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July 19, 2017

Pumped up pro, app teams serve 3000 shops

Inflatated-BalloonsThree years ago, the company that once called itself Speedware had 120 employees. A couple of years earlier, the provider of 3000 software and professional services renamed itself Fresche Legacy, taking a new tack into the winds of the IBM Series i business. The IBM successor to the AS400, Series i had much in common with the architecture of the 3000. Turnkey solutions, a consistent database offering, a wide array of independent software vendors. There was still 3000 business to be conducted at Fresche, though. In the past three years, Fresche has grown to 355 employees. Three times as many 3000 pros work on MPE support and services as did in 2015.

Fresche rebranded again this year, changing the Legacy part of its name to Solutions. Fresche Legacy calls what it does modernization more often than migration. That's a tactic that aims to win business from customers who don't consider their IT architecture a legacy.

Eric Mintz said the full Application Services division accounts for 69 employees. App services encompasses IBM i as well as HP skillsets, among others. It's known as HP skillsets, rather than 3000, because this is a company supporting HP-UX, too. One of the first migration success stories HP pushed was a Speedware-to-Speedware project, 3000 to 9000. The app services are separate from the Fresche Professional Services division. "They also have a variety of skills, associated to defined projects," Mintz said. "Although applications and professional employees are separate, resources can move between departments, depending on project or service needs."

Mintz said the company is always looking for 3000 experience. "Ninety percent of the project work is done remotely," he added. "That works out great for consultants who don't want to travel much."

Mintz has been with the firm for 17 years, and he adds that the company likes to say its client list is 100 percent referenceable—meaning a prospect might talk to any one of the clients to get a report on how things went. That doesn't go for publications, since that level of candor usually needs to be vetted at the clients' PR and legal level. But we'll have a report on a classic 3000 customer soon, one who has been moving away from HP 3000s since the earliest days of migrations.

One element that's key to modernization is Speedweb, first set in motion more than a decade ago to add browser-style connectivity to apps that sometimes look more like DOS. Speedweb is among the family of software products for 3000s, HP-UX, and Windows systems. Mintz said that since 2004 there have been 119 updates, revisions or fixes to Speedweb, 57 of which were enhancements. "Enhancements are primarily related to the addition of GUI controls," he said, "such as radio buttons, combo boxes, check boxes, textboxes and so on."

Back in 2004 we reported on a Speedweb success at Flint Industries, one of several Speedware customers that implemented Speedweb. The company was using it extensively until Flint was purchased by Aberici in 2013, a change that began to move the application slowly  into maintenance mode. Speedweb was a way of modernizing the Speedware V7 app, a service the Fresche continues to provide today. An Aberici app replaced the modernized Speedware, but that's a decade extra that he original HP 3000 code got to do its work.

An old rival to the Speedware 4GL is providing significant business for the services group. Powerhouse migrations flow through the Fresche shops. The hard spot that Powerhouse 3000 users find themselves in, facing a hungry new ownership intent on continuing legacy-era licensing, can be eased by moving off the former Cognos 4GL. It's never been simple task, but a 4GL company that wants to do the work might have a unique perspective on how to succeed at it.

07:27 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2017

Does 3000 migration mean modernization?

Powerlifting"Sooner or later, you'll need to do something," says the HP 3000 services manager at Fresche Legacy. 3000 owners probably know the company better as Speedware, but one thing hasn't changed at the Montreal software and services provider. The number of 3000 experts and consultants continues to grow there. Eric Mintz said the resources bench is three times bigger for MPE/iX apps than it was just a year a half ago. There's heavy lifting going on, even in 2017, to bring 3000 shops into compliance. Parts matter, too.

Mintz also considers this a good question: Do 3000 owners today look for help by searching for migration, or for modernization? A simple search for HP3000 modernization brings up one set of results, while "HP3000 migration" yields different ones. I was happy to see that we hit nearly at the top of "HP 3000 migration" searches. (Only an antique PDF from HP tops us.) It matters where a searcher puts the HP and "3000". Fresche has purchased a Google ad for "hp3000 migrations." Try several searches if you're seeking help via Google.

But what's the difference between a modernization and a migration anyway? It depends on your scope for "more modern."

If your idea is "get away from old HP iron, and onto something more modern, Stromasys can cover that without changes to anything else. Using Charon adds an extra layer of software to make modern hardware drive MPE/iX. Buying HP, from that point onward, will never be a requirement again, though. Some 3000 shops have vowed to keep HP Enterprise off their POs forever.

Modernization also can be performed for any application without making the serious changes migration requires. Access to modern databases like SQL Server and Oracle comes by way of Minisoft's ODBC. Hillary Software's byRequest delivers modern file formats like Excel and PDF to MPE/iX apps. However, if leaving your OS platform for something else is the primary goal, it's better to migrate first, and modernize later. Speedware and others always promoted this lift-and-shift strategy. In that scheme, you lift by migrating, then shift by modernizing.

