December 11, 2017

Still migrating after all these years

Project-scheduleI began writing about migrations only in 2001, after HP decided that moving was the way forward for 3000 folk. I already had 17 years on the 3000 beat by then. Much has happened over these last 16 years, and yet, less than you would think in some places. Companies began in earnest to move away from MPE/iX, sometimes for very good reasons. For example, if your application vendor starts sending you end-of-life warnings for your software, it's a good time to plan for a trip away from an HP 3000.

At other kinds of companies, migration seemed to be the safest way forward. Starting sooner than later was part of the 3000 ethos, too. That ethos might be one reason why some 3000 customers were working in their second decade of departing the 3000. The apps that were not broken didn't have to replaced right away, did they?

Eleven years have gone by since I produced this 8-minute podcast about one of those customers. From the very first year of the Transition Era we knew about the Speedware shop at Virginia International Terminals. VIT was a success story HP shared with its uncertain customers. VIT made the move to HP's Unix and all was well.

However, more than four years later (in 2006) not everything was moved off the 3000. Earlier this year we heard from someone at VIT about replacing their final MPE/iX app. This year. An interesting thing happened on the way to the exit. First they found the job bigger than they could handle themselves. To their credit, their IT management saw a bigger picture. Why just have a functional migrated application? You want it as efficient as it can be.

Back in 2006 VIT thought that way. It tested its migration about 18 months later than expected. Not everything made its way through that assisted migration process. VIT must have found a way to let migration pay its way, permitting a bit of functional MPE/iX to be left alone. Our 2006 podcast talks about the Why of a migration, as well as what happens when that Why changes.

Start to finish from 2002-2017 might be the longest term of any migration. A good 3000 manager doesn't care how long it takes. They care if it's done right—and on the schedule that best suits their organization. The podcast made a point back then which continues to be true. It's your calendar that matters.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:15 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Podcasts, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Follow the 3000 NewsWire on Twitter
for immediate feeds of our latest news
and more twitter.com/3000newswire.

December 08, 2017

Distributor seeks 3000 experts for contract

Help-wantedIt doesn't happen often, but the 3000 world has a request for experts in the employment market. Dwight Demming at National Wine & Spirits posted a notice yesterday, saying he needed two to three "HP 3000 programmers to work on a year-long project."

NWS has been a 3000 user since the 1990s, running an in-house application that tracks shipping of, well, wine and spirits. The customer has always been a forward-looking shop. A few years back the company in Oak Brook Illinois was using Hillary Software's byRequest to move its email and PDF from the 3000 to computers in the rest of the IT environment. byRequest is built to extract and distribute reporting from any HP 3000 application.

Kim Borgman of National Wine & Spirits said at the time, "We [use it to] e-mail all our reports now. Hardly any printing happens on the line printer anymore." byRequest will support secure FTP as well as standard FTP.

The current assignment at the company calls for programmers who are "highly skilled in COBOL, Image/SQL, and VPlus. The work can be done remotely, Demming said in his posting, "with occasional visits to Oak Brook."

The biggest payoff for the employment offer might be in the final line of Demming's post: "Possibly leading to full-time employment." That might be HP 3000 and MPE/iX work, or it might be work on a migrated platform. But a year's worth of HP 3000 work starting around 2018 is a benefit few people could have forseen back when HP turned off its MPE/iX lab lights seven years ago.

Applications for the jobs can be sent to Demming at his email address.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:21 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 06, 2017

Staying on target is tough for 3000's exiles

3000 firing squadThe perspective of tech veterans who left the 3000 community used to sway opinions of those who remained. Vendors sold services like support or software for MPE/iX. Then HP made sales difficult by striking the 3000 off its price lists. So the vendors and IT pros who couldn't make a sale or a living left our world. Some departed and remained wistful and respectful of what HP created for MPE/iX. Others have not done so. They departed and began to disrespect and mock the tech solution that made them a pro.

It makes no sense, they've now said for more than a decade, to put any more resources into MPE/iX or a 3000. Some exiles once lined up a 3000 in a cornfield and shot it up with weapons. The act was an effort at comedy. (A great actor on his deathbed reminded the world that dying was easy, and comedy is hard.) The cornfield gunfire was ruthless because those shooters were targeting a legacy.

The bullets hit the computer, but the shooters were off target. The firing squad treatment included an arsenal worthy of Yosemite Sam. A cannon missed the mark and had to be wheeled closer. The buffoons acted out a fantasy, the finale of what they called “an HP 3000 mainframe computer.” 

Those shots felt the same as those the 3000's devotees have endured in the Migration Era. The era is just about over, but so many of its exits were based on fears of parts inventories gone dry or a lack of vendor attention. Some vendors turned on their community, stoking new business by running down the old success. Those parts are rare, they say, and you can pay us to help you change your mind. HP ran aground with its strategies for computing. Now the CEO is leaving and saying that technology wisdom has a better chance of hitting the value target than business experience.

The web, social media, and even 20-year-old mailing lists have made civil speech an endangered species. It's not professional or honest to label a line of work, and those who do it, as "stupid." That ignorant distain has given us Fake News and Alternative Facts. Crackpots and nincompoops make for outlandish exiles. Building something up by tearing something else down still remains Bad Form, as Captain Hook said in Peter Pan. Misfires on migrations have turned three-year exits into 12-year boondoggles. 

I'm sitting on a story about one of those odysseys. After HP gave the 3000 a bum's rush to the business door, the exiles' potshots at MPE's value rang out. Catcalls at MPE from the 3000's exiles won't put such odysseys on course. The simple math of taking four times longer to do something than planned—well, that's a True Fact, even if it's not often told. The target for why anything happens can be tough to find. When life doesn't turn out as you hoped, and your 3000 lifetime doesn't last, taking blind shots at a legacy always looked like going off half-cocked.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:35 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 24, 2017

Giving Thanks for Exceeding All Estimates

Thanksgiving-Table-2013
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise sailed into the Thanksgiving holiday beating estimates. The company eked out a "beat" of analyst estimates for quarterly profits, exceeding the forecasts by 1 percent. Overall the fiscal year 2017 results for sales were flat ($37.4 billion) and year-to-year earnings fell. Even that tepid report beat estimates. Nobody's expecting HP Enterprise to rise up soon. Keeping its place is a win.

It's about the same spot the HP 3000 and MPE/iX have shared for some time. After the exodus of migrators tailed off, the community has been losing few of its remaining members. A slice of them met Nov. 16 on a call. Someone asked if there was anything like a user group left for 3000 owners. I was tempted to say "this is it" to the CAMUS members on the line. Someone offered an opinion that the 465 members of the 3000 newsgroup were a user group.

I'm thankful there's still a 3000 community to report to here in 2017. We've exceeded estimates too. Nobody could have estimated that the HP 3000 and MPE/iX would last long enough to try to resolve the 2028 date handling changes. Hewlett-Packard once expected 80 percent of its customers would be migrated by 2006. That was an estimate which was not exceeded, or even met.

I'm grateful for keeping my storytelling and editing lively during this year, halfway through my 61st. I've got my health and vigor to count on, riding more than 2,000 miles this year on my bike around the Hill Country. I'm grateful for family—lovely bride, grandchildren to chase and photograph—and for the fortunes that flow in my life, the work of book editor, coach and seasoned journalist.

HP's steering back to its roots by replacing a sales CEO with a technology expert in Antonio Neri. “The next CEO of the company needs to be a deeper technologist, and that’s exactly what Antonio is," Meg Whitman said on a conference call discussing HPE's succession plan. I can also be grateful for that appreciation of a technologist's vision. Like the death notices for MPE/iX, the fall of technology on the decision ladder was overstated. In 2006 I talked with an HP executive who believed "the time of the technologist" had passed. Strategy was going to trump technology.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise isn't eager to count up its business selling its servers. The report from last week needed this caveat to claim earnings were up for 2017

Net revenue was up 6 percent year over year, excluding Tier-1 server sales and when adjusted for divestitures and currency.

The most recent quarter's results included HP's cut-out of large server sales, too. "When you can't count the numbers that are important, you make the numbers you can count important," said think tanks about Vietnam war results. There are been casualties while HP let non-engineers call the shots. If Hewlett-Packard Enterprise can be led by an engineer for the first time since Lew Platt's 1990s term, then technology has exceeded corporate estimates of its relevance. Our readers learned about their tech bits long ago. We're grateful to have them remain attentive to our pages.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:31 AM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 22, 2017

Whitman leaves HP better than she found it

WhitmanHP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman is stepping down from the company's leadership seat, effective January 31, 2018. After her run of more than six years it can be argued Whitman is leaving an HP in better shape than she found the corporation. One measure of her success lies in HPE's revenue growth in spite of headwinds, as the analysts call challenges like cloud competition. That fact can be offset with the number of layoffs during her tenure. Most estimates put that figure at more than 30,000, an employment disruption that ranges even wider when accounting for divestitures and the split-up of HP.

Numbers don't say enough about Whitman's impact on the future of the vendor which invented HP 3000s and MPE. After a string of three CEOs who ended their terms disgraced or fired, she brought a steady gait to a company in desperate need of a reunion with its roots. The Hewlett-Packard of the 1980s delivered the greatest success to MPE customers. In hand-picking Antonio Neri as her successor, Whitman has returned HP to its 20th Century roots. The Enterprise arm of HP will be led by an engineer who's worked only for HP. The last time that was true, Lew Platt was CEO of an HP that was still in one piece, instead of the two of 2017.

Hewlett-Packard finally made that transition into two companies on Whitman's watch, after a decade when the printer-server split was debated around the industry. She also pruned away the leafy branches that made the HP tree wider but no taller: Autonomy and other ill-matched acquisitions were cut loose. She said in an interview on CNBC today that the time for "supermarket IT" suppliers is gone, and the future belongs to the fast. Whitman's years reversed some damage at HP, which at least beat analyst estimates for its Q4 earnings. 

"What If" was once an ad slogan for Hewlett-Packard. The question could be posed around Whitman's role at the company. What if this executive woman took HP's reins in 1999? She was already a CEO in that year at eBay. From the way Whitman has brought HP's headlong blundering to heel, she might have kept the company focused on the mission of the current day's HP Enterprise.

The rise of mobile computing and off-premise IT was always going to hound HP, a corporation built to sell specialized hardware and proprietary software. Passing the baton to an engineer leader—Neri started in the HP EMEA call center—shows Whitman knows more about HP's culture than anyone who's had the CEO job since 1999. She remains on HP's board and said she'll be available for sales calls in the future, too.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:41 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 20, 2017

Was news of CALENDAR's end Fake News?

Fake-NewsHP 3000 customers, support experts, and vendors have heard a fresh take on the upcoming demise of CALENDAR functions. Date keeping was going to suffer for anybody who needed that intrinsic to steer 3000 date-keeping. Nobody wanted to debate that fact. As I reported in 2015, with considerable help from Vesoft's Vladimir Volokh, CALENDAR doesn't have enough bits to track dates beyond December 31, 2027. It would be easy to conclude the 3000's date capability will go bust at the end of that December.

That's fake news, said Steve Cooper of Allegro to everyone on last week's CAMUS user group call. "A whole lot of fake news," he said, when one user referenced our 2015 article as proof dates were going to be a problem on 3000s in about 10 years. "You need to get the true scoop instead of spreading rumors."

Cooper was one of several 3000 experts who said that dates could be kept accurately in MPE/iX for much longer than 10 years from the end of next month. HP's replacement for CALENDAR—an intrinsic written in the early 1970s—adds bits to let 3000s track data. HPCALENDAR isn't employed inside lots of MPE/iX software, but that will change for anyone who wants their MPE/iX end of life to be determined by utility and value, rather than capability.

In 2015, our story asked Whether the End of 2027 is MPE's End, Too. It isn't, so long as you use HPCALENDAR to replace CALENDAR. MPE/iX app managers will need source code access to make this kind of substitution, using the new intrinsic method of remediation.

There was also talk of a pivot point strategy to handle things without replacing CALENDAR. Pivot points were in vogue for some Y2K repairs. In such designs, software processes a date by comparing the date to the moment it processes the date. The old ColdFusion software from Microsoft did this to add century information for Y2K, for example. A Stack Overflow discussion illustrates how pivot points work in Python.

HPCALENDAR will give MPE/iX date-handling capability that exceeds that of Unix. I reported that in 2015, thanks to help from Vladimir.

HP advised its 3000 customers in 2008 to begin using HPCALENDAR on HP 3000s. HPCALENDAR harks back to version 5.5 of MPE/iX. Its power lies in the 3000 for use by programmers who want accurate dates beyond 2038 (the limit in Unix) for application files.

HP ordered 16 extra bits for date handling through HPCALENDAR in the 1990s, just too late to influence the heart of MPE.

While working in the realm of those original 16-bit MPE intrinsics, "You cannot make less than 9 bits for the date of the year," Vladimir said. "That would be less than 365 days. So that leaves us 7 bits to express the year."

The '90s HPCALENDAR, reaching into the new elbow room of 32 bits, can use as many as 23 bits for the year. That intrinsic will cover 8 million years, even more. HPCALENDAR is available in Native Mode MPE, and it remains the best choice for any new work done on a 3000's applications.

But MPE's existing intrinsics provide the barrier here: the oldest are in Segmented Library (SL)—and the newer HPCALENDAR is in Native Library (NL). And the only companies with any chance of adjusting the 3000's dates into 2028 and beyond are those which have insight into MPE/iX source. Then there's knowing what to do with it. They must get into the MPE source and recompile it to use HPCALENDAR.

That insight into MPE/iX source is needed for a system-wide repair of CALENDAR date intrinsic functionality. It's a broad spectrum fix, though, when a localized alteration will do the job. Even HP's own SHOWCLOCK gets the date correct when you boot a system by setting its date for 2028.

"There are still some pieces of code that are doing date handling by calling CALENDAR," Cooper said. "But the operating system does not fall over dead at that point. The banner will say "1900" and if you do a SHOWTIME it will say 1900. But if you do a SHOWCLOCK it will correctly show '2028'."

Reading a file, modifying a file: these will occur with the correct timestamps. They all use the larger, more modern date format. Programs which use CALENDAR will provide a date in the 1900s when run on 2028. The date-keeping in the MPE/iX banner is going to be incorrect. Any software that reaches out for a date intrinsic will be just fine if it uses HPCALENDAR.

The user group has its board member Ed Stein to thank for the talk about the date changes coming up in a decade or so. Stein says that he'd rather seek out date repairs now for his 3000s, while there are still support and development experts taking on projects. There's a lot less retirement going on for people working in their late 70s. But Stein, like a lot of 3000 pros, understands it's better to take care of things before they become unsolvable problems—when there's nobody working who knows where CALENDAR might be running inside a program on MPE/iX.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:20 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 13, 2017

HP's shrinkage includes iconic HQ address

  800px-HP_HQ_campus_4
Hewlett-Packard pointed at a shrinking ecosystem as a reason to cut down its futures for the 3000. Time in the post-HP world for MPE/iX moves into its Year Number 17 starting tomorrow . That's right; the Transition Era completes its 16th year tomorrow at about 1PM. Transitions aren't over, either. In the meantime, MPE's clock now starts catching up with Hewlett-Packard's headquarters. The iconic address of 3000 Hanover Street in Palo Alto will not be HP's much longer. On the subject of icons, that's a oscilloscope wave to the left of the original HP logo on the building above.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 12.09.17 PMHP is moving its corporate throne to a company and a building in Santa Clara soon. The existing HQ has been in service since 1957, but consolidations in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—which also has a shrinking ecosystem—mandated the move. The offices of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the shrines to the HP Way, management by walking around, and the shirt-pocket calculator designs, will be packed up sometime next year. The HQ look of Silicon Valley's first corporation is distinctive.

Hewlett-packard-original-officesEverything has its lifespan, from ideas to the office desks where overseas currency and coins lay on blotters, resting in the side-by-side rooms Hewlett and Packard used. The coins and bills represented the worldwide reach of the company, left on the desk as a reminder of how far-flung HP's customers were. HPE's CEO Meg Whitman said HPE consolidations are part of making HP Enterprise more efficient.

Dave Packard coins"I’m excited to move our headquarters to an innovative new building that provides a next-generation digital experience for our employees, customers and partners," Whitman said. "Our new building will better reflect who HPE is today and where we are heading in the future."

Companies which use HP's hardware to run MPE/iX might also see efficiency as one benefit of moving out of their use of HP's servers. A virtual platform, based on Intel and Linux, is hosting MPE/iX. Charon goes into its sixth year of MPE/iX service later this month.

