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December 31, 2015

Throwing Back, and Looking Forward

We'll be taking tomorrow off to celebrate the new year. But first, some HP news.

Mighty Mouse adHewlett-Packard employees are still having meetings around the 3000. They are employees retired from HP, mostly, and the meetings are not at the HPE campus. Before you get too excited about a wish for a new business prospect for the 3000's new year, I should say these are reunions of a sort. A holiday party happened for CSY happened just before Christmas.

The revelers from that party included some people still working for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Corp. But it was a way to look back, and in one of our Throwback Thursday moments it give us a chance to savor people who made the 3000 what it once was. The wishes are for what might still be.

The meeting was wrapped around a brunch held on the Monday before Christmas and held in Cupertino. Arriving at 9AM in Cupertino to enjoy the company of people with MPE savvy must have felt like a throwback. The notice showed up on Facebook, sent among 43 people with a lot of names you'd recognize from community leadership and tech savvy. "Just seeing all your names makes me happy," one CSY veteran said.

HP legacy adLike the HP3000 Reunion of 2011, people couldn't attend who wanted to do so. One said he was going to reschedule a meeting of his with today's HP so he could rejoin his comrades. Plenty of throwbacks in CSY work for other companies by now. Somebody else in the 3000 community wishes that current HP employees could work in the service of MPE. It won't be among HPE's New Year's Resolutions, but the sentiment illustrates where the 3000 could travel next year.

"Hopefully 2016 will bring renewed rational decision-making by the new folks running the new HP," says 3000 customer Tim O'Neill, "and they will once again concentrate on making excellent hardware matched with software that gives customers reason to buy HP. Maybe they'll bring renewed emphasis on MPE/iX homesteading on Stromasys, instead of a purposeful blind rush towards alternatives."

It's possible that HP, now morphing into Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, might have changed enough to be a company the 3000 community would want to associate with it. While looking over the replies to the holiday CSY party, I saw names of good people. Top HP executives were not among these retirees, although Winston Prather chipped in good wishes.

Good things can happen in 2016, but even Tim O'Neill knows that HP hardware running MPE will not see any reunion with the customers who held it dear. Not unless it's a high-powered ProLiant running the Charon emulator.

"HP could announce HP-UX 12.00 running on HP hardware, even if the HP hardware has Intel CPU in it," he suggests. Right now, HP-UX is destined to an 11.4 release for the rest of its lifespan. The vendor isn't moving to Intel hardware with HP-UX, just NonStop. VMS is heading for independent ownership.

O'Neill adds that "Some people I know are buying HP components like blades or storage, but not whole systems. For example, they buy HP blades then run VMWare on them. Curious customers could ask "Why buy HP if you are not running HP software?"

The reason for buying HP hardware speak to the changes in IT management. To celebrate the future with HP, you probably won't be concerned with its invented-here operating environments. Linux, Windows, all the successors to MPE from the commodity world are driving replacements. If the sting has left your cheek from a slap delivered more than a decade ago, then a 2016 with HPE products in it will not be a pipe dream. If Winston's name didn't make you shudder, you've moved onward.

The calendar always moves onward, after all, but the 3000 community tends to remain — even as it does its own morphing into new work. The Christmas meeting "shows why the old HP was so special," one 3000 vet said in a Facebook reply. "Long after CSY and the HP3000 are gone, co-workers are still getting together. What a testament to Dave and Bill's HP."

Happy New Year to you all. We will look forward to new developments, technical or otherwise, in 2016.

08:41 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 30, 2015

3000's '15 was littered with crumbs of news

It's the penultimate day of 2015, a date when summary and roundups prevail in the world of news. The year marked some milestones for the NewsWire, some losses of the community's oldest treasures, and one major breakup of an old flame. Here's a breadcrumb trail of stories of extra note, retold in the final stanza of the 3000's 43d full year serving businesses.

ChecksChecks on MPE's subsystems don't happen, do they? — We learned that HP's subsystem software doesn't really get checked by MPE to see if it's on a valid HP 3000 license. "None of HP's MPE/iX software subsystems that I've ever administered had any sort of HPSUSAN checks built into them," reported Brian Edminster, our community's open source software resource. Licensing MPE is a formality.

Virtualized storage earns a node on 3000s — A new SAN-based service uses storage in the cloud to help back up HP 3000s. The  HP3000/MPE/iX Fiber SAN doesn't call for shutting off a 3000. It can, however, be an early step to enabling a migration target server to take on IMAGE data.

NewsWire Goes Green — After 20 years of putting ink on paper and the paper into the mails, we retired the print issues of the NewsWire and went all-digital. We also marked the 10th anniversary of service from this blog and waved a proud flag of history to celebrate our founding Fall of two decades ago. We miss the print, but you won't miss the news. Bless the Web.

SuitPatches Are Custom Products in 2015 — HP licensed the MPE source code five years ago, and just a handful of elite support companies are using it to create customized patches and workarounds. If your support provider doesn't have a source license, it may be time to spruce up your provider chain. 

Still Emulating, After All of These Years — Several sites where the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator is working reported the solution is as stable and steady as ever, while others continued to emerge in the community. Even a 3000 using antique DTCs could be bought over to the light side of Intel-based virtualization.

N-Class 3000 now priced at $3,000 — The bottom-end price on the top of Hewlett-Packard's MPE hardware line approached the same number as the server. A $3,000 N-Class 3000, and later a $2,000 model, both appeared on the used marketplace. A fully-transferred license for a server could lift the prices, of course, for a persnickety auditor.

Big companies still use the HP 3000 — A reader asked for proof that large companies were still relying on the 3000, and we discovered more than you'd expect 12 years after HP stopped making the server. Publicly held companies, too.

Work launches on TurboIMAGE Wiki page — Terry O'Brien of DISC started up a new project to document TurboIMAGE on Wikipedia, an effort that drew summertime attention.

3000 world loses points of technical light — The passing of Jack Connor and Jeff Kell left our hearts heavy, but our eyes full of the light of the technical gifts those pioneers and veterans gave us.

MANMAN vendor wants to run datacenters — Infor is still managing MANMAN support for 3000 sites. The vendor is encouraging all of its customers to turn over their datacenter operations to them.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise trots out security in opener — The old flame that spurned the 3000's future ran into another kind of split-up when HP cut itself in two at the end of October. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise got custody of business servers and the support websites split up as HPE became the new name for that old flame.

Returning to Software, After Services — The most primal of the HP Platinum Migration partners, MB Foster, started to turn its focus onto data migration software for sale. The future of UDACentral lies in becoming a product that integrators and consultancies can buy, and customers can rent by the month. The CEO says the year to come will mark a rise in the percentage of software revenues for his company, where migration service has been leading sales for years.

07:38 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 29, 2015

Choosing antivirus via test sites, cloud AV

Editor's note: 3000 managers do many jobs, work that often extends outside the MPE realm. In Essential Skills, we cover the non-3000 skills for multi-talented MPE experts.

By Steve Hardwick, CISSP

AV Comparatives.orgWith many anti-virus and anti-malware products on the market, it can be difficult to choose which provides the best fit. Several websites can now help make a selection and perform evaluations.

In an allied article I describe the elements needed for any effective virus attack: motive, means and opportunity. A suitable anti-virus program must provide the following capabilities.

  1. Be able to detect a vast array of malware
  2. Be able to update the virus definitions as quickly as possible after the virus signature has been isolated
  3. Provide the capability to quarantine and remove viruses after infection. This must include the ability to prevent any spread of the virus after contamination.
  4. Run with minimal load on the operating system. This includes both foreground (interactively scanning files as they are downloaded) and background (scanning existing files and computer activity)
  5. Have plug-ins for the various methods to download the viruses, via web browsers or email applications

AV-Test.orgThe following websites provide ratings for anti-virus products. Some websites' evaluations are are geared towards a consumer user. Others are more aligned to commercial certification of AV products. I've also included a note on how cloud-base AV is changing antivirus options.

AV – Test

Provides a good set of tests that cover all of the five areas outlined above. Updates their reviews on a monthly basis. Covers Windows, Mac and mobile devices. Includes a special section for home users.

AV Comparatives

Provides a good set of testing that covers all of the five areas outlined above. Provides additional, more detailed testing. Only certain tests are updated monthly. Testing is not broken down by operating system.

Virus Bulletin

Only provides the ability to detect viruses and not provide false positives. Only covers Windows and Linux.

Using cloud AV

One approach that minimizes the impact of running an AV program locally is to run the software in two parts, one locally on the machine and one in the cloud. A new set of cloud-based solutions are being offered. These provide a small scanning application running on the operating system and do the heavy lifting in the cloud. Panda, a provider that scored best in the AV Comparatives evaulations, is one example of cloud AV.

The local application scans files and provides file signatures, then uploads them to the cloud counterpart for analysis. This removes the need to update the local definitions on the computer and increases the ability to react to new threats.

This benefit comes at a price. The capabilities are limited by the lightweight application, the services the operating system provides to that application, and connectivity to the Internet. Many of the rating websites are slow to rate these products, especially those focused on consumers. As they become more popular, this cloud AV will be included in the traditional testing suites.