We've written up lift and shift several times already, even capturing some video from eight years ago. but the years keep rolling by for sites relying on MPE/iX. We heard about one shop today that just finished a migration of a handful of key applications. The first MPE/iX apps at the shop were migrated in 2002. This latest set moved out in 2017. Customers migrate when they need to and sometimes when outside requirement force this migration.

The modernization can happen while apps remain in place. Speedware/Fresche have been doing MPE/iX app support for more than a decade. This service is one of the reasons the company needs a deep 3000 bench. The service also makes Fresche one of the place where a 3000 pro can inquire about working on MPE/iX. There are few of those positions in play here in 2017 — probably fewer than the number of 3000 apps that need to migrated. Modernizing with software is a larger field of prospects.

 

03:57 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 12, 2017

Adminstrator to Architect, Aided by 3000s

Architect-bookLinkedIn reminded me today that Randy Stanfield has moved up in the IT management at Vertiv Corporation. The company in Carrolton, Texas is a Fortune 500 firm with 8,700 employees, $8.3 billion in revenue, a leading provider of packaging, print and paper, publishing, facility solutions and logistics. Stanfield has been there for 20 years, working with HP 3000s and going beyond the MPE/iX engines to broader fields.

Prior to that you can read in his LinkedIn profile other 3000 shop experience. Amfac, Wilson Business Products, places where MPE/iX and its resources made companies much smaller than Veritiv run smooth.

Managing HP 3000s can build a special kind of bedrock for a career. When you read the rest of the company description for Veritiv it sounds like the 3000's missions for the last 20 years. "To serve customers across virtually every industry – including more than half of our fellow Fortune 500 companies. We don’t just encourage an entrepreneurial spirit, we embody it."

The company also has an eye out for the future. Back in May, Stanfield said the company needed a plan that reached out farther than 2027. It's the kind of mission an architect takes on, a move away from the four high-end N-Class servers working at Veritiv. Ensuring value for money gets amplified while replacing HP's 3000 hardware for a long run. "We don't need to ignore the issue of hardware," Stanfield said while investigating migration partners. "We need to put together a better long term plan than staying on the HP 3000 for more than 10 years."

The decade to come might be the final one for the MPE/iX, although it's pretty certain some companies will keep 3000s in service beyond 2028. The issue isn't a CALENDAR workaround; we're pretty sure the market will see that emerge in 2027, or maybe sooner. The requirement that can move any company, no matter how devoted they're been to 3000-style computing, is application savvy. Whoever will be supporting MANMAN in 2028 is likely to have that market to themselves. By some accounts, MANMAN only has a handful of working experts left in the market.

Architects like Stanfield, who come from 3000 bedrock, will understand that moving away from such MPE/iX apps takes patience and detailed study. They'll benefit from application expertise while they migrate, too. Stanfield had a list of questions for the 3000 community architects who've already migrated, to help in re-architecting Veritiv's IT.

In May he had specific questions (and would appreciate an email in reply)

1. What system did you convert to (Unix/Windows/Linux)?
2. What system did you convert from(HP3000 A-class/N-class?) and how busy was the system? Number of users?
3. Are you still running that system?
4. Did you convert to using the Eloquence DB?
5. Performance after conversion: good or bad?
6. Any Do's or Don't's?
7. Primary Code base (Speedware/Powerhouse/Cobol/Fortran)? Amount of code converted?

The issue might look like needing to be off the system before MPE/iX stops date-keeping in 2028. But as another savvy veteran of application services said to me this week, "The experts will fix the date issue, but it will be too late—because the app always drives the ecosystem, not the hardware or OS."

One takeaway from that prediction is a homespun app suite stands a greater chance of remaining in service by 2028. The IT manager has long been told that applications can be peeled off into production like aces off a deck of cards. As much as software's commodity future has been promised, though, there's always been customization. Some IT pro must stay available to IT to tend to those modifications of commodity software. Those kind of mods are not the same kind of problem the MANMAN user faces, where source code mods will kick some systems offline on the day all of the MANMAN experts finally retire.

However, future-proofing IT goes beyond choosing a commodity solution. Most companies will want to be "shaping our systems and processes to support a successful and sustainable future," like Veritiv says in its mission statement. Systems and processes were at the heart of the 3000's initial business success. The experience is good bedrock to build a future upon.

07:55 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 10, 2017

Migrations often call upon the Mod Squad

Mod-squadManufacturing companies using HP 3000s had license to customize. Many of the MANMAN customers held licenses that gave them source code to the ERP-MRP software for MPE. MM II, from HP, even had a specific toolset called the Customizer. There are so many ways a business process can differ from company to company that these mods, short for modifications, felt essential at the time.