A customer could look at that Hanover Street address, which will be without HP for the first time since Eisenhower was President, and see a reduction. HP Enterprise will be sharing office space with Aruba, a wireless networking firm HPE acquired in 2015. Aruba also has big hopes for cloud computing. Cloud is the future for HPE growth, according to the company. HPE is cutting out 5,000 jobs by year's end. The workforce might be considered a part of the HPE ecosystem, too.

Office buildings certainly have to be considered part of an ecosystem for a corporation. Important elements? Perhaps, if only because the statement they make about a company's permanence and continuity. The HPE Aruba building HQ will surpass Hanover Street in longevity by 2077.

In 60 years when MPE/iX apps will run somewhere, if only in a museum, they will be on a virtualized platform. As it turns out, the ecosystem for software—the embodiment of an idea—is more durable than any corporation's. MPE/iX will catch up with the HP HQ lifespan in 2033. When a customer takes custom engineering into 2028, it's just a five-year lifespan to surpass Hanover Street. Ideas have a permanence buildings can wish for. Those ideas get such permanence while they remain useful.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 12:45 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 06, 2017

Flood drives off HP, even as 3000s churn on

Server_rack_under_FloodLate last week Hewlett Packard Enterprise—the arm that builds HP's replacements for 3000s—announced it will be moving manufacturing out of Texas. According to a story from WQOW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the facilities from HP's Houston area are pulling out and headed to higher ground in the Midwest. HP said its operations were flooded out beyond repair by Hurricane Harvey. A report from the Houston Business Journal says HPE is sending more than 200 manufacturing jobs north due to the Texas rains. “Because of the destructive effects of flooding two years in a row, the company has decided to move more than 3,000 employees to a new site in the greater Houston area,” HPE said in a press release.

HP 3000s have fared better in high waters. A couple of the servers up in the Midwest keep swimming in front of a wave of migration.

Back in 2013 we reported a story about a once-flooded HP 3000 site at MacLean Power, a manufacturer of mechanical and insulation products. The 3000's history there started with Reliance Electric at that enterprise, becoming Reliant Power and then MacLean-Fogg. Mark Mojonnier told his story, four autumns ago, about the operations at Mundelein, Illinois.

The new company, Reliable Power Products, bought its first HP 3000 Series 48 in 1987. We had a flood in the building later that year and had to buy another one. The disk drives were high enough out of the water to survive, so when the new one arrived, we warm-booted it (with the old disk packs) and it picked up right where it left off.

The 3000s continue to out-swim the waters of change there for awhile longer. Monjonnier updated us on how the servers will work swimmingly until 2021, and why that's so.

More than 200 users are working with the company's N-Class server every day. There's another N-Class running as a disaster recovery system at MacLean. Changes in management, which produced changes in migration strategies, put the 3000s at MacLean above the waterline for an extra four years, by Monjonnier's estimates.

"The long term estimate for the HP 3000 unplug date is now 2021 if all goes according to schedule," Monjonnier said. "In the meantime, the HP 3000s are still chugging along."

About the same time that our half of the company (Power) selected the EPICOR [application] for the future, the other side of the company (Vehicle) decided on JDEdwards. A few years into the implementation, there was a change in management. The new management determined that the entire company would go with JDEdwards. So, after about three years down the EPICOR road, we started all over, going down the JDEdwards road instead. Personally, I think this was a good decision.

So we are still running our pair of HP 3000s. We have implemented JDE at one of the seven "Power" locations. This has reduced the HP 3000 user load down about 15 users, but company growth has increased that load to about 250 users most of the time. We are getting ready for our second (and largest) factory to switch to JDE in June, 2018. There are a lot of people working on this one.

As for HP Enterprise, it's going to move manufacturing out of its current Houston campus because of devastating flooding from the hurricane, and another flood the year before, HPE said in a release. More than 3,000 HPE non-manufacturing employees will move to a new campus the company will build in the Houston area.

The manufacturing facilities on its current Houston campus were “irreparably damaged by Hurricane Harvey,” so it will permanently move manufacturing operations to Chippewa Falls and its supply chain partner Flex in Austin, officials said in a release.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:19 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 23, 2017

Clouds? All the time, even Sunday Morning

Communication LinkYou can tell a technology has reached everyday adoption by watching TV. Not the Netflix or basic-cable television. I was watching CBS Sunday Morning yesterday when David Pogue explained cloud computing for the masses. My technology consumer and partner in life Abby was on the couch, inviting me to watch along. I figured CBS would give Pogue about 5 minutes to examine the tech that's driving the world. He got 9 and managed it well. Abby paused the show to ask a question. It's become easier than ever to answer these cloud queries.

HP 3000 Communication ManualThe 3000 manager of today needs to comprehend clouds, even if they don't use them in their MPE/iX environment. The potential to drive a 3000 from the cloud is still out there for the taking, because Stromasys will host Charon from a cloud. Why that's a good idea remains to be tested, but the theory is sound. First of all, you didn't want to manage proprietary hardware from HP to run your MPE/iX. Now with the cloud, you don't have to manage hardware at all. MPE/iX becomes a service, a term that Pogue never mentioned in his 9 minutes.

It's okay. The story needed the visuals of acres of Virginia covered with datacenters (a word Pogue spoke as if it were "Atlantis") and the sounds of his walk inside a cloud facility (Fans. Lots and lots of fans, although not a word was said about what was making all that noise.) You can't expect a deep dive from morning news, but CBS and Pogue did a good job. Cloud's mainstream now. Streaming movies, you know.

Programmer TemplateWe watched the show about the same way most of the homesteading community runs their MPE/iX. Locally hosted (on our DVR unit) and running on our fixed terminal (the old Sony flatscreen in the den). The only cloud involved in the experience was ATT's, since our Uverse account has its listings loaded into the DVR from a big disk someplace.

The best instance of any cloud related to the MPE/iX of today is a replacement for it. Kenandy has a Salesforce-based application suite of the same name. The Support Group has just about wrapped up the first install of the solution for a 3000 site. Salesforce is the big dog in app platforms served via the cloud. Amazon is probably underpinning Salesforce, because Amazon Web Services (AWS) is underneath just about every kind of cloud. The tech that drives Netflix is also powering the next platform for MANMAN sites that need to migrate.

"So it's in the air?" Abby says. "Not much," I say, "unless your laptop is on wi-fi, or you're using a smartphone. You get the cloud's goodness over wires."

While all of that future-tech was over the air, I found myself telling her about a 45-year-old piece of plastic to explain why we call off-premise computing "the cloud." It's my version of an explainer, anyway. The 3000 was cloudy before cloudy was cool.

HP 3000 Packet Switched Net CloudOn the classic programmer's flowchart template shown above, all we get from that durable plastic that's related to cloud computing is the lightning bolt. It denotes communication and it usually referred to the kind of direct-line stuff we use in our house to watch CBS off our DVR. Dedicated to one terminal, on-premise. But it didn't take too long after that for X.25 to come along and add a cloud icon to the end of those bolts. By the early 90s the computer world was describing fast switching packet networks using a cloud. Here's one from a 3000 manual.

The 3000, like most of the world's business computers of the 1980s, had its own X.25 product for communication. Well before The Support Group began to lead customers to Kenandy and Salesforce, the company offered the EDI utility program EDiX/3000, the EDI Subsystem for MANMAN. Data exchange is a deep part of the company's experience.

The shorthand I shared with my partner was that the cloud symbol was born in an era when the 3000 was a first choice for HP business computing. I shared examples from our own life for cloud services: backups for our iPhones and movies from Netflix. Seems like magic. The skepticism about security in the cloud wasn't a part of the CBS show. Too deep for 9 minutes. Pogue asked about power failures at the millions of square feet of Virginia datacenters and the Amazon Web Services spokesman said "it's all backed up."

Those are four words every 3000 manager knows by heart. The security is another matter. The data inside a 3000's building is air-gapped if it's not Web-available. Net resources like AWS have redundancy, but nothing is failure-proof. The extra risk of running sensitive data through networks which are open to the world has given homesteaders pause when they consider alternatives for migrating.

Cloud is getting more mainstream by now. It's worth a look and maybe even a try for a cloud-based Charon. The noise that Pogue walked through for his tour of Atlantis? You won't hear it from your laptop, running ERP that's out there, somewhere.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:41 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 18, 2017

Hardware icon added tools through 3000

WrenchThe HP 3000 had many notable brands on its roster over the last two decades—Hertz, M&Ms, State Farm. Plenty of well-known businesses leveraged their growth and dominance on MPE/iX apps and Hewlett-Packard hardware. In some places, the legacy kingpin of the 3000 has led datacenters to move data better on other platforms. Tools, as it turns out, can find places to work where owners were heading as well as where they're installed. That's what happened at True Value.

True-valueThere's more than 700 retail True Value stores, but the units operate as a cooperative. Together these stores own their distributor True Value, while they operate independently. Local ownership is bolstered by the bargains behind corporate purchasing. Long's Drug in the western US once boasted the greatest number of retail locations connected by 3000s. When it came to the number of locations supported by 3000 technology, True Value had Long's beat by a factor of two.

Hillary Software installed its byRequest solution at True Value in 2004, when the 3000 had fallen from HP's graces. It was an investment to prolong and improve the value of the 3000. More importantly, it was an investment in data. The software transforms MPE/iX data into the formats of the larger world: Word, PDF and Excel. True Value said byRequest revolutionized data and document management for them. Reports traveled via email to be used in the programs that are available everywhere. For some companies, Excel is a platform because it's essential to every decision.

The Hillary software moved data better than classic MPE/iX reports ever had. The software also helped move the company, when it was ready, onward to its next datacenter platform.

When True Value moved its business apps to Microsoft Dynamics under Windows, those Hillary tools like byRequest and onHand were moved as well. Hillary's solutions like onHand, a report portal with extensive search and scan capabilities, were a good fit for True Value. The onHand software includes an audit trail, essential to a document portal. Every store has its own logon to view bills of lading, inventory reports, invoices—the kind of security and access the 3000 has always provided for business operations.

OnHand is storing about one million documents for True Value stores, a capability that was well established when True Value made its migration away from the 3000. The IT pros at the datacenter which supports those hundreds of stores had a choice when they moved into Microsoft Dynamics. They could code up reports as a part of their move, or just continue with the Hillary products to keep user interfaces stable and retain productivity benefits. The powers of byRequest include automated delivery of reports, as well as scheduling, features that would've required a lot of coding to duplicate with the Microsoft app platform. The Hillary products just had better transport options, according to the IT director at True Value.

A migration to a new environment often requires a new set of tools to move data on the new platform. True Value invested in tools that were ready to work in a new world. It's a little like buying a set of wrenches that work with both Imperial and Metric measurements. A well-chosen toolset like this is a crossover solution. It's almost as if Hillary measured for a broad range of software standards when it designed its toolset.

When software that shares critical data can move along with the platform, it can make a migration more sensible. It's fair to say that the HP 3000 got True Value's data ready to move onward. By the time the migration happened, the Hillary software that started working on the 3000 had already been moving data for years.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:45 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 13, 2017

Take the Training, A Young 3000 Jedi Can

Jedi-younglingsEarlier this month I enjoyed a cookout at the HQ of The Support Group. The company that migrates MANMAN sites to the cloud of Kenandy and supports homesteading sites had a new face at the office. The young intern was on his way to working for a startup, but was getting some experience in an established software and services company in the legacy market.

He was also learning the HP 3000 for the job. Not yet 35, the intern had a deep array of 3000 expertise to call on while he helped support homesteading sites. Such customers can lose their own deep 3000 workers and then might rely on support for how-to answers.

The intern and some homesteaders are examples of people who'd benefit from 3000 MPE/iX training. When I recounted my experience with trying to learn the mysteries of the Apple Watch, I figured it was safe to say formal MPE training would be out of reach for anybody who didn't have their own support resource. I could be certain HP was unable to teach anyone how to use MPE/iX, at least in person one to one. The HP manuals do remain out in the community on websites outside of HP.

As it turns out, when I state something in the negative, a positive exception emerges. I'm always glad to get news like this. Resources can get overlooked or lose visibility. That's why Paul Edwards reached out this morning to raise his hand in class, as it were. Paul is still offering MPE/iX training.

He hasn't had a student for quite awhile, he said, but his training services are still available. Paul's webpage for education includes MPE/iX Fundamentals and System Manager courses, plus a class on TurboIMAGE. Edwards has also trained people in the use of third party tools.

"This curriculum covers MPE core training and is appropriate for everyone in the MPE community," his webpage reports, "especially those who are homesteading or in the process of moving to another platform. We also offer courses from third party companies.

"In keeping with our conviction that instructor-led, hands-on training is the most effective delivery method, these courses are taught by certified HP and vendor instructors."

And so, the hands-on method of learning the Apple Watch is now officially well-behind the HP 3000. The Watch has been in the world for about three years, and the 3000—well, young Jedi, it's technology that's older than the first Star Wars. Younglings should learn the ways of its force, so they can become a 3000 knight like their fathers.

As for that Watch training, 3000 veteran Bruce Hobbs steered me to a website that covered using the earlier version of the Apple Watch from the ground up. Apple's also got a manual for the Watch, much more modern than the 3000's training online. The 3000 community has always been good about giving a reference for any good learning resource. They are trained to share.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:26 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 04, 2017

Data on 3000s still needs to be synched

SynchronizeSome HP 3000 apps are making their way to other platforms. Many already have, counting across the 15-plus years that might be considered the MPE/iX Migration Era. Data is always making its way from a host to someplace else. Making a sound master data repository is the work of synchronizing software. There's such a product for MPE/iX, one that's been in production use since 2006.

MB Foster makes UDASynch, which it says "supplies high performance and minimal system load synchronization services from server to server, server to website, and to operational data stores within your enterprise." Next week the vendor will talk about its product and its potential in a webinar on Oct. 11 at 2PM EDT.

Minimal load benchmarks, by MB Foster's accounting, mean a less than 2 percent drain on your main 3000, the one whose apps are supplying the data to be synchronized. UDASynch is a multi-platform product. The MB Foster product uses an intermediate Windows-based server to collect the 3000's data. This information then can be passed on to servers running the Unix, Windows or Linux environments.

UDASynch has been built with 3000 specifics in mind. It does a full database name check, has a memory reuse function, a debug option to convert XML to a binary file, the ability to search a table list using the IMAGE database name, a feature to automatically create backup files when the backup file is full, and a feature to call DBGET with '@' list if DBPUT is called with a partial list.

When data elements are routed between several servers, each has the ability to modify original data versions. Data synchronization ensures that regardless of data modifications, all changes are merged with the original data source.

Synchronization is a key part of a modern data architecture. Globalized supply chains and more collaboration between manufacturers and retailers are driving the need for accurate master data. It's a part of what's called a Master Data Management strategy. MDM uses a data hub and data synchronization, according to Saumya Chaki in Enterprise Information Management in Practice. That's the kind of book an IT architect can use to build out a broader platform for data.

Synching an IMAGE database with an SQL database can ease a move in a customer's Migration Era, whenever it occurs, plus provide a solid test environment for converted code and screens.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:39 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 25, 2017

Changing the Changing of the Guard of Tech

Much of the way tech is changed has been transformed since the 3000 was built and sold by HP. In the days when source code and modified applications ruled manufacturing, changes to business rules were a matter of finding the code's creators or hoping for great documentation. By the time the 3000's growth path has become a matter of installing a virtualized server on an Intel box, changes to business rules can be handled with modules from Salesforce-based Kenandy.

Apple Watch 3I saw how much changing tech changed for myself at the end of last week. Apple unveiled  a new cellular edition of its Apple Watch, with rollout on the day of my anniversary. My bride wanted something she could listen to with wireless headphones, answer calls, and text. We watched the Emmy broadcast and she saw her anniversary present. It would be my gift to get the day-of-release Watch to her in time for an anniversary dinner at Jack Allen's in the Austin hill country.

In years past, making a change of technology in the Apple world involved lines. Not like the lines of code a MANMAN customer would have to pore over while updating apps. I'm talking the lines where people camped out overnight, or at least lined up like I did one hapless November morning for a Black Friday. Lines are now no more a part of the process for new Apple gear than they are for modifying an ERP suite once you get to the Salesforce era.

I strolled up to the Apple Store in the Domain shopping neighborhood at 7 AM, ready to take a spot in a line I expected to be already swelling away from the door. The store was lit up but the only people at the door were relaxed retail employees. With practiced cheer, I told them I was there to buy an anniversary gift, the Series 3 Watch. Did I have a reservation? I did not, I told them, wondering when a reservation became a milestone on buying something.

There was no problem. I was led to an oak tree in a plaza just a few feet from the store, where a fellow my age asked me what I wanted to buy. I had these numbers ready as certainly as an IT manager's got an inventory of their app modules. The 38mm, gold case, sport band, wi-fi plus cellular model. My bride had looked over the sizes and colors a few days earlier. After a few moments of scrolling on his phone under that oak, he said he had one. He took my phone number, texted me a reservation. and told me to return at 9.