11:54 AM in Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 28, 2015

Hello, who's still out there? Permanent 404s

Doh-4042015 has seen comings in the 3000 world, but more goings. Some MPE veterans have signed off of the 3000 mailing list, headed to retirement or the new work on commodity platforms like Linux or Windows. There was a singular departure, too, as Jeff Kell passed away after leaving a legacy of the mailing list-newsgroup of HP3000-L.

Kell was so notable that the iconic tech website Slashdot devoted a front page article to him late last month. Tracy Johnson reported that "I cobbled together a few links from the 3000 mailing lists and managed to get a Slashdot headline accepted for Jeff. The message below is Slashdot's report."

Creator of Relay On BITNET, Predecessor of IRC, Dies

Congratulations, your Slashdot submission was featured on the front page! Every day we review hundreds of submissions, but we can only post a few to the front page.

There have also been also the comings, goings and migrations of Web resources. Stromasys posted a case study about one of its new 3000 emulator customers. There have been other outposts that have gone quiet, or at reported missing, during this year. One of the temporary absences was one portal to the NewsWire. Another community resource is unavailable this week. Client Systems's website is off the radar, notable because it's the resting place for the HP Jazz resources including MPE utilities and tech reports.

In the meantime, those Jazz resources remain available on the Web at the HP Migration server of Fresche Legacy, formerly Speedware. Heading to hpmigrations.com/ HPe3000_resources/HP_jazz/ gets you third party utilities, software, as well as a link to Papers and Training. Speedware licensed everything that was stored on Jazz when HP closed off its server at the end of 2008.

We're still on the lookout for the whereabouts of Client Systems, a company that once licensed the stories of the NewsWire. Those were the days when the dot-com boom hadn't gone bust yet. Client Systems was the exclusive North American HP 3000 distributor, during the era when Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise business needed somebody to prep and ship servers loaded with MPE and subsystem software.

While the clientsystems.com domain is pointing at a Network Solutions "website not available" parking page this week, it may not be a permanent goodbye. We know about these misdirections. Back in October, 3000newswire.com landed you at a parking page operated by rascally Russians. The front door to the NewsWire these days is our blog page. However, access to the stories of 1996-2005, presented as printed issues and online updates, became limited to our search engine. 

Our Latest News list of links to our blog articles fell out of service during that domain name theft. 3k Associates caught the cold that caused the NewsWire's sniffles, as 3k.com got hijacked for a little while. Those Latest News posts get created at 3k.com. 3k's domain theft meant our main domain went missing awhile.

It didn't look good. It's common to see such a domain theft go un-recovered, so we were happy to see 3k.com get back into its rightful hands. 3000newswire.com never got snatched, but we found a couple of community members who wondered if we were still around. When I mentioned to Vladimir Volokh our front door was being barred, it looked like everything we had was hijacked. His wife Anne, helping me with a story about masters who were improving MPE manufacturing software, sent her condolences.

Vladimir told me about the hijacking of your website--incredible! I'm wondering what developments will follow regarding the 3000 Newswire, if any. What a story!

Anne wasn't the only one who figured we'd gone offline. Prolific commenter Tim O'Neill worried for our health, too. These are too-common comings and goings on the Web, but you can't be certain what they genuinely mean until there's an obituary, or an email. (We'd say a phone call, but that's so 1995.) In the weeks when Chris Bartram of 3k did his mighty work to wrest his domain back from the Russians, it looked like the NewsWire was out of business. Or at least to anybody who doesn't use our 3000newswire.com/blog address.

3k is making a Web move now, a byproduct of seeing value rise in Bartram's two-character domain name. He's been one of our most precious resources here at the NewsWire since before our beginning. In the years before we started our news service, 3k Associates used our business communications expertise for data sheets, advertising, even Interex conference giveaways.

You'll still be able to say hello at 3kassociates.com, Bartram told me today.

The folks wanting to buy 3k.com want it for something un-HP3000 related (I don't know what). But the fact that it's a 2-letter domain name (which they haven't allowed for many years) makes it valuable. DNS appraisal services appraise it as high as six figures.

I went looking for 3k.com resources while I researched Command Interface scripts, since scripting has become a topic of interest to 3000 members. Either they've got 3000 scripts like JCL jobstreams they need to replace, or there's a desire to automate things so less management is required. The 3000 always needed less hand-holding than other servers. But people are the expensive resource today, so as they retire and interim help takes their place, automation keeps things running. In a new era where a veteran's :BYE doesn't mean goodbye to MPE, scripting can minimize maintenance.

There's been more permanent goodbyes to the Hewlett-Packard stewardship of 3000 information. Oh, you can get hits for HP 3000 at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's hpe.com site. But they're a collection of the StoreEasy 3000 storage gateway, or network switches. The HP 3000-24G-PoE+ Wireless Switch comes closest to matching a 3000 search. 

The byproduct of that HP goodbye is that some links from the up-and-running web resources like 3kassociates and hpmigration.com point at missing Hewlett-Packard pages. So it continues to go, these resources which help 3000 homesteading or assist in migrations. I give thanks for our sponsors, who keep us from going all 404 on you. The lesson to carry out of here is that appearances on the web can be deceiving -- or as we noted earlier this month, reports of a death can be exaggerated. Instead of wondering, you can call, all '95-style.

07:05 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 23, 2015

Throwback: The Holiday Welcome Message

Merry Christmas TreeIn the days when 3000 users logged on to their systems each day, the welcome message was a part of the social exchange between system managers and their customer base. Since the HP 3000 harks back to a day when only a specialized terminal could produce graphics, the server's messages had to be delivered using ASCII characters. This was a challenge that the 3000 manager of the 1980s and 1990s would warm to during the coldest of seasons.

On the archives of the 3000-L mailing list, we find messages on creating the ASCII tree as recently as 1996. "For those of you that have always wanted to put one of those Christmas Trees (with the blinking lights on an HP terminal) in your welcome message," said Tracy Johnson, "but never had the time to bother keying it in, I've attached (for those that can handle attachments) an ASCII text file you can upload."

Merry Christmas WelcomeThe skills to create artwork that would be plugged into a welcome message probably spring from the era's necessary focus on detail. What also helped was perhaps the quieter days of the holiday week we're about to enter. “I use QEDIT's full screen mode,” Costas Anastassiades said when MPE/iX 5.0 was new, “and switch the terminal to graphics mode (Ctrl N/Ctrl O) and then mess around with the various graphic keys. It's all there, on screen, and I can see what I'm doing. So we've had some animation (blinking lights on the original X-mas Tree), and I've added some "Rich Text Format.” Now if only someone can get a terminal to beep "Silent Night"....:)"

Of course, that emoji at the end of Costas' 1996 message is the bridge between the era of ASCII messages and the social media of today.

We're taking a few days off for the Christmas holiday at my house, a time to enjoy grandsons who'll scarcely understand that a computer couldn't display pictures. I hail from the era when A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas were new holiday cartoons, so I'm of an age to understand why the magic of a terminal display was something to play with. I'll leave us all with an ASCII-style holiday poem shared by Paul Edwards, user group director and legendary 3000 trainer, back in 2002. Enjoy your good nights to come, the one before Christmas, as well as those after. We'll be back next week with our 2015 wrap-up reports.

'Twas the night before Christmas 
and all through the nets
Not a mousie was stirring, not even the pets.
The floppies were stacked by the modem with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The files were nestled all snug in a folder
The screen saver turned on, the weather was colder.
And leaving the keyboard along with my mouse
I turned from the screen to the rest of the house.

When up from the drive there arose such a clatter
I turned to the screen to see what was the matter.
Away to the mouse I flew like a flash,
Zoomed open a window in fear of a crash...

The glow from the screen on the keyboard below
Gave an electronic luster to all my macros.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a little sleigh icon with eight tiny reindeer

And a tiny disk driver so SCSI and quick
I knew in a nano it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid than trackballs his cursors they came,
He whistled and shouted and faxed them by name.

"Now Flasher! Now Dasher! Now Raster and Bixel!
On Phosphor! On Photon! On Baudrate and Pixel!
To the top of the stack. To the top of the heap."
Then each little reindeer made a soft beep.

As data that before the wild electrons fly,
When they meet with a node, mount to the drive,
So up to the screentop the cursors they flew
With a sleigh full of disks and databits, too.

And then in a twinkling I heard the high whine
Of a modem connecting at a baud rate so fine.
As I gazed at the screen with a puzzling frown
St. Nicholas logged on though I thought I was down.

He was dressed all in bytes from header to footer
The words on the screen said "Don't you reboot 'er."
A bundle of bits he had flung on his back
And he looked like a programmer starting his hack.

His eyes how they glazed, his hair was so scary,
His cola was jolt, not flavoured with cherry.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a GIF
And the pixels of his beard sure gave me a lift.

The stump of a routine he held tight in his code
And I knew he had made it past the last node.
He spoke not a word but looked right at me
And I saw in a flash his file was .SEA.

He self-decompressed and I watched him unfold,
Into a jolly old elf, a sight to behold.
And the whispering sound of my hard drive's head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He went straight to his work without saying a word
And filled all the folders of this happy nerd.
And 'tis the whole truth, as the story is told,
That giving a nod up the window he scrolled,

He sprang to the serial port as if truly on fire
And away they all flew down the thin copper wire.
But I heard him exclaim as he scrolled out of sight
"Merry Christmas to All, and to all a good night."

