, had been brought in to Apple by Jobs. The insanely great wunderkind knew he needed help to reach consumers. The move cost Apple momentum that elevated Microsoft and Windows to the top tier of business computing. Jobs tried to rebound with NeXT. Like MOST, the NeXT was way ahead of its time. Consumer-grade Unix was still 12 years away, lurking in the dreams for Mac OS X.

HP 3000 owners care about this because of their computer's heritage. Another consumer whiz, Dick Hackborn, climbed onto another board, HP's, and turned the LaserJet consumer reseller model onto the rest of HP's business. Direct contact with small to midsize customers became a task HP delegated. A 3000 shop that once knew its OS supplier through an SE or a CE had to learn to use resellers. The 3000 division lost track of the majority of its customers, and when the large sites yearned for a Superdome, nobody was able to keep in touch with customers who didn't need such a beast.

Sculley might do well with the Obi, even after a pratfall at Apple. On the other hand, the results might be Obi-Wan. It takes a failure to learn something, most times. MOST taught HP about speed, benefits, and the need for enough brainpower to enable something better (MPE) to drive something popular (Unix). The 3000's heritage flowed even and steady for awhile after Hackborn bent HP to a consumer beat. The loss of focus sealed the 3000's fate at HP, though.

Enterprise and consumer computing were distinct entities when Scully and his pratfall pushed Jobs past another failure, NeXT, and into Apple. Now Scully will be competing with the ghost of Jobs, trying to sell a smartphone against the iPhone. But heritage does not mean that fate is cemented. The 3000 was never going to prosper in what HP was on the vanguard of building: enterprise consumerism. As it turns out, HP was not going to succeed at that either. Hackborn's board because erratic and dysfunctional.

While 3000 users plan their futures, they should look at the heritage of replacement candidates. A Scully smartphone will be as popular as Pepsi in emerging companies. It might be just as empty of enterprise sustenance, unless Sculley has learned the lesson HP has embraced: enterprise and consumer computer businesses should be run differently. In 60 days, Hewlett-Packard and HP will mean different things when the company recognizes the differences and splits.

05:14 PM in History, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 01, 2015

Finding a Virtual Replacement for MPE/iX

This week HP and other vendors are presenting new products, and new ideas about older products, at VMworld. The conference is organized by VMware and offers a stage to show how IT strategies are being changed by virtualization. The only virtualization that MPE/iX hosts can enjoy is the Stromasys Charon HPA server. It makes Intel processors a virtual choice. Stromasys is at the conference, but what HP's got to say about Hewlett-Packard solutions is informative, too.

As it turns out, heading to Intel Xeon hardware is a good idea for all of the other HP enterprise environments. It's as if Charon and the Superdome brand are aimed at the same destination. HP-UX won't get there, though. And Intel Xeon is essential to VMware.

The 3000 customers who've been the slowest to move onward to other platforms might be the ERP companies. Manufacturers customize their applications more than any other kind of app user. This week HP's touting a server at VMworld that it says is the world's fastest 16-socket ERP server. Superdome X is driven by Linux and Windows, though, not the HP-UX environment that ruled HP's enterprise roost in the late '90s — an era when Windows was taking over IT.

HP bet heavy on Unix. Back then, the product which became Windows 2003, 2008 and then 2012 was called Windows NT. Everything that NT did was folded into those subsequent Windows enterprise solutions. Since then, meetings like VM World apparent that HP's Unix lost its high ground, but not because of any lack of virtualization. HP's Unix isn't ever going to the x86 family. HP-UX slipped as an enterprise choice because it was built upon the wrong processor.

Doug StrainThat's what HP's manager Doug Strain used as a key point in his VMworld talk about Superdome X. "The only problem was that it didn't have x86 processors," he said of the machine that now can use up to 12TB of memory. "Well, we fixed that." So it seems that the right chipset — based on Intel's Xeon, not Itanium — will make Superdome as useful and fully-featured as it should be for virtualization. It's just one more way to see that Itanium and HP-UX has dropped from HP's futures.

Linux is taking the place of HP-UX in HP's ERP futures. It's not news that VMware and HP's Unix are not a match. What seems new is the way Linux and Windows are positioned as HP's VMware solutions — with specific mention of ERP applications.

In a meaningful minute-plus, Strain sums up how the Integrity line is a real VM player, now that it's got Xeon capability. It paints the new-ish HP hardware (Superdome X has been out since this spring) as a powerhouse for ERP. Does it virtualize? Oh boy. What better reason for HP to have a slide show at VMworld, but to talk up this OS-chip combo? Integrity used to mean Itanium, still the only chip that hosts HP-UX. HP says that Integrity, "if you're familiar with it, going back," is now so much more.

Replacing MPE/iX as an ERP solution has been a challenge for a decade on the migration front. There are still major manufacturers using 3000s, and looking to what's next. Virtualization is important for shaping an advanced strategy that wrings the best use from IT investments.

How important? Here's what HP had to say today about its partnership with VMware.

"The software-defined data center enables companies to evolve beyond hardware-centric architectures to create an automated, easy to manage hybrid cloud platform that can meet the demands of both traditional and emerging cloud-native applications," said Carl Eschenbach, president and chief operating officer, VMware. "VMware and HP continue to help our mutual customers drive innovation with greater speed and scale."

Linux has won a victory by evolution. HP decided the best of HP-UX would go into Linux.

MPE/iX got replaced in the same way, by an HP environment that has now gotten eclipsed itself. MPE/iX has a role to play with VMware, as part of the Charon solution. The HP-UX environment certainly has partitioning, as well as virtualization. It just doesn't have enough HP mindshare at VMworld to earn a talk like Strain's. That conference is the epicenter of virtualization this week.

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