April 25, 2016
Proving concepts leads to hardware exits
They've been called straw men, and more lately proof of concept projects. These assessment steps have often represented significant change at HP 3000 sites. Few migrations got the green light to proceed with the raw change and full-on expense without demos of replacement apps. Even when the change was limited to applications only, with no platform replacement, testing with production data was the most secure choice.
That's why the strategy sounded familiar when Stromasys hosted its first webinar in years. The company calls its assessment engagement to test Charon a proof of concept. Led by Global Accounts Manager Ray LeBrun and system engineer Darrell Wright, the talk included a note on how essential the PoC step has been to success with the Charon virtualized system.
"We're pretty confidant that if we engage in a PoC with you, then we're 99-plus percent sure Charon will work for you," LeBrun said. "We will not engage if we're not confident this is the right solution for you."
Stromasys works with a site's production data to prove the concept of giving HP's 3000 hardware an exit date. MPE/iX and the applications, and of course the data, stay in place. However, LeBrun said Charon has also been "a bridge to allow you to get to a migration. We have folks who say, "I'm only going to use that  application for another two years. Well, two more years oftentimes becomes three, four, and five years."
The technology concept behind virtualization is well known by now. People are so familiar with it that LeBrun said the vendor gets asked regularly when HP-UX Integrity server virtualization via Charon is coming. The question came up in the webinar, too."It's not in our roadmap anywhere," LeBrun said of a Charon built to give HP's Unix hardware an exit date. "Even if it was, I probably couldn't say anything about it, but it'd certainly be viable if there was a business case for it."
A business case for migrations — either off HP's hardware, or away from an operating environment — usually gets built at a customer site only after the technology has been given an all-clear. Stromays Proof of Concepts are paid engagements, because they include vendor staff hours spent onsite, services to transfer data to the Intel-based Charon system, and training a customer's IT staff to use the software.
A five-day onsite engagement, followed by a 30-day test period, makes up a PoC. "We basically do a live install of your application [on Charon] in your environment," LeBrun said. "You're not testing for look and feel. You're testing your application with your data."
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April 22, 2016
How to Transform MPE Spoolfiles to PDFs
HP 3000 data becomes more useful if it can be e-mailed as industry standard report documents. After more than two decades of pushing at it, Adobe has made its PDF the de-facto way to exchange documents, even complex ones.
Which might have prompted this question from HP consultant and Suprtool trainer Jeff Kubler:
Does anyone have a lead on a tool that converts spoolfiles to PDF files? Are there any Contributed Library tools?
It won't be in the Interex Contributed Library (because the programs have gone underground; ask your colleagues if they have a swap tape) but the txt2pdf product works nicely to make this conversion. Even in its most advanced version it's about $1,000, at last glance. Bob McGregor reports as much.
Jeff, txt2pdf does this. We have a job that runs that:
1. Checks a pseudo device we have setup for any spoolfiles that are on the device with an PRI >0
2. If it finds a spoolfile, we convert it to PDF and move it to a server
3 Sends an e-mail to the streamedby variable telling them the PDF doc is ready on the server.
4. Alters the priority to 0 to mark it processed
We've been using it for a couple years, and it works great — of course, once we got the bugs worked out. What's cool is if someone delete the file, we just adjust the priority to something greater than 0 and it gets reprocessed.
April 20, 2016
Like a Classic Mercedes, Those Old 3000s
Built to last.
That's what a veteran analyst called the HP 3000s at her company. It's a UK firm, The Wesleyan, and it's been running MPE and MPE/iX since at least 1990. Jill Turner says the oldest system is a Series 947. That would be the early part of the 1990s, to be sure.
That 947 and four other HP 3000s including an N-Class, are going offline in 2017. "We are a financial services business, and the HP 3000s hold all the policies sold up to about 2010," she said. "These are serviced daily, weekly, monthly, yearly depending on the type of policy."
Turner called those 900 Series systems, including a 987 and 969, "old proper machines." They're the sort that never quit. They do eventually get out-performed by newer models, or can't run Oracle, or have experts with knowledge about 3000s retiring soon. The hardware does age, though, as it does for all owners. That's not why the 3000s are leaving The Wesleyan.
"The Wesleyan are currently migrating the data from the HP 3000s onto a new system," Turner said, "and we expect everything to be migrated by mid- to end of 2017. As technology moves forward the company is moving to other platforms, and I think the new systems are hosted on IBM Pureflex servers."
Turner admits to being biased in favor of the 3000s. This can happen after a couple of decades of success, when a migration choice is based on the age of the hardware instead of the utility of the software. You can't beat the cost of owning a 3000, she adds.
"The HP 3000s are probably the cheapest platform to run within the business," Turner said. I am very biased as I have only ever worked on the HP 3000s, but one example is we had a disc failure on the 969."
The system carried on as mirrored disc. Our support firm Newcorp couriered one out to me so I received it the next day (and they sent two spares). I changed the disc, no one knew but me. The new replacement system for the 3000s had a failure when the power went off. It took IBM two days to get the part, and it came from Holland.
"I have a 26-year-old Mercedes which I always compare to the old HP 3000s: built to last." The Wesleyan bought into the future of 3000 ownership, even when HP was counseling not to do that. The N-Class server was purchased in 2002, the first full year HP was preaching migration.
April 11, 2016
Yes, Virginia, there is MPE at the Terminal
One of the first HP 3000 migration success locations might have hung on to an MPE/iX app since its story was introduced by the vendor. A lively discussion popped up last week when Don Seay asked on the 3000-L mailing list about running Speedware on the Stromasys Charon HPA virtualizer software. The chatter included updates on the work to cross the 2027 hurdle for MPE/iX use, as well as reports on the speediest settings for Charon.
Seay was emailing from an address at VIT.org, the legacy location of Virginia International Terminals. It's the port authority for all shipping in Norfolk, Newport News and environs. A shiny website handles just about all of the data requests at portofvirginia.org. But there's still data being fed to VIT.org, and Seay's request seems to hint that an application continues to work there. We're checking in with him.
Taking a full-on approach to a migration is a typical opening strategy, but there are sometimes good technical reasons why apps remain on 3000 hardware. This didn't seem likely when we first heard about the 3000 and VIT in 2002. HP was promoting the practices and concept of retiring 3000s during that time, the first full year after Hewlett-Packard's announcement it would leave the 3000 marketplace.
VIT’s assistant IT director at the time, Clark Farabaugh, said at HP World 2002's migration roundtable the decision to shift to HP’s Unix servers “has changed our shop, for better or worse.” That summer, IT began to migrate at VIT. The organization took delivery of a HP 9000 rp8400 server to replace its HP 3000s, and Farabaugh said “we were the first ones on board.” We took note of the report of 13 years ago.
Even though Farabaugh described TurboIMAGE as “the fastest database I’ve ever seen,” it was moving toward using Oracle on its migrated system. Three IT staffers — VIT said it was doing all the work in-house — were trained in database admin for Oracle.
The applications running at VIT handle shipments through a terminal with 7,000 international longshoremen at work, and a desire to Web-enable the apps led VIT away from the 3000. The IT director said the migration project will take 12 to 18 months to complete using the 45-person IT staff, taking apps from Speedware on the 3000 to Speedware on HP-UX.
A baker's dozen years later, it's a surprise to see that perhaps something on MPE has continued to lift bits of the cargo of terminal data at VIT. A datacenter manager and IT execs do need to keep everything online, though. If a 3000 survived the HP-UX shift for this long, it's bound to have a better reason than "we don't really want to change things."
Does MPE/iX still exist in the field? Some in your community feel that asking about that is akin to asking about Santa Claus. But yes, at Virginia, it seems there's still MPE at the Terminal. If we're reading the messages right, it's doing more than a fairy, too.
March 28, 2016
For any fate, applications need budgets
At Idaho State University, the HP 3000 is moving into its final months of production use. It's been more than eight years to bring all of the MPE-based applications' duties into a new hosting environment. Sun was the early winner in this migration, but after taking the early round of replacement apps onto Solaris, the university is settling on Linux. This was a migration that didn't give Hewlett-Packard any place as a host.
Even in the realm of replacement software's big bounty, some apps moved across more slowly. Payroll, financials: these things moved in a straight line to Ellucian's ERP software for universities. But telecomm, inventory, motorpool — the 3000 ran all of this — had to be moved separately.
Along the way, the prospect of keeping those extra applications alive included the option of virtualizing the 3000 onto a Stromasys server. The timing didn't work for the university because it was so close to decommissioning its last 3000 apps, according to Senior IT Analyst John MacLerran.
We were hoping to use the emulator for a year or two while we finished migrating our remaining applications off the 3000. However, it was decided that the effort required to obtain software licenses from all of the vendors would be better spent accelerating our migration off the platform.
Whether an application remains on MPE servers, or makes its way to Linux as a replacement or a rewrite, applications require budget. The word "effort" means the expense in man-hours and dollars. Staying has a cost. Analyzing the timing can help a 3000 owner decide when its budget should be turned to departure dollars. It's only possible when the Hewlett-Packard hardware remains sound and healthy."It's not like we saw anything that would keep Charon from working for us," MacLerran said, "but it didn't save us any work in our migration."
The cost/benefit ratio didn't work for us -- we wouldn't have been on the Charon platform long enough to recoup our investment in the emulator. It made more sense for us to pay an additional year of maintenance on the original hardware, since we would've had to do that anyway during the migration to Charon. Instead, we put additional resources into getting the applications migrated.
The University began its look at the Charon solution in 2014, but its thorough evaluation got interrupted when MacLerran was tapped to help a languishing internal project get back on schedule. By 2015, the final evaluation decision was made, based on the finish date of migrating its final MPE applications.
We are in the final stages of shutting our HP 3000s down. Everything we used to use them for has been migrated elsewhere -- much of it to Ellucian, and some of it to other third-party vendors (i.e., where Ellucian doesn't have an equivalent function). The only remaining activity on the HP 3000 is data archival for records-retention purposes.
To satisfy that, we're extracting our data and putting it in Oracle tables. That way, we can query for the information that may still be needed for audit, but not for transactional purposes.
MacLerran said the university expects to pull the plug on its HP 3000s by the end of June, 2016.
March 25, 2016
Replacing apps: a migration option, or not?
More than seven years ago, HP was still offering advice to its HP 3000 customers about migration. The vendor sent everyone down an evaluation path once it announced it was dropping the 3000 from its 2007 lineup. Sales halted in 2003; the HP Services lineup included MPE and hardware support for another seven years, though.
That's by way of noting that HP's plans saw lots of waffling before its time ran out for stewardship of the servers. In the years between its cutting-out announcement and the end of formal support, HP plans to migrate had two major options. Rewrite whatever you had running on MPE, or replace it with a work-alike app. At the time, HP had a VP who'd talk about this. Lynn Anderson was the last HP executive who would even address the 3000 before the press. Her expertise was in services. You can imagine how replacing apps set with her. Bad idea, she said at the time. Bake a fresh loaf, using the sourdough starter of 3000-based business processes.
Anderson was pretty unique in the HP management ranks. She could show IT experience on the HP 3000. She started her career working on an HP 3000 in the mill town where she grew up. A Series II system displayed her first MPE colon prompt. Later on in programming and system engineering for HP, she was a network specialist for MPE, a job that included the high point of bringing up the first HP 1000-to-HP 3000 local area network.
To the HP of 2008, a rewrite looked like the best way to preserve what you'd created. However, MB Foster is going to talk about replacing apps next week. Wednesday the 30th at 2 PM Eastern, George Hay will examine this Replace option. "You will learn the factors that affect application replacements and the steps in the replacement process," the company said in its email notice of the webinar.
In 2008, Anderson spread HP's message that the company preferred rewrites to getting an off-the-shelf app to duplicate years of architecture and development under MPE/iX. She cited an HP-funded study that predicted nearly half of the 2008 IT workforce would be retired by 2011 — a figure that had all the accuracy of HP's 2002 prediction that 80 percent of its customers would leave the 3000 by 2004. Speaking at the HP Technology Forum, Anderson talked about replacements chosen to match existing MPE/iX apps, versus rewrites.
"Matching can disappoint," she said at the time. "We say don’t look at what you want your application to do today, but what do you want it to do tomorrow. For the DIY customer, do you have the personnel?" The question was about brain drain, a very real prospect for a legacy technology customer. It was also the question you'd expect to hear from a services vendor.
There's no code like old code, made new again, HP said. Not just rehosted, but extended and revamped.
I think back to when I was a programmer. We had a guy in our shop who liked to think of himself as writing elegant code. Then he left, and when we had to make a change to his code, we literally had to draw straws, because nobody wanted to touch it. You have to look at that when judging a workforce. We just did a study on datacenter transformation, and by the year 2011 45 percent of the IT workforce will be retired."
We asked how this would impact choices to move forward with IT. "We tell these customers you will never get anything to replace what you had built," she said. "The questions are what will you want to do tomorrow, and are you going to have the staff to be able to go into the code."
As for those exits of IT pros, HP's VP said, "I don’t think we have done a good job of selling the value of a career in technology. During the dot-coms it was a bit cool, but it was never about people doing the IT work. It was more on the idea side. And you know what? It still is cool, and it can be a great way to make a living."
HP's living, of course, is best made today as a purveyor of an IT workforce. Hardware sales are off and operating environments come from outside suppliers like Microsoft, RedHat, and others. HP's Services team of the time was legendary for coming in with the highest engagement prices and the sweetest presentations. Meanwhile, plenty of 3000 customers made a living doing IT. Then HP started to call them “technologists.” Did HP still see technologists as typical influencers in the 3000 ecosystem?
In 2008 Anderson said, "We do."
And I think over the years companies — and I’m not saying this about HP — have forgotten about these influencers. Technologists still play a big role in organizations. There are not too many CIOs that are going to make a decision diametrically opposed to their organization. Based on that, we need to get the information out there so the technologist can understand it. With me starting out in that technology environment, I understand. We got our stripes in the 3000, and it was “live free or die — MPE only.”
Replacement already acknowledges that MPE/iX won't serve the long-term strategy for a company. It seems that rewrites will be the work of an outside team. The real question wasn't do you have the personnel, though. The question is what budget do you have for personnel. Because both rewrites and replacements require man-months and man-years.
Anderson said it was essential for all of the remaining 55 percent of the workforce to focus on learning other technologies. A rewrite project would be one way to establish some new chops. Perhaps a replacement does the same thing for a career. "You can think of bread at the grocery store — what are you doing to reset your “Best Before” date?" she asked. Changing platforms certainly resets lots of things.
March 16, 2016
Brain drain reduces migration options
At a large Eastern Seabord organization in the US, the exit of MPE-skilled staff has cut away the migration choices for its HP 3000 operations. The server ran the organization's management of equipment parts. Some of the parts are being tracked back into the 1980s, so unique are those components.
It's like taking the durability of an HP 3000 and applying its model to vehicles, for example. Old F-150 pickup trucks, or the most beloved Jeeps, need parts that might've been designed decades ago. Get a large enough fleet and you need an extensive and fast database.
IMAGE/SQL drove all of the enterprise business operations until 2002, when other solutions started to rise up at this enterprise. The HP 3000 9x9s there stepped back into a support role, running the parts application. When HP announced the 3000 was leaving its product list, the organization started to plan for a database migration.
"I still had a licensed HP-UX server (HP9000/I70) with paid software support at that time," said the IT manager, who didn't want us to use his name. "The plan was to purchase Eloquence for HP-UX, move IMAGE data to Eloquence, and rewrite our data entry and retrieval programs from their original Pascal to something on HP-UX, which might have been Pascal (if available) or C."
The migration to Eloquence, with what the manager called "universal homing capabilities," would be moved to Linux, which might have required another program rewrite. It could have been as simple as going from C on HP-UX to C## on Linux. Then expertise started leaving the organization.
Then "it became impossible to buy Eloquence," the manager said. "There was almost no one left working here who knew what IMAGE and the HP 3000 are. No one knew what Eloquence was, and no one wanted to know."
This enterprise shop already had MS SQL with paid support on Windows, "so I was led to hire a consultant to migrate the data to SQL and rewrite the apps in PHP. It sounded like a quick way to a good end."
The Windows momentum had carried the organization away from HP-UX, eliminating Eloquence in the process.
With money being dumped into Microsoft as the solution for all, no one would want to hear a request to buy another database. We bought a new-at-the-time HP-UX server (RX 2660) for this project, but could not go ahead without the Eloquence piece and someone to convert the apps. So the server languished, and eventually was boxed up.