07:06 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 22, 2015

Studying the Scripts for HP 3000s

A recent question on the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup asked for help on scripting. The question aimed at the automation prospects through terminal emulation programs. Does Minisoft/92 script, a manager asked. Of course, and Tracy Johnson replied to give details as well as an example.

Minisoft scripts are plain text files with a file extension of .s92 and can be assigned to function keys f1 through f12. We use the keyboard mapping config menu to map it to Type "Script".  Once you choose "Script" a blank box appears below where you put the magic words DO SCRIPT followed by a path including the file name.

Joe FridayLast week, the use of scripts also surfaced while talking to Birket Foster about data migrations. A client of Fosters runs five scripts to clean up phone numbers during a transfer of data. Being able to reach for the scripts improved the quality of data, and the work was automatic. the power of scripting reminded me of a fine column written for us by Ken Robertson. Its subject was an introduction for Unix administrators to the use of shell scripts. But the writing was the kind of operational lore that can make a 3000 look more powerful to an admin new to the 3000.  Robertson wrote about it for the Newswire.

The marvels of scripting lie deep in the roots of MPE. When HP expanded the OS to MPE/XL in the 1990s, it added the Posix shell, which extended the 3000's scripting potential. The MPE/iX command interpreter has a generous command set, pushing the shell into the realm of a true programming tool. Its ability to evaluate expressions and to perform IO on files allows the end-user to perform simple data-processing functions. The Command Interpreter can be used to solve complex problems. Its code, however, is interpreted, which may cause a CI solution to execute too slowly for practical purposes.

For the average task, the MPE scripting language is easier to read and understand than most Unix scripts. For example, command line parameters in MPE have names, just like in regular programming languages. Of course, there are several script languages on Unix and only one on MPE. On Unix you can write shell scripts for any of the many shells provided (C shell, Bourne shell, ksh, bash, etc). Although there is also a Posix shell on MPE, most scripts are written for the CI. 

A command file can be as simple as a single command, such as a Showjob command with the option to only show interactive sessions (and ignore batch jobs):

:qedit
/add
1      showjob job=@s
2      //
/keep ss
/e
:

You have created a command file called SS — when you type SS you will execute showjob job=@s

On MPE, the user needs read (r) or execute access (x) to SS. On Unix you normally must have x access, not just r access, so you do a chmod +x on the script. This is not necessary in MPE, although, if don’t want users to be see the script, you may remove read access and enable execute access.

Structure of a Command File (aka CI script)

A script is an ASCII file with maximum 511 byte records. Unlike Unix, the records may contain an ASCII sequence number in the last 8 columns of each line. The command file consists of 3 optional parts:

1. Parameter line with a maximum of 255 arguments:
parm sessionnumber
parm filename, length=”80”

2. Option lines:
option nohelp,nobreak
option list

3. The body (i.e., the actual commands)”
showjob job=!sessionnumber
build !filename;rec=-!length,,ascii
In MPE scripts, there is no inline data, unlike Unix ‘hereis’ files.

Parameters

Notice in the example above that parameters are used with an exclamation (!), as opposed to the $ in Unix. The same is true for variables. Parameters are separated by a space, comma or semicolon. All parameter values are un-typed, regardless of quoting.

In a typical Unix script, the parameters are referenced by position only ($1, $2, $3, …). In an MPE script, the parameters have names, as in the function of a regular programming language, and can also have default values. In Unix you use $@ for all of the parameters as a single string; in MPE you use an ANYPARM parameter to reference the remainder of the command line (it must be the last parameter).

Here is a script to translate “subsys” and “err” numbers from MPE intrinsics into error messages. The subsys and error numbers are passed in as parameters:

parm p_subsys=108,p_error=63
setvar subsys hex(!p_subsys)
setvar error hex(!p_error)
comment the hex conversion allows for negative numbers
comment the #32765 is magic according to Stan!
setvar cmd “wl errmsg(#32765,!subsys);wl errmsg(!error,!subsys);exit”
debug !cmd

As you can see above, the Setvar command assigns a value to parameter or to a new variable. But there are also system pre-defined variables. To see them all do Showvar @;hp. To get information on variables, do help variable and to get help on a specific variable, say hpcmdtrace, do help hpcmdtrace (set TRUE for some debugging help).
In most MPE commands, you must use an explicit exclam ! to identify a variable: build !filename

However, some MPE commands expect variables, and thus do not require the explicit !. For example, Setvar, If, ElseIf, Calc, While, and for all function arguments, and inside ![expressions].

Warning: variables are “session global” in MPE. This means that if a child process, or scripts, changes a variable, it remains changed when that child process terminates. In Unix you are used to the idea that the child can do whatever it likes with its copy of the variables and not worry about any external consequences.

Of course having global variables also means that it is much easier to pass back results from a script! And this is quite common in MPE scripts.

Options

Options allow you to list the commands as they are execute (option list), disable the Break key (option nobreak), enable recursion (option recursion), and disable help about the script (option nohelp).

The script body below shows active process information. This example shows many of the commands commonly used in scripts: If, While, Pause, Setvar, Input and Run. Other commands you will see are Echo, Deletevar, Showvar, Errclear.

WHILE HPCONNSECS > 0
    IF FINFO("SQMSG",0)
       PURGE SQMSG,TEMP
    ENDIF
    BUILD SQMSG;REC=-79,,F,ASCII;TEMP;MSG
    FILE SQMSG=SQMSG,OLDTEMP
    SHOWQ;ACTIVE >*SQMSG
    SETVAR PINLIST ""
    WHILE FINFO("SQMSG",19) <> 0
         INPUT SQLINE < SQMSG
         IF POS("#",SQLINE) <> 0 THEN
           SETVAR PIN RTRIM(STR(SQLINE,47,5))
           SETVAR PINLIST "!PINLIST" + "," + "!PIN"
         ENDIF
    ENDWHILE
    IF FINFO("SPMSG",0)
       PURGE SPMSG,TEMP
    ENDIF
    BUILD SPMSG;REC=-79,,F,ASCII;TEMP;MSG
    FILE SPMSG=SPMSG,OLDTEMP
    SETVAR PROC "SHOWPROC PIN="+"!PINLIST"+";SYSTEM >*SPMSG"
    !PROC
    WHILE FINFO("SPMSG",19) <> 0
         INPUT SPLINE < SPMSG
         IF POS(":",SPLINE) <> 0 THEN
           ECHO !SPLINE
         ENDIF
    ENDWHILE
    PAUSE 30
ENDWHILE


Handling Errors

In most Unix scripts, if a step fails, you check for an error with an If-conditional and then take some action, one of which is ending the script. Without an If, the script continues on, ignoring the error.

In MPE, the default action when a step fails is to abort the script and pass back an error. To override this default, you insert a Continue command before the step that may fail. You then add If logic after the step to print an error message and perhaps Return (back 1 level) or Escape (all the way back to the CI).

     continue
      build newdata
      if cierror<>100 then
         print "unable to build newdata file"
         print !hpcierrmsg
         return
      else
         comment - duplicate file, okay
      endif

You can set HPAUTOCONT to TRUE to continue automatically in case of errors, but this can be dangerous. The default behavior at least lets you know if an unexpected problem occurs.

07:42 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 21, 2015

ETL needs a C phase to migrate data

CleaningExtract, Transform, and Load make up the needed steps for a successful data migration. The larger an organization has become — or the longer its history — the greater the need to add a C, for Cleanse, to the ETL. Cleaning data is an essential part of decommissioning a 3000's data on the way to migration. MB Foster has been using its UDACentral for more than 10 years to do the ECTL steps in preparation to decommission 3000s. The software's gained some new features recently, on the way to becoming a tool for sale to system integrators and consultants. It's been in use at MB Foster's migration engagements up to now.

The product now can produce an Entity-Relationship diagram. This visual map can be created for documentation of existing database structures. It can be printed, or shared via email, because it's a PDF document.

During the ECTL process, UDACentral now can call a URL to pass in data and get back values that will be inserted into a virtual column. One customer, according to MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster, "had five scripts they ran in a row to clean up a phone number field. This enabled them to use those scripts. When transferring data, they're moving that column out, get the five scripts run, that place the result in that column." This kind of cleaning does slow down the transformation and loading, "but for most people that's not as big a thing as having clean data."

Clean data eliminates errors on a new platform. Data decommissioning typically occurs when

• An application is being replaced – by a new application or an upgrade.
• Hardware or an application no longer has support
• An OS vendor obsoletes a platform or chipset
• An operating system has reached its usable lifecycle
• A company has a change in status – being merged into or acquired, or an insolvency — and an application will no longer be used.

In order to begin such a decommissioning, IT managers should determine owners and key stakeholders. With the patience 3000 managers are known for, they must discover the data owners' requirements for movement and maintenance of legacy app data. "It's not only important from a compliance perspective, but it may be critical to a line of business or department," Foster says. He advises that IT managers adopt a business process and legal view of long-term requirements, rather than just a technology approach.

During this ID phase, understand that data is indelible. "They say there are two things to count on, death and taxes," Foster said. "Now there are three -- let's add data to the list." When you plan to migrate data to the new app as required, you separate data into transaction categories. For active data, figure out a data migration. For inactive data, determine a historic data plan. A single plan doesn't fit both types of data very well.