I had time enough to get to the ATT Store to upgrade my wife's phone, which turned out to be essential to getting her Apple Watch present-worthy and working at Jack Allen's that night. Simpler than the old camp-out to purchase drama of five years ago. Modular application design has made the same kind of simplicity a part of ERP. Companies still have to engage experts to take them to that simplicity. What made a difference in the Watch gift journey was having experts that knew what the old tech did and how the new tech fit in.

That's the same kind of experience that 3000 ERP customers can have once they embrace Kenandy and the Salesforce platform that runs it. This is a migration from MPE/iX, much in the same way that my wife's phone had to get onto the latest OS, but have its contacts preserved. Like the platform for Kenandy, the cloud was essential.

There's much to learn about the world of the Watch, just like there's a lot to learn about how to make Kenandy run fast and jump high after a migration. We're signing up for the expert help to learn the essentials. That style of expertise is now available in the 3000 community at the Support Group. For some of their MANMAN customers, it's time for a change. At the end of their mission to change a customer from a 3000 to Kenandy, the app vendor approached them about more work. It will be simpler in the same way that Watch purchase got simpler. Apple learned enough to make the changing of tech less painful. Experience makes that possible.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:43 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 13, 2017

Lexicon migrates jargon, work remains same

Composable infrastructureChurn was always a regular catalyst for commerce in enterprise vendor plans. Making changes a regular event in IT planning seems to be requiring new language. Sometimes it's not easy to translate what the latest, shiniest requirements are, in order to move them back into familiar lexicon. HP Enterprise has added jargon new to the senior tactical pros in the 3000 datacenter.

For example, take HPE Synergy. Offered as an alternative to legacy systems like the 3000, HP Enterprise (HGPE) calls it "a composable infrastructure system." 3000 pros would know this as a roll-your-own enterprise system. Like Unix was in the days HP pitted it against the 3000, with all of its software and components and networking left to the customer's choice.

Composable, okay. It's not a word in the dictionary, but it's made its way into HPE planning jargon. "Provides components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements." Like every Windows or Linux system you ever built and configured.

Here's another. HCI: hyperconverged infrastructure. A package of pre-compiled servers, network and storage components in a single engineered offering. This is opposed to buying those components separately, and end-users configuring them.

Hyperconverged. Again, not in the English lexicon. Pre-compiled server, network, storage components offered together. "Turnkey," from 1988. The bedrock of every HP 3000 ever sold.

"We don't hear these terms in the datacenters where we consult," said Sue Kiezel at The Support Group. A big project to move a 3000 MANMAN installation to Kenandy—built upon Salesforce—is wrapping up. The Support Group did the work alongside the IT staff. The shop is forward-looking, seeing as nobody has ever moved MANMAN to Kenandy before now. The new HPE lexicon might be understood and used by analysts or consultants.

TSG's David Floyd says that whatever they need to know at Disston Tools, they learn from experts. Resources like the Support Group bring in new ideas, new architecture. Sometimes there's new jargon to add to the lexicon. Don't feel too bad about hyperconverged or composable being outside your grasp.

Virtual computing will be a part of the MPE/iX backbone the rest of the way, right out to the 2028 deadline for CALENDAR formats. Stromasys has seen to that with Charon. HPE says that HCI is used for virtual desktop infrastructure, or as a type of VM vending machine to offer users virtual or even bare-metal infrastructure.

HPE’s HCI product is the Hyper Converged 380. Analysts see it as trailing offerings from market leaders Nutanix, Simplivity and Dell EMC (VxRail). HPE upgraded its position in the market when it acquired Simplivity,  making the company one of the premier HCI vendors.

Given that the new language, it's not always clear what HPE wants to do for the customers who migrate. One analyst summed it up this way this year. There are three things.

HPE wants to help customers build private clouds on next-generation infrastructure that integrates with public cloud resources.

A second broad focus area is what HP calls the “Intelligent Edge,” which encompass technologies related to the Internet of Things.

Finally, a third pillar revolves around services and helping customers successfully execute projects in the first two areas.

A recent Worldwide Infrastructure Forecast by IDC estimates that through 2020, public cloud infrastructure is set to grow at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate; private cloud is forecast to grow at 11 percent. This compares to traditional IT growing at only 2 percent. If companies like HPE and others can offer compelling options, there is a market for enterprises to upgrade their on-premises infrastructure.

Cloud computing, private or public, is part of most 3000 sites' lexicon by now. HPE will help a customer build their own cloud, using composable infrastructure, or hyperconverged infrastructure. Roll your own, or turnkey. As the traditional means of computing is growing by about 2 percent a year, expect HPE to be big on offering everything to make a great cloud.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 04, 2017

HPE takes a breath after its software flip

HP-UXAs the company which was once the vendor of HP 3000s and MPE, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has now merged its software operations with British software company Micro Focus International. Not included in the transaction that closed this week: enterprise operating systems. The question to be answered over the next few quarters is whether the enterprise customer cares about infrastructure beyond their choices for cloud computing. Those who've adopted HP-UX should watch the HPE naming-space closely.

HP recently floated a survey by way of the Connect user group, quizzing customers about a name for a new version of an enterprise OS. HP 3000 managers know the OS by its previous monicker, HP-UX. This OS has a growing problem—a lack of compatibility with Intel x86-based computers. HP means to sell enterprise strategists on the merits of what it calls HPE Portable HP-UX.

The new name represents an old idea. HP's been engineering the second coming of HP-UX for a long time. Our first reporting on the new generation of HP's Unix started late in 2011. HPE Portable HP-UX is supposed to "suggest a technology that completely emulates a hardware system in software," or perhaps, "Conveys the idea that HP-UX is now available anywhere." These were the multiple choices on the HP naming survey.

HP says the latest iteration of this concept will "enable re-hosting of existing Itanium HP-UX workloads onto containers running on industry standard x86 Linux servers." A container, in this idea, is a portion of Linux devoted to the carriage of an older operating system. Network World surmised in May that the containers "will likely pull HP-UX workload instances and put them in Linux as micro-services. Containers are different from virtualization, which require hypervisors, software tools, and system resources. Containers allow customers to maintain mixed HP-UX and Linux environments and make the transition smoother."

Network World said the technology offers an escape from an aging OS. All software ages, but it ages more quickly when the vendor adds layers to run it. An emulation or virtualization strategy is expected from third parties. When a vendor creates these layers for its own OS, it's a sign of the end-times for the hardware. HP's Unix customers have to take their applications elsewhere.

Virtualization has been a benefit for customers who continue to rely on MPE/iX applications. Stromasys Charon HPA has preserved the most essential element of the platform, the OS. The point was not to move away from an HP-designed chip. PA-RISC is preserved. In contrast, HPE Portable HP-UX is moving to x86 because the future of Itanium now has a final generation. Kittson is the last iteration of Itanium. It puts HP-UX in a worse spot than MPE/iX. HP-UX has become an OS that Hewlett-Packard has disconnected from the HP chip it built to run it.

While the company that was once called HP has added one letter to its name, it continues to pare away its non-essential lines. Enterprise software is the latest to go. Excising the software from HPE isn't news, so it won't relate to the market's reaction Wednesday to HPE's third-quarter report. That doesn't mean HPE Q3 results won't make waves, though.

None of this software business is in the same league as the products now sent to live in the Micro Focus product lineup. The software that's just been split off from HP first arrived at Hewlett-Packard when, in 2011, HP acquired the British firm Autonomy for $11 billion. Investors were not thrilled at the time, but the biggest loser was probably CEO Leo Apotheker. CEO Leo lost his job even before the Autonomy deal could close. HP ended up taking an $8.8 billion write-down on it. HP's deal of this week at least restored that loss to the bottom line.

“With the completion of this transaction," said CEO Meg Whitman, "HPE has achieved a major milestone in becoming a stronger, more focused company, purpose-built to compete and win in today’s market. This transaction will deliver approximately $8.8 billion to HPE and its stockholders.”

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:45 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 01, 2017

Steps for a Final Shutdown

Kane-death-deadlineWe're hearing a story about pulling the next-to-last application off an HP 3000 that's run a port facility. At some point, every HP 3000 has to be guided into dock for the last time. These are business critical systems with sensitive data—which requires a rigorous shutdown for sending a 3000 into a salvage yard.

While this is a sad time for the IT expert who's built a career on MPE expertise, doing a shutdown by the numbers is in keeping with the rest of the professional skill-set you can expect from a 3000 manager. I am reminded of the line from Citizen Kane. "Then, as it must for every man, death came to Charles Foster Kane." Nothing escapes death, but a proper burial seems in order for such a legendary system.

Chris Bartram, whose 3k Associates website offers a fine list of public domain MPE/iX software, has chronicled all the details of turning off an HP 3000. "I have performed last rites for a 9x8 server at a customer site," he says, "and have been through the exercise a couple times before."

There are 10 steps that Bartram does before switching off the 3000's power button for the last time.

Bartram reported that he first purged all accounts except sys, hpspool, and 3000devs (and had to log off all jobs, shut down the network, and disable system UDCs to do that). Then:

2) Reset/blanked all system passwords (groups, users, accounts)

3) Purged all groups from SYS account that I could (aside from in-use groups) as well as all users except MANAGER.SYS,OPERATOR.SYS, MANAGER.HPSPOOL.

4) Went through PUB.SYS listf (file by file) looking for anything that might be a job stream or contain user data (or anything not critical to keeping the system up) and PURGEd it

5) Went into VOLUTIL and condensed my discs

6) Created a group called JUNK.SYS (you would need to do this on each volset; this box only had the system vol set)

7) Wrote and ran a short script that copied NL.PUB.SYS (the largest file remaining on the system) into JUNK.SYS in a loop using filenames A####### and X####### until all disc space was used up

8) Typed the command PURGEGROUP JUNK.SYS

9) Went into NMMGR and changed IP addresses on the box to something bland/different; including the default gateway (also deleted any entries in the NS directory if there are any)

10) Sequentially PURGE @.GROUP.ACCT for all groups (leaving PUB.SYS until last)

11) Shut down the box.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:23 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 16, 2017

How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future

Blue-plate-special-free-lunchStaying put with 3000 homesteading has been a sure road to spending less. That's in the short term, or maybe for intermediate planning. A longer-term strategy for MPE/iX application lifespans, especially the apps serving ERP and manufacturing, includes a migration and less free lunch. Those times are ending in some places.

"Life was really easy for the last 25 years, with no upgrades and no new releases," Terry Floyd of TSG says of the second era of ERP on the 3000s. MANMAN customers looking into that past could track to 1992, and then the versions of MANMAN owned by Computer Associates. MPE/iX was in the 5.0 era, so there have been many revisions of the 3000's OS since then. The hardware was stable, while it was not so aged. It's not unheard of to find a company that hasn't upgraded their 3000 iron since the 1990s. Yes, Series 928 systems work today in production.

"There is just nothing cheaper than running a stable ERP on a stable platform like MPE," Floyd adds. He also notes that migrating a MANMAN site out of the 3000 Free Lunch Cafe is made possible by the latest Social ERP app suite. "If Kenandy was less flexible," he says, "it would be a lot harder in some instances."

Free Lunch, as described above with devotion to existing, well-customized apps, is quite the lure. It can cost a company its future, making the years to come more turbulent with change and creating a gap when a free lunch won't satisfy IT needs. Pulling existing apps into a virtual host with Stromasys Charon can pay for part of the lunch and provide one step into the future.

Migration to a subscription model of application, instead of migrating PA-RISC hardware to an Intel host, makes a company pay for more of the future. The payments are measured, though. If the payoff is in enhancements, the future can brim with value like a golden era of application software.

Kenandy does its ERP magic with its endless flexibility by subscribing a site to the software. Improvements and repairs that extend the value arrive like presents under the tree. The cost is determined in advance and support is wired into the same revenue stream as development. HP separated those streams in its 3000 era. App providers like Computer Associates did the same. Floyd points back to the ASK Computing ownership of MANMAN as a golden enhancement era. That was 1982-85, he says.

However, a subscription model nails a customer down for years of continuous paying. It's more like a very good lease, and if you read the software contracts closely you'll find most of it was licensed, not sold. The exceptions were the MANMAN sites which owned their source code. The idea of owning source that was built by a vendor who won't enhance it -- because you now own the code -- is a big part of the Free Lunch lure. You don't pay anymore for software.

"Free lunch is closing down," Floyd says. Yes, it was a relief to know owning a server and the code outright dialed back operating costs. But a subcription model "is of value because it forces you to move forward. It has continuous upgrades and enhancements."

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:34 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2017

Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support

Beer-fridge-supportDo It Yourself efforts sometimes emerge from ingenuity. Enthusiasts build mashups of products like a beer cooler melded with an old fridge. DIY desktop PC builds were once the rage, but most datacenters' efforts today are Build To Orders. The challenges of DIY support for production-class servers is also starting to become a tall order. The increased efforts are being found in HP's Unix environments, too.

"DIY is increasingly hard to do," says Donna Hofmeister of Allegro, "mostly due to aging hardware. Often, those left in charge of MPE systems have little knowledge of the system. We get called when things are in a real mess. This applies to a lot of HP-UX shops now as well."

The oldest of hardware has its challenges on both sides of the PA-RISC aisle, both HP 3000 and HP 9000s. As an example, last week Larry Simonsen came upon DTC manuals in his cleanup pile. "I have some old manuals I do not find on the Internet using Google," he said. "Where do I upload my scans before I destroy these?" The aged gems cover support for the DTC 16TN Telnet Terminal Server, DTC 16iX Lan Multiplexer and DTC 16MX Communications server. The installation guide is HP part 5961-6412

Destroying old paper is environmentally friendly once the information is captured in some way. The capture gives the community ways to share, too. Keven Miller, a support pro who's stockpiled HP's manuals on the 3000 and MPE/iX, said those DTC manuals are only in his library as versions for HP-UX documentation. Like a good support provider always does in 2017, he got serious about capturing this tech data about the 3000.

"If you happen to choose to scan, send copies my way to include in my collection," Miller said. "Or if that's not going to happen, drop them off or I'll come get them and scan (at some future date) myself."

Parts have driven working HP 3000s into migration scenarios. A depot-based support operation assures a customer they'll never come of short of a crucial component. Pivital's Steve Suraci, whose company specializes in 3000s, pointed out that a weak Service Level Agreement (SLA) has a bigger problem than just not being able to get a replacement HP part.

How many HP 3000 shops are relying on support providers that are incompetent and/or inept? A provider is willing to take this company's money, without even being able to provide reasonable assurance that they had replacement parts in a depot somewhere in the event of failure. There are still reputable support providers out there. Your provider should not be afraid to answer tough questions about their ability to deliver on an SLA.

The easy questions to answer for a new client are "Can you supply me support 24x7?" or "What references will you give me from your customers?" Harder questions are "Where do you get your answers from for MPE questions?" Or even, "Do you have support experts in the 3000 who can be at my site in less than a day?"

But Suraci was posing one of the harder questions" "Here are my hardware devices: do you have spares in stock you're setting aside for my account?" Hardware has started breaking down more often in the 3000 world. Hewlett-Packard got out of the support business for 3000s for lots of business reasons. One consistent reason was that 3000-related spare parts got scarce in HP's supply chain.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:49 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 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.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 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.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 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 had its evaluation at Magicaire, one of the companies allied to Carrier. One advantage of virtualization of ERP systems: it permits a company to hold onto their mods. The business software  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.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:22 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017

Wayback Wed: Blog takes aim at 3000 news

SearchlightTwelve years ago this week we opened the 3000 NewsWire's blog, starting with coverage of a departed 3000 icon, a migration tool built by a 3000 vendor to assist database developers, as well as a split up of HP's two largest operations. The pages of this blog were devoted to these major areas: updates from the 3000 homesteading community, insights on how to move off the 3000, and the latest News Outta HP, as we continue to call it today. After 2,978 articles, we move into the 13th year of online 3000 news.

Bruce Toback died in the week we launched. He was a lively and witty developer who'd created the Formation utility software for managing 3000 forms printing. A heart attack felled him before age 50, one of those jolts that reminded me that we can't be certain how much time we're given to create. Bruce expanded the knowledge of the community with wit and flair.

Quest Software rolled out its first version of Toad, software that migrating 3000 sites could employ to simplify SQL queries. The initial version was all about accessing Oracle database, but the current release is aimed at open source SQL databases. Open source SQL was in its earliest days in 2005, part of what the world was calling LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python-PHP-Perl. Quest was also selling Bridgeware in a partnership with Taurus Software in 2005. That product continues to bridge data between 3000s and migration targets like Oracle.