Now the plan is to migrate only the 3000's data at that enterprise. "We would rather stay on MPE and keep on developing," the manager said. "What I really wanted to do was to migrate the application from IMAGE to Eloquence, which would have set the stage for future migration to a new OS if necessary."
Migrations can be delayed for many reasons. But with the market's HP 3000 expertise in flux, keeping a migration moving seems to be one way to help ensure the widest range of choices to preserve app code. If application expertise leaves a company, all that's left is to move data. There are good solutions for that in the MPE world. MB Foster talks about some today at 2 PM EDT.
March 02, 2016
Data in motion follows 3000 archival project
HMSHost has been an HP 3000 shop since long before the start of this century. The company that operates duty-free outlets in major US airports has made changes to its datacenter structures that have put its 3000 in cool standby. Regular operations have moved to another server. Archival has become the mission for the MPE/iX server.
Brian Edminster told us about the changes to the company's IT operations, having managed the 3000 solutions for HMSHost for many years.
Edminster said that in either event, he'll be called in to perform that work on the cool backup system. Archival systems still consume some resources, but it's that reduction of human resources that can make a drastic change when a 3000 goes from production to archive. The 3000 server may not even get powered up, as is the case at HMSHost.
The live and current data that was hosted on the application under MPE has been migrated to systems belonging to the new owner of the retail division of HMSHost. Several years ago, HMSHost sold off their retail division to World Duty Free, USA (the US arm of the global World Duty Free Group, WFDG). In a surprise move, WDFG was then acquired by one of its rivals, Dufry. In talking with some friends that still work there, the former-3000 data will likely need to be migrated to yet again—to the Dufry systems. Talk about “data in motion!”
But as it turns out, the historical 3000 data (from before WDFG acquired the retail unit) still has to be retained for compliance reporting for about three more years. They've decided to keep an A-Class system, basically in a cool backup environment. The server is still racked in their server room, but is kept powered off, until one of these events occur:
1) a compliance report and/or analysis is required (a fairly low probability), or
2) a quarterly reboot/confidence check is scheduled.
"They thought about keeping the machine powered up, but idling," Edminster said, "but there was concern regarding remaining the MTBF on the A-Class disc mechanisms and fans. It was determined to be a lower risk—and consume less electricity and generate less heat—to leave the system powered down until access is needed."
In archive, though, backup practices don't change. "We've got several complete backups," he added, "should a boot drive fail, or the RAID-1 (Mirror/iX) data volumes fail catastrophically."
February 26, 2016
21 days of radio silence on the 3000-L
The slowing current of 3000 communication showed a fresh signal by the end of this month. As we write it's been 21 days since a message of any kind on the 3000-L MPE newsgroup. The resource that carried 45 messages during last February has 10 for the current month. All of this month's traffic was wrapped around finding resources: Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies and Vesoft support. Both were located.
However, the three weeks without a new message is new territory for the community's log of technical help and outreach by cohorts. Among those who were posting during 2015, several told us they're on the mailing list-newsgroup out of habit — rather than needing details for their datacenter's 3000s.
"I’m still on the list out of inertia, nostalgia and mild interest," said Dave Heasman, a UK IT manager. "My employer got rid of their 3000s and me in 2008. Bought a series of packages to replace a big bespoke brokerage/investment system."
Robert Mills said he "remained a member of the list, mainly as a lurker, to keep appraised of what was happening in the 3000 community. Except for three requests in September 2012, December 2014, and February 2015, I've only posted to the list when I felt that the 3000 knowledge I had would help somebody solve a problem." Mills said he retired when his company went insolvent in 2009, but he's kept his hand in IT.
"I have been involved with the GnuCOBOL (formerly OpenCOBOL) Project on SourceForge since October 2014, and decided to write a macro preprocessor that emulated the functionality available on the 3000," he said. "The preprocessor, CobolMac, is now in its 5th version (B.04) and has received good reviews by its users."
Others who contacted us said they haven't worked on the 3000 since the days that HP sold support for MPE/iX. "I have been a BizTalk developer full time since 2008," said Kent Wallace. "I needed to work, and this was the direction the world was going." The 3000-L still has more than 500 subscribers on its mailing list rolls, but much of the messaging comes from consultants and vendor experts, supplying answers to questions and tips. A total of 45 messages have passed through the list since the start of 2016. The IT pros like Wallace have taken the path to other platforms, first to HP-UX, then to Windows.
"I left my previous employer in Boise and I moved to a Microsoft shop, whose mainframe was HP-UX," Wallace said. "However, in 2015 we migrated off HP-UX and onto SQL Server on Microsoft Server 2008. We do health insurance and the purchased software, Trizzeto, was moved to MS SQL servers."
Another registered user keeps up with the community, but he can imagine a future where he'd be back on the MPE/iX front lines. "We're totally out of the 3000 business," said Ted Johnson of Wake Forest University, adding a sad-face emoji. "But I love seeing the 3000-L posts and keeping up. Who knows — maybe they'll get rid of me one of these days, and I'll end up back on a 3000."
The 3000-L, hosted at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where the late Jeff Kell launched it the early 1990s, holds more than two decades of traffic. 10 years ago the list was big enough to measure a signal-to noise-ratio, but by now it's almost entirely signal. When John Burke was a monthly columnist for the NewsWire who summarized its content in net.digest, he rounded up the following help in just one month's communications. For a 3000 owner managing a homesteading shop, the 3000-L's tips still carry some value.
• Do you want to know when a particular account or group was created? LISTACCT and LISTGROUP are no help. But “listfile /ACCOUNTNAME,3” for the account or “listfile /ACCOUNTNAME /GROUPNAME,3” for the group tell all. And then some.
• The number of sectors reported by the REPORT command for a group or groups is sometimes inaccurate, sometimes very inaccurate. Running the program FSCHECK.MPEXL.TELESUP and issuing the SYNCACCOUNTING command will fix this problem.
• In case you were wondering, despite many requests for the enhancement, TurboStore will NOT append store sets to tape. Well, it might if you use the proper incantations, but it is unsupported and highly dangerous because under certain circumstances you could overwrite a previous backup without knowing.
• Speaking of things you cannot do that you might like to do, the ALLOW command is not persistent across sign-ons unless you use the extremely dangerous “ALLOW @.@; commands” version. This is another example of an enhancement that has been requested for years, but now will never happen. Fortunately, there are a number of options, for sale and free (MPEX, CSL, etc.).
• CI integer variables are signed 32-bit entities. So be careful if you are doing some wild arithmetic in your CI scripts.
• Here is a little trick when using Apache’s indexing (for example to keep track of documentation) to index file displays. You can override the default ascending sort by name by appending “?N=D” to the url. Instructions on changing Apache’s default behavior are available on the Web.
• If you are trying to program VPlus applications and are interested in working examples programmed in your favorite language, look in the group HP32209.HPPL89 (which should be on every FOS tape). This group contains source code for the ENTRY program in a variety of languages including COBOL, Fortran, Basic and Pascal.
• To see the firmware (aka PDC) Revision of a system (CPU): Run cstm, and at the cstm > prompt, type ‘map’ and note the Dev Num of a CPU and then type ‘sel dev DEV_NUM’ (e.g., ‘sel dev 41’) and then type ‘info’ and then type ‘il’ and look at the output for the ‘PDC Firmware Revision’. Easy, huh? Thanks to Guy Paul of HP for this tip.
• SPFXFER will allow you to write to disk (undocumented “feature/bug”). But don’t do it, because SPFXFER cannot read the disk file it creates! Doing this could lead to a big oops.
• While it would certainly be a nice to have, MPE/iX CI scripts have no provision for inline comments. Sorry, don’t even bother trying.
February 22, 2016
Technologies to study beyond MPE skills
As 3000 experts have seen their jobs eliminated, and their employers focus on other platforms, they have faced a challenge. What should they study next to learn marketable skills? One obvious answer is the tools in the community for migration. Some of these open a new world of learning to 3000 veterans. Learning the tools provides an entry to get familiar with new concepts.
However obvious it has seemed to study .NET and Visual Basic, there are many shops planting outside that Windows-box. Open source software is the choice for prospects that reach farther.
Michael Anderson left the Spring, Texas school district six years ago to found his J3K Solutions consulting practice. Even then, when Linux and open source did not dominate IT plans as they now do, Anderson knew Microsoft wouldn't hold its market share.
In 2009 he suggested a good place to start learning beyond MPE were tools like ScreenJet and Marxmeier Software's Eloquence. "Ordina-Denkart's WingSpan, as well as ScreenJet, are both great products," he said. "They are both great models for software design. I have not found anything that compares to them that's within reach of small companies and independent developers." That's a statement on pricing as well as capability.
A caliber of tools like this is not yet available in the Linux/open source market, though. James Byrne, an IT manager at Harte & Lyne, says his company's "progress towards a final departure from the HP 3000 has not been as rapid as we had hoped. The main reason is the primitive nature of the tools in common use by the *nix community. These have improved greatly over the past decade, but they are still nowhere near the effectiveness of efficiency of software I used on the HP 3000 in the 1980s."
Complaints about the "Cognos Products," now owned by Unicom after a five-year adoption by IBM, have legendary status. But the gripes have been about licensing and pricing, not the subtle efficiency those advanced development tools provided. Byrne's company has been using Powerhouse and its cousins since before the products were named as such. Close to 40 years after they were introduced, the tools are still doing a better job for Byrne than open source alternatives.
The systems at Harte & Lyne are completely written in Quick, Quiz and QTP. "They were started before Quasar re-branded itself as Cognos and began calling their products Powerhouse," Byrne said. "The maintenance load of these programs presently is as close to zero as can be imagined. Nonetheless, modifications are still being made after all these years and the speed at which these are completed is absolutely astounding to people used to coding for *nux and Microsoft environments."
Byrne adds that the programs are sometimes creations from the days before the Web existed. "Sometimes we are working on programs that have not been touched since the late 1980s," Byrne said, "and the ease with which that ancient code is understood illuminates just how poorly most code in other languages conveys its meaning."
ScreenJet employs Windows to do its interface transformations, while Eloquence delivers the IMAGE foundations to Linux, HP's Unix and Windows. If tools like these two above existed in the GNU environment — what Byrne calls *nix — then HP 3000 programmers who are finding themselves out of work could study a workable toolset in the GNU environment. Their decades of experience could be tranferred more easily environments beyond Unix and Windows.
It took a village to build the world of open source choices. A very savvy village is required to open-source the expertise in Powerhouse, Eloquence, ScreenJet and others. Consultants have reported their migration work employs such tools. Now the IT teams like the one at Harte & Lyne have moved on to open source. The shift has had its issues, though.
In the late 2000s a product similar to Powerhouse was created in open source, an Informix 4GL clone called AuBit. However, by the time that project was mature enough to consider for our purposes we were already committed to Ruby on Rails (RoR). We adopted the web application approach because we wished to employ generic browsers in place of specific terminal emulation software.
But the price of using RoR has been constant change to its underlying code base with commensurate breakage in our production code. This is due to the very nature of Open Source. Projects such as RoR are staffed by what are essentially a bunch of ill-disciplined hackers. Each contributor is driven as much as by ego and anything else and thus each attempts to place their individual marks on each iteration of the software.
This often occurs at the same time as they are learning what is really needed from the software. The result is an absolute absence of backward compatibility. There is usually an overarching individual that exercises some restraint. But the the mantra tends to be: what is old is useless, new is better, change is for the best, and who cares what breaks.
Compared to the rock-like stability of the HP 3000, writing software based on RoR is akin to building a castle on quicksand: expensive, time consuming, and as likely to fall down and be swallowed as anything else. Thus we are not as far along as we expected.Things may not be quite as bad as that, but I am feeling somewhat put out with that project at the moment.
Open source emerged from a need to reduce costs and tap a waiting array of expertise. Learning these tools is a better next step for the 3000 expert who wants employment or engagements. There's lots of Windows in the world, but lots of Windows expertise, too. Leading a company toward a path of open source solutions is good, groundbreaking work. It might be a novel achievement to list in a resume or a consulting skill set.
February 17, 2016
Free trial UDACentral makes its debut
A corporate-grade migration tool gained a free trial version for datacenters including the HP 3000 this week, as MB Foster introduced UDACentral's latest version.
"Data migrations are challenging when you need to change database types or attempt to perform data transformations during the migration," said Myles Foster, the company's new head of product development. "With the availability of a free trial our data migration product UDACentral is now easier than ever to obtain.
Along with the free version, MB Foster is also offering corporate and enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) licenses for UDACentral. "I realized that SaaS models of UDACentral will help companies reduce costs to free up capital for other business priorities," Foster said, "and enable strategic decision-making around IT investments."
UDACentral isn't limited to MPE/iX hosts, but Foster said the tool's target includes HP 3000 sites. The software began its lifecycle in 2002 as a means to "gives migration projects the centralized switchyard for replacing data securely while preserving its integrity,” said Birket Foster at the product's rollout. For more than a decade the software was employed in migration engagements, integrated by MB Foster’s Platinum Migration Partner team, working alongside a customer’s IT group.In November 2003 UDACentral was a part of HP's Transition Tools Partner coupon offering. The promotion vendors were named Transition Partners, since customers in that era had little immediate need for migrations. A transfer of IMAGE data to Oracle was among the leading features that year. HP needed a customer to commit through a purchase order for an HP-UX server to replace a 3000.
By now UDACentral converts and migrates data between more than 20 databases. The software uses a Data Explorer to generate an Entity Relationship Diagram. Within a year of its introduction, Graceland University used the software to make its transition from MPE/iX to HP-UX and the Informix database.
UDACentral is also a certified product in the BCIP software innovation program, run by the Canadian government. Software in this Built In Canada Program is available to government agencies and entities such as provincial departments and nationwide organizations. It's pre-qualified for integration into governmental datacenters.
"We used to employ UDACentral in jobs and get paid for our services," Foster said. "Now we're adding the strategy of making our power tools available for people to do the job themselves." The software is aimed at integrators, consultants, and datacenter managers.
January 26, 2016
Migrating apps creates years of 3000 work
A double-handful of HP 3000s, 10 in all, remain on duty a few more years at a North American manufacturer with multiple sites. The systems are a mix of 9x9 and N-Class systems, waiting on a project to complete that will replace the 3000 apps with comparable software on Windows.
This app replacement is an example of one of the three flavors of migration discussed tomorrow (Jan. 27) in an MB Foster webinar. The first of a four-part series, Application Migrations / 3R's of Migration, starts at 2 PM Eastern US time.
At the North American manufacturer, according to systems engineer Dan Barnes, the Fortune 1000 company uses Lawinger Consulting for HP 3000 application management.
Our client has four remaining production locations using individual HP 3000s, plus one EDI server and one development server. All are awaiting conversion to a Wintel-based application alternative, which is still two-to-five years down the road for them. We have an additional 4 DR servers as backup to these systems.
There's nothing virtual about these systems. The servers are physical HP 3000s. "We will stay with these until completion of the application migration, then harvest," Barnes said.
Lawinger's support team does all the 3000 support remotely, unless specific activities require them to be onsite. The application "is being modified as a replacement to the shelf app," Barnes added.
Replacement plans for migration have some of the highest rates of success, even though the software must often be heavily modified to match existing business practices. Lift and shift proposals from the past decade, where tens to hundreds of thousands of lines of code were dropped onto a new platform, are being trimmed back.
Foster's webinars often include advice on the best practices of choosing replacement software. A company making a transition to a replacement app needs to understand what data will be needed, at what detail level, and in what timeframe. The best answers to those questions might come from outside of the IT group. In fact, Foster says they often do. A solid team of transition stakeholders always includes an important seat for a member from the business group.
Replacement of a 15- or 20-year MPE/iX app suite also might not be a favored choice in the IT group. That group includes the experts who know the programs best. Nothing seems like it will be a clean, quick fit for what's been running the company — not at first. Replacing with a non-MPE version of the app sometimes leaves key integrated surround code at the curb, too. Replacing surround code is a good project for outside expertise. Companies which consult on that task have field experience on success to share.
The good news: replacing a business suite is not as dangerous as replacing a human body joint. You get to shop and specify and test for replacement software, even while the worn-down hip of the business suite continues to bear the weight of the company's enterprise. Backing out of a replacement -- replacing the replacement -- is just as extensive in software as it is in medicine. It's like doing it all over again. But replacing after an attempt at rehosting? That's the least effective strategy of all.