Because the company has specialized in data and reports for so many years, MB Foster reminds managers that reporting requirements are a key element of both kinds of plan. Longer-term reporting requirements are often not considered during a data decommissioning process. When you need that kind of information, how will it be presented back to the users who need it? One best practice is collecting line of business and departmental-level reporting requirements -- before you decommission legacy applications and data. The apps and platform may change, but the reporting needs are likely to remain the same.

In some cases, HP 3000 apps are part of a larger, global IT structure. It's a good idea to document corporate data retention policies with the global perspective as a guide. Factor in rules according to individual countries, and remember that specific industries will sometimes dictate compliance policies. It's possible to reach out to corporate internal resources which deal with records management to address their policies.

Once the policies and processes have been established, it's time to standardize on an archiving system. This is the time to work on unifying data and content. That's a process that will proceed smoothly if you can provide a complete view of the archiving system to the data stakeholders and departments. Rules for access to the data will include the issues of security, privacy, and compliance with regulations such as HIPAA for health care, or PCI credit card transactions.

A plan and schedule for decommission will impact plenty of departments and people. When presenting the plan, be prepared to address questions such as "Where will the information go once it's decommissioned?" and "What new application replaces the legacy system?" You'll want ask questions, too, like "What is an acceptable decommissioning timeframe?"

Like any good project that impacts a company asset like data, yours will demand that you create a plan for data integrity validation and auditing. Articulate what quality data means, and share it across the enterprise. "The integrity of your data is vital," Foster said, "and there are many threats to data quality." For example there are hardware problems, old tape archive issues, data entry errors, or carelessness.

Project to decommission legacy data often must consider who owns it. Issues of regulatory and governace must be met, including access to historic data over required periods of time. Some alternatives in these instances include moving the data, providing searchable formatted data, and even having an auditable instance for the "system of record" -- the retiring HP 3000 application or server.

05:09 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 18, 2015

Will The Farce always be with us?

Carly FaceIt was well past quitting time this week when I saw the force re-awaken on my TV. In our den, that television is a 7-year-old Bravia LCD, which in TV terms is something like an N-Class server today. A fine midrange machine for its day, but mostly revered now for its value. We paid for it long ago and it continues to work without worries or repairs. Remaining 3000 owners, raise your hands if that's your situation.

On the Bravia, Abby and I watched Steven Colbert's late-night show. Like all of the talk shows it opened with comedy, because by 11:30 Eastern you're ready to laugh and forget the troubles of the day. Colbert poked fun at the latest Republican Presidential debate. You probably can see where this is going now, since a famous HP CEO remains in the running for that job.

Within a few minutes I watched the comedy lampoon of CNN's teaser for its debate broadcast. The leaders in that race swoosh by in close-ups, each with a light that washes across their face and their name blazing below. Trump. Cruz. Bush, and so on, but the lineup of hopefuls this week remains too long for everybody to get their name ablaze. The rest of CNN teaser included faces of other candidates, including the infamous Carly Fiorina. No name there.

But Colbert wasn't quite done. Following Carly's face were other close-ups. Faces from the cast of The Walking Dead washed across. We couldn't contain our delight at the skewering of Carly and the rest. HP's third-most-famous CEO was still having the last laugh, though, since HP became two companies as a result of merging with Compaq. Her Farce continues, even while the HP split-up tries to recover from the Hewlett-Packard fall she induced.

HP Star Wars laptopWe kept watching, even through the late hour, because a J.J. Abrams-Harrison Ford skit would air after the commercial. Oh, what an ad, how it pushed along The Farce. HP Inc. rolled out a commercial for its new Star Wars-themed laptop, a device so crucial to HP Inc success the laptop was mentioned in the latest quarterly analyst report. The tsunami of Star Wars branding is at its peak today while the critically acclaimed blockbuster opens to a sold-out weekend. HP's PC is just the kind of thing Carly would tout with a stage appearance. Thinking a laptop will make a $50 billion corporation's needle move is something of a Farce, but you never know. Nobody knew that The Farce of Carly's HP could cleave off a loyal customer base, either. Then there's the farce of Carly's convenient truthiness about her role in what she did while leading at HP.

It was leadership, but down into a ditch. HP's breakup is the evidence that becoming the biggest computer maker in the world — one that didn't want to make 3000s anymore — was a mistake, if not a misdeed. Low margins on big sales didn't endear customers for decades. The 3000 people stayed true to HP for decades, at least a couple. Unique products like 3000s, not Star Wars laptops, paid the bills with their profits.

Yes, it's a Farce. But will it always be with us, we luminous beings of the MPE community? How can we forgive the past when it's so difficult to forget? It made me wonder how and when we might let Hewlett-Packard off the mat, even while Carly's Farce plays out its end days.

When I posed that question to Abby — as she recovered from a hip replacement which my government is helping fund with her Medicare — Abby said it might not be soon. Our futures changed, like yours, when the 3000 became an End of Lifer in the new Very Large HP. Carly's Farce was believing a very large corporation would continue its growth unchecked. Endless growth isn't possible in economics, but endless devotion might be something real, not a farce.

I say of a few people, "I'll hate 'em until I die." It's unkind and unskilled. But mostly it's about sports, a place where passion lives. The 3000 owners, some of them anyway, displayed that kind of passion. Derek Fisher, the Laker who killed off my beloved San Antonio Spurs' chance to defend a title, tossing in a miracle shot with 0.4 seconds left — him, I'll hate until I die. Abby and I sat in seats in the ATT Center and watched that 2004 devastation. We'd already been blindsided by HP more than two years earlier. But for a Lakers fan, Fisher's shot was a stellar moment. Some HP reps and execs found that End of Life promise about the 3000 to be a stellar moment. It rattled my faith in HP. We could all have faith in HP until 2001. HP's first and second most famous CEOs saw to that, because their names were on the company.

Why You FailAs it turns out, faith is at the heart of The Force. The newest movie restores the faith of the Original Three films, but none more so than The Empire Strikes Back. Deep at its core that 1980 movie contains an exchange between Luke and Yoda. The young Jedi is trying to raise his X-Wing out of the Degobah swamp, using the Force. He struggles to lift it and collapses. Yoda takes over and the small creature uses the Force. The fighter soon sits on a bank beside the swamp.

"I don't believe it," Luke says.

"That," says Yoda, "is why you fail."

Okay, forgive me for sharing a moment so dear to my heart. I considered Empire's story my religion, in my years after Catholicism. My point for the readers who are still with me is that belief, shown as faith, is essential to loyalty and continued growth. Apple is going to have to acknowledge, in time, that it's saturated the world's computer users. It'll be a moment like the late '90s when new 3000 customers became as rare as Integrity buyers of today. What's left, to continue the growth, is the same thing the old pre-Carly HP used. Repeat business from existing customers. That is something HP failed to recover, and so it could not lift its X-Wing of the 3000 out of the Hewlett-Packard miasma of "If it's not growing, it's going." The 3000 wasn't going to survive a Compaq merger where VAX systems competed with 3000s.

Waiting for a Jedi master like Yoda to teach us about any faith in the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise would be foolish. We don't need to learn, we have to unlearn what we have learned. Yoda told that to Luke. We need to unlearn our lessons about how a company could promote stock price and market size while its CEO knew and cared little about its products. That neglect might look like Apple coming to care little about its Mac line. Funny thing is, even while Apple made its cuts to the Mac, the force of faith remains strong in its customers. Mac sales keep growing, even while tablets cratered HP's Very Big plan, even while iPhones came to rule Apple rather than laptops and desktops.

LIke those laptops at Apple, there was always a core of profit in those phones, though. Apple charged more for them and relied on the faith of customers to remain loyal. I believe in the power of faith to move hearts and let us all survive the future. Once we have faith in Hewlett-Packard to hold its products in highest regard, instead of its growth and stock price, to see it pursue profits through quality and loyalty, we might release our anger.

Forgiveness is a vulnerable act. In forgiving we believe we're capable of trust after a mistake or a misdeed. Maybe after Carly exits the political field, I can work on forgiveness. She seems too shabby to hate until I die. Whenever forgiveness happens, that day could mark my start of leaving The Farce behind.

01:48 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 17, 2015

TBT: When 2006 Meant 2008 to 3000 Owners

Mark Twain report of deathTen years ago this week, our community was anticipating overtime news for retaining their 3000s. The year 2005's late December marked the HP announcement that the long-running "end of life" date for the server was being delayed an additional two years. After four years of telling customer that the promised end-of-2006 closing of Hewlett-Packard support was indelible, HP erased its plans and added 24 months of HP support availability.

The timing of the news included a message all its own about the 3000's expected life. When a full day-plus elapsed with nary a customer comment, we reported

As for the relative silence from the customer community, this might be the result of making an announcement three days before the Christmas holiday weekend. Much of the world is already making plans or departing for R&R. As for the business planning of the 3000 sites’ budgets, well, 2006 is already spoken for. All this does is change the options for 2007.

We'd heard all of that year that "2006 means 2006." But by the week before Christmas, 2006 meant 2008. The impact was mixed among the community. The companies who had invested heavily in migration looked up with some dismay at an extended deadline that meant those projects had an extra two years to complete. The homesteading customers who relied on HP's support to justify homesteading breathed a sigh of relief.