HP was dividing its non-enterprise business to conquer the PC world in our first blog week. The company separated its Printer and PC-Imaging units, a return to the product-focused organization of HP's roots. Infamous CEO Carly Fiorina was gone and replacement Mark Hurd was still in his honeymoon days. Todd Bradley, who HP had hired away from mobile system maker Palm, got the PC unit reins and ran wild. Before he was cut loose in 2013, the PC business swelled to $13 billion a year and HP was Number 1. HP missed the mobile computing wave, a surprise considering Bradley came from Palm. You can't win them all.

That HP success in PCs, all driven by Windows, reflected the OS platform leader and wire-to-wire winner of migration choices for 3000 owners.

During that June we polled 3000 managers about their migration destinations for 2005. Windows had an early lead that it exploded in the years to come, but in the third year of what we called the Transition Era, HP-UX still accounted for almost one-third of migration targets. The raw totals were

Windows: 31 customers
HP-UX: 23 customers
Other Unixes, including Linux, Sun Solaris and IBM AIX: 15 customers

The IBM iSeries got mentioned twice, and one HP 3000 company has moved to Apple's Unix, which most of us know as OS X.

With 71 companies reporting their migration plans or accomplishments, HP-UX managed to poke above the 30 percent mark. Unix overall accounts for more than half of the targets.

The main information source at the time we launched the blog was the NewsWire's printed edition. During the summer of 2005 that would shift, so by the end of 2005 the print appeared quarterly and the blog articles flowed on workdays. In the print issue of that first blog month, the migration news read like this.

Larger 3000 sites make up the majority of early migration adopters, many of whom choose HP-UX to replace MPE/iX. Now the smaller sites are turning to a migration challenge they hope to meet on a familiar platform: Microsoft’s Windows.

While HP-UX has notched its victories among MPE/iX sites, the typical small-to-midsize 3000 customer is choosing a more popular platform.

“We have never learned Unix or Linux, only MPE and Windows, and it is a lot easier to hire and train Windows people,” said Dennis Boruck of CMC Software, makers of the Blackstone judicial application. Blackstone’s success in the Clark County, Nevada courts led HP to highlight the Blackstone MPE/iX application in a success story.

Some customers express a reluctance to put mission-critical computing onto Windows platforms. But Windows’ familiarity has won it many converts. “We are moving to a Windows 2003 Server environment because it is the easiest to manage compared to Unix or Linux,” said programmer supervisor E. Martin Gilliam of the Wise County, Va. data processing department.

Carter-Pertaine, makers of K-12 software, said Speedware’s migration path to HP-UX is guiding the first phase of its customer migration strategy. But Quintessential School Systems, which is the C-P parent, is working on a Linux option.

By now Linux is an establishment choice for on-premise datacenters and the bedrock of Amazon Web Services where most computing clouds gather. The platforms of 2017 have evolved to consider databases and infrastructures as their keystones, rather than operating systems. Bridgeware, jointly developed by Quest and Taurus Software, still moves data between 3000s and the rest of the database world. Today's Bridgeware datasheet language acknowledges there's still 3000 IMAGE data at work in the world.

BridgeWare Change Detection permits delta change captures in IMAGE, KSAM and other MPE data structures.

For years, IT managers have been faced with the difficult task of making data from IMAGE and other MPE-based files available. With the retirement of the HP 3000, this has become an even greater need. Taurus’ BridgeWare ETL software solution greatly simplifies the task of moving data between databases and files on MPE, Windows, UNIX and Linux systems, allowing you to easily migrate, or replicate your data to extend the life or phase out your HP 3000.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:47 AM in History, Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 17, 2017

Beyond emulations might lie migrations

Crm-data-migration-steps-cloudAs another webinar demo unspooled today for HP 3000 data migration products, the strategy of hold on or move onward demoed another facet. A 3000 might be a candidate for de-commissioning simply because the system has been too successful in the past. The next server will be different, but there's no guarantee the replacement will be better in significant aspects. Waiting for something better is not as easy as moving to something different.

Take COBOL compilers, for example. At the investment firm Fayez Sarofim, the HP 3000 was being evaluated for replacement. One element of the eval was finding a COBOL compiler compatible with the code running on the 3000. The company had to choose a way forward that was mostly different. Better was another phase.

"We chose AcuCOBOL over Micro Focus at the time of our migration because AcuCOBOL better handled the packed HP Floating Point without losing significant decimals," said George Willis. "It also had a more powerful set of debugging tools that were easy to use." Protecting decimal data was the priority. Getting a superior debugger was the improvement.

Time moved onward for the Sarofim strategy though, shifting away from apps and toward software services (SaaS). HP's Unix systems—an HP-UX 4466 Rx using AMXW, Cognos, Micro Focus COBOL, Suprtool and Warehouse—eventually got the boot, just like a 3000 did. The shift to services erased a department at the company. There's no emulation that can oppose that kind of sea change in strategy: "We don't even need our own servers, we'll access an app instead."

While making its move to HP's Unix, Willis said "We did not want to go through another riskier migration until we were stabilized. We are certainly stable now, but the firm has decided to move a different direction." So onward it went to SaaS. Emulation never got a fighting chance.

There are other places where emulation gets its shot. Once in awhile it comes up short, even after yeoman work to fit the performance needs. Veritiv Corp. runs four of the largest HP 3000s, N-Class servers loaded with RAM and HP's fastest PA-RISC processors. This profile of user needs to believe that emulation is a good long-term goal. Hardware for this top-end N-Class level emulation must be specified with an eye to a long-term play. Value for money gets amplified when you're replacing HP's 3000 hardware for a long run on an emulator.  "We don't need to ignore the issue of hardware," said Randy Stanfield this week, 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."

That's searching for something different, that talk of needing to be off the system before MPE/iX stops date-keeping in 2028. Ten-plus years is a long time, enough to enable the magic of making CALENDAR work in 2028 a reality, perhaps. It's not impossible, although someone has to do the work to salvage MPE's date capability for 2028 use.

The silver lining for the 3000 community in any migration story is that the business often goes to a vendor who's been in the market a long time. MB Foster is one player like that, demonstrating its roots with a demo like today's of UDACentral. MB Foster celebrated its 40th anniversary in the 3000 market this week. 'The HP3000 market is our home market," Birket Foster said in an email today, "and we are grateful for the support, suggestions and collaboration with us."

Stanfield is looking for customer stories about migrating with Fresche Legacy, which earned its 3000 reputation as Speedware.

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?

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:45 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 15, 2017

3000 Cloud Doings: Are, Might, and Never

Flight-simulator-cloudsThe latest news about cloud computing for HP 3000s came from Stromasys. The company selling the Charon virtualizer (many think of it as an emulator) announced a new bundled offer as well as announcing that any public cloud can run Charon. Sites that employ the Oracle Cloud to host their virtualization systems get un-metered cloud services as part of that deal with Stromasys. Oracle Cloud is one of the newer players in the cloud market. There's no place to go but up in market share for Oracle Cloud, carving out its business among providers dominated by Amazon's Web Services.

Emulating HP 3000 servers, however, is a job that's not often suited for a shared Intel-based server. There are exceptions, like light-duty 3000s or those in archival mode. Those are the best profiles for 3000s in the cloud running Charon, according to the Stromasys HP Product Manager Doug Smith. 3000 A-Class systems — Stromasys calls this Charon model the A520 — can be run from the cloud.

Many of the cloud's typical servers make memory and CPUs available on an as-needed basis, swapping processor power and RAM in and out. This is in contrast to dedicating a highly-threaded CPU and all available memory to a task like emulation. "Charon requires dedicated resources," Smith said. "If I say I need a 3.5 GHz CPU response, then I need that 3.5 GHz in the host itself, not being shared among other virtual machines."

It's safe to say there are 3000s in our community that are good candidates for a cloud profile. A-Class systems running the one last MPE application, some app still critical to a datacenter, for example. Better to have this sort of foolproof hardware service chain using virtualization, instead of stocking redundant 3000 memory sticks. (The better option to stay with the 3000 hardware from HP is an independent support company.)

The cloud — a term that doesn't have much traction for classic 3000 pros like Smith — might evolve to the point where dedicated CPU performance at any level could become affordable. Not even Hewlett-Packard knew how to price and sell its HP Cloud so its Unix customers could host datacenters in the cloud. Integrity chips were the next generation of PA-RISC, so emulating any chipset with that pedigree is no small matter. Smith, like any other analyst in IT, considers dedicated performance from a public cloud as cost-prohibitive.

Never-say-neverAny company can arrange to use an offsite, networked host for MPE/iX apps. This seems more like timesharing to the 3000 pros than Infrastructure as a Service. Cloud computing is supposed to reduce costs, and it does so by sharing resources. Sharing is not a great match for emulation at multiple levels. When you use a VMware host to create the Linux cradle on one level, which then virtualizes PA-RISC with Charon, that's a more intense CPU requirement than public clouds can handle. Pull out the VMware and you're fine for a smaller datacenter.

Cloud computing users definitely are shifting their expenditures from capital expenses to operating expenses. OpEx can be easier to place in a budget than CapEx, especially for legacy systems like the 3000. We'll never see a day when there's no more CapEx spending in datacenters like those in the 3000 world. OpEx is on the rise, but like the Paperless Office of the 1980s strategies, CapEx will always have some benefits. One is the constantly dropping cost of HP's hardware, if you can arrange for enough backup components and parts.

OpEx, however, gives vendors and customers a way to tune up a services agreement. At Stromasys, for example, the Oracle Cloud already has advantages for some Charon users. "There is definitely, for example, an added benefit for [Sun Sparc] SSP users," said Marketing Director Sarah Hoysa. "By emulating their SPARC instances on Oracle Cloud, they have an additional way of continuing their close relationship with Oracle."

"The big thing is that customers now have a lot of choice," Hoysa added. "We know people are moving to a wide range of public clouds. We're making our solution on all of those public clouds." Dave Clements of Stromasys said the company's got an insurance firm running Charon in the Microsoft's Azure cloud, for example. It's not a 3000 site. The cloud is all potential for 3000s today.

There are all the software and license arrangements needed to put a 3000 onto any of those public clouds using Charon. Stromasys went to a software-based licensing arrangement two years ago, so the need for a USB stick with HPSUSAN data has been swept aside. The 3000 customers using N-Class systems might have an interest in cloud computing in the future. For now, however, Smith said the security, control, and command of on-premise hardware is preferred by larger manufacturers. The interest has been from smaller manufacturing companies.

It's safe to say—given the competition for customers among a growing rank of cloud companies, we will never see a future with zero HP 3000 cloud computers. It's coming, and companies like Oracle will drive down pricing in ways we've never imagined. The 3000 datacenters will hang on long enough to see that day, because you can never say never when it comes to failures of hardware that's 14 years old and aging.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:06 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 21, 2017

Federal program re-trains HP 3000 pros

US LaborHP 3000 IT pros have a challenge to overcome in their careers: how to add modern skills to the classic toolset they learned managing 3000s. Those between jobs must handle the costs to train, too. Craig Proctor has been spending time to learn the likes of C#, Java and Visual Studio. After one year of study, he didn't have to spend his own money.

"I took a dozen different classes," Proctor said. "The Trade Act paid for it all. It's possible to take one class at TLG Learning, or work with them to design a series of classes."

Proctor worked with a 3000 for more than 20 years at Boeing, as a Configuration Management Analyst and Business Systems Programmer Analyst. He left Boeing and began a period he calls Updating IT Skills in his resume at LinkedIn. TLG, based in Seattle, gave him training that he will blend with the business analysis that's so common in 3000 careers. He understands that by drawing on his recent education he'd accept at an entry level IT position. "You get the merger of an experienced analyst, using new tools," he said of his proposal to any new employer."

An extension of the Trade Act signed into US law by President Obama was one of the few bills to escaped the partisan logjam. A federal website describes it as a way for foreign-trade-affected workers to "obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become re-employed." $975 billion in federal funds have been sent to states like Proctor's in Washington, adminstered by each state. Furloughed workers file a petition for training, job search and relocation allowances. These pros have an average age of 46, which is the younger side of the HP 3000 workforce.

Proctor didn't believe that his 3000 experience helped in gaining more modern IT skills -- except for his years as an analyst.

I wouldn't say that the HP 3000 skills helped, but the analytical/programmer skills did. All 22.5 years at Boeing were on the HP 3000 (Fortran) and I had a couple of years on it before, as well as Burroughs (now Unisys) using COBOL. The hardest class for me was C#; COBOL and Fortran were so similar, but C# was nothing like that. The other classes were interesting and fun for me -- challenging, but still fun.

Like anybody well-versed in system management and coding under MPE, he was aiming at a job in a business using a 3000. "With so much HP 3000 experience under my belt, I'd feel a lot more comfortable and ready to dive in with another HP 3000 shop," he said. "I also have all the soft skills -- investigative, detail oriented -- that I need." Learning what Proctor called "21st century technology" can help 3000 veterans who've seen their positions eliminated.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:11 PM in Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 22, 2017

Webinar explores data migration roadblocks

MB Foster is broadcasting a webinar on Thursday at 11 AM Pacific Daylight Time, a briefing that covers tools and strategies to move data. The program promises to cover components of data migration projects. As is often the case, the webinar also will highlight the potential roadblocks to migrating data. Explanation of methods, project planning, and data governance are also a part of the one-hour show. Registration for access is at the MB Foster website.

PotpourriIt can take months to move data from one platform to another. Just ask Bradley Rish, who as part of the Potpourri Group managed a two-step process to migrate away from Ecometry software on an N-Class HP 3000. Potpourri first went to Ecometry on HP-UX, then a few years later moved away from HP's proprietary environment to Windows. Same application, with each move aimed at a more commodity platform.

But there was nothing commodity about the company's data. Data migration required eight months, more than the IT pros at the company estimated. Rish said that two full-time staffers, working the equivalent of one year each, were need to complete the ultimate migration to Windows.

Migrations of data don't automatically mean there's an exit from the HP 3000. At Potpourri, after a couple of years of research by IT, the exit from the 3000 was based on HP's plans for the computer, not any inability to serve more than 200-plus in-house users, plus process Web transactions. It's a holding company that serves 11 other web and catalog brands. More than half its transactions occur in the final 90 days of each year. Holiday gift season is the freeze-out time for retailer IT changes.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:46 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 20, 2017

Data migration practices support cloud IT

Crm-data-migration-steps-cloudCompanies moving from HP 3000s to cloud-based IT are reaching deeper into data migration. In some cases, the records that have never left a datacenter are becoming an asset managed in cloud computing. The process prompts lessons on tools and practices that can be new to IT administrators and ERP developers in 3000 shops.

Work at The Support Group is helping to lead manufacturer Disston Tools onto the Force.com cloud services, leaving the classic MANMAN ERP application behind. Disston is adopting the Kenandy cloud ERP solution as a MANMAN replacement.The tools to migrate Disston's data cover a wide scope of functionality, from the Minisoft IMAGE-savvy ODBC utility to the commonplace Microsoft SQL Server Information Services (SSIS).

The latter tool can be priced more effectively for a smaller enterprise if it can be licensed as a developer version for a one-time data move, said the Support Group's David Floyd. "I'm not running a production database with SSIS," Floyd said. He added that it took four days of training to become fluent in using SSIS. At the Force.com cloud service, a proprietary database takes the place of IMAGE to store company information that has sometimes never left the world of MPE/iX and the 3000.

Migrating a key enterprise asset like ERP can trigger expansion of data capabilities. The Support Group's Terry Floyd said that adding a data warehouse has been part of migration engagements like the Disston project. SQL Server-based warehouses have become a reliable facet of upgraded ERP. Data warehousing was a potential tool in the 3000-based ERP architectures. The services were often provided using non-3000 database repositories.

The pricing for these data mart and data warehouse concoctions were well outside the reach of small- to medium-sized enterprises, though. One offering from the late 1990s, SalesMAN, was a solution that ranged from $95,000 to $160,00, sold as a bundle. The mart database was priced separately.

On the other end of the software cost scale, that one-time SSIS license for a developer was under $100 for a year, Floyd said.

Migrations can also spark consolidations and normalizations of data. For example, the Support Group experts say a company with several product lines created by separate entities will hope to merge part number sequences. An 8-digit number and a 12-digit number for two lines becomes a single numbering scheme.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:20 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 08, 2017

ERP ecosystems now being fed by analysis

EcosystemThere's a rule that Sue Kiezel of the Support Group follows for her ERP clientele. Try not to let the IT department establish architecture for a replacement system. Consultants who have experience with business rules and structure are the best choice to arrange the parts and plan the new flow.