January 22, 2016
A 3000, awaiting replacement, still at work
If the above headline sounds like your homesteading situation, then you're an interim homesteader. Or a wannabe migrator, which can amount to the same thing if the pain of retaining a 3000 and MPE is low. In the hospital they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10. Nobody says 0, unless they're deep into morphine. There's usually some.
At Cerro Wire, the pain level must be not more than a 2, but the 3000 is being targeted for replacement. As part of our survey of the 3000 managers who speak up on the 3000-L, we got a report back from Herb Statham. He's led the 3000 computing at the manufacturer based in Alabama, with operations elsewhere in the US, too. Statham notes that the MPE server at Cerro continues to work. It's something like staying on your job even after you've been laid off, because they can't find a replacement yet.
Uncommon for an employee. Commonplace among interim homesteading systems. Statham, who was hiring for 3000 operations as recently as 2014 -- and had a contract 3000 expert at work until October — reports that Intel-based systems are preferred now at Cerro.
We are still running an A500 box at Cerro Wire. The game’s afoot to replace our current business applications with ones that are Intel- and Microsoft-based. I do not know when the final decision will be made, but the HP 3000 just keeps chirping along. I am trying to get “semi-retired” to only work two or three days a week, until the “new and better” system is in place.
Intel had prospects earlier at Cerro, in a different capacity. Statham was public about a 3000 emulator's chances there, even before the Stromasys Charon software had a big footprint. Cerro was going to be a classic 3000 manufacturer pushing their MPE apps into a long-running role. Leaving the HP hardware behind looked to be important, but other apps on other platforms were already working there.Some IT managers call this situation "floating." So long as the MPE applications don't fall short, their cost of ownership and low need for attention keeps them running. A turn-off date at the start of 2016 becomes a midyear close-out, and then that depends on how soon replacement apps on Windows get integrated. Any nagging pains about relying on an environment now in its fifth decade of useful life are offset by the Tylenol of low costs and stability.
It works for companies that don't see massive growth coming soon. At Cerro, which is a Berkshire Hathaway company, business has been good. Back in 2014, just before the help-wanted call went out, the pressure to migrate was low.
In profile stories from 2014, we heard this report.
Statham has no pressure from Cerro management to replace the applications that are successful at running the company. With ample spare parts, independent support and storage consulting, and his own source in hand, he needs only the green light from Dell to move forward. Specifics on pricing and performance are still in play from Stromasys, at least from his vantage point. A 1.5 version of CHARON HPA/3000 was announced late last year, promising increased performance. But meeting the speed needs of an A-Class would be no challenge for the CHARON lineup.
This veteran of 3000 deployment and management has little desire to send his company toward an application replacement that might end up with Cerro "spending millions of dollars." There are many years left for MPE/iX, and his company is an all-HP shop, with the exception of a couple of Dell monitors on Statham's desk. He can see a long future for the app the company has fine-tuned to its business.
The CALENDAR intrinsic roadblock is the only thing he can forecast by now. He's not sure how HP might react to an independent fix for that issue, a date challenge that's still 13 years away. (Of course, now it's 11-plus years until the December 31, 2017 deadline)
"If we could ever get this 2027 thing out of the way, you could run your applications indefinitely, so long as you’ve got someone to support them," he says. "My only concern is HP themselves, in the event that someone said they had a patch to the operating system. You wouldn't have to worry about the year, because there was some type of workaround."
There's a number of ideas in there, from relying on MPE doing its job 11 more years (not out of the range of possibility) to seeing an independent lab develop a 2027 workaround (also not impossible, so long as community experts don't do more than semi-retire) to HP getting in the way of this kind of lifespan extension. There's zero pain to the MPE's creator in letting the OS keep working. It doesn't require much pay by now. That's the sort of thing that makes some migrations wannabes, or at least keeps them floating in the future.
January 21, 2016
Taking a Charge at Transition's Costs
Changing your IT infrastructure might become more critical in 2016. Hardware is older, especially the hardware HP built and sold to run MPE/iX servers. One solution is to migrate to a new OS environment. Another refresh for IT might come from emulating the PA-RISC servers with Intel-based servers. But in either case, some software will have to come along, a move to help contain transition costs.
License transfer practices come into focus during these projects. While moving from MPE/iX to another OS, most shops would like to keep what's been working, if the software's got prospects to grow along with IT's needs. In some cases that's possible, because the vendor has put in its work to adopt a new platform. A couple of middleware providers have done this. MB Foster and Minisoft both reached out to HP-UX users coming out of their MPE/IX environments. Minisoft's Doug Greenup reported this week that Summit Information Systems Spectrum users — whose vendor is now Fiserv, post-migration — headed to HP-UX when leaving the 3000 credit union application. Their target was Eloquence, the database designed to embrace IMAGE applications into an SQL world.
"We have quite a few Eloquence customers," he said, "more then 100. Many of the Fiserv Credit Union customers moved from MPE to HP-UX and use our ODBC driver for Eloquence." Minisoft's also got an ODBC for IMAGE product. That's an example of a cross-platform development strategy, something to keep costs under control. When your existing vendor does a version of your product for a migration target, that's fortunate. It's even more fortunate when you're not expected to re-license the product.
Last week the Minisoft ODBC for IMAGE product became the target of a competitive upgrade campaign. MB Foster says it will let a Minisoft ODBC customer switch to UDALink for MPE/iX for the price of a support contract. We took note of that campaign, a classic move from the days when new MPE/iX software was being sold in a market active enough to support multiple vendors for a single product like middleware. Going into competition, and retaining customers in the face of it, smacks of moxie in a market that's quiet and stable by now. It helps if your product has feature differences, so a 64-Bit ODBC driver, and the ability to use Suprtool's Self Describing (SD) Files, are getting touted in that offer.
Both vendors say they support Windows 10 with their middleware. No matter how much grief the new Microsoft environment is causing, it's still a certain part of IT futures. Windows 10 support is essential to keeping a 3000 current with the latest PC clients tapping IMAGE/SQL data.
Vendors in the 3000 market had to go where new system sales were happening, though. For MB Foster, its HP-UX version of UDALink is preserving investments at a site where the biggest single group of 3000s was migrated. At the same time, this site is using Minisoft's middleware on HP-UX, too. The situation at the college group looks like a lesson in preventing extra costs in a transition. Migration has plenty of prerequisite costs.There are no more MPE/iX computers in service at the Washington Community College Consortium, a group of 34 organizations once run by 3000s. The college collective turned off its 3000s in 2012, giving over the services to Unix systems built by HP. Minisoft's middleware works there for the Unix servers. So does the MB Foster software. The educational organization didn't have to re-develop its hundreds of reports it built over years of 3000 services.
"They use UDALink Reporter for UNIX (formally DataExpress) for reporting on their HP-UX systems," said MB Foster's Chris Whitehead. "We converted DataExpress from the MPE version to the Unix version, so that the college could continue to use the hundreds of host-based reports they created over the years. They also are using it well for bulk extracts, offloading data."
The cost of the software for a fresh platform was not a show-stopper there, which seems to be the case for 3000 vendors who serve with middleware and key utilities. Database management, data extract software, middleware: much of it can be moved to something like the Stromasys Charon emulator, or even a new OS, for little to no charge. "Preservation and continued use of reports created on the 3000 was key to the conversion of UDALink Reporter on MPE to UDALink Reporter on UX," Whitehead said.
Minisoft's product made a move to contain costs, too. "Some of our MPE customers have migrated over the years to the HP-UX platform, running with Eloquence," Greenup said. "So long as a customer is on a current product support contract we allow them to "swap" or transfer licenses at no additional cost."
Even where there are what amounts to administrative charges — the equivalent of HP's license $432 transfer fee to move an MPE/iX instance from one kind of iron to another — many vendors make these minimal. Everybody's budget is important, but I find it interesting to see IT managers squeezing costs so hard that a $125 per month support fee, or $1,000 one-time to administer a license change, gets scrutiny. Yes, that's about $125, or less than my U-Verse TV bill.
This is corporate IT we're talking about here. The minimums shouldn't be that low. There's money needed to be spent on Windows turnover, yes. But a corporate server needs a budget bigger than a TV bill.
Redevelopment costs a great deal more than that, of course. One month's work might not be enough to bring hundreds of reports into an HP-UX environment; it might take much longer. In a case like that, the $1,000 looks like a better option than three months of an IT pro's time, at around $25,000.
Both Minisoft and MB Foster help to enable Charon HPA emulation projects, too. Those kinds of transfers don't require a new license, something that the new-ish owners of Powerhouse can't embrace yet. Containing costs with support-based license transfers is a forward-looking move. Forward is a direction you'd expect vendors to focus upon. IT changes often. It shouldn't be more expensive than absolutely necessary.
January 15, 2016
Competitive upgrading lives on for 3000s
In the 1990s, HP contracted to send its ODBC middleware development to MB Foster. The result was ODBCLink/SE, bundled into MPE/iX from the 5.5 release onward. The software gave the 3000 its first community-wide connection to reporting tools popular on PCs. HP decided that the MB Foster lead in development time was worth licensing, instead of rebuilding inside the 3000 labs. Outside labs had built parts of the 3000's fundamental software before then. But ODBCLink/SE was the first time independent software retained its profile, while it was operating inside of the 3000's FOS. Every 3000 running 5.5 and later now had middleware.
Other ODBC solutions were available in that timeframe. Minisoft still sells and supports its product. That's one reason why MB Foster's running a competitive upgrade offer for users of the Minisoft middleware. The upgrade was announced yesterday. 3000 owners who make the switch from Minisoft for IMAGE ODBC to Foster's software will get a full version of UDALink for the cost of only the annual support payments.
This kind of competitive offer was one of Minisoft's sales tools while it competed with WRQ for terminal emulation seats. There was a period where NS/VT features were not a part of every Reflection package, but were a staple in the Minisoft MS/92.
Foster's ODBC software has been extended to use 64-bit ODBC drivers, embrace Suprtool's Self Describing Files, and more. UDALink was a part of the migration that the Washington State community college consortium pulled off in 2011 when it moved 34 systems to Unix. The vendor has continued to develop to make a state of the art middleware solution.
Almost as notable: seeing MB Foster compete for business like vendors did routinely in the 1990s. The upgrade offer tells us that there are 3000 sites out there still looking to extend their development cycles. UDALink is also built for platforms other than the 3000, but any outreach to capture MPE/iX customers is news here in 2016. Chris Whitehead is fielding the calls and emails for the upgrade offer, which runs through June of this year.
January 11, 2016
What HP's Synergy is Poised to Deliver
"Over the next several months, the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will be shipping a fresh IT platform it calls Synergy. This won't feature a new processor family and it's not going to feature a new operating environment for business customers. Understanding what Synergy might do was a big topic in last month's HP Discover show in London. The product seems to be aimed at changing your plans for IT investment, without sacrifices, as a regular business process.
HP and IBM have sold this concept before, going as far back as the days when you'd buy more computing power than you first planned, just by turning on CPUs and cycles. The vendors levied a temporary charge back then, a bill that would show up like extra long distance fees. Synergy is leagues more complex than that, but it's got a similar aim. Overprovisioning -- stacking up too much power in reserve — will be the black mark to be erased in IT planning.
Like all of HP's innovations, Synergy's only connection to the world of the 3000 exists in leaving the MPE platform. It's a destination, this product HP expects to ship before mid-year. No one knows about its pricing, but the fluid resource pools, auto discovery capabilities, and containerized applications are supposed to reduce the overprovisioning by as much as 60 percent. HP says that will cut immediate capital expenditures up to 17 percent, and cost of ownership capital expenditures up to 30 percent.
The challenge in adapting a new mindset that focuses on resources rather than platforms, one that thinks of apps as pop-up shops, lies in translating the IT-speak of our current decade. We've found an article that does a good job of that, so you can see the hardware and software inside Synergy from a perspective of the IT planning of 15 years ago.
"The new platform named Synergy an is based around the idea of composable infrastucture – hardware that can be programatically composed into the desired form for a specific use case," writes Peter Sellers at the website Techazine.com. Sellers looks like he's got in-trench experience in IT, rather than consultant credentials. The website identifies him as "a senior-level systems administrator for America’s largest telephone cooperative, Horry Telephone Cooperative in South Carolina. Sellers writes
The Synergy platform follows up on the Project Synergy concept HP introduced during the June Discover event in Las Vegas. While HPE has been working with third-parties to get support for its API for composable infrastructure, it was also creating the new generation of hardware needed to power the concept.
It's often a revelation to see new-speak tech explained in classic IT management terms. The article is worth a read. Synergy is likely to be the product the new HPE will push in 2016. The language here sounds like it could be spoken by a manager whose job is to administer hardware, rather than write white papers.
Synergy trims down the number of compute slots from 16 to 12. When asked why, HPE execs told me that the goal of the Synergy platform was to power compute for the next 10 years and that meant flexibility not density as a primary concern. Some peer bloggers scoffed at the 10-year future for the platform, but as an HP customer, that is the lifetime I have received from my existing C7000 BladeSystems as a platform, which are approaching a 10 year anniversary.
December 31, 2015
Throwing Back, and Looking Forward
We'll be taking tomorrow off to celebrate the new year. But first, some HP news.
Hewlett-Packard employees are still having meetings around the 3000. They are employees retired from HP, mostly, and the meetings are not at the HPE campus. Before you get too excited about a wish for a new business prospect for the 3000's new year, I should say these are reunions of a sort. A holiday party happened for CSY happened just before Christmas.
The revelers from that party included some people still working for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Corp. But it was a way to look back, and in one of our Throwback Thursday moments it give us a chance to savor people who made the 3000 what it once was. The wishes are for what might still be.
The meeting was wrapped around a brunch held on the Monday before Christmas and held in Cupertino. Arriving at 9AM in Cupertino to enjoy the company of people with MPE savvy must have felt like a throwback. The notice showed up on Facebook, sent among 43 people with a lot of names you'd recognize from community leadership and tech savvy. "Just seeing all your names makes me happy," one CSY veteran said.
Like the HP3000 Reunion of 2011, people couldn't attend who wanted to do so. One said he was going to reschedule a meeting of his with today's HP so he could rejoin his comrades. Plenty of throwbacks in CSY work for other companies by now. Somebody else in the 3000 community wishes that current HP employees could work in the service of MPE. It won't be among HPE's New Year's Resolutions, but the sentiment illustrates where the 3000 could travel next year.
"Hopefully 2016 will bring renewed rational decision-making by the new folks running the new HP," says 3000 customer Tim O'Neill, "and they will once again concentrate on making excellent hardware matched with software that gives customers reason to buy HP. Maybe they'll bring renewed emphasis on MPE/iX homesteading on Stromasys, instead of a purposeful blind rush towards alternatives."
It's possible that HP, now morphing into Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, might have changed enough to be a company the 3000 community would want to associate with it. While looking over the replies to the holiday CSY party, I saw names of good people. Top HP executives were not among these retirees, although Winston Prather chipped in good wishes.
Good things can happen in 2016, but even Tim O'Neill knows that HP hardware running MPE will not see any reunion with the customers who held it dear. Not unless it's a high-powered ProLiant running the Charon emulator.
"HP could announce HP-UX 12.00 running on HP hardware, even if the HP hardware has Intel CPU in it," he suggests. Right now, HP-UX is destined to an 11.4 release for the rest of its lifespan. The vendor isn't moving to Intel hardware with HP-UX, just NonStop. VMS is heading for independent ownership.
O'Neill adds that "Some people I know are buying HP components like blades or storage, but not whole systems. For example, they buy HP blades then run VMWare on them. Curious customers could ask "Why buy HP if you are not running HP software?"
The reason for buying HP hardware speak to the changes in IT management. To celebrate the future with HP, you probably won't be concerned with its invented-here operating environments. Linux, Windows, all the successors to MPE from the commodity world are driving replacements. If the sting has left your cheek from a slap delivered more than a decade ago, then a 2016 with HPE products in it will not be a pipe dream. If Winston's name didn't make you shudder, you've moved onward.
The calendar always moves onward, after all, but the 3000 community tends to remain — even as it does its own morphing into new work. The Christmas meeting "shows why the old HP was so special," one 3000 vet said in a Facebook reply. "Long after CSY and the HP3000 are gone, co-workers are still getting together. What a testament to Dave and Bill's HP."