But it was the community's vendors who took the bullet for the rest of our world. Platinum Migration Partners were working to fill their project calendars. Some had hired on extra contractor and staff help to service an expected rush of migrations leading to the end of 2006. There was a serious glut of experts during 2006 because of the change. In the homesteading sector, independent support providers looked up to see HP moving the goalposts on the support game. Rather than having a 2006 when expiring HP service contracts could be replaced by indie agreements, the year to come was still more than two years removed from a mandate to switch to third-party support.

HP always like to call the finale of its support program the 3000's End of Life. Prediction of the server's death were like the notices of Mark Twain's demise. That icon of humorists said in 1897, to set the record straight in The New York Journal, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." HP could not be certain even the end of 2008 would be the new end of life for the 3000.

"HP intends to offer basic reactive support services for e3000 systems through at least December, 2008," the company's fact sheet reported. There was the intention part of the statement (no promise) and then the qualifier of "at least." Four full years had elapsed in the migration era by the end of 2005, and Hewlett-Packard had no firm idea of how long its customers would spend using a system whose lifespan was exaggerated — in the wrong direction. As it had for many years, the 3000 was getting short-changed.

The year 2005 was the first for the Newswire's blog, so this extension of HP's plans was good news in our office. Rather than starting the Independent-Only Era in just 12 months, it turned out we wouldn't begin that period for another five years. End of 2008 would become End of 2010, an extension not as notable because it was not the first revision of HP plans.

We had the foresight or luck to consider the HP fact sheet to be a piece of history that we'd better preserve ourselves. The company's been scoured and sliced so completely by now that any mention of HP 3000 takes deep detective work to find on the HP Enterprise website. There's printers over in HP Inc with that designation. In 2005, the 3000 extension notice was on an all-3000 page that included migration success stories along with updates about licensing MPE's source code.

When HP no longer offers services that address the basic support needs of remaining e3000 customers, HP intends to offer to license HP e3000 MPE/iX source code to one or more third parties -- if partner interest exists at that time -- to help partners meet the basic support needs of the remaining e3000 customers and partners.

We spent the next several weeks dissecting the HP announcement for clues about its meaning. Since 2006 no longer meant 2006, extra study of the most current HP strategy was in order. I wrote at the time

As for the third-party MPE source licensing offer, it’s real, but it’s hard to say when it will be extended, or to who. Or what will be in the license. HP's said, "HP intends to license major portions [italics ours] of MPE/iX source code to qualified providers for the purpose of helping them support their customers." Right now HP doesn’t have to open up the source code to anybody until December, 2008, when the vendor is currently scheduled to end all its HP 3000 support. It could be later than that, according to HP. They say they keep listening to what customers want to keep buying (if you overlook the fact that the customers wanted to keep buying 3000s in 2001 -- just not enough customers to keep HP interested in building them.)

As for the support business, guarantees got an extension. Sort of.

HP will remain in the support business in 2007 and 2008, but it will be “basic reactive” support, unless you need mission-critical enterprise level support. Basic reactive gets you HP’s repairs, but nothing proactive. And the vendor’s “6 hours from call to completion” guarantee isn’t part of the basic reactive service, according to Murphy from HP Services  — ultimately the arbiter of how long HP will remain in the support business.

It was something to ponder during a lull in business for the community. This news was dropped on the Monday of Christmas Week. Not exactly the most effective and productive time to announce a new lease on life for a mission-critical server and its OS. But for the owner of a 3000 hoping to wring out as much time as possible on a stable platform, HP's change looked like a holiday gift.

07:41 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 16, 2015

Returning to Software, After Services

The majority of the HP 3000 community vendors started their practices as software suppliers. The realism of the migration era pushed more than a few out of the 3000 business altogether, while others made their transition to services. But one vendor is making a new push into software, using a product that's been sold as a service until recently.

"We hope to license UDACentral to the main migration group [of the Canadian government]," said Birket Foster of MB Foster. "We're helping to organize that right now. If it all gets to the point where we believe the deal will go, we get into a position where there will be 44 government departments using our software as they go through the migration center."

The licensing of the software is a end-product of Foster's work in the Built In Canada Innovation Program. Rather than using Silicon Valley tech resources, software like UDACentral was built in Foster's Canadian labs. "It was never product-ized to the level we wanted it to be, so we could hand it to a computer-savvy manager and say, "Now you run it.' "

In the summer to come, Foster expects a free version of UDACentral to be available for moving a limited number of data resources, 20,000 database entries, in a DIY data migration task. This Demo Version of the software will be available for personal projects where data must be moved. More importantly, Foster said the year to come will mark a rise in the percentage of software revenues for his company, where migration service has been leading sales for years.

"We used to employ UDACentral in jobs and get paid for our services," Foster said. "Now we're making our power tools available for people to do the job themselves." In the year 2000, MB Foster's revenue was 90 percent software and 10 percent services, but the changes of 2001 flipped that equation. Migrations of data are often handled by systems integrators or resellers, though. Sales and rentals of UDACentral will start to return MB Foster's focus to those pre-migration-era levels, Foster said.

06:32 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 15, 2015

Faster firewalls and free jobstreams for MPE

FirewallWe are trying to set up HP 3000 to HP 3000 communication via NS and FTP. The traffic is going through a firewall.  We have it working, but the speed is too slow.  We are getting 2-3 Mbps throughput on HP transfers. PC to PC transfers through the firewall are 22 Mbps.  I checked that the LAN switch port on the 3000 is set to 100 - Full duplex.  

I am being asked what are the the HP 3000 packet sizes or MTU. Where can I find and set the packet size?

Donna Hofmeister replies:

HP says, in the NMMGR Reference manual:

The Network Segment Size field specifies the largest packet (including all data, protocol headers, and link level headers) that will be sent by the LAN device. The only reason for entering a value smaller than 1514 is to make better use of memory for those systems where it is known that upper layer services will always send shorter messages. Note that whenever packets larger than the network segment size are sent, they will be fragmented to the network segment size, thus incurring fragmentation overhead at the source and assembly overhead at the destination node.

Default value: 1514 bytes
Range: 300–1514

What the above is not saying is that for most systems, setting this to anything other than 1514 will result in abysmal network performance. It’s much like a 100 megabit system acting like it's configured for 10 megabit -- because the system is busy fragmenting packets to fit into whatever number you've got.

On MPE, the tcp headers are stored in those 14 'extra' bytes. Regarding your tcp timers, click on the Allegro link here and react accordingly.

There used to be a CSL program that managed 3000 jobstreams. Now that there is the JOBQ parameter for MPE/iX, our site hasn't used that program in years. Maestro was the jobstream solution you paid for. What was that CSL program?

Connie Sellitto replies:

We used STREAMER from a CSL tape: It was customized for our company’s passwords, and allowed you to schedule a job for a different day, any time. It also allowed variable parameters.

Stan Sieler adds:

I think most of these programs from the CSL were aimed at terminating jobs for various reasons.

Perhaps you meant MASTEROP, which is still available for free from our Allegro website. We didn’t write it, but its creator Carl Kemp kindly gave us permission to put it on our website. Additionally, there’s OCS Express, which we maintain.

Can I use a PC instead of a Console on A- or N-Class HP 3000s?

Gilles Schipper replies:

Sure you can, but ...

If you want to use the primary console port, you would need a serial port on your PC, along with an appropriate terminal emulator such as Reflection or Minisoft’s MS/92. Or, you could connect to hp3k via the built-in Secure Web Console port and TELNET. Only the very earliest versions of A/N-class models lacked a SWC port, perhaps only just the earliest A400 models.

Tracy Johnson adds:

We use a PC connected to the NIC on the GSP all the time. You may have noticed one of the RJ-45 ports is labelled "10-Base-T Console LAN".  That's it. Of course you'll have to configure it at the Control-B menu.

For a LAN, the darn thing is slow at scrolling, too. It must be tied to the baud rate of the serial port.

We no longer use the serial port. Funny thing is they both echo the console at the same time. But only one at a time takes keyboard input. (You would have dueling operators at two keyboard vying for control.)

And if you want a LAN on your PC you'll need another NIC on it.

03:52 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 14, 2015

Migrations to Windows are game changers

Migrations have always been agents of change, and some of the changes are being triggered by another shift: from an older Windows to a newer version. We're talking Windows Server here, the host software that was once called Windows NT in the days when a 3000 needed an integration strategy with Windows. Plenty of former MPE shops run on Windows. It's been the top choice for migrated customers.

Changing windowsWindows 2016 is on the way, ready to push along the companies who've already moved from Windows 2003 to 2008 to Windows 2012. Application Portfolio Management is letting IT managers look forward to it with an eye toward making the most of investments. 2016 has changes to the datacenter game coming up, including a big hardware refresh. HP is counting on an uptick in its ProLiant business triggered by Windows 2016; the vendor's been looking toward that release date since early this year.

The Tech Preview 4 of 2016 dropped last month. Since there's been previewing and talk about this Windows change since last year, it's given IT managers time to conduct APM assessments. Or get one started, if they haven't already.

"It helps decide which investments need to be done, and when," said Birket Foster of MB Foster about APM. "For example, Windows 2016 uses Docker, and by May, it will be settled down for production use."

Docker will be helping Windows get into the cloud more easily. There are other benefits, payoffs for the Windows 2016 migrations. The open source project has a 1.5 release, one that aims to bring bigger IPV6 addresses to more systems.

