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December 01, 2015

Having a spare 3000 board a faster strategy

At a CAMUS user group meeting, Terry Simpkins of Measurement Specialties once shared advice about the need for getting a 3000 CPU board configured by HP during a downtime crisis. Don't do it, he advised. You can be ready for this with an on-site spare, just like his worldwide manufacturing company does for its 3000s.

HobbledIt was one of the last services available from HP, since it related to a licensing issue. Regarding this change that HP once did — for a Time & Materials fee — to copy an HPSUSAN number to fresh hardware, Simpkins said, "It baffles me about why anybody would get themselves into a situation where they had to react like that. Why wouldn't they have a spare processor board already set with their system name and SUSAN number sitting on the shelf?"

Now hardware is the customer's business alone. People are arranging to get the full power of their 3000s turned on. They want their horses un-hobbled.

Five years ago this month, HP stopped supplying 3000 hardware support. (Sometimes a rumor emerges about a company that can still call the vendor for support on a selective basis.) Simpkins said creating this kind of hot 3000 spare is an easy thing to do. "I wouldn't have anything to do with HP once I'd get my extra board set to my SUSAN number. They are not the only people in the world who can legally perform that service."

Simpkins' company is one arm of a much larger entity, one with operations in North America and Asia. It's not a firm that would fly under a legal radar just to have its 3000s supported independently. Even so, there are other hardware modifications available by now to give HP's 3000 hardware the horsepower it was denied by the vendor. The A-Class servers are the best example of how independence yields new power.

"The A400 has a 440 MHz processor that is crippled to run about 58 MHz (per MIPSTEST)," said Craig Lalley of EchoTech. "I uncrippled a customer, and their backup went from 6 hours down to 1 hour and 2 minutes."

"Color me unsurprised," said MPE veteran developer Denys Beauchemin. "But I am still disgusted at the level of crippling HP inflicted on the A-Class. The equivalent HP-UX version of that server was a workhorse."

Providers of this kind of service "have been vetted by HP's lawyers," Simpkins said, "and have been given a clean bill of health. To my knowledge, they will not do something untoward. But if you're sitting there with an HP 3000 running with an HPSUSAN number and an HPCPUNAME, I can't understand why anybody wouldn't already have a spare CPU board sitting in their closet, ready for that eventuality."

It's interesting to note Simpkins called the CPU failure an eventuality rather than a possibility. Every bit of hardware can fail — and even solid state portions of a 3000 have this somewhere in their future.

There's an important distinction to observe about the setting of an HPSUSAN number. Applying this ID to a non-3000 board doesn't sit well with HP, although there's nothing the vendor can do about this, either. In the past, entire PA-RISC systems have been turned into MPE-ready servers, hardware that was originally sold as HP-UX devices. That's not the same sort of re-configuration as being ready for a board failure on your 3000.

03:45 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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