Happy New Year to you all. We will look forward to new developments, technical or otherwise, in 2016.
December 30, 2015
3000's '15 was littered with crumbs of news
It's the penultimate day of 2015, a date when summary and roundups prevail in the world of news. The year marked some milestones for the NewsWire, some losses of the community's oldest treasures, and one major breakup of an old flame. Here's a breadcrumb trail of stories of extra note, retold in the final stanza of the 3000's 43d full year serving businesses.
Checks on MPE's subsystems don't happen, do they? — We learned that HP's subsystem software doesn't really get checked by MPE to see if it's on a valid HP 3000 license. "None of HP's MPE/iX software subsystems that I've ever administered had any sort of HPSUSAN checks built into them," reported Brian Edminster, our community's open source software resource. Licensing MPE is a formality.
Virtualized storage earns a node on 3000s — A new SAN-based service uses storage in the cloud to help back up HP 3000s. The HP3000/MPE/iX Fiber SAN doesn't call for shutting off a 3000. It can, however, be an early step to enabling a migration target server to take on IMAGE data.
NewsWire Goes Green — After 20 years of putting ink on paper and the paper into the mails, we retired the print issues of the NewsWire and went all-digital. We also marked the 10th anniversary of service from this blog and waved a proud flag of history to celebrate our founding Fall of two decades ago. We miss the print, but you won't miss the news. Bless the Web.
Patches Are Custom Products in 2015 — HP licensed the MPE source code five years ago, and just a handful of elite support companies are using it to create customized patches and workarounds. If your support provider doesn't have a source license, it may be time to spruce up your provider chain.Still Emulating, After All of These Years — Several sites where the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator is working reported the solution is as stable and steady as ever, while others continued to emerge in the community. Even a 3000 using antique DTCs could be bought over to the light side of Intel-based virtualization.
N-Class 3000 now priced at $3,000 — The bottom-end price on the top of Hewlett-Packard's MPE hardware line approached the same number as the server. A $3,000 N-Class 3000, and later a $2,000 model, both appeared on the used marketplace. A fully-transferred license for a server could lift the prices, of course, for a persnickety auditor.
Big companies still use the HP 3000 — A reader asked for proof that large companies were still relying on the 3000, and we discovered more than you'd expect 12 years after HP stopped making the server. Publicly held companies, too.
Work launches on TurboIMAGE Wiki page — Terry O'Brien of DISC started up a new project to document TurboIMAGE on Wikipedia, an effort that drew summertime attention.
MANMAN vendor wants to run datacenters — Infor is still managing MANMAN support for 3000 sites. The vendor is encouraging all of its customers to turn over their datacenter operations to them.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise trots out security in opener — The old flame that spurned the 3000's future ran into another kind of split-up when HP cut itself in two at the end of October. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise got custody of business servers and the support websites split up as HPE became the new name for that old flame.
Returning to Software, After Services — The most primal of the HP Platinum Migration partners, MB Foster, started to turn its focus onto data migration software for sale. The future of UDACentral lies in becoming a product that integrators and consultancies can buy, and customers can rent by the month. The CEO says the year to come will mark a rise in the percentage of software revenues for his company, where migration service has been leading sales for years.
December 28, 2015
Hello, who's still out there? Permanent 404s
2015 has seen comings in the 3000 world, but more goings. Some MPE veterans have signed off of the 3000 mailing list, headed to retirement or the new work on commodity platforms like Linux or Windows. There was a singular departure, too, as Jeff Kell passed away after leaving a legacy of the mailing list-newsgroup of HP3000-L.
Kell was so notable that the iconic tech website Slashdot devoted a front page article to him late last month. Tracy Johnson reported that "I cobbled together a few links from the 3000 mailing lists and managed to get a Slashdot headline accepted for Jeff. The message below is Slashdot's report."
Congratulations, your Slashdot submission was featured on the front page! Every day we review hundreds of submissions, but we can only post a few to the front page.
There have also been also the comings, goings and migrations of Web resources. Stromasys posted a case study about one of its new 3000 emulator customers. There have been other outposts that have gone quiet, or at reported missing, during this year. One of the temporary absences was one portal to the NewsWire. Another community resource is unavailable this week. Client Systems's website is off the radar, notable because it's the resting place for the HP Jazz resources including MPE utilities and tech reports.
In the meantime, those Jazz resources remain available on the Web at the HP Migration server of Fresche Legacy, formerly Speedware. Heading to hpmigrations.com/ HPe3000_resources/HP_jazz/ gets you third party utilities, software, as well as a link to Papers and Training. Speedware licensed everything that was stored on Jazz when HP closed off its server at the end of 2008.We're still on the lookout for the whereabouts of Client Systems, a company that once licensed the stories of the NewsWire. Those were the days when the dot-com boom hadn't gone bust yet. Client Systems was the exclusive North American HP 3000 distributor, during the era when Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise business needed somebody to prep and ship servers loaded with MPE and subsystem software.
While the clientsystems.com domain is pointing at a Network Solutions "website not available" parking page this week, it may not be a permanent goodbye. We know about these misdirections. Back in October, 3000newswire.com landed you at a parking page operated by rascally Russians. The front door to the NewsWire these days is our blog page. However, access to the stories of 1996-2005, presented as printed issues and online updates, became limited to our search engine.
Our Latest News list of links to our blog articles fell out of service during that domain name theft. 3k Associates caught the cold that caused the NewsWire's sniffles, as 3k.com got hijacked for a little while. Those Latest News posts get created at 3k.com. 3k's domain theft meant our main domain went missing awhile.
It didn't look good. It's common to see such a domain theft go un-recovered, so we were happy to see 3k.com get back into its rightful hands. 3000newswire.com never got snatched, but we found a couple of community members who wondered if we were still around. When I mentioned to Vladimir Volokh our front door was being barred, it looked like everything we had was hijacked. His wife Anne, helping me with a story about masters who were improving MPE manufacturing software, sent her condolences.
Vladimir told me about the hijacking of your website--incredible! I'm wondering what developments will follow regarding the 3000 Newswire, if any. What a story!
Anne wasn't the only one who figured we'd gone offline. Prolific commenter Tim O'Neill worried for our health, too. These are too-common comings and goings on the Web, but you can't be certain what they genuinely mean until there's an obituary, or an email. (We'd say a phone call, but that's so 1995.) In the weeks when Chris Bartram of 3k did his mighty work to wrest his domain back from the Russians, it looked like the NewsWire was out of business. Or at least to anybody who doesn't use our 3000newswire.com/blog address.
3k is making a Web move now, a byproduct of seeing value rise in Bartram's two-character domain name. He's been one of our most precious resources here at the NewsWire since before our beginning. In the years before we started our news service, 3k Associates used our business communications expertise for data sheets, advertising, even Interex conference giveaways.
You'll still be able to say hello at 3kassociates.com, Bartram told me today.
The folks wanting to buy 3k.com want it for something un-HP3000 related (I don't know what). But the fact that it's a 2-letter domain name (which they haven't allowed for many years) makes it valuable. DNS appraisal services appraise it as high as six figures.
I went looking for 3k.com resources while I researched Command Interface scripts, since scripting has become a topic of interest to 3000 members. Either they've got 3000 scripts like JCL jobstreams they need to replace, or there's a desire to automate things so less management is required. The 3000 always needed less hand-holding than other servers. But people are the expensive resource today, so as they retire and interim help takes their place, automation keeps things running. In a new era where a veteran's :BYE doesn't mean goodbye to MPE, scripting can minimize maintenance.
There's been more permanent goodbyes to the Hewlett-Packard stewardship of 3000 information. Oh, you can get hits for HP 3000 at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's hpe.com site. But they're a collection of the StoreEasy 3000 storage gateway, or network switches. The HP 3000-24G-PoE+ Wireless Switch comes closest to matching a 3000 search.
The byproduct of that HP goodbye is that some links from the up-and-running web resources like 3kassociates and hpmigration.com point at missing Hewlett-Packard pages. So it continues to go, these resources which help 3000 homesteading or assist in migrations. I give thanks for our sponsors, who keep us from going all 404 on you. The lesson to carry out of here is that appearances on the web can be deceiving -- or as we noted earlier this month, reports of a death can be exaggerated. Instead of wondering, you can call, all '95-style.
December 21, 2015
ETL needs a C phase to migrate data
Extract, Transform, and Load make up the needed steps for a successful data migration. The larger an organization has become — or the longer its history — the greater the need to add a C, for Cleanse, to the ETL. Cleaning data is an essential part of decommissioning a 3000's data on the way to migration. MB Foster has been using its UDACentral for more than 10 years to do the ECTL steps in preparation to decommission 3000s. The software's gained some new features recently, on the way to becoming a tool for sale to system integrators and consultants. It's been in use at MB Foster's migration engagements up to now.
The product now can produce an Entity-Relationship diagram. This visual map can be created for documentation of existing database structures. It can be printed, or shared via email, because it's a PDF document.
During the ECTL process, UDACentral now can call a URL to pass in data and get back values that will be inserted into a virtual column. One customer, according to MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster, "had five scripts they ran in a row to clean up a phone number field. This enabled them to use those scripts. When transferring data, they're moving that column out, get the five scripts run, that place the result in that column." This kind of cleaning does slow down the transformation and loading, "but for most people that's not as big a thing as having clean data."
Clean data eliminates errors on a new platform. Data decommissioning typically occurs when
• An application is being replaced – by a new application or an upgrade.
• Hardware or an application no longer has support
• An OS vendor obsoletes a platform or chipset
• An operating system has reached its usable lifecycle
• A company has a change in status – being merged into or acquired, or an insolvency — and an application will no longer be used.
In order to begin such a decommissioning, IT managers should determine owners and key stakeholders. With the patience 3000 managers are known for, they must discover the data owners' requirements for movement and maintenance of legacy app data. "It's not only important from a compliance perspective, but it may be critical to a line of business or department," Foster says. He advises that IT managers adopt a business process and legal view of long-term requirements, rather than just a technology approach.
During this ID phase, understand that data is indelible. "They say there are two things to count on, death and taxes," Foster said. "Now there are three -- let's add data to the list." When you plan to migrate data to the new app as required, you separate data into transaction categories. For active data, figure out a data migration. For inactive data, determine a historic data plan. A single plan doesn't fit both types of data very well.
Because the company has specialized in data and reports for so many years, MB Foster reminds managers that reporting requirements are a key element of both kinds of plan. Longer-term reporting requirements are often not considered during a data decommissioning process. When you need that kind of information, how will it be presented back to the users who need it? One best practice is collecting line of business and departmental-level reporting requirements -- before you decommission legacy applications and data. The apps and platform may change, but the reporting needs are likely to remain the same.
In some cases, HP 3000 apps are part of a larger, global IT structure. It's a good idea to document corporate data retention policies with the global perspective as a guide. Factor in rules according to individual countries, and remember that specific industries will sometimes dictate compliance policies. It's possible to reach out to corporate internal resources which deal with records management to address their policies.
Once the policies and processes have been established, it's time to standardize on an archiving system. This is the time to work on unifying data and content. That's a process that will proceed smoothly if you can provide a complete view of the archiving system to the data stakeholders and departments. Rules for access to the data will include the issues of security, privacy, and compliance with regulations such as HIPAA for health care, or PCI credit card transactions.
A plan and schedule for decommission will impact plenty of departments and people. When presenting the plan, be prepared to address questions such as "Where will the information go once it's decommissioned?" and "What new application replaces the legacy system?" You'll want ask questions, too, like "What is an acceptable decommissioning timeframe?"
Like any good project that impacts a company asset like data, yours will demand that you create a plan for data integrity validation and auditing. Articulate what quality data means, and share it across the enterprise. "The integrity of your data is vital," Foster said, "and there are many threats to data quality." For example there are hardware problems, old tape archive issues, data entry errors, or carelessness.
Project to decommission legacy data often must consider who owns it. Issues of regulatory and governace must be met, including access to historic data over required periods of time. Some alternatives in these instances include moving the data, providing searchable formatted data, and even having an auditable instance for the "system of record" -- the retiring HP 3000 application or server.
December 17, 2015
TBT: When 2006 Meant 2008 to 3000 Owners
Ten years ago this week, our community was anticipating overtime news for retaining their 3000s. The year 2005's late December marked the HP announcement that the long-running "end of life" date for the server was being delayed an additional two years. After four years of telling customer that the promised end-of-2006 closing of Hewlett-Packard support was indelible, HP erased its plans and added 24 months of HP support availability.
The timing of the news included a message all its own about the 3000's expected life. When a full day-plus elapsed with nary a customer comment, we reported
As for the relative silence from the customer community, this might be the result of making an announcement three days before the Christmas holiday weekend. Much of the world is already making plans or departing for R&R. As for the business planning of the 3000 sites’ budgets, well, 2006 is already spoken for. All this does is change the options for 2007.
We'd heard all of that year that "2006 means 2006." But by the week before Christmas, 2006 meant 2008. The impact was mixed among the community. The companies who had invested heavily in migration looked up with some dismay at an extended deadline that meant those projects had an extra two years to complete. The homesteading customers who relied on HP's support to justify homesteading breathed a sigh of relief.
But it was the community's vendors who took the bullet for the rest of our world. Platinum Migration Partners were working to fill their project calendars. Some had hired on extra contractor and staff help to service an expected rush of migrations leading to the end of 2006. There was a serious glut of experts during 2006 because of the change. In the homesteading sector, independent support providers looked up to see HP moving the goalposts on the support game. Rather than having a 2006 when expiring HP service contracts could be replaced by indie agreements, the year to come was still more than two years removed from a mandate to switch to third-party support.
HP always like to call the finale of its support program the 3000's End of Life. Prediction of the server's death were like the notices of Mark Twain's demise. That icon of humorists said in 1897, to set the record straight in The New York Journal, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." HP could not be certain even the end of 2008 would be the new end of life for the 3000.
"HP intends to offer basic reactive support services for e3000 systems through at least December, 2008," the company's fact sheet reported. There was the intention part of the statement (no promise) and then the qualifier of "at least." Four full years had elapsed in the migration era by the end of 2005, and Hewlett-Packard had no firm idea of how long its customers would spend using a system whose lifespan was exaggerated — in the wrong direction. As it had for many years, the 3000 was getting short-changed.The year 2005 was the first for the Newswire's blog, so this extension of HP's plans was good news in our office. Rather than starting the Independent-Only Era in just 12 months, it turned out we wouldn't begin that period for another five years. End of 2008 would become End of 2010, an extension not as notable because it was not the first revision of HP plans.
We had the foresight or luck to consider the HP fact sheet to be a piece of history that we'd better preserve ourselves. The company's been scoured and sliced so completely by now that any mention of HP 3000 takes deep detective work to find on the HP Enterprise website. There's printers over in HP Inc with that designation. In 2005, the 3000 extension notice was on an all-3000 page that included migration success stories along with updates about licensing MPE's source code.
When HP no longer offers services that address the basic support needs of remaining e3000 customers, HP intends to offer to license HP e3000 MPE/iX source code to one or more third parties -- if partner interest exists at that time -- to help partners meet the basic support needs of the remaining e3000 customers and partners.
We spent the next several weeks dissecting the HP announcement for clues about its meaning. Since 2006 no longer meant 2006, extra study of the most current HP strategy was in order. I wrote at the time
As for the third-party MPE source licensing offer, it’s real, but it’s hard to say when it will be extended, or to who. Or what will be in the license. HP's said, "HP intends to license major portions [italics ours] of MPE/iX source code to qualified providers for the purpose of helping them support their customers." Right now HP doesn’t have to open up the source code to anybody until December, 2008, when the vendor is currently scheduled to end all its HP 3000 support. It could be later than that, according to HP. They say they keep listening to what customers want to keep buying (if you overlook the fact that the customers wanted to keep buying 3000s in 2001 -- just not enough customers to keep HP interested in building them.)
As for the support business, guarantees got an extension. Sort of.
HP will remain in the support business in 2007 and 2008, but it will be “basic reactive” support, unless you need mission-critical enterprise level support. Basic reactive gets you HP’s repairs, but nothing proactive. And the vendor’s “6 hours from call to completion” guarantee isn’t part of the basic reactive service, according to Murphy from HP Services — ultimately the arbiter of how long HP will remain in the support business.