"IT is for infrastructure, and for development," she said while leading me on a tour of the new denizens inside the Kenandy ERP ecosystem. "Put your business experts on the team. You'll find someone to code it inside IT."

The issue to face while relying on the current generation of IT pros is that they no longer have broad views of how companies organize business processes. In the era when the 3000 was growing, the most dynamic beasts of the ecosystem were programmer analysts. The PAs were usually people who knew the business first and learned to program as a way to solve business problems. These days the development skills seem to wag the dog.

The IT department is essential to the success of any ERP ecosystem because that's the source of support. An ecosystem was the aspect of 3000 ownership in the biggest trouble. However, that diagnosis came from the days when outside vendors who sold apps and databases were considered the ecosystem. In some ways, the new ERP that the Support Group implements delivers a new generation of ecosystem: Kenandy's tools and modules, built with the Salesforce software that underpins it all. One surprise is that even the database has become a built-in, specialized choice. Dare we say it, proprietary, even.

The database is "Beyond Relational" according to the Kenandy field guide of software creatures. Instead of Structured Query Language, the Salesforce ecosystem uses Salesforce Object Query Language. SQL becomes SOQL, and the database itself is called the Force database. The architecture is evocative of the world of IMAGE inside of MPE, where a database was built to service the file system and the known programming universe, instead of being something that was built to serve a much wider world—but not nearly as easily or efficiently. Here's how Salesforce describes what you get right in the box to deploy data into apps.

The Force database provides not only a mechanism for creating persistent objects, but also a way of automatically generating a user interface around these objects. Reporting, tagging and much additional related functionality can also be added to applications, all out-of-the-box Force.com platform features.

You can create, configure and deploy persistent objects using the web-based Force.com Setup menu environment. However, database services are also tightly integrated with the Apex programming language, which has a dedicated syntax for invoking searches and iterating over results.

Kenandy's ecosystem is driven by the choices made by Salesforce, design that's been proven in cloud computing over a decade of field use. Programming for Salesforce has become the way to build out the ecosystem that drives Kenandy. Since the platform has become application software tied to services, it's Platform as a Service. TSG's Terry Floyd said that entering the new ecosystem can feel, at times, like relearning MANMAN, MPE, IMAGE and sometimes Fortran. Making that much change to a mission critical app like ERP calls for expertise to make the migration. This is trusted advice that comes more easily to the Support Group; a decade ago they were leading 3000 MANMAN sites to the IFS software platform. ERP based upon Kenandy is an ecosystem even more diverse .

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:39 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 06, 2017

Add-on applications pour down from clouds

Acrylic-finish-paint-250x250Forecasting software has been a $2 million addition to enterprise resource planning systems. The P in ERP signifies a mission to search for a view of the future. Add-ons like McConnell Chase's FD7, purchased for an additional $2-$4 million on top of software investments in monolithic apps like MANMAN, generate a strong business for vendors. In-house systems are a good match for that kind of app. Today's IT options can bring this kind of forecasting power onto the pallettes of many more companies.

The analyst and software experts at The Support Group have been implementing the Kenandy ERP solution at an HP 3000 MANMAN site. Kenandy runs on the internal architecture of Salesforce, the cloud IT supplier to millions of sites. In a cloud IT solution a company buys a subscription to an application. Kenandy, for example, is an application choice in the world of Salesforce. Rather than hoping for a third party to create a tool that can access Kenandy, the new cloud model delivers forecasting as an option on the bill of fare.

Forecasting was never a built-in MANMAN module, Terry Floyd of TSG reminded us last week. David Floyd of the company recently returned from data integration work at Disston Tools in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Together the two men explained how cloud ERP can bring essentials like forecasting within reach. They're in the the second generation of software expertise at TSG. Terry Floyd wrote archiving software for MANMAN during the 1980s, for example, a product that was sold and added to MANMAN sites. This sort of software can be added to a cloud ERP solution like Kenandy's. Today, however, it's a subscription option, as quick to integrate as adding a tier of TV channels to a cable subscription.

Changes that spring from the migrations forced by HP have been costly. Not every new look triggered by HP's drop of the 3000 is negative, though. Adding planning power has been a multi-million dollar bet in the old 3000-era strategy. There are, however, a few aspects of cloud computing which the old-era model continues to beat.

For example, the Floyds say archival storage can be tricky to cost out in the cloud. Storage can cost more in a cloud solution;  5 to 10 years of company transactions based in the cloud might be a questionable choice. Cloud-based history can be costly. Local storage of history—that familiar disk array sitting beside an in-house host—still is at least as inexpensive as cloud, and often cheaper.

In another example, the data extraction ability of Minisoft's ODBC has been helping David Floyd at the Disston project. Other tools on the non-3000 side of the migration do transformation and loading. The same software being used in 3000s all over is cost-effective and powerful enough to move Disston data into and out of 3000s. The error-handling facilities of the ODBC standard are up against a Salesforce tool in Kenandy, though. Data Loader is a graphical tool that helps get data into Salesforce objects.

Integrated, subscription-based modules for software aren't exactly a new concept to the 3000-era manager. The 3000 shipped with tools like QUERY, for example. It was a crude tool that could be used for sophisticated tasks, so long as a manager had the skills to deploy it with subtle strokes. A little like painting a portrait with a spoon and acrylics. Today's software, included from the cloud, is something like a smart paintbrush that knows exactly how those strokes should appear, and where the best colors are, too.

TSG looks to be on the vanguard of a real replacement for MANMAN. The learning curve can be worth the return—for companies who are able to let go of their MANMAN and 3000s. Change is a rising tide that can lift all ships for the sailors who are watching the horizon. It's a good idea to make sure you have a navigator for this journey.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:28 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 27, 2017

HP quarter invites a peek at a smaller profile

Dorian GreyQuarterly results from the latest report on Hewlett-Packard Enterprise didn't impress investors. On the news of its revenues falling short of estimates—what's called a "miss" in today's markets—the stock got sold down 7 percent a share. Stock prices come and go, and HPE has made a better restart than the HPQ end of the split-up HP. The future, though, is certain to be getting slimmer for HPE. The question is whether something smaller can ever grow like the monolithic HP which carried 3000 customers across more than three decades.

It's easy to dismiss the fortunes of a split-off part of a vendor which doesn't make 3000s anymore. When the plans wrap up on a pair of  "spin-mergers" of two of the company's bigger business units, what's left over might have lost any further ability to change the enterprise computing game. Migrating 3000 customers will still have to take their computing someplace. Looking at the HPE prospects for 2017 is a part of that decision.

Analyst Bert Hochfeld has just written a 4,000-word report on the company on the Seeking Alpha website. That's a huge piece of business reporting that deserves a close read if you're buying stock or working for HPE. IT managers can find some insights as well. Cherry-picking some sections, to look at HPE's business futures, is useful for planning. HP's selling off its Enterprise Services and Software businesses to CSC and Micro Focus, respectively. The deals will wrap up by September. Hochfeld says what remains at HPE is unlikely to grow. A lack of growth is what drove down HP's stock last week.

"I do not think anyone imagines that what will remain of HPE in the wake of its divestitures is a growth business," Hochfeld said. "There are some growth components in otherwise stagnant spaces. The company has yet to demonstrate that it can execute at the speed necessary to exploit the opportunities it has—and to make the right choices in terms of allocating its resources in what are difficult markets."

In a report titled Has the company done a u-turn on a trip to nowhere? Hochfeld notes that what's left over at HPE this year might be viewed like the picture of Dorian Grey. But that would only be true, he adds, in a world where datacenters will only be run by cloud providers. Companies will run their own datacenters, a fact HP will need to stress to stay relevant when it displays a smaller profile.

It's a debate that can't be solved easily, but it's worth considering when making changes to move a 3000 environment. That Dorian Grey picture, a portrait growing more haggard by the day while its subject appears hearty and hale, "seems to me to be a gross over-simplification."

It suggests there will soon be a world without datacenters other than those owned by the cloud vendors. There will be readers and other observers who will cite specific examples of large companies who have chosen to abandon the management of any of their data and who will move all workloads to the cloud.

A systems provider that focuses on datacenter provisioning and business needs a stout sales culture, Hochfeld adds. "What's far more important are questions about the long-term viability of a strategy related to selling a hybrid-cloud infrastructure to enterprise IT customers."

HPE, which through divestiture will be shrinking itself to less than $30 billion a year in annual sales, is going to need to replace the sales strategies that were appropriate when it was a behemoth, and it could use its consulting practice as a lever to promote sales of enterprise servers and storage.

"Core servers and storage is a tough market," he says, "and it is not easy to forecast that the market  will ever return to significant growth numbers. The only way to deal with a market that seems, at best, to be stagnant or at worst to be in long-term secular decline, is to innovate boldly and perhaps ruthlessly. That again is a discipline that is still a work in progress at HPE."

Hochfeld is taking a long-term position in HPE stock, thinking it will maintain its value. The company is retaining business that earns about $900 million a quarter in profits. The HP that offered ProLiant and Integrity alternatives to the 3000 is just as much gone as the 3000 itself is from HP price lists. One observer at the Seeking Alpha site wondered if HPE might take itself private, or become an target of acquisition.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:17 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 20, 2017

Harris School Solutions buys K-12 ISV QSS

HSS LogoHarris School Solutions (HSS) has announced its acquisition of Quintessential School Systems (QSS). The latter is an HP 3000 vendor whose products have been running California K-12 schools since 1990. The purchase for an undisclosed amount includes a transfer of QSS Chief Operating Officer Duane Percox to the post of Product Owner. The company's QSS/OASIS is capable of going beyond single school districts; it supports multi-district agencies, such as County Offices of Education, and also community colleges.

Scott Schollenberger, EVP of HSS' Financial Solutions unit said of QSS/OASIS, "We see this product as a way to bolster what we offer now, while opening even more doors for HSS in the future.”

Similarly, QSS expressed its excitement over joining with HSS. “Harris School Solutions is an outstanding organization," Percox said in a press release, "not just because of its products and services, but also because of the people who offer them. The people within the company are the real deal, so I’m thrilled to be working with them. Together, we’re going to offer our same great products and services, but to many, many more schools across North America.”

A company press release  says QSS OASIS will now be available more widely. QSS has always had a very large share of its customers in California school systems. Selling into a school system in California demands a familiarity of some very unique requirements. Harris brings the QSS software into the rest of the US.

The QSS saga includes a long-term migration campaign on behalf of its HP3000 users. When HP cut its 3000 plans short in 2001, finding a replacement platform with no such trap door was paramount to QSS. Well before the solution was established as a commercial choice, QSS was sent down a path toward Linux. The company calls this Version L, with the migrations coming away from Version H. This past year, the majority of QSS sites crossed over from the 3000 to Linux use.

QSS launched the Linux version of its application suite at Lodi Unified School District in 2008, accessing MS SQL. According to the QSS website, various other customers are scheduled to make the transition from the HP 3000 to Linux during 2017.

Calendar year 2016 saw the highest number of conversions of school districts (SD) and County Offices of Education (COE), Eleven organizations cut over to Linux hosts and either SQL Server of PostgreSQL for a database. Those migrated this year include La Habra SD, Mariposa COE, Nevada COE, San Luis Obispo COE and Stanislaus COE, Amador COE, Kern COE, Mendocino COE, Orange USD, Visalia USD, Novato USD

During 2015, five more, schools migrated: Glenn COE, Colusa COE, Modesto City SD, Marin COE, and Santa Clara COE made the switch to version L.
Reports for 2014 covered seven migrations, including the first QSS site making the move from MPE to Linux. Corona-Norco USD was the first QSS customer to make the transition from Version H to Version L in January, 2014. Their HP 3000 was replaced by a Linux application server accessing data from MS SQL databases.

El Dorado COE migrated from Version H to Version L in November 2014 over the Thanksgiving break.  EDCOE is running a monolithic system with the Linux application server and PostgreSQL server on the same virtual machine. EDCOE originally planned to use SQL Server as its database server, but opted to use PostgreSQL based on the results of their evaluations. Sac COE replaced their 3000  with a Linux application server using PostgreSQL as the database. San Benito COE switched over the Labor Day 2014 weekend, accessing data from MS SQL. San Ramon Valley USD made the leap over a 4th of July weekend replacing their  3000 system with a Linux and MS SQL combination. Folsom Cordova USD replaced their HP 3000 system with a Linux application server accessing data from MS SQL databases. Merced County Office of Education made the transition to Version L with PostgreSQL as the choice of database.

QSS/OASIS is a suite made up of modules Base Financial (GL, AP, AR, Budget, PO's), Purchasing, Budget Development, Stores Inventory, Fixed Assets, Base Personnel, Position Control, and Payroll, plus a Financial Companion for interfacing to the School/3000 software. School/3000 is an integrated admin system for HP 3000s distributed by QSS that includes GL, AP, AR, payroll, retirement, position control, human resources, stores warehousing, and fixed asset inventory.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:58 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 17, 2017

K-12 vendor still migrates schools to Linux

Editor's Note: We learned today that Quintessential School Systems (QSS) has been acquired by another school software ISV, Harris School Solutions. QSS has been notable for leading customers from its MPE/iX application suite onto Linux—and QSS was one of the very first to do this in the 3000 world. Here's a replay of our report about the how and why of this migration campaign's roots. It's an effort that began in the earliest days of the Transition Era, according to this report from 2002. In the article below, just swap in Linux for any mention of HP-UX. There's not a measurable benefit to leading anyone to HP's Unix anymore.

QSS outlines pilot move of K-12 apps to Open Source

By John Burke

Rolling deskQuintessential School Systems (QSS), founded in 1990, is an HP 3000 ISV providing software and consulting services to K-12 school districts and community college systems. While developing, supporting and providing administrative and student records management computing solutions for these public school districts, QSS created a set of tools for HP 3000 developers. QSDK was a subroutine library toolkit to network applications. QWEBS was a Web server running on the HP 3000. When QSS talks about migrating HP 3000 applications to Open Source, we all need to pay attention to what they are doing and how they are going about it.

Public school systems are understandably very cost-conscious, so for competitive reasons QSS had already started investigating migrating its software to an Open Source solution before HP even announced on November 14, 2001 its intentions about the 3000. This put QSS ahead of most ISVs and non-ISVs in determining how to migrate traditional HP 3000 COBOL and IMAGE applications. At HP World 2002, QSS COO Duane Percox gave a talk titled “Migrating COBOL and IMAGE/SQL to Linux with Open Source.” Percox hoped to share QSS’s pilot project experience for migration approaches.

QSS customers tend to be very cost sensitive, and so an Open Source approach has a lot of appeal for any ISV providing a complete packaged solution. Non-ISVs looking to migrate homegrown applications to other platforms might want to stay with commercial operating systems, databases and compilers for the vendor support. But there are migration choices here that are useful for anyone moving MPE/iX applications.

Before starting that pilot project, QSS had to choose a target OS, database and compiler. For the OS, QSS chose SuSe Linux. I asked Percox why Linux and why the SuSe distribution. “Our migration target is an Open Systems and/or Posix-compliant OS,” he said. “We chose Linux and HP-UX as the target platforms with Linux for the pilot project. With the cost of Linux development systems being so low, doing the pilot on Linux was a natural. We believe that Linux is a wonderful choice for ISV solutions. However, we have large customers who might feel more comfortable with an HP-supported OS. That is why we are targeting both.

“As for the SuSe distribution, we basically had seen good things about it on the Internet and so we chose it for our pilot project. QSS is currently working out business arrangements with SuSe and Red Hat. It will all come down to the business side of things. We are pleased with both distributions, and given that Red Hat owns 52 percent of the market [in 2002 numbers], we are certainly not discounting them.

“Our goal is to be a TSP (total solution provider) and essentially build a custom sub-distribution from one of these two. We will then host a patch-site with approved patches from the source company. We don’t think our customers will care which we choose because we are basically going to say that ‘we own the installation’ of the Linux box. We won’t want anything other than QSS applications to be installed on the application server.”

I asked if QSS had considered system management issues in choosing an OS. Percox replied, “We are building an application environment that will provide for the job scheduling, spooling, etc. The specific library and toolset layer we provide will insulate the application from the particulars of each OS. However, choosing to be Posix-compliant is what will help us be very similar.”

With the choice of an OS platform out of the way, QSS next turned to the database. Percox said, “One of our goals was to migrate to a SQL-92 compliant RDBMS. Within that goal, we wanted to evaluate whether any Open Source RDBMS was sufficiently capable to support a commercial grade application.” QSS evaluated MySQL (www.mysql.com), PostgreSQL (www.postgresql.com), Interbase and SAP DB (www.sapdb.org). The choice for the pilot project was PostgreSQL.