Windows upgrades can trigger larger changes, according to another HP 3000 vendor. Dave Clements of Stromasys says that most of the company's Charon virtualizer customers "are on physical platforms. We see some of them moving to VMware when they upgrade from Windows 2003. It's a choice."

The Windows 2016 move is more accurately a re-hosting, to use one of the Five R's of APM Foster has discussed. The hardware stays the same, but it's likely to need an upgrade. Meanwhile, Docker looks like technology that could help in virtualization, too, according to our contributor and 3000 consultant Brian Edminster.

"Docker struck me as an easy mechanism to stand up Linux instances in the cloud -- any number of different clouds, actually," Edminster said earlier this year. According to a Wiki article he pointed out, Docker is based upon open source software, the sort of solution he's been tracking for MPE users for many years.

Docker is an open-source project that automates the deployment of applications inside software containers, "thus providing an additional layer of abstraction and automation of operating system-level virtualization on Linux. Docker uses resource isolation features of the Linux kernel such as cgroups and kernel namespaces to allow independent "containers" to run within a single Linux instance, avoiding the overhead of starting virtual machines," the Wiki article reports.

Docker is "a standardized software platform for delivering apps at scale," according to an article in Infoworld. And it's taking over the world, the article adds. 

Two major operating system projects have already started integrating Docker as a fundamental part of how they work. CoreOS uses Docker to create a pared-down Linux distribution -- one now available on Google Cloud Platform, appropriately enough -- where all software is bundled into Docker containers. Red Hat's already started building major support for Docker into Red Hat Enterprise Linux and has plans for a major reworking of RHEL around Docker, Project Atomic.

 

02:09 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 11, 2015

Virtual testimony: sans servers, sans apps

ShakespeareFor the HP 3000 manager who looks at other platforms and longs for their range of choices, a testimonial from HP Enterprise Services might seem like catnip. A story about Lucas Oil that was touted in an email today shows how a 3000-sized IT department improved reliability with virtualization. The story also skips any chapters on application software. Sans servers, sans apps, sans uptime worries, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

It's a success story from HP Services, so it might not be so surprising that the details of custom software are missing. In summary, a two-person IT department (which sounds so much like 3000-class staffing) is cutting down on its physical servers by using a lower-cost quote for vitualization. Lower than Dell's, apparently, which is something of an indictment of VMware, perhaps. Dell and VMware are found everywhere together. Now they're going to belong in the same entity with the upcoming EMC acquisition.

But regarding the case study from HPE, it's more of a hardware infrastructure study rather than a full IT profile. Only Photoshop is mentioned among the software used at Lucas, the company somehow big enough to pay for naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts NFL stadium, but small enough to count on just two people to run a datacenter.

The basics in software tools are mentioned, the building blocks of Windows 2012 users: SQL Server, Windows, Active Directory. There's also a mention of an HR application, which tells us that there are custom apps in there, or HPE didn't consider software a part of the story. This is a testimonial about removing iron from IT. Garrett Geisert is the IT admin at Lucas.

Since we virtualized on our HPE ProLiant DL360 servers and HPE MSA 2040 SAN, management isn’t concerned about availability anymore, because we haven’t had an outage yet. Actually, we did have one outage in the last year but it was because of Google’s file servers, not ours. It’s sure been nice not having to tell people they can’t access their systems.

That's one set of choices that's not available to HP 3000 sites who haven't migrated, unless they consider Stromasys Charon to be a way to virtualize. Hardware failures were vexing Lucas Oil. It's the kind of problem any 3000 site has to plan for, with all of the drives out there being more than a decade old.

“If we had a single server with a bad hard drive or blown power supply, it meant kicking of all users of that application until we had the problem fixed," Geisert says in the testimonial. "For us, it could mean shutting down anything from a basic file server to HR to full-on Adobe Photoshop graphics."

Newer hardware can be a serious capital expense. Since migrated sites always have upgrade options — well, the ones that don't use HP-UX, anyway — this expense is always out there lurking, posing as a solution to problems like reliability. Buy newer drives. Buy better power supplies.

The virtualization solution at this 3000-sized IT shop puts multiple servers on a set of ProLiants, and the servers can take over for one another. In the 3000 world this was called high availability with a price tag to match. Virtualization's magic somehow cuts the cost of this while it manages software application nuances like tapping the right databases, even through a virtualized server failure.

It's just like me to think that because there's no application detail in the testimonial, it's not authentic. It makes me curious about whether those app databases needed revision to accommodate virtualization's payoffs. This might be a nuance that HP Services provided or consulted upon. A reseller is mentioned in the story, a resource that's not virtual at all. And everyone seems happy with all this is sans from the story, especially the downtime. It's been that way for HP 3000s for decades, too.

 

07:07 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 10, 2015

Virtual resources, real costs: VMware, Cloud

Cloud computing comparisonWhile doing stories on the Tomorrow of IT, virtualization of resources and platforms comes up a lot. In fact, the most popular choices for virtualization represent the today of IT for anyone budgeted for change. But for the company still tied to the traditional datacenter model, hosting an app on a cloud server or even virtualizing a processor might look like more distant futures. Their costs are very real, though, figures that represent a long-term investment that 3000 managers might find new.

Stromasys stories about the Charon HPA emulator for 3000 CPUs often feature VMware. The company's product manager Dave Clements says that VMware isn't essential to eliminating a physical 3000, replacing HP iron with a virtualized MPE server. A lot of the Charon customer base ends up using VMware, though.

Cloud has its costs to calculate, too. "A pretty good sized virtualized server in the cloud costs about $1,000 a month," Clements said. "We don't discourage it, but we don't sell it, either. We can do [cloud virtualization] but truth be known, it's not high on our list."

Budgets vary a great deal, and so $12,000 might look like a cost for a physical server where you only pay for it once every five years. A price for any virtualized software solution or a service could look out of reach for a smaller customer — plenty of those in the 3000 world — or a bargain for the big players (there are large corporations still in the 3000 user base today, too.). "Crazy expensive" is a phrase that's been tied to VMware. The company has a cost of ownership calculator that's educational, but even a five-server license is $16,000. Those dollars buy an IT manager the flexibility to host any array of platforms, though.

There is a small set of Charon users adopting VMware, according to Clements. "VMware is not a requirement for Charon," he said. "Most of our customers are on physical platforms. If VMware is available it can be used, unless there is a customer requirement for direct access to a physical device, like a tape drive."  

VMware has a cloud product line, too. Clouds come up in many stories in 2015. While interviewing Birket Foster for a story about Application Portfolio Management, he made this case for walking away from physical hardware costs.

If we were to own a fleet of cars or trucks, there'd be a fleet manager sitting at the table. They'd be able to tell me the current mileage on each of their cars, when the next oil change was due, and what it's costing them to maintain each car. Ask somebody the same kind of questions, about a server or anything in their IT fleet, and they have no idea. That's one of the reasons why as soon as they virtualize, they typically get to reduce the cost of their IT infrastructure by 30 percent, maybe as high as 60 percent — just by virtualizing.

Virtualization can be physical, like Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers, or systems installed at Rackspace. Or it can be logical, like VMware as a platform for hosts, or Charon ready for MPE. Blending all three of these is the future of HP 3000 installations. The more virtualization you employ, of course, the more complex the solution becomes. Last week, HP customers and executives testified to keeping tech solutions simple.

Simple plus low-cost always had a price to offset though: paying people smart enough to make it reliable. "The hardware used to be expensive, and the people were cheap," Foster said. "Now, it's just the opposite."

What's offset these people costs are the standardizations for applications. Custom programming was a common choice while the 3000 was on the rise. Now applications can be considered off the shelf. Replacing a custom application with these off-shelf apps is a non-simple project. Most companies need help to do this. They engage virtual people — short-term consulting — to transform an app from custom to common. Then they can invest in the new datacenter tech: virtualization, with the blinking disk lights off in a co-located cloud datacenter.

At MB Foster, the company has an AWS version of its UDACentral software available. "We allow people to be able to migrate data through the cloud," Foster said. "A couple of times a year we test a new version to see how well UDACentral scales. We send a command to AWS to go from the two-processors we normally use to 128. We rent them for the two hours we do the testing. Building a server for that kind of test would be a lot of money invested, and not being used."

That's a physical expense, against virtual promises and opportunity, applied to real-world applications and workloads. There's a reason that the scope of virtualization is broad. Whether it will work in a datacenter's tomorrow is "it depends," but it seems like a test of the prospect is worth an investment — whether its virtualizing hardware to run MPE, or getting away from datacenter servers altogether. The former is the route for a homesteader, the latter a path made possible by migration.

07:49 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 09, 2015

More R's for APM's Migration Uses

The third R of the application portfolio management process is Retire, but it might well lead to special storage for HP 3000 app data. A business application can be retired, said Birket Foster in a webinar today, when it has no more business value. However, just like the 3000 itself, retiring software can demand specific decommissioning procedures.

"The application may have to be a system of record," Foster said, "and although it has no more business value, it has a requirement from a compliance point of view. Its data must be preserved in the right manner." In some cases, such compliance has kept 3000s online years after an expected decommissioning date.