It was something to ponder during a lull in business for the community. This news was dropped on the Monday of Christmas Week. Not exactly the most effective and productive time to announce a new lease on life for a mission-critical server and its OS. But for the owner of a 3000 hoping to wring out as much time as possible on a stable platform, HP's change looked like a holiday gift.
December 16, 2015
Returning to Software, After Services
The majority of the HP 3000 community vendors started their practices as software suppliers. The realism of the migration era pushed more than a few out of the 3000 business altogether, while others made their transition to services. But one vendor is making a new push into software, using a product that's been sold as a service until recently.
"We hope to license UDACentral to the main migration group [of the Canadian government]," said Birket Foster of MB Foster. "We're helping to organize that right now. If it all gets to the point where we believe the deal will go, we get into a position where there will be 44 government departments using our software as they go through the migration center."
The licensing of the software is a end-product of Foster's work in the Built In Canada Innovation Program. Rather than using Silicon Valley tech resources, software like UDACentral was built in Foster's Canadian labs. "It was never product-ized to the level we wanted it to be, so we could hand it to a computer-savvy manager and say, "Now you run it.' "
In the summer to come, Foster expects a free version of UDACentral to be available for moving a limited number of data resources, 20,000 database entries, in a DIY data migration task. This Demo Version of the software will be available for personal projects where data must be moved. More importantly, Foster said the year to come will mark a rise in the percentage of software revenues for his company, where migration service has been leading sales for years.
"We used to employ UDACentral in jobs and get paid for our services," Foster said. "Now we're making our power tools available for people to do the job themselves." In the year 2000, MB Foster's revenue was 90 percent software and 10 percent services, but the changes of 2001 flipped that equation. Migrations of data are often handled by systems integrators or resellers, though. Sales and rentals of UDACentral will start to return MB Foster's focus to those pre-migration-era levels, Foster said.
December 14, 2015
Migrations to Windows are game changers
Migrations have always been agents of change, and some of the changes are being triggered by another shift: from an older Windows to a newer version. We're talking Windows Server here, the host software that was once called Windows NT in the days when a 3000 needed an integration strategy with Windows. Plenty of former MPE shops run on Windows. It's been the top choice for migrated customers.
Windows 2016 is on the way, ready to push along the companies who've already moved from Windows 2003 to 2008 to Windows 2012. Application Portfolio Management is letting IT managers look forward to it with an eye toward making the most of investments. 2016 has changes to the datacenter game coming up, including a big hardware refresh. HP is counting on an uptick in its ProLiant business triggered by Windows 2016; the vendor's been looking toward that release date since early this year.
The Tech Preview 4 of 2016 dropped last month. Since there's been previewing and talk about this Windows change since last year, it's given IT managers time to conduct APM assessments. Or get one started, if they haven't already.
"It helps decide which investments need to be done, and when," said Birket Foster of MB Foster about APM. "For example, Windows 2016 uses Docker, and by May, it will be settled down for production use."
Docker will be helping Windows get into the cloud more easily. There are other benefits, payoffs for the Windows 2016 migrations. The open source project has a 1.5 release, one that aims to bring bigger IPV6 addresses to more systems.
Windows upgrades can trigger larger changes, according to another HP 3000 vendor. Dave Clements of Stromasys says that most of the company's Charon virtualizer customers "are on physical platforms. We see some of them moving to VMware when they upgrade from Windows 2003. It's a choice."
The Windows 2016 move is more accurately a re-hosting, to use one of the Five R's of APM Foster has discussed. The hardware stays the same, but it's likely to need an upgrade. Meanwhile, Docker looks like technology that could help in virtualization, too, according to our contributor and 3000 consultant Brian Edminster.
"Docker struck me as an easy mechanism to stand up Linux instances in the cloud -- any number of different clouds, actually," Edminster said earlier this year. According to a Wiki article he pointed out, Docker is based upon open source software, the sort of solution he's been tracking for MPE users for many years.Docker is an open-source project that automates the deployment of applications inside software containers, "thus providing an additional layer of abstraction and automation of operating system-level virtualization on Linux. Docker uses resource isolation features of the Linux kernel such as cgroups and kernel namespaces to allow independent "containers" to run within a single Linux instance, avoiding the overhead of starting virtual machines," the Wiki article reports.
Docker is "a standardized software platform for delivering apps at scale," according to an article in Infoworld. And it's taking over the world, the article adds.
Two major operating system projects have already started integrating Docker as a fundamental part of how they work. CoreOS uses Docker to create a pared-down Linux distribution -- one now available on Google Cloud Platform, appropriately enough -- where all software is bundled into Docker containers. Red Hat's already started building major support for Docker into Red Hat Enterprise Linux and has plans for a major reworking of RHEL around Docker, Project Atomic.
December 11, 2015
Virtual testimony: sans servers, sans apps
For the HP 3000 manager who looks at other platforms and longs for their range of choices, a testimonial from HP Enterprise Services might seem like catnip. A story about Lucas Oil that was touted in an email today shows how a 3000-sized IT department improved reliability with virtualization. The story also skips any chapters on application software. Sans servers, sans apps, sans uptime worries, to paraphrase Shakespeare.
It's a success story from HP Services, so it might not be so surprising that the details of custom software are missing. In summary, a two-person IT department (which sounds so much like 3000-class staffing) is cutting down on its physical servers by using a lower-cost quote for vitualization. Lower than Dell's, apparently, which is something of an indictment of VMware, perhaps. Dell and VMware are found everywhere together. Now they're going to belong in the same entity with the upcoming EMC acquisition.
But regarding the case study from HPE, it's more of a hardware infrastructure study rather than a full IT profile. Only Photoshop is mentioned among the software used at Lucas, the company somehow big enough to pay for naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts NFL stadium, but small enough to count on just two people to run a datacenter.
The basics in software tools are mentioned, the building blocks of Windows 2012 users: SQL Server, Windows, Active Directory. There's also a mention of an HR application, which tells us that there are custom apps in there, or HPE didn't consider software a part of the story. This is a testimonial about removing iron from IT. Garrett Geisert is the IT admin at Lucas.
Since we virtualized on our HPE ProLiant DL360 servers and HPE MSA 2040 SAN, management isn’t concerned about availability anymore, because we haven’t had an outage yet. Actually, we did have one outage in the last year but it was because of Google’s file servers, not ours. It’s sure been nice not having to tell people they can’t access their systems.
That's one set of choices that's not available to HP 3000 sites who haven't migrated, unless they consider Stromasys Charon to be a way to virtualize. Hardware failures were vexing Lucas Oil. It's the kind of problem any 3000 site has to plan for, with all of the drives out there being more than a decade old.“If we had a single server with a bad hard drive or blown power supply, it meant kicking of all users of that application until we had the problem fixed," Geisert says in the testimonial. "For us, it could mean shutting down anything from a basic file server to HR to full-on Adobe Photoshop graphics."
Newer hardware can be a serious capital expense. Since migrated sites always have upgrade options — well, the ones that don't use HP-UX, anyway — this expense is always out there lurking, posing as a solution to problems like reliability. Buy newer drives. Buy better power supplies.
The virtualization solution at this 3000-sized IT shop puts multiple servers on a set of ProLiants, and the servers can take over for one another. In the 3000 world this was called high availability with a price tag to match. Virtualization's magic somehow cuts the cost of this while it manages software application nuances like tapping the right databases, even through a virtualized server failure.
It's just like me to think that because there's no application detail in the testimonial, it's not authentic. It makes me curious about whether those app databases needed revision to accommodate virtualization's payoffs. This might be a nuance that HP Services provided or consulted upon. A reseller is mentioned in the story, a resource that's not virtual at all. And everyone seems happy with all this is sans from the story, especially the downtime. It's been that way for HP 3000s for decades, too.
December 10, 2015
Virtual resources, real costs: VMware, Cloud
While doing stories on the Tomorrow of IT, virtualization of resources and platforms comes up a lot. In fact, the most popular choices for virtualization represent the today of IT for anyone budgeted for change. But for the company still tied to the traditional datacenter model, hosting an app on a cloud server or even virtualizing a processor might look like more distant futures. Their costs are very real, though, figures that represent a long-term investment that 3000 managers might find new.
Stromasys stories about the Charon HPA emulator for 3000 CPUs often feature VMware. The company's product manager Dave Clements says that VMware isn't essential to eliminating a physical 3000, replacing HP iron with a virtualized MPE server. A lot of the Charon customer base ends up using VMware, though.
Cloud has its costs to calculate, too. "A pretty good sized virtualized server in the cloud costs about $1,000 a month," Clements said. "We don't discourage it, but we don't sell it, either. We can do [cloud virtualization] but truth be known, it's not high on our list."
Budgets vary a great deal, and so $12,000 might look like a cost for a physical server where you only pay for it once every five years. A price for any virtualized software solution or a service could look out of reach for a smaller customer — plenty of those in the 3000 world — or a bargain for the big players (there are large corporations still in the 3000 user base today, too.). "Crazy expensive" is a phrase that's been tied to VMware. The company has a cost of ownership calculator that's educational, but even a five-server license is $16,000. Those dollars buy an IT manager the flexibility to host any array of platforms, though.
There is a small set of Charon users adopting VMware, according to Clements. "VMware is not a requirement for Charon," he said. "Most of our customers are on physical platforms. If VMware is available it can be used, unless there is a customer requirement for direct access to a physical device, like a tape drive."
VMware has a cloud product line, too. Clouds come up in many stories in 2015. While interviewing Birket Foster for a story about Application Portfolio Management, he made this case for walking away from physical hardware costs.
Virtualization can be physical, like Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers, or systems installed at Rackspace. Or it can be logical, like VMware as a platform for hosts, or Charon ready for MPE. Blending all three of these is the future of HP 3000 installations. The more virtualization you employ, of course, the more complex the solution becomes. Last week, HP customers and executives testified to keeping tech solutions simple.
If we were to own a fleet of cars or trucks, there'd be a fleet manager sitting at the table. They'd be able to tell me the current mileage on each of their cars, when the next oil change was due, and what it's costing them to maintain each car. Ask somebody the same kind of questions, about a server or anything in their IT fleet, and they have no idea. That's one of the reasons why as soon as they virtualize, they typically get to reduce the cost of their IT infrastructure by 30 percent, maybe as high as 60 percent — just by virtualizing.
Simple plus low-cost always had a price to offset though: paying people smart enough to make it reliable. "The hardware used to be expensive, and the people were cheap," Foster said. "Now, it's just the opposite."
What's offset these people costs are the standardizations for applications. Custom programming was a common choice while the 3000 was on the rise. Now applications can be considered off the shelf. Replacing a custom application with these off-shelf apps is a non-simple project. Most companies need help to do this. They engage virtual people — short-term consulting — to transform an app from custom to common. Then they can invest in the new datacenter tech: virtualization, with the blinking disk lights off in a co-located cloud datacenter.
At MB Foster, the company has an AWS version of its UDACentral software available. "We allow people to be able to migrate data through the cloud," Foster said. "A couple of times a year we test a new version to see how well UDACentral scales. We send a command to AWS to go from the two-processors we normally use to 128. We rent them for the two hours we do the testing. Building a server for that kind of test would be a lot of money invested, and not being used."
That's a physical expense, against virtual promises and opportunity, applied to real-world applications and workloads. There's a reason that the scope of virtualization is broad. Whether it will work in a datacenter's tomorrow is "it depends," but it seems like a test of the prospect is worth an investment — whether its virtualizing hardware to run MPE, or getting away from datacenter servers altogether. The former is the route for a homesteader, the latter a path made possible by migration.
December 09, 2015
More R's for APM's Migration Uses
The third R of the application portfolio management process is Retire, but it might well lead to special storage for HP 3000 app data. A business application can be retired, said Birket Foster in a webinar today, when it has no more business value. However, just like the 3000 itself, retiring software can demand specific decommissioning procedures.
"The application may have to be a system of record," Foster said, "and although it has no more business value, it has a requirement from a compliance point of view. Its data must be preserved in the right manner." In some cases, such compliance has kept 3000s online years after an expected decommissioning date.
While using APM for migration planning, the R's of Rehost, Replace and Retire are most often the paths taken. But there's also a Re-Platform choice that can be appropriate. Rehosting can mean something as direct as migrating the data "and changing a database on the way over, and updating the toolsets in dev, test, and production environments." In a re-platform, "the old system might be dying, but it takes three years to go through the replacement process." Replacements can be done in as little as 3-6 months, but in a larger organization it can take years. Just picking up an app and moving is a re-platform.
"Sometimes, your time is worth more than money," he said. If it's going to take three years, "and my disk drives are already dying, I need to re-platform," Foster said. This is "a temporary move to get you to where to need to get to. You still don't know which of those three R's it would have been — it's just that you need to do an emergency fix."
If the app can stay where it is, "There could be a Retain, if I'm happy with the platform that's currently there," he said. "It needs to have the green light, if we're to use an application dashboard. Green apps can stay where they are. They work both for the business and for the technology."
Five R's in all are likely to make up the scope of a project MB Foster's working on for the Canadian government, work that affects thousands of applications across all of the government's departments. The government wants to consolidate datacenters as well; it's running more than 700 today. UDACentral, the company's data migration wheelhouse, is at the heart of that MB Foster work. Like any APM triage, that project will require an early start in cleaning data.
If you don't start early, you will run into problems. For example, there are many reasons to do a close review of your data mapping requirements. Legacy data types may not have no equivalent SQL data type. "It's important to have someone on your team try it early, for these technical reasons," Foster said, including things like repeated fields, reserved words, overloaded fields, or data names that might be reserved words.
December 08, 2015
Over time, app management changes its R's
Every application is an asset. Every asset deserves evaluation. Changing valuations will affect migration planning, software selection, and the career of the IT pro who manages software like it's a portfolio.
Application Portfolio Management rides on those three tenets. It's a strategy that's been practiced for more than a decade, and even in the HP 3000 world, APM has been promoted as good management. Birket Foster of MB Foster started talking about it in the earliest days, explaining how APM could get an IT managers a seat at the boardroom strategy table.
However, things have changed in the eight years since Foster wrote that article. In 2007 the Three Rs of Applications included Replacement and Rehosting. But back then, the Third R was to Remain. By now that Third R has become Retiring. Retiring apps through APM can be used as a strategy for tuning a migration plan. As Foster says
The quantification and conditions of applications in terms of business fit, stability, quality and maintainability allows for the 3 R’s of migration to be applied. Once the portfolio is triaged and divided into categories, it is time to prioritize, and execute on a plan appropriate to each of the applications.
More details are available Wednesday (Dec. 9) at 2 PM Eastern in a webinar Foster is hosting. Registration is on the company's website. Remaining, rather than Retiring, is the nirvana, available for any application that can sits in the coveted upper-right quadrant of the triage chart. Retiring an application can be the trigger for a migration, though, especially if it's an MPE keystone app. That's to say, an application that has been critical to your company's business success.Why retire something like a keystone? Business fit could be slipping loose, as the static nature of HP 3000s discourages application modernization. Stability isn't an issue, unless that MPE app relies on outside code or middleware that's being mothballed by its vendor. Maintainability might become an issue if a company's MPE expertise retires.
Companies can engage an outside resource to take on development and maintenance of 3000 apps, yes. Managed Business Systems, one of the four founding HP Platinum Migration partners, used to specialize in this, along with other suppliers. (MB Foster is another founder.) However, it takes a manager who's comfortable with legacy IT to adopt the responsibility for MPE and its mission-critical keystones. "I like old tech," one such pro told us this year. He is a fellow who'd cut his teeth on Data General minicomputers.
The word minicomputer has long been retired. Even though they've been renamed servers, it's the software that drives decisions regarding when to migrate, and how to do it. APM gives managers a best practice to judge which R fits which app best. Even if your apps live in that upper-right, and they're candidates to Remain, they'll still need to prove that valuation to boardroom managers. Knowing how to prepare is a good skill in times of change.
December 04, 2015
HP Enterprise discovers words for IT future
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE, as the business arm of HP likes to call itself) used the last week to revise its language for the future. This future is available to the migrated customers who once used MPE PA-RISC systems. It sounds like HPE is ready to admit that staying the traditional infrastructure datacenter course is a path that leads away from the vendor's desires. Wrapping up an hour of high-level presentations, Chief Marketing Officer Susan Blocher said transforming a datacenter is a polarizing path.
"Business transformation is a controversial statement," she said to the London attendees of Discover 2015. "You are either happy about the opportunities transformation provides, or you're scared to death of what transformation means, and how you're going to deliver the agility and speed that your lines of business demand."