“This is an ever-changing landscape," Percox said in his presentation, "but one which is moving in a reasonably consistent manner. High performance data access (Web-based, read-only systems) favors MySQL. Bulletproof commercial quality with transaction support favors PostgreSQL and SAP DB. Interbase has not established a good open source community. PostgreSQL, Interbase and SAP DB have support for transactions and lock isolation. Version 4 (future) of MySQL is supposed to support transactions. A number of good books have been written about PostgreSQL, making it the easiest to learn. SAP DB is coming on strong and is worth considering down the road.”

I asked whether QSS had considered HP Eloquence and if so, why it had chosen not to use it. Percox said the issue was cost.

“Our customers are public education and they are not just sitting around with spare money waiting to be spent on a database,” he said, “even one as reasonably priced as Eloquence. Since we are doing the migration and spreading the cost over our installed base and future sales we can take the hit on converting the COBOL code from TurboIMAGE to SQL. To help keep the migration cost down for QSS we are developing the SQL abstraction layer that we believe will give us both the ability to drop in replacement calls and the ability to tune for performance when needed without having to re-write the entire COBOL code library.”

The third and final decision was which COBOL compiler to use for the pilot project. "Having a common IDE regardless of language can be very helpful and improve productivity for those developers who code in multiple languages on the server.” QSS chose to use TinyCOBOL for the pilot project.

Percox explained, “The principal reason for choosing an Open Source COBOL was that at the time the project was planned, all the commercial COBOL compilers for Linux required run-time licensing on a per-user-execution basis. As an ISV that serves a cost-sensitive end-user vertical market, we must deploy our solutions with minimal (or no) run-time fees. Gnu COBOL is moving along very slowly and is not yet ready. TinyCOBOL was the only Open Source COBOL we could find that generated IA-32 code for Linux and that supported most of the COBOL-85 constructs. One commercial COBOL for Linux became available doesn't require run-time licensing, Fujitsu NetCOBOL (www.netcobol.com).”

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:37 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 25, 2017

Migrate, emulate: Wednesday show's for you

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.40.52 AMThursday, at 2 PM EST (11 PST, 8 PM CET) there's an MB Foster webinar show covering emulation options. For the 3000 owner and manager who hasn't yet moved off HP's 3000 iron, no what matter where you're headed, there's something in this 60 minutes for you.

Last summer's version of the webinar walked its viewers through Foster's eZ-MPE, Ordat's TI2/SQL, Marxmeier's Eloquence database suite, and the Stromasys 3000 hardware emulator Charon. Only the last product delivers no changes to software and frees you from HP's aging boxes. But the other three offer ways to mimic parts of the 3000's heart and soul.

eZ-MPE is the newest of the emulate-to-migrate products. Introduced in 2013, it's a suite of software to accommodate the data infrastructure and scripting needs of today's HP 3000 sites. The Thursday show includes a demonstration of the MB Foster product.

TI2/SQL gives TurboIMAGE users (pretty much everybody who's still running a 3000) an avenue into SQL databases like SQLServer. And Eloquence replaces the IMAGE database wholesale, using an SQL-based data platform with deep work-alikes for IMAGE intrinsics and features.

It should be an interesting show. The distinctions between the first three products and Charon will be obvious by the end of the presentation, so stick around to the finale. That wrap-up is also the portion of the webinar for free-form questions. It's getting rare to have a place to ask those in a semi-public setting. I hope to hear from you during the webinar. MB Foster's got a means to listen and watch these shows after their airing. But the Q&A part is live-only.

Knowing the computing processes of HP 3000 managers for more than 35 years gives MB Foster the insight to build a complete ecosystem eZ-MPE, said the company’s sales and marketing chief Chris Whitehead. 

“What we’re really doing here is we’re mimicking the environment that everybody’s accustomed to using,” Whitehead said. “To get all those nuances, you must have all the specific capabilities already there. With all HP 3000 sites they have some similarities. They have UDCs, file systems, KSAM that’s involved with MPE files. They all have an IMAGE database.”

Whitehead says the biggest nuance of eZ-MPE is its focus on custom code and surround code, “to transition to a supportable platform with the least amount of risk. The value of MBF eZ-MPE is its collective ability to mimic the HP 3000 environment — but aiming the customer at the advantages of the Windows environment."

On the subject of those other solutions in MB Foster's perspective, some well-established migration products have received a new label. This is an emulation-to-migration path that lands a 3000 customer in the world of Windows. Eloquence, the database that doesn't run under MPE/iX but has a TurboIMAGE Compatibility Mode, handles data. The Marxmeier product has always been sold as a migration tool. For years the ads on this blog called it "Image migration at its best." Users have testified to the strong value of Eloquence.

Another third party tool, resold and supported by MB Foster, got a mention in last summer's webinar and earned a label as an emulation solution. Ti2SQL, software that moves IMAGE data to SQL databases, was released by Ordat in the early years of the migration era. In 2003, Expeditors International included ORDAT’s Ti2SQL in Expeditors' rollout away from the 3000 because the software emulates IMAGE inside a relational database. The end result produced CLI calls native to a Unix-based database.

"Ti2SQL uses CLI," said MB Foster's Chris Whitehead. "Think of it as going to a complete native environment, while leveraging/using all of the business logic developed on/for the HP. Additionally, Ti2SQL allows someone to go to an off-path server and database, such as AIX and DB2."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:07 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 13, 2017

Emulation review will air out all options

January 26On January 26 MB Foster is airing the 2017 edition of its emulation webinar. The 40-minute show will walk 3000 managers through four emulation options. Last year's show had four very different products. Three will address the MPE/iX environment: how to get your applications onto the Windows OS. One will give you emulated hardware. In the first edition of the webinar, Birket Foster called the Charon emulator for 3000 hardware emulation "flawless."

The other three solutions — unless the lineup changes from last year's show — are all based in software methods to replicate databases and surrounding code. They are

The MB Foster environment emulation solution has been working for at least one customer. We introduced it in 2013. Here's our story from that year for reference. We'll all look forward to the update at 11 AM PST.

eZ-MPE opens new Windows for 3000 sites

MB Foster is announcing a hybrid of solutions aimed at making migrations off the 3000 easier. The company is calling its offering MBF eZ-MPE, and it’s aiming customers at the native benefits of working in Windows once they make their transition. MBF eZ-MPE is a solution for HP 3000 sites that have a keen interest in transitioning to a Windows environment, while they preserve their company’s competitive advantage and legacy applications.

Knowing the computing processes of HP 3000 managers for more than 35 years gives MB Foster the insight to build a complete ecosystem, said the company’s sales and marketing chief Chris Whitehead. 

“What we’re really doing here is we’re mimicking the environment that everybody’s accustomed to using,” Whitehead said. “To get all those nuances, you must have all the specific capabilities already there. With all HP 3000 sites they have some similarities. They have UDCs, file systems, KSAM that’s involved with MPE files. They all have an IMAGE database.”

Whitehead says the biggest nuance of eZ-MPE is its focus on custom code and surround code, “to transition to a supportable platform with the least amount of risk. The value of MBF eZ-MPE is its collective ability to mimic the HP 3000 environment — but aiming the customer at the advantages of the Windows environment.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:12 AM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 09, 2017

3000 experience floats up to the Fed

FedRichmondReid Baxter started his work in the HP 3000 world in 1981. This year he's helping to support the IT at the US Federal Reserve in Richmond, VA. There is no direct line between these two postings. Baxter has made the most of his career that started with MPE and terminals to lead to his current post where he helps maintain computers that serve the US banking bedrock, The Fed.

Baxter, one of the earliest 3000 Newswire subscribers, checked in this week to congratulate us on another anniversary as we crossed into the 22d calendar year of publishing. It's been quite a while, as Baxter says, since an HP 3000 was in his life: seven years ago he transitioned off everyday 3000 duty when his employer JP Morgan-Chase closed down its MPE/iX servers.

Baxter went into support of the 3000's successor at Chase, HP-UX, and then onward into Linux. When your skillset goes as far back as HP's Data Terminal Division, a new environment presents more opportunity than challenge. The 3000 once had a place in banking IT, which is why Chase once deployed the ABLE software suite from CASE for asset management.

After Chase did a downsize in 2015, Baxter went on a lengthy quest to land a new spot in finance computing. He's working today for HP Enterprise Services, by way of the Insight Global staffing enterprise. His mission is support of that Fed IT center, work that he can do remotely. One reason for that telecommute is that banking has often needed remote computing. Banking software on the 3000 once drove the adoption of Internet services on the business server, after all.

When the 3000 division at HP had to pick up the pieces of a failed Internet partner Open Market, Inc. 20 years ago, Chase and CASE were reasons to keep the MPE/iX Internet project on target. 3000 sites needed a commercially-supported Web server during that era when open source freeware powered many Web servers.

Customers using HP 3000s in commerce need a secure Web server, according to senior software specialist Rick Gilligan of Computer and Software Enterprises (CASE). The California firm is installing new HP 3000s as part of its business, which includes banks that are among the five biggest in the US. CASE's reference customers include companies like NationsBank and Chase Manhattan.

CASE will soon be offering its HP 3000 clients Internet access within CASE applications, so bank customers will be able to see loan data. Gilligan, who chaired its most recent meeting of the SIGWEB Special Interest group and  said a secure Web server native to the HP 3000 makes a lot more sense than using another Web host.

"My clients don't want another box that they have to maintain and get approval for in their company," Gilligan said. "Banks aren't looking for any more boxes or any more bodies when all they want is a Web server. A Web server is a very small part of all the things the 3000 is doing for them, and a Web server on that 3000 certainly makes more sense than putting it on another box."

That server software in 1997 was going to be the Open Market product chosen by HP, but the Web company closed down web server business once Apache and Microsoft's servers rose up. HP bundled the OMI product into the fundamental operating system, only to give it a sudden end of life date months later. Vendors like CASE, and their clients like Chase, looked at a period when Apache running on the 3000 had no support from HP. Some used it anyway and waited for HP to catch up and offer Apache/iX.

Now Baxter is making the best use of his career that started at DTD in 1981, onward to the DeskManager group at the UK's Personal Office Computer Division — another place where connectivity drove the advance of the 3000 using HP's business email suite.  

By the time HP was announcing the end of its 3000 business, Baxter moved on "to Bloomington Illinois, contracting through Radiant Systems working for 13 months for HP's Business Continuity Support Hardware 'Hands On' team at State Farm corporate—incidentally, the largest HP 3000 shop in the world."

Changes in the fortunes of the HP 3000 have been easy to spot. It's always a pleasure to discover the continued careers of people like Baxter who help mold your server into a linked business tool. Such experience in IT continues to be a trading option for supporting the newest enterprise solutions. You can think of those many years of working savvy as the common coin in a career, whether in finance or elsewhere.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:59 AM in History, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 04, 2017

Future Vision: Too complex for the impatient

Seeing the future clearly is not simple, and planning for our tomorrows is a crucial mission for most HP 3000 owners and allies. Changes easily cloud the vision of any futurist—people who dream up scenarios and strategies instead of writing science fiction.

Or as Yoda said, "Difficult to tell; always in motion is the future."

ToiletpaperEconomics makes every future vision more compelling. A friend who just became a city council member reminded me of this when she talked about taxis and hotel checkouts. These things are the equivalent of COBOL and batch job streaming—just to remind you this post is an IT report. Disruption surrounds them. COBOL, batch, hotels, and taxis still keep our world on its feet. Nearly all of us reach for a legacy solution when we're finished sitting in the bathroom, too.

The new council member forwarded a futurist's article on Facebook—where so many get their news today, alas—an article that pegged so many bits of the economy that are supposed to be going the way of MPE V. (I think we can all agree it's really over for the OS that powered 3000s before PA-RISC.) The Facebook article says we need only to look at Kodak in 1998 when it "had 170,000 employees and sold 85 percent of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt." The timing is wrong, just like the timeframe predicted for total migration of the 3000 base. Was: 2008. Now in 2017: still incomplete.

The futurism you hear predicts things like "What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years — and most people won't see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that three years later you would never take pictures on film again?" Nobody did, because it wasn't true in 2001 that film disappeared. Neither had MPE disappeared by 2006. These predictions get mangled as they are retold. This year's IT skills must include patience to see the future's interlocking parts—a skill that a 3000 owner and manager can call upon right now. Since it's 2017, in one decade we'll be facing the final year of the date-handling in MPE that works as HP designed it. I'll only be 70 and will be looking for the story on who will fix the ultimate HP 3000 bug.

I love reading futurist predictions. They have to concoct a perfect world to make sense, and the timing is almost always wrong. Kodak took another 14 years after 1998 to file for bankruptcy. But after I disagreed with my friend, she reached for her own success at using disruptive tech to make her point. Even an anecdotal report is better than retelling abstracted stories. The danger with anecdotes is that they can be outliers. We heard them called corner cases in support calls with HP. You don't hear the phrase "corner case" during an independent support call. The independent legacy support company is accountable to a customer in the intense way a hotel operator commits to a guest. A guest is essential to keeping a hotel open. A lodger at an Airbnb is not keeping the doors open, or keeping jobs alive for a staff of housekeepers. There can be unexpected results to disrupting legacies. People demand things change back from a future vision. Ask voters in the US how that turned out last year.

You can call the OS running Amazon an environment, but Linux doesn't much care if you succeed with it or not. Investing in your success was what brought companies to HP's 3000. It's too much to hope for benevolence from a corporation. However, if we can all stop peeling the paint off of future visions, if only we can stick to the details and know that change doesn't come easily, or quickly, we'll be okay. They're still building hotels in spite of Airbnb, just like you're still maintaining COBOL code and modifying those jobstreams first written in the previous century.

It helps to get the facts right. AirbnB isn't a hotel company at all, and faces laws to curtail its business in US states including New York. It has few provisions for safety and fraud that can stand the test of a court matter. Watch out for auto-driving cars, auto industry. Another slice of folly is that this industry is headed for the scrapyard by the time MPE/iX gets to the end of its CALENDAR function. Auto-drive car tech is more decade away if it can evade the non-auto-drive cars that will litter the roads for decades.

Onward the bright future goes, with tech saving the day by saving lives and shutting down medicine as we know it. Who needs so many doctors when you have a Tricorder X? Revised rules for that tech-doctor device contest say the Tricorder X won't have to detect tubercolosis, hepatitis A, or stroke. "Goodbye, medical establishment," so long as you don't need those conditions detected. 3D-printed houses might be built, but who will assemble them: robots that cost no more than today's tradesman labor? You can get a 3D selfie today, and a gun's parts printed 3D. We were promised code that writes itself, weren't we, when object-oriented computing and Java swept in?

A sweep of futurism helped HP put away its 3000 business. The lives that are changed and jobs lost are not a concern of the futurist. Then another change enveloped the futurist who was certain that selling systems was a secure spot. This year there are rumors Hewlett-Packard could sell off its servers business. That one is a piece of data like those ever-present reports of HP splitting up. They were just rumors for years. Then it came true. Economics, not technology, made that come true.

Nothing is impervious to change, and to celebrate the marvel of technology upending legacy leads us astray. The future is a blend, not nonsense like "Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans." Or, "In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans." How many faces, and how many humans? I'm still waiting on the flying cars I was promised at the World's Fair of 1964.

My council member says that while in Amsterdam last spring she was struck by the stark difference between ornate 16th Century architecture downtown and the simple square box apartment buildings in the suburbs. "I asked our Airbnb host about it and suggested this: There has not been a reduction in human creative intelligence. It's just that in the 1500s all that creative energy was being put into architecture, and today it's being put into the digital world. Our host, a bright young Dutch digital engineer, smiled and said he agreed with me." As every good host does.

Then Uber arrived for the ride to the airport, I presume, using a car that the company wasn't invested in, driven by a person who was working a 12-hour day pitted against a fleet of freelancers that keep Uber's business model thriving for the corporation. "And no money changes hands" was my friend's punchline, overlooking the part of the Dutch economy using ATMs and currency, or the fact that you tip your housekeeper in currency unless you don't pay one. 

The futurists want you to be wary. If you don't prepare for the future, "you're going down with Kodak, the cable companies, landline phone makers, Macy's, video rental places, printed books and tape backup media." Or you can find a life keeping yourself in the present, the happiness of the now. Making good things last longer is resourceful and sometimes inventive work. If the last 15 years have taught our community anything, it's that the future arrives slowly and looks nothing like we expect. Even my council member knows the value of legacy, asking "If we close down all our paper mills, who will make our toilet paper?"

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:44 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 28, 2016

HPE losing weight for 2017: in servers, too?

SlimdownHewlett-Packard Enterprise made itself smaller during 2016, the natural progression of a slim-down that started in the fiscal 2016 period for the company. Annual results for the first full year of the dual-HP venture—one devoted to business computing, the other to all else—showed a continued decline in sales. HP cut its software group loose this quarter, selling off assets like Autonomy to Micro Focus. Becoming smaller has not helped HPE's overall numbers quite yet.