Traffic lightsWhile using APM for migration planning, the R's of Rehost, Replace and Retire are most often the paths taken. But there's also a Re-Platform choice that can be appropriate. Rehosting can mean something as direct as migrating the data "and changing a database on the way over, and updating the toolsets in dev, test, and production environments." In a re-platform, "the old system might be dying, but it takes three years to go through the replacement process." Replacements can be done in as little as 3-6 months, but in a larger organization it can take years. Just picking up an app and moving is a re-platform. 

"Sometimes, your time is worth more than money," he said. If it's going to take three years, "and my disk drives are already dying, I need to re-platform," Foster said. This is "a temporary move to get you to where to need to get to. You still don't know which of those three R's it would have been — it's just that you need to do an emergency fix." 

If the app can stay where it is, "There could be a Retain, if I'm happy with the platform that's currently there," he said. "It needs to have the green light, if we're to use an application dashboard. Green apps can stay where they are. They work both for the business and for the technology."

Five R's in all are likely to make up the scope of a project MB Foster's working on for the Canadian government, work that affects thousands of applications across all of the government's departments. The government wants to consolidate datacenters as well; it's running more than 700 today. UDACentral, the company's data migration wheelhouse, is at the heart of that MB Foster work. Like any APM triage, that project will require an early start in cleaning data. 

If you don't start early, you will run into problems. For example, there are many reasons to do a close review of your data mapping requirements. Legacy data types may not have no equivalent SQL data type. "It's important to have someone on your team try it early, for these technical reasons," Foster said, including things like repeated fields, reserved words, overloaded fields, or data names that might be reserved words.

07:17 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 08, 2015

Over time, app management changes its R's

Every application is an asset. Every asset deserves evaluation. Changing valuations will affect migration planning, software selection, and the career of the IT pro who manages software like it's a portfolio.

Application Portfolio Management rides on those three tenets. It's a strategy that's been practiced for more than a decade, and even in the HP 3000 world, APM has been promoted as good management. Birket Foster of MB Foster started talking about it in the earliest days, explaining how APM could get an IT managers a seat at the boardroom strategy table.

However, things have changed in the eight years since Foster wrote that article. In 2007 the Three Rs of Applications included Replacement and Rehosting. But back then, the Third R was to Remain. By now that Third R has become Retiring. Retiring apps through APM can be used as a strategy for tuning a migration plan. As Foster says

The quantification and conditions of applications in terms of business fit, stability, quality and maintainability allows for the 3 R’s of migration to be applied. Once the portfolio is triaged and divided into categories, it is time to prioritize, and execute on a plan appropriate to each of the applications.

IT QuadrantMore details are available Wednesday (Dec. 9) at 2 PM Eastern in a webinar Foster is hosting. Registration is on the company's website. Remaining, rather than Retiring, is the nirvana, available for any application that can sits in the coveted upper-right quadrant of the triage chart. Retiring an application can be the trigger for a migration, though, especially if it's an MPE keystone app. That's to say, an application that has been critical to your company's business success.

Why retire something like a keystone? Business fit could be slipping loose, as the static nature of HP 3000s discourages application modernization. Stability isn't an issue, unless that MPE app relies on outside code or middleware that's being mothballed by its vendor. Maintainability might become an issue if a company's MPE expertise retires.

Companies can engage an outside resource to take on development and maintenance of 3000 apps, yes. Managed Business Systems, one of the four founding HP Platinum Migration partners, used to specialize in this, along with other suppliers. (MB Foster is another founder.) However, it takes a manager who's comfortable with legacy IT to adopt the responsibility for MPE and its mission-critical keystones. "I like old tech," one such pro told us this year. He is a fellow who'd cut his teeth on Data General minicomputers.

The word minicomputer has long been retired. Even though they've been renamed servers, it's the software that drives decisions regarding when to migrate, and how to do it. APM gives managers a best practice to judge which R fits which app best. Even if your apps live in that upper-right, and they're candidates to Remain, they'll still need to prove that valuation to boardroom managers. Knowing how to prepare is a good skill in times of change.

 

08:27 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 07, 2015

On MPE Chatting, B-Tree Plants and More

How we can chat on the HP 3000 system with the other users who have logged on?

Lars Appel replies:

You can try the TELL and TELLOP commands. For more information see :HELP TELL or :HELP TELLOP.

When I run dbutil.pub.sys, and type the command set MYDB btreemode1=on I get the message “Database root file must be at least “C”4 for SET <db> BTREEMODE1=O." Why can’t I set my btree mode?

Rene Woc replies:

Before you can “set btreemode1,” the database has to have Btrees. You add Btrees with “addindex MYDB for all (or specific master datasets)”. This command will also set root level to C4. To use “addindex” your system needs to be at least on TurboIMAGE version C.07.xx. So how do you find out what version of IMAGE you have? Use the version command in QUERY.

I need to take some groups off of the mirrored drives, and add (move) other groups onto the mirrored drives. Is it as simple to use the altgroup command and specify the volume set?

[Editor’s note: “mirrored drives” is a straw man that has nothing to do with the problem or answer.]

Craig Lalley and John Clogg reply:

It is simple but not that simple. What you need to do is create a temporary group on the target volume set. Copy files in the group you want to move to the temporary group. Delete the source group. Create the new group using

NEWGROUP xxx;homevs=volume_set
NEWGROUP xxx;onvs=volume_set

Note that it is a two-step command. Then rename the files from the temp group to the newgroup. John Clogg also noted that another approach would be to STORE the files, and restore them once the group was relocated. That way you could preserve creation and modification dates, and creator ID.

I have inherited a HP 3000, and I was trying to clean off an old TurboIMAGE database. I did a purge @.data and it purged about 100-plus files. However, it did not purge everything. They can’t be purged, even when logged in as manager.sys. The error that I get is CIERR 45, Privileged File access. I have tried to release it with no luck either. Any suggestions?

Steve Macsisak and Denys Beauchemin reply:

You can purge TurboIMAGE databases using the utility DBUTIL.PUB.SYS and the command PURGE (database name). The database name is the name of the root file, the one without numbers at the end. The command will purge all the datasets of the database. There are a few other ways to do this, but this is the most obvious.

[Editor's Note: Vladimir Volokh reports that if you have several databases, you must run this several times. Using MPEX, you can purge everything, so long as you are a manager of the account. All databases, all non-databases, everything will be purged with purge @.groupname. purge@.data (ispriv) will purge only databases in the group.]

I have two device numbers I don’t want to be in use and assigned to users on the network. LDEVs 5 and 6 are available for use and we don’t want them to be. Is there some place to configure these out of use?

Gilles Schipper replies:

Simply add these devices as network printer devices (id=hptcpjd path=none) in sysgen. This will prevent them from being used by any logon session.

08:33 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 04, 2015

HP Enterprise discovers words for IT future

Discover 2015Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE, as the business arm of HP likes to call itself) used the last week to revise its language for the future. This future is available to the migrated customers who once used MPE PA-RISC systems. It sounds like HPE is ready to admit that staying the traditional infrastructure datacenter course is a path that leads away from the vendor's desires. Wrapping up an hour of high-level presentations, Chief Marketing Officer Susan Blocher said transforming a datacenter is a polarizing path.

"Business transformation is a controversial statement," she said to the London attendees of Discover 2015. "You are either happy about the opportunities transformation provides, or you're scared to death of what transformation means, and how you're going to deliver the agility and speed that your lines of business demand."

HPE server lineupThe transformation points to what HPE called a hybrid infrastructure, with a combination of "traditional"  and "on-premise cloud," Blocher said. The next step is to transition to public cloud, or off-premise cloud. It appears that cloud computing is in three of the four elements of the hybrid transformation. (Click the above graphic for the five-part lineup of HPE server offerings. Dead in the middle is Integrity, still destined for mission-critical although its adoption rate falls with each quarter.)

Opening ExperienceThe conference demanded an Opening Experience, the level of marketing that old hands from the 3000 HP era once dreamed impossible, no matter how badly they needed it. So a pair of backup singers blended vocals behind a symphony rendition of HPE's theme music. A "new class of system to power the next era in hybrid infrastructure" was announced, HPE Synergy. The statement, and the specs and pictures on a website, confirms there is hardware there in that solution, but HPE's aim is to get its customers to consider Synergy as a compute, storage and networking fabric. It wants its customers to give their businesses "a cloud experience in their datacenters." 

An SMB Hybrid Cloud "enables workforce productivity," she said. "This is a hot topic for every size customer, whether you're small or large enterprise, but it's particularly important for our small and medium-sized customers, where workforce productivity is essential to your business success."

Kinds of FabricBlocher said "We are your movers, [the company] that will help you accelerate what can be a daunting but clearly competitive opportunity for you to transform your business, in whatever way you need to, over the next few years." A thicket of video clips compressed the week's talking points into five-minute segments on YouTube. There were detailed charts for the CIO or VP of IT, such as this comparison of IT fabrics (click for details). But tactics of deployment were for another day; this was four days of dreaming up terms for enterprise aspirations.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 7.01.39 PMHPE's chief marketer used the 400 million-user customer base of DropBox as an example of fast-growth needs being met by those movers. DropBox vice president Thomas Hansen (above, with Blocher) testified to HPE's size meeting the company's needs. DropBox uses the HP Apollo hyper-scale object storage portfolio. Hansen said his company's storage is the repository for 35 billion Adobe and Microsoft files. 