The transformation points to what HPE called a hybrid infrastructure, with a combination of "traditional" and "on-premise cloud," Blocher said. The next step is to transition to public cloud, or off-premise cloud. It appears that cloud computing is in three of the four elements of the hybrid transformation. (Click the above graphic for the five-part lineup of HPE server offerings. Dead in the middle is Integrity, still destined for mission-critical although its adoption rate falls with each quarter.)
The conference demanded an Opening Experience, the level of marketing that old hands from the 3000 HP era once dreamed impossible, no matter how badly they needed it. So a pair of backup singers blended vocals behind a symphony rendition of HPE's theme music. A "new class of system to power the next era in hybrid infrastructure" was announced, HPE Synergy. The statement, and the specs and pictures on a website, confirms there is hardware there in that solution, but HPE's aim is to get its customers to consider Synergy as a compute, storage and networking fabric. It wants its customers to give their businesses "a cloud experience in their datacenters."
An SMB Hybrid Cloud "enables workforce productivity," she said. "This is a hot topic for every size customer, whether you're small or large enterprise, but it's particularly important for our small and medium-sized customers, where workforce productivity is essential to your business success."
Blocher said "We are your movers, [the company] that will help you accelerate what can be a daunting but clearly competitive opportunity for you to transform your business, in whatever way you need to, over the next few years." A thicket of video clips compressed the week's talking points into five-minute segments on YouTube. There were detailed charts for the CIO or VP of IT, such as this comparison of IT fabrics (click for details). But tactics of deployment were for another day; this was four days of dreaming up terms for enterprise aspirations.
HPE's chief marketer used the 400 million-user customer base of DropBox as an example of fast-growth needs being met by those movers. DropBox vice president Thomas Hansen (above, with Blocher) testified to HPE's size meeting the company's needs. DropBox uses the HP Apollo hyper-scale object storage portfolio. Hansen said his company's storage is the repository for 35 billion Adobe and Microsoft files.
"Those numbers are just incredible," Blocher said as she wrapped up a 10-minute recap. The four-day meeting that began with a symphony orchestra prelude, complete with backup vocalists, looked pitched to a high-level CIO. Such is the change in industry vendor-to-customer events. Its details emerged in a bevy of high-level presentations rife with terms like composable infrastructure, digital enterprise, and service to The Idea Economy.
Hansen addressed the audience as if they were service providers, telling them that customers want simple, easy solutions that are lightning-fast. Hewlett-Packard has transformed the conference experience to represent a information parade for providers, rather than users.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is not only about servers," Blocher said. "It's about bringing you end-to-end solutions and value." She lined up the five presenters who had about seven minutes apiece, while she exhorted the crowd to review the numbers: Selling five servers per minute; claiming 30 percent market share; 40 million units sold; 100,000 partners. "One million customers today," she said.
The Discover YouTube channel used candy like "A glimpse into the future" from Paul Muller, VP of HPE Strategic Marketing, talking about how the year 2030 will see five generations of humans alive at the same time. Technology must help with that future's problems, but in less than three minutes he had few specifics for a customer to act upon.
November 30, 2015
Final HP fiscal result toes an enterprise start
HP reported lower sales and profits as a combined company in its final fiscal report of 2015's Q4 and FY '15. Starting with the next report, two companies named HPQ and HPE on the New York Stock Exchange will post individual reports. They'll continue to operate on the same fiscal calendar.
The Q4 that ended on Oct. 31 showed an HP still fighting headwinds, as the company financial management likes to describe falling sales and orders periods. The year had $103 billion in sales, down 7 percent. Earnings for the combined company were $2.48 on the year, off 5 percent. But the final quarter of combined operations permitted HP to toe a starting line with a 4 percent increase for Q4 profits. Profits for the fiscal year were slightly off, dropping 1 percent.
Of course, those numbers reflect a company which won't exist anymore as we've come to know it. The vendor which created the HP 3000 and now sells and supports replacement systems at migrated sites lives on in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. That company started out with stock prices behind the HP Inc company, the new entity that sells printers and PCs. But the headwinds are much stiffer there, so of late HPE has traded at higher prices than the business spun off on Nov. 1.
The two units supporting 3000 replacements held their own. A drop in Business Critical Systems sales, the home of Integrity and Itanium, continued, but at a slower rate.
Enterprise Group revenue was up 2 percent year over year with a 14.0 percent operating margin. Industry Standard Servers revenue was up 5 percent, Storage revenue was down 7 percent, Business Critical Systems revenue was down 8 percent, Networking revenue was up 35 percent and Technology Services revenue was down 11 percent.
Enterprise Services revenue was down 9 percent year over year with an 8.2 percent operating margin. Application and Business Services revenue was down 5 percent and Infrastructure Technology Outsourcing revenue declined 11 percent.
"Overall, Hewlett Packard Enterprise is off to a very strong start," said Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman. "First and foremost, the segments that comprise HPE have now had two consecutive quarters of constant currency revenue growth and we believe we are in a strong position to deliver on our plans to grow overall in FY 16 in constant currency."
November 25, 2015
3000 community keystone Jeff Kell dies
Jeff Kell, the man who founded the keystone of 3000 help, advice and support that is the 3000-L mailing list, died on Nov. 25 of liver cancer and complications from damage induced by a diabetic coma. He'd battled that illness in hospitals and hospice since 2014. Kell was 57.
"It is a very sad day when a good wizard passes on," said coworker and colleague Richard Gambrell at the University of Tennesee at Chattanoona. "Jeff had a gentle soul and brilliant mind."
Kell was the rare IT professional who could count upon 40 years of experience running HP 3000s, developing for MPE, and especially contributing to the state of the art of networking for the server. He created the ultimate network for the 3000's community by establishing HP3000-L, a LISTSERV mailing list now populated with several hundred thousand messages that trace the business computer's rise, decline, and then revival, rife with enduring high tech value and a thread of humor and humanity.
Kell's obituary notes that he came by his passion for scuba early, having worked for a short time at the Chattanooga Aquarium where he fed the sharks. A key contributor to the development of LISTSERV, Kell was instrumental in UTC’s earning the LISTSERV 25th Anniversary plaque, which lists UTC as the 10th University to deploy LISTSERV.
Kell also served as a volunteer to chair SIG-MPE, SIG-SYSMAN, as well as a 3000 networking SIG, but it's nearly impossible to sum up the range of experience he shared. In the photo at the top of this post, he's switching off the last N-Class system at the university where he worked. Almost 40 years of MPE service flowed off those university 3000s. In the photo above, from the HP3000 Reunion, he's updating attendees on how networking protocols have changed.
In the mid-1980s he was a pioneer in developing Internet Relay Chat, creating a language that made BITNET Relay possible. Relay was the predecessor to IRC. "Jeff was the main force behind RELAY, the Bitnet message and file transfer program," Gambrell said. "It inspired the creation of IRC."
My partner Abby and I are personally indebted to Kell's work, even though we've never owned or managed a 3000. The 3000-L and its rich chest of information was my assurance, as well as insurance, that the fledgling 3000 NewsWire could grow into the world of the 3000. In the postings from that list, I saw a written, living thread of wisdom and advice from experts on "the L," as its readers came to call the mailing list and newsgroup Kell started. Countless stories of ours began as tips from the L, or connections to people posting there who knew mission-critical techniques. At one point we hired columnists to summarize the best of each month's L discussions in net.digest. In the era where the Internet and the Web rose up, Kell was a beacon for people who needed help at digital speed.
He was a humble and soft-spoken man, with a wry sense of humor, but showed passion while defending the value of technical knowledge -- especially details on a product better-loved by its users than the management at its vendor. Kell would say that all he did was set up another Listserver on a university computer, one devoted to becoming crucial to UTC's success. Chattanooga is one of the best-networked towns of its size in the world. Kell did much more than that for his community, tending to the work that helped the L blossom in the 3000's renaissance.
Kell looked forward to an HP which would value the 3000 as much as the HP 9000. In 1997 he kicked off a meeting with HP to promote a campaign called Proposition 3000: Common hardware across both HP 3000s and HP 9000s, sold from an Open Systems Division, with MPE/iX or HP-UX as an option, both with robust APIs to make ISV porting of applications to MPE/iX "as trivial as any other Unix platform."
HP should be stressing the strengths of MPE/iX, "and not its weaknesses," he said. "We don't have to be told anymore what the 3000 can't do, because a lot of the things we were told it can't do, it now can. If we take the limitations of the Posix shell and remove them, we have Proposition 3000," Kell said to HP managers. "I would encourage you to vote yes for this investment in the future."
More than 16 years later, when MPE's fate had been left to experts outside of HP's labs, Kell offered one solution on how to keep the server running beyond MPE's Jan 1, 2028 rollover dating gateway.
"Well, by 2027, we may be used to employing mm/dd/yy with a 27 on the end, and you could always go back to 1927. And the programs that only did two-digit years would be all set. Did you convert all of 'em for Y2K? Did you keep the old source?" Kell's listserver is the keeper of all 3000 lore, history, and wisdom, a database that can be searched from a Web interface -- even though he started the resource before commonplace use of what we were calling the World Wide Web.
Some might dismiss that resource as a museum of old tech. Others were using it this week, to connect newer-age tape devices to old-school 3000s. He retired the last of UTC's 3000 at the end of 2013 (in the photo above). His own help to the community members on tech specifics and the state of this year's networking will outlive him, thanks to his work setting this keystone for the community's exchange.He had a passion for scuba, and could also dive deep into the latest of networking's crises. At the 2011 HP3000 Reunion, he held forth at a luncheon about the nuances that make up a secure network in our era of hack such as 2013's Heartbleed.
Unless you've had your head in the sand, you've heard about Heartbleed. Every freaking security vendor is milking it for all it's worth. It is pretty nasty, but it's essentially "read-only" without some careful follow-up.
Most have focused on SSL/HTTPS over 443, but other services are exposed (SMTP services on 25, 465, 867; LDAP on 636; others). You can scan and it might show up the obvious ones, but local services may have been compiled against "static" SSL libraries, and be vulnerable as well.
We've cleaned up most of ours (we think, still scanning); but that just covers the server side. There are also client-side compromises possible.
And this stuff isn't theoretical, it's been proven third-party.
Lots of folks say replace your certificates, change your passwords, etc. I'd wait until the services you're changing are verified secure.
Most of the IDS/IPS/detections of the exploits are broken in various ways. STARTTLS works by negotiating a connection, establishing keys, and bouncing to an encrypted transport. IDS/IPS can't pick up heartbleed encrypted. They're after the easy pre-authenticated handshake.
It's a mess for sure. But it’s not yet safe to necessarily declare anything safe just yet.
Even on a day when most people in the US are off work, the tributes to his help and spirit have poured in. "He was smart, soft spoken, and likable," said Gilles Schipper from his support company GSA. "He will be deeply missed. My condolences to his wife Kitty and the entire family."
Ed King, whose 3000 time began in the 1990s, said "Jeff was a great guy, full of wisdom and great stories, and he gave me a chance to flex my wings with some very interesting programming assignments, which kickstarted my career. He will be missed."
Developer Rick Gilligan called him "hard working, brilliant and a great communicator." Alfredo Rego said in a salute that "The members of Jeff’s family, and all of Jeff’s friends and colleagues, know that he made a tremendous difference during his life on this Earth."
Rich Corn, creator of the ESPUL printer software for MPE, said "Jeff was always a joy to talk to. So sharp, but at the same time so humble. Jeff made you feel like friend. A true leader in our profession."
The family's obituary for Kell includes a Tribute Wall on his page on the website of the Wilson Funeral Home in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
Personally, I'll miss his questing spirit and marvel in his legacy. What a Master he was.
Here on this evening of Thanksgiving, we're giving thanks for the richness of a world with humble wizards like Jeff. We're taking a few days off to revere our time together. We'll see you with a fresh report on Monday, including analysis of the final fiscal results from Hewlett-Packard as a full entity, unsplit.
November 23, 2015
Virtualized clouds may shift due to Dell
Although the merger isn't yet complete, EMC will become part of Dell in the year to come. Those are two impact players in the HP enterprise arena, fierce HP rivals as well as providers of gear in HP shops both migrated and homesteading. The biggest impact on HP 3000 customers might come not from either of these companies, though, but from a subsidiary. VMware, which is powering a significant number of virtualized environments, is 80 percent owned by EMC.
That makes Dell the primary owner of the most popular virtualization provider in the industry. In the wake of the merger announcement, consultants, developers and vendors from the community have looked to the future of Dell's VMware ownership. Even a possible impact on cloud computing has come up for discussion.
"Whoever owns VMware next could control and own the future of the cloud," goes the proposition of the new VMware ownership. VMware has certainly promoted its new efforts into cloud computing. But that doesn't make the vendor a controlling force in cloud computing.
The three pillars of cloud computing, according to cloud ERP provider Plex, are elasticity, efficiency, and cloud as a service. VMware is only a backbone for such cloud offerings. The actual cloud applications use a range of backbones. The most common one is Xen, used by Amazon Web Services. HP dropped out of the public cloud business earlier this year, facing losses while going up against Amazon and others.
However, corporate enterprise IT may include clouds on VMware. A VMware-based one might run on an internal security zone not visible to the Internet. Another style can be based on OpenStack, visible to the Internet.
"Dell owning 80 percent of VMware is a huge deal," says Gavin Scott, a developer and a veteran of decades on MPE/iX and former SIG-Java chairman. "But it's not because of clouds. It might actually be bad for VMware because it will push Dell's competitors to look at other solutions. VMware is crazy expensive, so customers may be quite happy to be led to other vendors' doorsteps."
"VMware is like Oracle," Scott told us. "The most expensive way to solve the problem. But it also has the most features and functionality and is a 'safe' choice.""I think of cloud computing as involving the use of a third party's cloud resources," Scott said. "If you've got a big VMware virtualized infrastructure, that might just be running all your previously discreet servers in a bunch of VMs. If you're dynamically bringing clusters of servers on/off line to meet demand, that's more cloud-like."
"I think a lot of VPs of IT like to think they're trendy by having their own "cloud," and at that point the term is relatively meaningless."
November 16, 2015
Webinars set courses for future operations
The next three days each contain a webinar that can help a 3000 manager decide how to best use their IT resources. One of the presentations covers a new cloud-based ERP migration solution, explained in detail, while the other two come from a long-time provider of data solutions for HP 3000s.
On Nov. 17 (Tuesday) Kenandy demos its cloud-based, Salesforce-driven ERP stack. It's a new performance of the overview show broadcast at the end of September. Kenandy has enough features to replace more than a few MPE/iX apps, for any sites which are looking for replacement solutions on the way to migration. Registration is here on the Web, and the program starts at 1 PM Central Time, US.
Over the following two days, MB Foster airs a pair of Q&A, webinar-driven broadcasts about best practices for data management. The company is serving customers beyond MPE/iX sites now, from the experience of carrying out a migration as well as the integration of its software and practices in non-3000 customer sites.
Wednesday Nov 18th's Webinar covers Data Migrations Best Practices. IT operations generate opportunity and challenges to organize data into useable information for the business. The Webinar will deliver practical methodologies to help you prevent costly disruptions and solve challenges. "A data migration project may not be your specialty," says CEO Birket Foster. "We are offering an opportunity to learn from our successes and minimize the business impacts of data migration, through best practices." The Webinar begins at 1 PM Central US, and registration is here on the Web.
Thursday Nov. 19th's Webinar (a 1 PM Central start time; register here) from MB Foster explains the strategy and experience needed to employ Operational Data Stores in a datacenter. An ODS requires integration, Foster says.
"Essentially you’re changing what and why you deliver information, and where that information resides for end-users decision support and reporting," he says. "You would also change ongoing management and operations of the environment."