Sales at the Enterprise group, home to 3000 replacements like ProLiant servers, fell by 9 percent from 2015's Q4. The full HPE sales tally for the quarter dropped by $900 million in year-over-year measures. Were it not for favorable currency shifts, the company would have had to bear the full range of these losses. Until HP could offset its results with divestitures and currency benefits, the Enterprise Group ran $403 million in the red. A total of $50.1 billion in HPE sales was booked in 2016. More than $3 billion in profits were left after expenses were met and taxes were paid.

A report from Patrick Moorhead at Forbes noted that the sell-off of HPE software to Micro Focus was a marriage to a company with a solid history of preserving acquired products. Whitman "bragged on Micro Focus a bit," Moorhead wrote, "saying that the company has never shut down a product that they acquired and merged with, and that their growing assets will be important moving forward." He added that the statement looked like it was crafted to keep the former HPE software customers satisfied with becoming Micro Focus clients.

HPE keeps slimming itself down to ensure its expenses will drop. Since revenues are on a decline year over year, the ploy to sell off businesses with dim short-term prospects seems destined to continue. On the website The Street a story has reported that according to Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha, Hewlett Packard Enterprise could part with its servers, storage, IT support and consulting. One potential buyer might be the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's server business, which Garcha values at $8.9 billion, could interest Huawei. The unit has $15.4 billion in projected fiscal year 2017 sales and $1 billion in Ebitda, Credit Suisse estimates.

Bedrock platform software is moving outside HP, too. There's already a timetable for turning over the OpenVMS software operations. HP 3000 owners remember the days when HP sold application software that could compete because its installed base propped up mainframe server support contracts. Things have peeled apart by today. Support contracts are the shadow profitability tied to OS operations.

Even after paying MicroFocus and losing billions in software support dollars, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise believe it will still save money. Company strategists have looked at this gambit and concluded the savings are genuine. The software business at HPE doesn't include operating systems like OpenVMS; those are groomed and improved in the Enterprise group.  sorry for the loss of jobs at HP, and more sorry that customer service levels might decline. Or not; we don't know yet.

HP wanted to be ranked No. 1 in selling everything. It turns out being ranked No. 1 in profits matters most. If that wasn't true, there wouldn't be an HPE today -- just an HP. CEO Meg Whitman said the company's on target for what it wants to become. Divesting software and services in 2016 led Whitman to sum up the year. "The HPE that emerges after the two spin mergers will have a clear vision, the right assets, and direct line of sight to significant market opportunities," she said.

 

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:01 PM in Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 19, 2016

University completes its course with regrets

ISU logoAfter decades of use in a wide array of business and educational functions, the Idaho State University of has shut down its HP 3000s. The institution worked with Powerhouse tools from the earliest days of the 3000, a period that included some years using MPE V.  Idaho State University turned off our HP 3000s. "We have the one N-Class server, plus two A-400s, for sale or for parts if there is interest." 

John MacLerran reported to the 3000 mailing list, "with fond memories", the accomplishments and lifespan of MPE/iX at the university based in Pocatello.

The HP 3000 had been in use at ISU since the early 1980s, running everything from Procurement and Payroll to Student Registration and Grading. When I started work at ISU as a programmer in 1984, we had two Series 68s (later upgraded to Series 70s). Over the years, we upgraded as budget allowed. We installed the current boxes in Summer of 2001. Our production box was an N4000 4-way 440 mHZ box, and our development box was an A400 110 mHZ box. In 2004 we added a VA7100 array to our N4000 box, and it was this configuration that we turned off in October.

We went live with Banner, an ERP for universities, in 2009— but some applications on the HP 3000s hung on much longer because there was no suitable replacement in the ERP system. 

Since we are a State of Idaho agency, there is a somewhat convoluted process for us to sell the boxes, but if there is any interest, you can contact our Customer Services manager Tony Lovgren at lovgtony@isu.edu for more information.

Idaho State worked, tested, and managed its migration over more than 11 years. Since the choice to migrate was replacing in-house Powerhouse with the Banner application, its exit from the 4GL was simplified. Batch processing was harder to replace.

A bank reconciliation functionality in Banner (by now, renamed Ellucian) splits up accounts payable and payroll, while the MPE/iX app unified both AP and payroll. "I am rewriting that in Oracle PL/SQL as an add-on for Ellucian," MacLerran said, "at the same time, adding enhancements to include unclaimed property processing, as mandated by state law.

These revisions following a strategy that lets the university rely on updates from Sungard, the vendor selling Ellucian. MacLerran said that whenever possible, his department wants to "not to modify Ellucian directly, but to do add-ons instead — and we were able to hold to that in all but a very few cases."

It's a significant choice for any migrating 3000 site that's moved to a replacement suite. "Having a no-modification policy saved us quite a bit of heartache," MacLerran said, "as Ellucian comes out with patches and updates quite regularly. Since we didn't modify the original code, we don't have to spend too much time making sure it's still in sync."

Ellucian has aspects that are common to wide-ranging replacement applications. There are organizational operations at the university that have been handled by the 3000 which the ERP's inventory module couldn't match, for example. Another bit of replacement software will step in for the existing MPE/iX app.

A more complete spec listing of the available 3000s:

  • N4000 - 4-way 440mHZ with 16 GB RAM, 3SCSI ports, PCI Fibre-Channel interface card.
  • A400 - 110mHZ -- Perhaps RAM of 512MB
  • A400 - 400mHZ -- not sure how much RAM (we got this from another state agency, but never turned it on) 

Due to State of Idaho regulations, the university cannot include disk drives -- by law they must wipe, and then shred them.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:17 PM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 12, 2016

Security in cloud IT expands to fit ERP

Raining-cloudsHP 3000 sites that make a migration bring a broad array of technology into their planning rooms. In the world of MPE/iX, the server and infrastructure was almost always on the premises of the company or in a subsidiary's offices. Once a company begins to migrate to commodity environments, this structure starts to evaporate. In a meeting about what to do next after something like MANMAN, clouds and the ground they float above get equal valuation.

Security is a challenge in the process of floating clouds for enterprise IT. As Terry Floyd from The Support Group is leading Disston Tools through its migration, he's seen that security is no sacrifice to the gods of change who live in the clouds.

Kenandy is making its way into the command center of Disston. "We are seven months away, on schedule, and on budget," Floyd said when he checked in last week. "There is a lot to do here. MANMAN is very robust, and Disston has a lot of customizations, as well as serious use of EDI."

By its nature EDI passes sensitive information across networks. Kenandy works by riding the Salesforce cloud and its networking. Disston won't have to settle for something less secure.

"We are just getting into setting up user security settings," Floyd said. "Kenandy is as robust as MANMAN is.  It can be tightened down as much as you want."

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:16 PM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 07, 2016

Taking Steps into Open Source with a Plan

Various_shoe_print_vector_294583A significant number of HP 3000 shops have employed Linux as a replacement over the last 15 years. (Yes, it's been that long that the MPE/iX community has been migrating or homesteading their systems). Over that time, open source software has become so mainstream that an architecture meeting often includes a line like, "Well, what can open source do for us here?"

If open sourcing a commercial datacenter sounds enticing—think of the size of the community you join, for example—it's wise to remember a commercial open source is the way to success. Downloading and testing is always essential, but adding open source has its best prospects when there's a commercial, paid support aspect to the choice.

This week we reported on one HP 3000 site where the system is making a slow exit. Harte & Lyne is still using a Series 918 with MPE/iX 7.5. The operations are being supplanted by what manager James Byrne calls FOSS: Free and Open Source Software. He's got his reservations about doing much more in that direction, though. Byrne said a more commercial—though not vendor-specific—approach to new architecture is in order.

HP was advising this to its enterprise computing customers as far back as 2006. Linux in the datacenter was a lot more exotic in that year, a time when HP was still selling support for the 3000. That vendor-based support is all gone by now, right down to the demise of docs.hp.com webpages where advice and training materials once lived. If you need 3000 support, third parties like Pivital Solutions are the best way to go forward, even if you're going away slowly.

An HP exec of 2006 said it only made sense to look for a supported FOSS design. David Claypool said

The rational thing to do is to choose something from a commercial company, whether implementations available and supported by a Linux distribution or non-affiliated Xen implementations like those from XenSource, Virtual Iron, and now Oracle.

Working together in such alliances was part of what FOSS was all about at the beginning. It would be another four years before Oracle would hire the departing CEO of HP, Mark Hurd, to run Oracle's software business. In 2006 all was pretty collegial between Oracle and HP.

Campbell said, in a reply to the story we ran about choosing open source software

Certainly, it's possible and may even be prudent for some to download and run the bits from a raw open source project. But it's incumbent upon the adopter to understand the commitment to self-reliance that's being made if it's being used in any operational or revenue-producing capacity.

Linux was free until users understood they still needed a support provider to contact when things went awry. Support is the enduring part of any software relationship, and it's something critical for everyone who's using computers to drive an enterprise. Even HP 3000 shops need someone to call when the bits get out of alignment.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:58 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 28, 2016

3000 customers ponder what they're leaving

LifeboatsThis month's relicense quotes that Unicom delivered to Powerhouse customers could spark some migrations. Although these 3000s have held on by using out-of-support software, the five and six-figure prices to return to MPE/iX support "are difficult to imagine as a sustainable model," said Charles Finley of Xformix. "The price makes it worthwhile to move away from Powerhouse entirely."

Finley, who's been assisting 3000 shops in migrations and conversions for 15 years and more, isn't the only vendor who's skeptical of the Unicom pricing scheme. "That strategy will not last long," he said of the sky-high quotes. "We can move the Powerhouse to a Java-based non-proprietary alternative for something in that [$300,000] ballpark. Pricing like that [from a vendor] only provides incentive for people to leave the product."

The full scope of what a customer is leaving is worth some consideration, however. Finley offered the scope of a typical 3000-using Powerhouse customer's datacenter lineup.

Focusing on the base language is misleading at best. The background processing/shell scripting is usually more difficult to migrate than the base application. I suspect that there could be more to a relicensing story than simply the Powerhouse license. For example, if the customer has some dependent 3GL code such as COBOL, a few third-party products such as Suprtool and MPEX, along with JCL, UDCs, and Command Files—the cost to migrate all of that, and the database and other file types, could well exceed the price of only the Powerhouse license.

Hearing such please-go-away pricing can be hard to comprehend. A decade or two of using a foundational tool like Powerhouse shouldn't end with a six-figure quote, but sometimes such a lengthy relationship drifts to a bottom-line-only state. "Don't they normally look at the financials before determining price?" asked consultant Craig Lalley. We've heard about that same software update strategy from another support consultant.

"They saw the client was Boeing, but it was a very small division of Boeing," the consultant said. "Not at all the size of datacenter budget as the parent corporation." A smaller price tag was negotiated, as it sometimes can be. A smaller tag altogether might mean leaving the Powerhouse licenses alone.

"It sounds cheaper to stay on MPE," said former OpenMPE director Tracy Johnson, "even if it is just a daily copy of the data and the application migrates. You might even save money by moving to a lower tier MPE system to host the copied data." We'd love to hear a story about how a Powerhouse license became less costly.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:49 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 23, 2016

Mailing news from the HP 3000: an old skill

Blue mailboxInternal mail hosts remain a crucial tool in datacenters, even some running MPE/iX. "You still host your own email?" is not a question you'd only pose to a crazy manager. An organization's security standards can be so high that no outside mail server will be trusted. In the earliest days of email, 3k Associates built and sold a beautiful native MPE mailing system, Netmail/3000. It's a smart mailserver, meaning it doesn't require that an organization's e-mail be piped through an Internet provider's mail server for final delivery. Then in the late 1990s, HP's lab started the long process of porting sendmail to MPE/iX.

Now some 3000 sites are looking at how to replace their 3000-based mailing software as they migrate. One of them contacted us this week to ask about an alternative to sendmail. Linux is their migration target, after a history using the 3000 that goes back to the days of HP Deskmanager. Tim O'Neill shared a story while asking about an alternative to sendmail.

I saw that FreeBSD Unix has its version of sendmail. Seeing reference to FreeBSD made me recall a story about FreeBSD running on an old HP 3000, maybe a Series 70 or an early Spectrum system. I think I have read that FreeBSD is at some sites still running in production mode, as MPE and MPE/iX are. It also made me wonder what the installed base of FreeBSD might be — and how that compares to the installed base of MPE and MPE/iX on old hardware and on Charon hardware.

FreeBSD, like MPE/iX, has some surprisingly large companies using it. You might have heard about one of them called Netflix. Of course the Charon HPA emulator from Stromasys makes every remaining product and archival 3000 a candidate for the kind of longevity we see in FreeBSD.

Sendmail has a colorful history. The Unix Hater's Handbook devoted a full chapter to the software's vulnerabilities; sendmail comes from the Unix heritage, after all. By 2003, HP was still patching sendmail to shut down security breaches, although the breaching wasn't nearly as serious on MPE/iX as on Unix variants including Linux. Sendmail's open source capabilities are now under the banner of ProofPoint, the company that purchased the sendmail resources in 2013.

Sendmail's worldwide release was last updated in 2014. HP announced it was testing sendmail to place in the Fundamental Operating System in November, 2001—a month that's famous in the 3000's history for other reasons. But the software moved along to an 8.13.1 release in FOS. It's only one major release behind the worldwide open source version, now advanced to an 8.14 release. Sendmail also includes encryption.

Sendmail has included encryption facilities since 8.11. That's where security capabilities descend onto the requirements. Encrypting mail is a common feature in commercial hosting solutions. Sendmail/iX sends mail created by and triggered from HP 3000 applications, given enough technical know-how.

There's a robust webpage about the 3000 mail solution that was started by Mark Bixby. He's the engineer responsible for lighting the fire of open source flames at HP. Keven Miller of 3K Ranger has updated and maintained the page and its knowledge about Sendmail/iX. The software itself is in your 3000's SENDMAIL account in a version-specific group named vuuff.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:22 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 14, 2016

The best wishes for your long life: a Plan B

Congratulations to us all. This is the 15th anniversary of the "we're killing off the 3000" announcement from HP. The end-game hasn't played out like HP expected. In 2001 the company's management didn't see three CEO resignations coming over those 15 years, or the company being forced to split itself to stay relevant to enterprise IT. Those two events are related. Yes, the 3000 got its pink-slip notice at the HP of 2001. So did the overstuffed, unwieldy Hewlett-Packard. The company that lurched toward every business while stepping back from others. It took 14 years almost to the day, but HP is half the size it was: HP Enterprise is the severed sibling from 2001's family.

Inside the 3000's division during that year, no one was talking about emulating the 3000 PA-RISC hardware that the company would stop building in 2003. That's now a reality, a new development since the 10-year anniversary of this sobering date. Hewlett-Packard was going to lead four customers out of every five away from MPE/iX, delivering them to the Unix alternative of HP-UX. Windows was going to get new customers out of the upheaval, too. No one figured three of every four departing companies would choose a non-HP environment.

DDoS Outage MapHere on this date in 2016, the idea of an environment as a crucial strategy is feeling outdated. IT directors always cared about applications. Now they're told they don't have to worry about environments. The cloud computing providers will do that for them. Except when they cannot provide the cloud. Behold (above) the map of Internet outage from last month on an ugly day.

The Support Group's Terry Floyd offered a Plan B strategy to the manufacturing customers of CAMUS last week. More than 30 companies using HP 3000s and MANMAN are in the CAMUS user group. Floyd's company is delivering a fresh alternative to help MANMAN sites move on from the 3000. But he also supports homesteading sites. With a foot in both worlds, he recommends staying safe by having a Plan B, even while you employ cloud computing for your future.

"I'm still a little bit paranoid about the cloud being out there," Floyd said on the 90-minute RUG conference call. (Keep in mind, he's bringing a traditional manufacturing site's IT onto the Kenandy ERP cloud solution, so he's being extra-careful.) One of the Support Group services runs manufacturing datacenters for some clients.

If any of you are thinking about cloud apps, you should think about a hybrid app. You'd have some stuff in-house on your own boxes, and some stuff out there on the cloud. For instance, we're doing EDI [for a client]. It's pretty much local. We'll be able to receive and send stuff even if the Internet went away for a day. It would kill us not to be able to do EDI. Even hours of Internet downtime would kill us in some situations.

Think about what you might consider really critical to your company—and think about putting some of that stuff in-house. Having shipping on a local server, for example a SQL Server, we'd be able to ship whether the Internet's up or down.