HP Symphony"Those numbers are just incredible," Blocher said as she wrapped up a 10-minute recap. The four-day meeting that began with a symphony orchestra prelude, complete with backup vocalists, looked pitched to a high-level CIO. Such is the change in industry vendor-to-customer events. Its details emerged in a bevy of high-level presentations rife with terms like composable infrastructure, digital enterprise, and service to The Idea Economy.

Hansen addressed the audience as if they were service providers, telling them that customers want simple, easy solutions that are lightning-fast. Hewlett-Packard has transformed the conference experience to represent a information parade for providers, rather than users. 

HPE NumbersHewlett-Packard Enterprise is not only about servers," Blocher said. "It's about bringing you end-to-end solutions and value." She lined up the five presenters who had about seven minutes apiece, while she exhorted the crowd to review the numbers: Selling five servers per minute; claiming 30 percent market share; 40 million units sold; 100,000 partners. "One million customers today," she said.

The Discover YouTube channel used candy like "A glimpse into the future" from Paul Muller, VP of HPE Strategic Marketing, talking about how the year 2030 will see five generations of humans alive at the same time. Technology must help with that future's problems, but in less than three minutes he had few specifics for a customer to act upon.

07:49 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 03, 2015

TBT: When feeds and speeds led HP's talks

Dave Snow and Abby LentzHP used to talk feeds and speeds to its faithful customers. This was never so obvious as in the product update talks delivered by Dave Snow, Product Planning Manager for the HP 3000 line. (He's shown here with Newswire Publisher Abby Lentz at the Chicago HP World conference, the last one where 3000 updates were delivered by Snow.) From those days when the server had its own division, I recall his gait across hotel and conference center meeting room carpets. He was lanky and dressed business casual, Snow with A-Classholding a mic with a lengthy cord that he'd reel in and coil as he talked in his Texas drawl, walking customers through the improvements to HP's iron. At another show in 2001 he carried in the smallest 3000 ever built, the brand-new A-Class system, tucked under his arm.

HP product line 2015This week's HP presentations around servers stood in stark contrast. The high-level view (above) assigned entire product lines to segments ranging from SMB to Service Providers. In the 1990s, customers wanted to know CPU speeds and IO capacity, the number of disks that could be attached to the freshest systems, how fast the LAN speeds were. When HP talked to its customers this week in the London HP Discover show, entire lines of hardware like Integrity and Superdome could be summed up in six minutes. Snow could take six minutes on one branch of the 3000 family, answering questions along the way and pushing through dozens of slides.

Dave Snow at HP Tech Forum 07Even as recently as a decade ago, Snow was unreeling tech data to customers at shows, but had shifted to the HP-UX servers in this picture from an HP Tech Forum. The passion remains in an HP presentation, but the technical details are often a throwback element. There was little Internet to deploy such details in a breaking news setting of the '90s. But Snow took on explaining details of upcoming hardware releases with relish, it seemed. In 1998 he prepped the crowd in San Diego with feeds and speeds like this:

Our first introduction of FibreChannel will be on the next generation platforms. We have decided to work on next generation platforms before we complete doing anything in the FibreChannel/HSC world. We are still looking at whether it makes business sense — in the timeframe of 2000 — to also bring the FibreChannel bus back to the current platforms. We’ve not made a commitment to do that at this point.

The 3000 really needs higher buses than HSC. The industry is moving toward PCI; not just PCI you might get on a PC, but times-two and times-four PCI. These high-speed interface cards will require a high-speed interface to the devices themselves, a place where Ultra-SCSI is being investigated for HP 3000 use.

Very quickly we see on the horizon gigabit Ethernet LANs coming down the pipe. That’s probably where we’re going to focus our first effort — allowing you to reuse the cable you’ve already put in for 100 megabit LANs, in the 2000 timeframe.

In contrast, during a six-minute segment at Discover this week, the director of Product Management for HP Enterprise Networking said that "Removing complexity is extremely time-consuming. When building a datacenter, the rule is 'Keep It Simple and Stupid." Native English speakers will recognize that the Stupid needs to be addressed to the datacenter designer, not at the solution itself. Meetings with customers today wallow in such simplification. Perhaps it's because the attendees are no longer "technologists," as the Encompass user group and HP started to call the feed and speed fans of the 1990s.

It's not that the customer interplay was focused entirely on tech benefits. Snow gets credit for proposing the name change of the 3000 to e3000, a change that included a new color of bezel on the boxes that still didn't have a PCI bus. A full year before the A- and N-Class systems emerged, we reported

HP has created new hardware bezels for rack-mounted HP 3000s in a slate-grey color, “so you’ll be able to look across a crowded computer room at a series of 9000s and 3000s and clearly pick out which are the 3000s,” said Product Planning Manager Dave Snow. It was Snow who brought the rebranding proposal to the division last summer. All new systems will get new nameplates, whether they are racked models or not.

There is far more meat on the bone for the tech-inclined HP customer today, if they're ready to browse webpages or watch Livestream presentations or in YouTube videos. HP used the latter two methods this week to spread the word about its Hewlett-Packard Enterprise products at Discover. The work of a product manager is different at today's HP. When the most serious technologist traveled to learn about new HP servers, they expected tech details delivered in person, and Snow had no equal in that critical mission. My throwback question at the end of such a talk was, "Can I get a copy of those slides?"

09:10 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 02, 2015

HPSUSAN resources enable long 3000 life

As if in lock-step, the issues about control of 3000 licenses rose up yesterday after we discussed control of performance numbers and HPSUSAN for 3000 CPU boards. Consultant Torben Olsen wrote from Denmark that creating a backup hardware unit for a 3000 would be in the best interests of his client. 

SpockAs has been discovered before in your community, having control of moving an HPSUSAN identifier to a backup box has issues. For one, there are fewer resources available to make such a move. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, being a company in the throes of establishing new order and processes, is not one that Olsen wants to employ.

"I am not yet ready to spend weeks trying to get a valid answer on this matter from HP, so I hope there are another way," he wrote on the 3000-L mailing list.

I encourage my last HP 3000 client as much as I can to move on to another platform, one where they can be more sure to get required support in the future.

In the meantime, we consider getting a copy of the hardware. But we have the probably well-known problem that if that should work, we also need to be able to change the HPSUSAN. In the old days Client Systems could help with that, but my search for them did not give any usable result. Are they still in business? Are there any other possibilities? 

Client Systems still operates a website that even offers HP 3000 hardware. Other HPSUSAN administration possibilities have revealed themselves on the 3000-L already. There's more at stake for the 3000 software vendors who still operate product support efforts, however. HPSUSAN is their way of knowing their software hasn't been copied illegally.

HP once considered the 3000's CPUNAME designations as the most prized piece of the tech puzzle. In the late 1990s, a ring of hardware resellers were turning HP 9000 hardware into HP 3000 systems, according to the claims in a set of HP lawsuits. The vendor cared enough about protecting its reseller network that it pursued punishment for those ringleaders. It even rigged up a High Tech Task Force, using friendly law enforcement, to try to make a case against that theft.

The control of an HPSUSAN is a different matter, one that HP has never challenged with such legal efforts. An HP 3000's HPSUSAN number belongs to its owner, and it can be transferred to another owner. Making a hot-spare of a 3000 demands some advanced tech, though, to read the HPSUSAN into another CPU board's processor dependent code storage.

Client Systems was the last North American distributor to be able to do this. It's a technique that is matched in skill by the ability to un-cripple an A-Class server so it can run many times faster than HP concocted in its marketing schemes. As we reported yesterday, Craig Lalley of EchoTech has done such an un-crippling, returning an A-Class to its full speed capability.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (the new name of the old home of the 3000) has little to gain by helping, or to lose while overlooking, these homesteading customers' needs. It's now up to the independent consultants to supply what's needed. For a corporation in as much flux as the now-split HP, the value of controlling a computer that it's dropped seems a minor issue. Lalley's on the 3000-L reporting his skills, and there are others in the community with similar experience.

Andreas Schmidt, a 3000 manager in Germany, summed up the past as well as a proposition for a future where HPSUSAN could remain in control of its owners.

In the good old days, only HP support engineers had a tool to change the HPSUSAN on the main board so that third party software, licensed through the HPSUSAN, could continue to work if a hardware event forced a HPSUSAN onto a new board. If HP also provided this little program as open source, you could plan to change the HPSUSAN appropriate to use other hardware with different HPSUSAN.

The question to pose to a support provider might sound like: "How can I create a hot-spare of my 3000's CPU board, for disaster recovery purposes?" Or it might sound like Terry Simpkins speaking five years ago at a CAMUS user group meeting. He was saying, "Why doesn't everybody have a spare CPU board as part of their DR program?" It was possible to get HP to do the swap back then, when it was a single company that only had ousted its second CEO in five years.

Randy Meyer is the General Manager and VP of HP's Mission-Critical Systems group today. His unit sells Integrity servers, the successor to the HP proprietary hardware legacy. Even though Meyer's office seems like a place to get a ruling on this, in those latter HP support years the HPSUSAN swapping happened as an HP Support activity. Both of these units went into the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Getting anybody at HP to recognize a 3000 as something other than a latex printer sums up the challenge that Olsen wants to avoid.

03:35 PM in Homesteading, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 | Comments (0)