The meeting will deliver insights into MB Foster’s ODS and DataMart services, its technology, and best practices including:
1. What an Operational Data Store and DataMart are
2. How actionable data can be delivered, quickly
3. Why investing in an ODS and DataMarts are smart choices
November 13, 2015
Quotes On A Happening, 5,111 Days Ago
My career has not changed significantly, but I no longer believe anything HP tells me. They could say the sky is blue, and I'd seek a second opinion. They lied to our face once, I won't give them a chance to do it again. — Terry Simpkins, TE Connectivity
It was very difficult to reinvent and took several years. HP's decision almost killed our company. But we survived and are stronger as a result — Doug Greenup, Minisoft
I had received the news prior to the public announcement. I was very angry with HP after being told by Hewlett-Packard at HP World that there was a long future for the system. — Paul Edwards, Interex director
We felt like we were supporting legacy products already, because most of our MANMAN customers were off of applications software support anyway, so it didn't change our plans much. — Terry Floyd, The Support Group
When I joined the conference call, in which management announced to CSY staff that they were pulling the plug on MPE and the 3000, I remember the date and the hour. My feeling was one of relief that they were going to stop pretending that the 3000 had a future. It might have had a future, but not with the level that management was investing in R&D at the time. — V.N., HP 3000 labs
I remember heaving a big sigh and realizing that, in the aftermath of the Compaq takeover, HP would not keep two proprietary platforms. Between a 71,000-unit installed base (HP 3000) and a 700,000-unit installed base (VMS), the choice was quite obvious. To this day, VMS still exists. — Christian Lheureux, Appic
I was working for a company called Hewlett-Packard at the time. I don't know what's become of them; I think they still sell ink. Last I knew, they sold personal computers too, but they weren't sure about that. — Walter Murray, California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation
This really scared a lot of people at the company where I was working, but I kept telling them we had third party support, and not to worry. The directors decided to leverage our 350-plus programs with a migration to an HP 9000. We secured a used 9000, only to have them reverse their decision and opt instead for a newer 3000. — Connie Sellitto, Cat Fanciers’ Association
We were well into MPE/iX and the Posix environment, and there appeared to be some real solidarity given its Internet capabilities. The 2001 announcement was a knife in the back of our long-term planning, from which we never fully recovered. — Jeff Kell, founder of the 3000-L mailing list
I was working a long-term consulting contract managing HP 3000s and several datacenters for the US government. The job that pays the bills these days has nothing to do with HP 3000s — and thankfully very little to do with HP at all. — Chris Bartram, founding 3000newswire.com webmaster.
Share your memory of the day below. Or email the Newswire.
November 10, 2015
HP reaches to futures with outside labs
Hewlett Packard Enterprise, now in its second full week of business, continues to sell its proprietary OS environments: NonStop, HP-UX, and OpenVMS. MPE/iX was on that list 13 Novembers ago. A business decision ended HP's future MPE developments, and the 3000 lab closed about nine years later.
There's another HP OS lab that's powering down, but it's not the development group building fresher Unix for HPE customers. The HP OpenVMS lab is cutting its development chores loose, sending the creation of future versions of the OpenVMS operating system and layered product components to VMS Software, Inc. (VSI). The Bolton, Mass. company rolled out its first OpenVMS version early this summer.
This is the kind of future that the 3000 community wished for all those Novembers ago, once the anger and dismay had cooled. The HP of that year was a different business entity than the HP of 2014, when Hewlett-Packard first announced a collaboration on new versions of OpenVMS.
What's the difference? HP has much more invested in VMS, because of the size of the environment's installed base. Some key VMS talent that once worked for HP has landed at VSI, too. Sue Skonetski, once the Jeff Vance of the DEC world, told the customer base this summer she's delighted to be working at the indie lab. "I get to work with VMS customers, partners and engineers, so I obviously still have the best job in the world," she posted in a Facebook forum.
The 3000 and MPE probably would've gotten a nice transfer of MPE talents to independent development labs. But there was a matter of the size of the business back then. Today, HP's falling back and splitting itself up.
The Hewlett-Packard of 2001 could not imagine a time when its proprietary systems might be supported by independent tech talent. But what ensued with 3000 homesteading may have led to a lesson for HP, one that's being played out with the VSI transfer. Enterprise customers, it turns out, have longer-term business value tied up in proprietary systems. HP will be at the table to support some OpenVMS sites in the future. But they have an indie alternative to send their customers toward, too. When HP's ready to stop supporting Itanium-based VMS, an outside company will take up that business.The foreseeable future for VMS is tied, for the moment, to the HP Integrity servers and Itanium. But a roadmap for the OS shows that getting VMS onto Intel hardware is a project about three years away. It'll be completed by the non-HP engineers at VSI.
VSI has licensed the source code of the OpenVMS operating system from HP with the intent to further develop the OpenVMS product roadmap by adding new hardware platform support and features, beginning with a version of OpenVMS on HP Integrity i4 servers based on Intel Itanium Processor 9500 Series. It took VSI less than a year to roll out the OpenVMS release it calls Bolton. CEO Duane Harris is proud of a rollout that puts OpenVMS onto the latest Itanium 9500 processors. VSI intends to eventually extend support for HP Integrity servers based on all prior versions of Itanium platform.
In less than 12 months, we have not only assembled a strong team of OpenVMS developers and customer support personnel but we have also developed a roadmap with an aggressive schedule that includes support for new platforms, features and technologies. We are excited about our plans to continue improving this marquee operating system and meeting the needs of a loyal customer base that has relied on OpenVMS to faithfully run their mission critical applications over the last 30 years.
The MPE/iX faithful have been running mission-critical apps for more than 40 years, although the last five have been with no HP involvement. But this has never been about how long a product is useful. It's about numbers of support customers.
HP's walked away from its crucial role in preserving 3000s like the ones at manufacturing firms. Independent support companies now do this work. HP's become inscrutable.
"I’ve honestly given up trying to figure out HP anymore," said Pivital Solutions CEO Steve Suraci. "They are one big giant empty shell of their once formidable selves."
It might be a much better fate to leave these highly integrated environments in the hands of independents. "I certainly hope HP is out of the MPE support business," said Allegro's Steve Cooper. "There is nobody in the company that can even spell MPE at this point."
November 06, 2015
MANMAN vendor wants to run datacenters
The yearly conference for Infor software customers wrapped up this week, meaning that MANMAN sites have some new dogma to process on the way to migration. Infor has lots of alternatives for these established HP 3000 sites to consider when they migrate. We've talked to one IT manager who said Infor prospective apps have made owning MANMAN and running it on a 3000 less costly.
The future for MANMAN and any legacy ERP app is up in the cloud, according to its CEO Charles Phillips. ERP for the cloud has been the mission Kenandy has pursued for more than three years, but it's good to see the concept has gained traction at a major ERP vendor like Infor.
The Infor president Stephan Scholl said this week (hat-tip to the Diginomica website)
Give us your data center. We will take your mission critical applications and run them on Infor Cloud Suite. So before you do an expensive hardware refresh, we can get you up and running in 4-6 weeks.
Getting a customized application environment working in six weeks or less sounds bold, especially to the MANMAN customer who's fine-tuned software to match business processes over the last 20 years. At Conax Technologies, that's exactly what happened. That well-fitted tuning is also what's holding Conax to MANMAN.
Infor's Phillips is not the only CEO aimed at delivering ERP via offsite hosting. (Sorry, I mean the cloud. A fellow can get confused once the development moves out of a company-run datacenter.) Kenandy's CEO was promoting wholesale ERP change earlier this year, in the weeks before Sandy Kurtzig turned over her job to a handpicked successor.Kurtzig, who helped found MANMAN's creators ASK Computers, stepped into the Kenandy executive chairman job a few months back. "This has always been my agenda: to get the company going and get the product accepted so that I could move up to executive chairman," she told Diginomica.
The website went on to quote Kurtzig about the scope of change looming for companies that are using massive ERP like SAP or Oracle.
Every single piece of ERP software in the ERP space is going to be replaced over the next 10 years, so it depends on where each company is in the stage of that replacement.
Kenandy likes to say that it can integrate well with other on-premise ERP software, a claim that could mean MANMAN and Kenandy might be working side by side in the years to come at migrating 3000 sites. Change comes slowly and in phases to companies like Conax. Nobody is in a hurry to move off ERP apps that work, especially after the MPE hardware has been refreshed by adopting the Charon HPA emulator.
That day of change is coming, though. After the Dreamforce conference this fall, Forbes took a look at the prospects for companies like Kenandy to compete with vendors like Infor or SAP, firms who have built empires upon massive software stacks.
In Kenandy’s case, the big question is whether it can take business away from market leader SAP. What it has found is that existing SAP customers come to Kenandy for their ability to orchestrate SAP, Salesforce, and other functionality.
The Kenandy advantage lies in its adoption of the Salesforce1 platform. The newest tool is Salesforce1 Lightning, a suite that enables developers like Kenandy to create intuitive, modern interfaces. Kenandy sponsored Lightning presentations at the Dreamforce conference, and is "Lightning Ready." The company also sponsored a talk by Geoffrey Moore. He's the icon who authored Crossing the Chasm — and once wrote that platforms like the HP 3000 leverage unique value for customers by preserving investment.
The relationship between MANMAN's design and Infor X, or other Infor alternatives, will be measured against Kenandy's software that was kicked off by MANMAN-ASK founder Kurtzig. Infor expects that its cloud-based revenues will make up a majority of company revenues, according to Diginomica. Kenandy has no on-premise business to protect, however. Its success is lashed to cloud ERP exclusively.
November 05, 2015
Licensing advice for hardware transitions
Today the CAMUS user group hosted a phone-in meeting, one where the main topic was how to manage licensing issues while changing hardware. Not HP to HP hardware, within the 3000 family. This migration is an aspect of homesteading: moving off the Hewlett-Packard branded 3000 hardware and onto Intel servers. The servers run Stromasys Charon HPA, which runs the applications and software built for MPE.
In-house apps need no such relicense, but everything else demands disclosure. This is a personal mission for companies that want to leave HP hardware behind, but keep their MPE software. In one story we've heard, a manager said the vendor would allow its software to run under Charon. "But you're on your own for support," the vendor told the manager. No-support licenses are the kind that satisfy auditors. In lots of cases, self-support or help from independent companies is better than the level which that sort of vendor offers.
We've talked with three managers who've done this MPE software relicensing, all reporting success. Two of these managers told their stories at today's meeting. Last year we collected the tale of re-licensing from Jeff Elmer, IT manager for Dairylea Cooperative. They left a Series 969 for a PC-based host when old drives in the 969 posed a risk.
He said licensing the software for the Charon emulator solution at Dairylea was some work, with some suppliers more willing to help in the move than others. The $1.7 billion organization covers seven states and uses at least as many third party vendors. “We have a number of third party tools, and we worked with each vendor to make the license transfers,” said Elmer.
“We won’t mention any names, but we will say that some vendors were absolutely wonderful to work with, while others were less so. It’s probably true that anyone well acquainted with the HP 3000 world could make accurate guesses about which vendors fell in which camp.”
Some vendors simply allowed a transfer at low cost or no cost; others gave a significant discount because Dairylea has been a long-time customer paying support fees. ”A couple wanted amounts of money that seemed excessive, but in most cases a little negotiation brought things back within reason,” Elmer said. The process wasn’t any different than traditional HP 3000 upgrades: hardware costs were low, but software fees were significant.
“The cumulative expense of the third party software upgrades was nearly a deal-breaker,” Elmer said. “In the end, our management was concerned enough about reliance on old disk drives that they made the decision to move forward. In our opinion it was money very well spent.”
Another guest at today's conference, Bob Ammerman, manages 3000 operations at Conex Technologies. He didn't negotiate with Unicom when Conax Technologies did its test runs of Stromasys Charon HPA. Another IT group member did the bargaining, and in the end, Conax still runs its Powerhouse Quiz, QTP and even the 4GL. But its license load is lighter.
The arrangement with what people still think of as "Cognos" took a long while, so long that IBM was dragging its feet in correspondence. As a consulting contractor for the company, he said, "We were bringing our software packages over one by one, and the dealing started all over when the software was bought by Unicom." In the final arrangement there was an approval issued to transfer licenses, but Conax elected to reduce its user count for its software based on these products.
"We now have a 1-user license at the developer level," Ammerman said. "We've moved away from use of the software, too," although Quiz is still important to Conax. A reduction in reporting is possible because Ammerman wrote a set of SQL stored procedures in VB Net to move data from MANMAN operational databases into SQL Server. That's where some reporting has moved, although some canned Quiz reports still operate at the company.
That mission covered the biggest software tool at the company. There was still the matter of MANMAN to transfer. The dealing with Infor, the current owners of the manufacturing app, was still to come.
Conax cut back on its Powerhouse use by developing an in-house reporting system Ammerman calls SQLMan. "We built one application from [the Cognos products] as a sidecar app," he said. Cost codes drive the report queries at this manufacturer of temperature sensors. New reports are only developed as canned queries when they utilize Quiz. Much of the reporting comes out of a SQL Server database that runs off a snapshot of the MANMAN data.
"All the stuff that I've been building has reduced the need for the Cognos software," Ammerman said. The single-3000 shop has ported line-of-business important applications away from Powerhouse.
It's significant to note at this point that arranging these license transfers is the responsibility of the individual company. Stromasys takes no role in making these transfers happen. Any existing deals in the marketplace between other 3000 users and their app vendors don't carry any weight — at least not officially. There's no posted pricing lists for these arrangements at the app vendors.
So Conax cut its own deal with Infor to keep MANMAN on MPE/iX under the emulator. "We moved it relatively cheaply," Ammerman said. "We're now paying an annual license to Infor. They were glad to be nice to us."
In the very first success story for Charon HPA, Warren Dawson moved his company's applications that relied on Powerhouse to the emulator in 2012. His company was using a Series 947 server which was more than 20 years old to take care of mission-critical operations.
Nearly all of Dawson's third party vendors came on board and made efforts to ensure their software works. “One was a little slow in doing so, so we made a workaround," he said, "and then I made that a permanent workaround. I didn’t know when they would come on board. They came on just before we went live, and we’d already decided to move away from their product.”
In the case of a switch in backup processes, Dawson’s procedures now back up twice as much data, using HP’s standard STORE and RESTORE programs — in less time than when the backup was done using the third party software on the HP box.
The change from using HP’s native iron to emulation has also reinvigorated some of Dawson’s MPE software vendors.
“I’ve even gotten better support from some of our vendors now that we’re emulating," he said. "They see that there’s an extended life in the system, and so a couple of them have made efforts in that regard. We’ve been paying support for years, and for some software we’d hadn’t asked for support in 10 years. They’ve come back to our requests to help us and been very good about it."
One backup software solution didn’t make the transition from 3000 hardware and storage devices to the emulated system. DAT tapes presented an extra effort. Dawson used a utility to copy the tapes to disk, “and for some reason when I did that, it didn’t work properly in the backup software. There was some sort of SCSI issue which was at Stromasys’s end, and they’ve since resolved that issue. But the backup vendor said initially they weren’t supporting the emulator, so we worked something else out.
The Quiz reporting tool is part of the software set that’s made the step onto the emulator. The company buys and maintains its Powerhouse licenses through a reseller, and that partner has handed the relicensing of Quiz onto the emulator. “I haven’t dealt directly with Cognos for a long time,” Dawson said.
Minisoft’s ODBC drivers run on the emulated system, since part of the application’s project is to extract data. Since the databases and the application have been emulated, Dawson’s remains able to use Visual Basic programs, using the ODBC drivers, to do reports as well as updates. Dawson singled out the company as taking extra time to help make the emulation succeed.
“Minisoft’s been the most helpful, because that reporting system started out being the most troublesome. We’ve been having a VB 6 program issue, where those programs ran under Windows XP but are an issue under Windows 7. These programs were written 10 years ago, and the people who wrote them are long since gone. They explained how I could run their software in different ways, with the old driver under VB 6 on XP versus a new driver for .NET on Windows 7.”
November 03, 2015
How a migration vendor planned for change
HP is telling its story of transformation this week, a tale that the vendor says was completed in 391 days. It's the amount of time between the official announcement of the HP split-up to the day when thousands of systems had to be operational with no faults. The fortunes of a pair of Fortune 50 firms were riding on the outcome of turning Hewlett-Packard into HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.
It was a migration in one aspect: the largest project for internal IT HP has ever taken on. HP's in-house publication, HP Matter, interviewed its COO Chris Hsu about his practices in one of the largest IT change operations in business history. Matter has been renamed HPE Matter, and its article shares some strategic high points.
To develop the highest-level list of how to manage a large-change, high risk project, here's Hsu's items.
1: Determine what the biggest, most critical workstreams are
2. Figure out which ones act as gating items.
3. Get the best people in the company to head up the project; get them full-time, and up and running right away.
4. Make everything else secondary to items 1-3.
5. Get structure, process, governance and people in place.
It takes total management support to make item No. 3 a reality. That same kind of support, one that some HP 3000 sites have enjoyed during migrations, makes No. 4 possible. It all leads to the payoff of No. 5.