"Sometimes the Internet goes away for different people for different reasons," he said, and it's so very true. DDoS attacks are becoming a too-regular event for the world's Internet. When Twitter, Netfix, Amazon, Tumblr, Reddit and Pinterest can be taken offline at once, as they were on that map of Oct. 22, everyone needs to manage the risk. A Plan B once meant staying on the HP 3000 in spite of HP's community exit. Today it means keeping some computing local, no matter what your enivronment.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:06 PM in History, Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 09, 2016

A Response to Being Stunned: No Tribute

Citizens of the US woke up this morning to a turn of political events described everywhere as stunning. There's nothing anyone can do to change that today, but in the event of a stunning relicense quote for Powerhouse products, you can respond with software that preserves your reporting administration. Some customers using HP 3000s can stun right back by leaving Powerhouse, using software from Minisoft to pave their data's way.

Steve SuraciSteve Suraci of Pivital Solutions told us that one of the HP 3000 GrowthPower clients he supports has opened up one of those stunning relicense bids. In trying to get their software back onto support with the vendor, the customer received only an offer to relicense the full version of Powerhouse. "The most current product doesn’t even run on the 3000," Suraci said, explaining the folly of the return to support tribute being demanded by Unicom this year.

It's easy to think of back-support fees, levied in a market the size of the 3000's, as tribute: money demanded for nothing in return except a promise of help. A small promise indeed for software like a Powerhouse suite that hasn't had one MPE bit improved in more than 7 years.

The demand made even less sense considering what the customer was using. Quiz, the reporting end of the GrowthPower application, was the only Powerhouse software running on the 3000. "They originally acquired the product embedded in their ERP application," Suraci said. "They ended up purchasing the Minisoft ODBC and recreating the necessary reports using SQL tools like Crystal Reports, SQL Server, and Access."

Minisoft's products have never had an acquiring entity like Unicom take over and then demand such tributes from 3000 sites. Returning to support is a noble practice, something a manager with integrity does. However, this is a good deed that can be punished by ignoble companies. Support returns are a tradition that can trigger back-support fees. You don't have to pay them, but then your data has to live software else to get its support. The situation mirrors the dilemma of more than half of those who voted in the US yesterday. They don't want their President-elect, but they want to be citizens, too. It'll be awhile to see how much tribute the new President will demand. HP 3000 data is in a luckier situation.

Data hosted on HP 3000s goes wherever the tools like ODBC can take it. The reports then flow from non-MPE software like SQL Server or Crystal Reports. That GrowthPower site, new owners of the Minisoft ODBC software, are a small division of a very large corporation. Tribute is not about the size of the IT budget, al it's the integrity that stings when a company gets stunned. Responses to being stunned include resistance, as well as reaching for alternatives.

The alternatives are more affordable for the Powerhouse customer who's only got reporting to replace. The full-development installation of Powerhouse faces a much bigger problem when they get their demand for tribute. They have to move their data's house to another country, if you will—transforming their application's platform. One solution for that is the Core Migration software and services. The transformation is a mighty task, though—a bit like thinking you can become an expat after a lifetime in a country you thought you understood.

While the United States was very new, the young country was put on notice by France. Pay us a stunning sum, said the French, and we won't attack you. The demand sparked a classic cry of resistance from the era of Founding Fathers: "Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute," said Robert Goodloe Harper. When a 3000 site finds a means to defend its investment in MPE, they're resisting all demands for tribute. When you're lucky, your resistance can be as straightforward as ODBC.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 02:36 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 07, 2016

Work of 3000s Helps Preserve Democracy

Tomorrow is a very special day in America. In a land called the United States we're going to elect a President to unite us. The kind of future we work toward will be chosen on that day. I'd like it to be the same kind of future the HP 3000 community has always worked toward.

InvoicesThis computer is called a business server because it works to meet the needs of business. A business relationship is at the heart of manufacturing concerns, insurance organizations, e-commerce companies and more. Business is at the heart of good relations with others in our world. MPE/iX software has always been a part of good relations. Much it serves the processes of business like invoicing. Going Forward Together might as well be a way to say Make Relations Through Documents. Business documents are the bedrock of your community.

Wirt AtmarIn the earliest part of our 21st Century, Wirt Atmar was holding a seat as the conscience of this community. The founder of vendor AICS Research railed at HP's plunder of loyal customers, then proposed a Plan B to resist needless change. It was a time of high passions. The most crass and base expressions of the IT pros in our world were on display in the 3000-L listserver in that era. But since this is a republic with freedom of expression, although that trolling was revolting, it was tolerated. Much of that era's tone seems gentle compared to what's assaulted our ears and our spirits since this year began.

Back in 2004, Atmar was teaching his community how affordable Web-based lecture software could give minds a common ground. His QCShow product followed QCTerm, and both of those sprang from the makers of QueryCalc. In an HP World demo and lecture, Atmar explained his belief about how an HP 3000 was an alternative to war and atomic armageddon. These are real prospects for an American future. It feels like a disturbing misfit that anyone devoted to MPE, and having built a life's work from it, should vote for anything but a diplomatic leader.

Peace CorpsAtmar had a fascinating background, including a stretch of his life when he worked to estimate and calculate the effects of annihilation. Nuclear throw weights -- the number of tons of atomic bomb to destroy various numbers of people and structures -- were his everyday work as a scientist in a government defense contract. He said he hated every day of his life that he had to wake and perform that work.

In contrast, when he created business tools that delivered invoices and orders, he felt his work spoke to the very root of human decency. Invoices, he said, were the everyday diplomacy of enterprises and organizations. I agree to purchase these goods and services, each would say. I agree to make and deliver them as you ordered, replied each sales receipt. A world still sending invoices, he said, ensured that war and revolt was a poor choice. Invoices were an expression of peace and a shining light for democracy and capitalism.

Something approaching half of America has already voted in this year's Presidential election. For those who have not, asking if a leader should respect business partners, find allies, and preserve relationships with respect— these all are a guide for anyone who's ever programmed or managed an HP 3000. Nobody is perfect. Anyone who wants to lead us should respect invoices, contracts and agreements. Tearing up a legacy is a poor start toward the future. Every HP 3000 community member should agree on that, and agreement is a good start toward where we need to go. We don't need to migrate away from working together and moving forward. Rather than looking back, we should take a hand in making history. Vote tomorrow and make some.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:12 PM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 02, 2016

Legacy 4GL sites call foul on license ploys

Holding-FoulLife is hard enough for any company that's been homesteading with their legacy-grade development applications working over the last 15 years. Some of these 4GLs haven't seen upgrades since before the Obama administration. Now the users of the Powerhouse products are crying foul over transfer or crossover license fees that have become up to 10 times more expensive.

Once tech experts and consultants on a Powerhouse mailing list got the news about a Canadian HP 3000 site facing a $300,000 quote to move Powerhouse onto Linux, stories emerged about the boosted prices for Powerhouse. At Boeing, the Powerhouse applications were a part of a move to the Stromasys Charon emulator. Ray Legault at the IT shop in Boeing said the transfer to an emulated 3000 was a six-figure purchase, and support fees have increased by 35 percent.

"When we went to the Stromasys virtual MPE/iX server, we found that a lot of the Cognos products were supported by Unicom," he noted.

Instead of our legacy HP 3000s where we paid support of $22,000, we now get to pay $30,000 a year. And it expires every year. We also had to pay over $100,000 to move Powerhouse to our HP ProLiant servers that host Charon. Unicom considers the product to be running on a RedHat Linux server and not the HP 3000 emulator, which raises the price.

Legault added that he's got a 10 percent yearly discount on the $30,000, but he's got to call a Unicom VP to receive that discount.

The initial report of this price spike came from James Byrne of Harte & Lyne, a logistics firm. Even though some migration experts think the $300,000 must include services, that $300K quote only covers licenses for Powerhouse and the related, Cognos-built tools like Quiz and QTP. The company dropped Powerhouse support right after HP pulled out of its business model for the 3000. Cognos, owner of Powerhouse at the time, wasn't getting any further support payments from Harte & Lyne.

"There seemed to be no point in paying our money for something that quite evidently was going to receive no more upgrades," Byrne said. "And we were right. The version sold by Unicom today for the HP3000 is 8.39, which happens to be the same version we have been running since late 2001."

The shop has been moving to open source software, although Byrne says the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) strategy has got its issues, too. In the meantime, Powerhouse prices are hitting the six-figure range to move away from HP's 3000 iron. An all-in migration is coming at Harte & Lyne, but the quote will freeze Powerhouse in place. Byrne said Unicom told him they were canceling his license, too.

Moving to FOSS will send the 3000 at Hart & Lyne into deep archive mode, or even out of service completely. But moving Powerhouse is getting in the way of that goal. Or to be more accurate, the $300,000 is getting in the way.

In 2003 Core Migration started to sell a package and services that replaced Powerhouse on HP 3000s with Java. It was not inexpensive. However, 2003 was the first year of full-on migration projects which were funded well enough to be meaningful. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote the year we found Core.

Cognos customers have shown concern over the company’s shift toward BI products, and are researching steps to move away from PowerHouse. CORE Migration, a company operating in Cognos’ headquarters city of Ottawa, has put together a migration suite of tools and services to move customers. One CORE white paper tells the story of an ERP software provider, Visaer, that first shifted away from its MPE PowerHouse roots, then off the 4GL altogether. The company decided that the focus at Cognos had moved away from PowerHouse.

There are two ways of accessing the CORE Migration method, paths which may sound familiar to companies which are studying migration options: CORE-Directed, where the company manages the migration start to finish, and Self-Directed, where CORE plans the migration and trains customers to use its tools. CORE’s VP of Sales and Marketing Wayne Lucky said the CORE-Directed option is fastest, and the majority of its engagements are in this method.

“It depends on the skill set of the customer,” he said, “and whether they want to get involved.

Core does this work to this very day. They call it application modernization. When it's over, you have Oracle SQL Server, DB2 or Eloquence at the heart of the modernized app. Other companies are also modernizing Powerhouse apps by replacing them with less-proprietary frameworks. Many include Java.

A six-figure quote to do this migration isn't unusual. Licensing existing software which hasn't been enhanced in more than eight years for a $100,000 fee—on an emulated 3000 server—is unusual, though. The price might not raise as many eyebrows in the IBM mainframe turf, which is one of the markets that the new owners of Powerhouse, Unicom, have grown their business. While Core is reaching out to the Powerhouse list to trigger migrations, Unicom has been communicating one by one with Powerhouse users. Nobody's reporting a change in pricing yet.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:19 PM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 31, 2016

A Scary Kind of October Surprise

Eyes-popping-outJames Byrne, a systems manager at Canadian logistics management firm Harte & Lyne, has reported a hair-raising development at his 3000 shop. A straightforward request to relicense Powerhouse from the MPE/iX version of the software to Linux resulted in an eye-popping quote.

The supplier of the software, Byrne said, has told him they want $300,000 to move the 20-seat license. Byrne noted dryly, "I recently had my decision to move our company away entirely from proprietary software validated in a most dramatic way."

It's always possible, when numbers like this surface on a Powerhouse relicense bid, that the wrong person in the Powerhouse business line has responded to a request for a quote. Byrne reported this exchange on the 3000-L mailing list, but didn't want to name the software vendor of Powerhouse. It used to be Cognos, but that stopped being true many years ago.

In a message of nine years ago, the debut of Powerhouse for Linux seemed tied to the fortunes of Powerhouse for HP-UX.

Cognos continues its ongoing commitment to its PowerHouse customers with the upcoming release of PowerHouse 4GL and PowerHouse Web for Linux. This is a direct port of the industry-leading application development tool that is so successful on other UNIX platforms as well as MPE/iX, OpenVMS, and Windows. User-based pricing for PowerHouse 4GL and PowerHouse Web for Linux is the same as for other UNIX versions. Please contact your Cognos Account Representative for availability.

Byrne said the exchange with the current supplier of Powerhouse licenses ended with a termination of the Harte & Lyne license for the software -- just after he was told the annual support fee for the relicensed copy was going to be $60,000 a year.

Hopes ran high for awhile when Powerhouse became part of the Unicom Systems software and services business early in 2014. The corporation has a long history of serving the mainframe and IBM communities with products. This legacy business might have made Powerhouse an attractive acquisition more than two years ago.

But the product was acquired from Cognos by IBM just a matter of months after the Linux version of Powerhouse emerged. Even 2007, people wanted to say that Powerhouse was past its use-by date. It became easy to find companies using HP 3000s who were sticking with it, of course. The University of Idaho State was a notable installation, a 3000 site that's moved on to other platforms by now.

Quotes like the one mentioned in Byrne's post are a good reason to try to take a step away from a development platform tied to the rosiest days of 3000 data processing. It's not easy, though -- and doing the right thing by a relicense can generate quite the October surprise of a quote.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:33 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 28, 2016

A Scheduler Built for You

A job scheduler is a good bedrock for keeping an enterprise humming. But leaving the HP 3000 means leaving a very good scheduler behind. Good news: a Windows-based solution that manages non-3000 hosts is on the market. MBF Scheduler was built with the needs and power of the 3000 in mind, too.

On November 9 a webinar shows the details of this product. A note from the company's vendor, MB Foster:

A Windows Scheduled Task may have worked well in the past. Today, your company has grown, and you've acquired more infrastructure. Do you know what jobs have being scheduled, on which server and at what times?

One of the many achievements of MBF Scheduler is its ability to manage complex batches through queues and a fence, ensuring everything runs in the right order and notifies someone if a job stalls or aborts. With the right solution, automating your processes is both practical and beneficial.

Sign up at the MB Foster website to participate and ask questions. Lots of schedulers for migration platforms offer features. Few of them know what a 3000 shop has grown accustomed to reply upon.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:08 AM in Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 12, 2016

HP sells software business to boring buyer

Grace_HopperMicro Focus, which has already bought Attachmate (nee WRQ) and Acucorp (maker of a COBOL that was once fine-tuned for the 3000) is now sitting on what HP was selling that Hewlett-Packard Enterprise calls software. Like Autonomy, for example. The latter is probably valued at one-tenth what the-CEO Leo Apotheker's HP board paid for it five years ago. Admiral Grace Hopper's invention has ultimately provided a harbor for HP's exit from the software sector. The buyer builds COBOL.

The entire transaction only costs Micro Focus -- makers of boring software that drives thousands of businesses -- $8.8 billion on paper. HP's is cashing out of software for application delivery management, big data, enterprise security, information management and governance, and IT operations management. With Autonomy in the deal, the company HP purchased for $11 billion in 2011, HPE gets an albatross off its back.

Here's one shakeout: Minisoft is now the only vendor selling 3000-ready terminal emulation that remains under the same vendor brand. WRQ has been absorbed, and HP's out of the terminal business they started with AdvanceLink in the 1980s. (Minisoft's still selling connectivity software to MPE/iX users, too — as in active sales, this year.) HP sells almost zero 3000 software today.

A Reuters report says the HPE move tilts its business mix hard towards hardware, with two-thirds of what's left at HP Enterprise now devoted to a sector with slim margins. HP has stopped much of its operating system development over the last 15 years, casting off OpenVMS and MPE/iX, then stalling HP-UX short of a transformation to Intel-ready software. Instead, MPE/iX got its Intel introduction post-HP, when Stromasys made its Charon HPA the gateway to x86.

NonStop remains a part of to HP's enterprise group and enjoys development, but it's tied to Itanium chips. Nothing left in the Business Critical Systems group -- HP-UX, VMS, NonStop -- gets any love anymore during HP's analyst briefings.

HP software, aside from operating systems, could provide a frustrating experience for 3000 customers. Transact and Allbase were strategic, until they were not. IMAGE got removed from the 3000-bundled status it enjoyed. HP had to farm out its ODBC lab work to keep up during the 1990s.

The deal between HP and Micro Focus gets more unusual when you see that HPE has to pay Micro Focus $2.5 billion in cash. In exchange, HPE shareholders will own 50.1 percent of Micro Focus. HPE wanted to get its software out of its enterprise business and into the hands of a company with business success in software. Micro Focus built its rep on embracing backbone technology like mainframe connectivity and COBOL.

HPE's CEO Meg Whitman said that Micro Focus knows how to invest in software. The company, which owns the Reflection product line, is supposed to keep HP's software stable.

"Micro Focus' approach to managing both growing and mature software assets will ensure higher levels of investment in growth areas," Whitman said, "like big data analytics and security, while maintaining a stable platform for software products that customers rely on."

Reliability and boring are sometimes conflated, but a stable platform is often built upon software with both attributes. UBS analyst Steve Milunovich, who tracks HPE, said HP's sell off of assets is "strategy that works well for current shareholders, who gain significant ownership in better-run businesses." A company whose backbone is COBOL now owns HP's software assets — a line that lost its COBOL compiler when the 3000 was dismissed.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:18 PM in Homesteading, Migration, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (1)