Times change, and the current era is urging some manufacturing companies off HP 3000 hardware. In some cases the firms have retrenched and moved out of Hewlett-Packard's hardware limitations. Stromasys Charon stepped in at Magicaire, one of the companies allied to Carrier. When Ed Stein made the 3000 virtual there, it permitted the company to hold onto their mods. The business software they built over several decades remains intact.

Moving away from solutions based on MPE/iX forces a hard look at mods. When you need to keep them all, or even a lot of them, you need to hire wizards who have access to time machines, it seems. One expert shared the reality of being a part of the Mod Squad in 2017, caring for software built in the 1990s. MANMAN is capable of a great deal of uncharted magic, built from the foundations of ASK Systems app suite.

"Some people who asked for these mods have been gone for over 10 years," our expert said. "I can't imagine converting Ed Stein to another system—his mods are very cool. No package is going to be able to duplicate them out of the box.  Some incredibly sophisticated stuff was done to MANMAN after it left ASK's hands."

So while it's not impossible to find the way to carry mods into the future, a Mod Squad expert needs patience and fortitude and a respect for how the 3000 ERP systems got things done. Without that, there's even more disruption and delay, as migrators will struggle to understand the inherent magic of MANMAN.

08:22 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 07, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: opening disk, adding HASS

I need contiguous file space for my XM log file. How do I get this?

Many operations on the HP 3000 require contiguous disk space. Other files also require contiguous space; for example, consider the contiguous disk space on LDEV 1 required for an OS update. If you do not have one of the several third-party products that will create contiguous disk space on a drive, you may still be able to get enough free space by using CONTIGVOL.

However, occasionally, CONTIGVOL will stop with a message of “*Warning: Contigvol - Inverse Extent Table Full, Internal resource limit.” What can you do? Run it again. HP’s Goetz Neumann reported the message "is a warning that an internal table has filled up. It appears CONTIGVOL only handles looking at 40,000 extents at a time. You can run CONTIGVOL multiple times if the first run does not condense the free space enough because of this limitation.

I am adding two drives to a HASS (Jamaica) enclosure that already has several drives. How do I do this?

Gilles Schipper, Lars Appel and Chris Bartram reply:

First, a note of caution. If you dynamically add disk drives to, say, your MPEXL_SYSTEM_VOLUME_SET, you could find yourself in a pickle if you subsequently perform a START RECOVERY by accident or design. So while you can add drives dynamically as a convenience, it is a good idea to schedule a SHUTDOWN, START NORECOVERY as soon as possible to “fix” the new drives in your base configuration.

You do not even have to take down the system to add the drives to an HASS enclosure. The following steps will do the job.

• Set proper SCSI IDs. Make sure the SCSI addresses of the HASS enclosures are what you believe them to be. Do not make any assumptions. You need to set the SCSI address dip switches properly and ensure they are unique for the controller they are attached to. You will probably need a little flashlight to check the settings.

• Plug in the new drives.

• Use IOCONFIG to add the appropriate paths and device IDs. Note that the ldevs cannot be in use by, for example, vt or telnet sessions. So, you may still need to do this “off hours.”

• Use VOLUTIL to NEWVOL or NEWSET. For example, 

:volutil
>newvol mpexl_system_volume_set:member99 99 100 100 

(This example is for LDEV 99 — the “99” in member99 does not need to correspond to the LDEV number, it only needs to be unique for that volume set.)

It might be a good idea to first run the drives in a NEWSET for a while, exercising them a little. You could also use that extra volume set to exercise seldom used VOLUTIL commands or NEWACCT options like ONVS/HOMEVS. Finally, SCRATCHVOL them and add them to the desired volume set.

09:55 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 05, 2017

Heritage HP Jazz notes, preserved for all

Jazz-software-saxIt was a wistful July 4 here at the Newswire. For about a day it seemed that a piece of the 3000's legacy disappeared, knowledge hard-earned and sometimes proven useful. The address for HP's Jazz webserver archived content wasn't delivering. It seemed like a new 3000 icon had gone missing when a manager on the 3000-L newsgroup went looking for Jazz notes and programs.

HP called the web server Jazz when it began to stock the HP 3000 with utilities, whitepapers, tech reports, and useful scripts. It was named Jazz after Jeri Ann Smith, the lab expert from the 3000 division who was instrumental at getting a website rolling for 3000 managers. JAS became Jazz, and the server sounded off flashy opening notes.

This is the sort of resource the community has been gathering in multiple places. One example is 3k Ranger, where Keven Miller is "attempting to gather HP 3000 web content, much of it from the Wayback Machine. From the "links" page, under the Archive sites, there are lots of things that have been< disappearing." Miller's now got an HP manual set in HTML

What might have been lost, if Speedware (now Fresche Legacy) had not preserved the software and wisdom of Jazz during its website renovation early last month? Too much. HP licensed the Jazz papers and programs to Client Systems, its North American distributor at the time, as well as Speedware. Much has changed since 2009, though.

Client Systems is no longer on the web at all. The Jazz content is safe in the hands of Fresche, which licensed the material from HP. It was only the URL that changed, evolving at the same time Fresche shifted its domain address to freschesolutions.com. The Jazz material was once at hpmigrations.com. Now you must add an explicit page address, hpmigrations.com/HPe3000_resources, where you'll find white papers include these Jazz gems, like the following papers.

Securing FTP/iX explores methods to increase FTP/iX security based on FTP/iX enhancements. Options for Managing a DTC Remotely covers issues and potential solutions for managing DTCs in networks. There's manual for HP's UPS Monitor Utility and configuring a CI script executed after a power failure; A report on using disk space beyond the first 4GB on LDEV 1; A feasibility paper about making TurboIMAGE thread-aware, as well as supporting the fork() call when a database is open.

But HP also wrote about using Java Servlets on the 3000, as well as showing how to employ CGI examples in C, Pascal and Perl to access data via a 3000 web server. There's Web Enabling Your HP 3000, a paper "describing various ways to webify your 3000 applications and includes descriptions of many third party tools."

Agreed, the white papers might've been lost without as much dismay. The programs from Jazz would've been more of a loss. All that follow include the working links available as of this week. Every access requires an "agree" to the user license for the freeware.

  • ABORTJ script - powerful and flexible script to abort multiple jobs and session. Can select by user account, job state, IP address, job queue, etc.

  • CATCHLOG - IMAGE log file formatter (store-to-disk format), tar version, and Readme file.

  • CDCOPY - CDROM copy utility (tar archive) and Readme file. Provided by Holger Wiemann, updated by Lars Appel.

  • CHRTRAN - file contents translation utility (tar format) and Readme file.

  • CIVARS - A zipped tarball containing two COBOL programs. One sets the variable MYSECOND to the number of seconds in the current time. The other sets a variable named YYYYMMDDHHMMSS. Thanks to Glenn Koster and Lars Appel. Note: in 6.0 it is easy to get current date and time using the HPDATETIME and the HPHHMMSSMMM predefined variables.

  • Command Files - and UDCs.

  • CRYPT - tarball containing the POSIX crypt utility. Usage: $crypt KEY <file1 >file2.

  • DBUTIL.PUB.SYS store-to-disk archive or tar archive - New version of DBUTIL to fix security related defect. Please read this security notice for more information.

  • dnscheck - a shell script to check your e3000's DNS configuration. Run this script, correct any problems that it detects, and then re-run until no more problems are found.

  • FWSCSI - NM program displays the revisons of the firmware for all NIO Fast/Wide SCSI interfaces in the system and avoids the need to use the xt diagnostic tool for each card on the system. Note that these interfaces may only be present in 900 series e3000 systems, not A/N-class systems. Recommended firmware 3728 or 3944.

  • HP-IB device checker - script that runs on early 5.0 and later, and reports all HP-IB and FL devices on your system.

  • NETTIME - time synchronization utility (compressed tar) and Readme file.

  • NEWACCT and NEWGROUP UDCs - UDCs and scripts make it easier to keep groups and files on user volumes. Readme file for Volume Management UDCs.
  • Porting Scanner - toolkit to analyze application before porting.

  • Porting Wrappers - additional functions and commands, both POSIX and UNIX, useful in porting applications.

  • PURGEACCT and PURGEGROUP UDCs - UDCs and scripts make it easier to keep groups and files on user volumes. Readme file for Volume Management UDCs.

  • Random name generator - script that produces a pseudo random name from "minlen" up to "maxlen" characters long.

  • Scripts - Command Files and UDCs.

  • SETDATE - A program to alter the date in the current session. Readme file.

  • Showconn & Abortcon Utilities - Utilities to show network sockets/connections on a system and abort TCP connections.

  • SHOWJOB script - powerful matching capabilities to select just the jobs/session you are interested in.

  • SIU migration/system mgmt tool - Utility to analyze various files on your system.

  • Socksified FTP - for MPE/iX 6.0 and 5.5

  • STREAM UDC - 6.0 version of STREAM UDC for User Defined job queues. A simple config file maps user.accounts to specific job queues. No need to add the ";JOBQ=" parameter to existing jobs or STREAM commands. Readme file describes features of the STREAM UDC.

  • TCPY - media copy utility (tar format) and Readme file.

  • UNPACKP - the latest UNPACKP script.

  • Toolset/iX migration program - utility that converts TSAM source to flat files. The tar file contains the NMPRG program file and the COBOL source code. Thanks to Sally Blackwell.

  • VERSION - tar archive of the VERSION.pub.sys program which supports up to 500 SOMs.

06:15 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)