"I spent the first month working around the clock, trying to make all of that happen,” Hsu said. “At this scale and this complexity, with the number of interdependencies we were facing, there is no substitute for structure, process and governance. There just isn’t.”None of HP's customers will manage any change this vast. Some of its customers are larger than the old combined HP, but the scope of their changes is likely to be dwarfed by the HP mission. Dell is taking on EMC to create a formidable HP Enterprise rival. Things will be axed, by definition. But HP's breaking itself apart and working to lose nothing of essence. The creator of the HP 3000 had become a $110 billion company, operating in 120 countries, with 700 legal entities.
Hsu's five elements of his change mission beg for details. Since the HP story on how to separate over about 13 months appeared in a Hewlett Packard PR publication, it won't have operational items. But the company says it's taken close notes for any of its customers to employ -- should they employ HP's professional services for a project like a migration. Hsu said getting paychecks and sales under control comprised the most crucial elements.
You essentially have to separate and realign all 700 legal entities, and every one of those entities includes assets, people, revenue and so on. You have to figure out what the phasing and timing of each will be in order to get the IT systems up and running and in order to get employees in place so you can turn those systems on so that everyone will have day-to-day needs met, everyone will get paid and everyone will be able to manage transactions.
While praising his team's efforts at the separation, Hsu took note that this was an emotional journey away from "an engineering company with an innovation mindset, which can sometimes mean that people engineer solutions to perfection by employing perfect information. But during the separation, we had to make big decisions quickly and often with imperfect information."
Those are lessons that can be useful for the largest of migration efforts. Sometimes speed runs roughshod over motivating a workforce.
One thing that struck me... is how emotional the prospect of the separation was for so many people. At the very beginning, some of my colleagues were voicing feelings of loss in a way that I simply didn’t anticipate because from the start, I saw this as a clear, value-creating transaction with a clear mission. But I definitely understand their emotional reactions now, because for that first month and a half after the separation announcement, we were moving at a pace that had people’s heads spinning.
November 02, 2015
HP Enterprise treads out security in opener
In the World Series and on the Sunday US news shows, HP Enterprise put its best step forward with ads. The commercials which aired on US broadcast networks touted image of the new company, rather than its products like ProLiant servers and Linux that have replaced HP 3000s at migrating sites. After the first full trading day on the NY Stock Exchange, investors had bid the HPE stock down by 2 percent. HPQ, the stock for the HP Inc. side of the split, fared better, gaining 13 percent. Together the two entities added $2.5 billion in valuation.
While one day's trading is not enough for a trend, today's investors looked like they believed the higher risk of HP Enterprise plans for next-gen datacenters and security services was a less certain bet than a high-cash, low-risk collection of HP Inc. products. HP Inc.'s sexiest product is its forthcoming 3D printers. The Twitter hashtag #newHPE includes pictures of staffers celebrating day one, including this one above of a friend of the 3000, networking guru James Hofmeister.
The HP Enterprise commercials promised that the company would be "accelerating next." The 30-second spots show a collection of motion-capture video projects, medical imaging, race car design, cargo container logistics, transit mapping, and a gripping clip of an amputee walking on a digital-assisted set of legs.
"A new flexible cloud that harmonizes all operations" refers to the cloud services that remain after the shutdown of the public HP Cloud. An investment of $3 billion in R&D gets touted, perhaps because the risks to be taken to win back business are going to be costly at first. "Because no money is better spent," the copy vows in a 3-minute "HP at 75" online ad. Things are going to be different, this Hewlett Packard says, because everything in IT is changing anyway.
The era of a vendor being essential to holistic customer success is past, however. It's nothing like the HP of 1980, says one of our readers who's still managing a 3000 for fleet vehicle parts tracking. "They thought they could defeat the world by making the world's best PCs and servers," says Tim O'Neill, "but it is a tough market. Systems have largely become unbundled in recent years, but HP seems to think they can first sell services to customers, and then the customer will buy HP hardware on which to run said services."
HP reminds the world it ships a server every six seconds. During the run-time of any of those commercials, five servers left HP shipping. By the accounting from HP's reports, however, four minutes of ads would have to run before a single Integrity server is shipped.Integrity and the Business Critical Systems group is treading water at a 2 percent sales share of HP Enterprise Group business, according to the last HP quarterly report. Sales of servers and expansion of OS environment features are among the few elements that matter to a customer who's remained with HP -- unless they're able to afford HP Professional Services.
It was once very different, with the 3000 customer desperately dependent on Hewlett Packard expertise, O'Neill reminds us.
In HP's salad days customers were very reliant on HP factory support for both hardware and operating system software service. We knew nothing of how MPE worked. Early on, in the 1980s, HP came out and installed things like MPE IV or MPE V, and even came to install patches. Later, we learned how to do some ourselves, but we still had a big contract with HP at the ready to come when called.
This was offset, to some degree, by our decision to contract with competitors for hardware repair, which did cause a lot of consternation, but HP still did the software. Oh, what great days!
The independent services and development marketplace, as well as a massive reseller community, erased the advantage of those old-school days. The key deliverable from a modern company "accelerating next" vendor is research and development. Last year's HP channeled just 3 percent of its revenues for R&D. The 20th Century HP operated at a 9 percent level. The money has been re-channeled into acquisitions, until now. One investment house believes more acquisitions are the way forward, though.
The challenge for HP Enterprise is to become a vendor that once sold products to run in data centers, but now sell cloud services. A total of 96 million shares of the two HPs were traded today. HP's printer-PC group led the way. Enterprise must sell its strategy with more panache, hoping that the image-shaping of YouTube and TV broadcasts will coax investment advisors like Credit Suisse into favorable ratings. On Monday afternoon, the investment house said they expect the company to "embark on a streak of transformative mergers and acquisitions" to plug holes in the HPE product line.
As for tactical changes, Hewlett Packard Enterprise was scheduled to go online as a separate entity three months ago. A CIO World article of this summer recapped the HP split-up plans, as announced at this summer's HP Discover meeting.
HP is documenting it all, so it can share what it learns with any large companies that have to through the same thing, presumably as part of HP services engagements.
The split probably would have been more complex if it weren’t for HP’s former CIO Randy Mott, noted IDC analyst Matt Eastwood. Several years ago he consolidated HP’s infrastructure from 85 data centers to six, making Hinshaw’s job an easier one. It will retool 2,800 applications and 75,000 APIs before the company becomes Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. on Nov. 1.
80 percent of that retooling work was complete at the time of the HP Discover announcement. One analyst, Rob Enderle, has said the HP split was being executed as a way to offer its Enterprise operations for a merger with EMC. An article in the San Jose Mercury News reports the rogue analyst called HP a passed-over bride, since Dell announced it would acquire EMC last month.
"She's the bride at the altar," Enderle said. "The end result is that HP Enterprise is now packaged for sale, except there's nobody to buy them, except maybe Oracle."
To some observers, HP is a giant laid low, a remnant of the behemoth that once bestrode Silicon Valley.
"People looked at what it was, and want some of that back," said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy. "I think people in different parts of the world see it differently. They say, 'Yeah, they had some hard times, but they're in a heck of lot better situation now than before.' I look at it as a glass half full."
The two HPs will share one seminal icon. Bill and Dave's Palo Alto offices, maintained as a shrine that includes loose change on the desk blotter, can be accessed though entrances from both the HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise buildings. In Palo Alto, as in the annals of the 76-year-old company's lore, the two sides of the new HP share campus space.
October 30, 2015
The New HP's Opening Day: What to Expect?
The last business day for Hewlett-Packard as we've come to know it has almost ended. By 5 PM Pacific, only the Hawaiian operations will still be able to count on a vast product and service portfolio offered by a $120 billion firm. Monday means new business for two Hewlett-Packards, HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. It's possible that splitting the company in half could improve things by half. Whether that's enough will take months to tell.
On the horizon is a battle with the bulked-up Dell, which will integrate EMC as well as massive share of VMware in the coming months. The Dell of the future will be a $67 billion entity, larger than HP Enterprise in sales. Dell is a private concern now, while HP is becoming two publicly traded entities. The directions could not be more different, but HP will argue that demand had better be high for a monolith selling everything.
Dell is extending its offerings to a new level of complexity, but the level of product strategy and technology to comprehend has become too great for this week's massive HP. Hewlett-Packard never controlled an operation this large until the last decade. The company that built instruments and business computers and printers added a PC empire from Compaq. But it had just spun off Agilent two years before that PC merger.
But then after loading up with billions of dollars of low-margin desktop and laptop lines, the HP of the early 21st Century blazed forward into services. Headcount rose by more than 140,000 when Carly Fiorina sold the concept of buying EDS for outsourcing and professional services. The printer business swelled into cameras and even an iPod knockoff, built by Apple. HP's TVs made their way into retail outlets. It seemed there was nothing HP could not try to sell. Some of the attempts, like the Palm OS-based tablets or smartphones, shouldn't have been attempted. Their technology advantages couldn't be lifted above entrenched competition.
HP's CEOs since lifer Lew Platt retired — Fiorina, Mark Hurd, Leo Apotheker, and now Meg Whitman — didn't have much chance understanding the nature of so many products. Three years ago, HP started in the public cloud business, yet another branch of IT commerce aimed to take market share from Amazon. Whitman said in the New York Times that outsiders like her who've tried to lead the company have had too broad a beam of corporate ship to steer.
"This is crazy — Carly, Mark, Léo, me — the learning curve is too steep, the technology is too complex for an outsider to have to learn it all," she said in a story about what's next. The most audacious of HP's enterprise efforts was The Machine, technology that was to employ the near-mythical memristor to "change the future of computing as we know it." This summer the company fell back and said it would build that product with more conventional components and assemblies. It doesn't have a target date for releasing The Machine.The New HP, for the purposes of the 3000 customers who have migrated or will sometime soon, aims to do less and try to do it more effectively. Gone is the public cloud, while the EDS headcount is being trimmed. In-house technology like HP-UX and VMS is either going slack (no HP-UX 11.4 will be produced; VMS has been sold to an independent firm) or giving way to standards like Linux, Windows, and Intel servers like the ProLiants. The survival and ascent of ProLiant blade servers is likely to be the hardware backbone for a company that is keen to get customers to consider HP Enterprise as a software and service giant.
HP Enterprise, to be traded as HPE on the NYSE Monday, will sell private clouds that it will build, and staff if customers want HP administration, rather than the retail-level cloud services of AWS. HP Cloud could never host HP-UX customers. The fine-tuning of cloud hosts for Unix apps might be a part of the 2016 offerings. Just about anything to get more Integrity servers installed will have traction at HPE.
Although networking products and mass storage and software like Helion will be parts of the new HP facing the 3000 community, expect this business to be about how servers will drive its fortunes. In a Bloomberg report from this week, Whitman said she spent one full day on the three year plan for HPE's server business. She's been the CEO since 2011, and that was the first full day she concentrated on the business that put HP into business computing.
"There’s a great deal to be said for focus," Whitman said in the article. "You’ve got to be on it. You’ve got to be working on the product road map."
Work on product roadmaps in October used to be commonplace at HP, although it's probably been since Lew Platt's time that the CEO was involved in any way. MPE/iX users who've stayed with the OS, rather than the company, could still benefit from a rise in HP's fortunes. Sales of those allied product lines, as well as research to improve them, have a chance of improving. Homesteading 3000 customers would have to let the HP badge back into their shops. Maybe adding the "Enterprise" to the HP hardware nameplates will help restore the trust.
As for the HP Inc. side of the split-up, it's got less technology to comprehend and more competition with similar products. Some analysts are saying HP Inc. could be a takeover target, given its slim profit margins. HP's combined stock was down 30 percent from the start of this year, as the final day of Hewlett-Packard ended. On Monday HPE will start trading at about $15 a share. What will make the difference will be a fresh share of mind for a company that once specialized in business IT. MPE is gone, HP-UX is fading, and VMS has been sold away. The future will be different, but customers who remember a better HP might hope for a strategy that feels older: focused on how innovation and relationships can deliver success to customers.
October 27, 2015
Data migration taxes migration time budgets
It 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. Starting now through the end of 2015, 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.
High-transaction installations create some of the largest collections of data. Two staffers working for one year is one approach to leaving an app. For the record, by the second migration, Ecometry still wasn't working as fast as it did on the 3000. But sometimes vendor plans for a server demand a migration. "Ecometry is IO unfriendly under Oracle," said Rish, "but Ecometry is less unfriendly under Windows than HP-UX. It's still not as fast as the 3000."
If the speed of processing takes a hit, at least there's a way to complete a migration quicker. Automation slims down the time required to move data. Some details on how this works, and reports of success in the field, will come from MB Foster on the Wednesday Webinar, starting at 2 PM Eastern Time.Potpourri operates some familiar websites, but CEO Birket Foster's company has even better known case studies to share. Exxon, for example, "had a very customized application running on an HP 3000," he said, "and we moved it to an HP Itanium Unix box. There are Endian issues in doing that," referring to the differences between Big Endian and Little Endian data types of HP 3000s and HP's Unix systems." The company had an operation of 300 well-heads.
"You can't buy a 300 well-head off the shelf application anywhere," he said in a Webinar earlier this year. "It was a $32 billion a year operation, and we were able to complete it for them under budget, and on time." UDACentral was at the heart of that project.
MB Foster recently began to license that software for use by independent integrators and consultants. Rental licensing is new, based on project size in records, as well as duration of use. Two years elapsed between those Potpourri migrations from Itanium to the Ecometry that runs on Intel Dell servers. In the retail business, getting a project completed in nine months is crucial. That holiday quarter is off limits for changes.
October 21, 2015
CAMUS to host homestead-migrate meeting
CAMUS, the manufacturing software society that serves ERP users, will host a meeting on November 5 to shed light on a solution to migrate off MANMAN. Or homestead on the application. The 90 minutes covers both prospects for the HP 3000 customer who continues to rely on MANMAN.
Even almost 40 years after its introduction to MPE, MANMAN is still running company operations around the world. Conax has built its business model around it while it makes temperature sensors. What's more, the MANMAN user still has resources like CAMUS and its membership. Board member Terry Floyd of The Support Group says the software is still central to his business.
"We can still say that almost all of our revenue comes from MANMAN, and that's amazing," he said. It can be expected that a support company like his, which specializes in ERP software, could dig in to serve MANMAN sites that operate with the source code as an application resource. The range of releases is wide, and not all of it is running in Native Mode of MPE/iX.
"All MANMAN users have all of the source code," Floyd said. "Most people are on NM, but I have run across a few running ancient versions before Release 6. Release 12 is current, and 8 or 9 is where some of our best customers are. Most MANMAN sites are probably on Release 11."
The ERP site managers, and anyone else running an enterprise server, can call in to the CAMUS meeting at 11 AM Central Standard Time on Thursday, November 5. The conference connection and call-in number will be emailed to anyone who registers with CAMUS board member Terri Glendon Lanza with a call to her at 630.212.4314, or via her email.The Stromasys emulator portion of the program leads off the event, with a discussion from Birket Foster of MB Foster and Steve Cooper of Allegro. They'll discuss how the Charon-HPA emulator gets along with third party software and applications.
"We're having a round-table type discussion on implementing Stromasys for the HP 3000," Lanza said. "We're looking to hear experiences from folks who have implemented Charon. We'll be asking what the third parties have been like to deal with."
The other option available for MANMAN sites is to move on to something more modern in architecture. Cloud ERP from Kenandy will come up for discussion at 11:45, according to the meeting agenda, with a presentation led by Kenandy's Stewart Florsheim. Is Kenandy MANMAN, updated? The cloud software that's built around Salesforce1 was launched by ASK Software's founder Sandy Kurtzig, creating MANMAN back in the 1970s.
Around 12:30 Central time, callers will enjoy an opportunity for open discussion about ERP, the 3000, and probably migration. Callers don't have to be CAMUS members. But everyone needs to register to get that call-in number.
October 16, 2015
VMS follows the journey of MPE onto Linux
Migration lies in the road that HP's enterprise platforms must follow, especially if they have no hardware future beyond Hewlett-Packard's systems. AlphaServers never were part of MPE's path. Alpha was built to power VMS, and then it was acquired along with Compaq's other enterprise products. HP cut down its AlphaSystem futures in 2008, then last year announced that the VMS operating system was going into a sunset at Hewlett-Packard.
Although an independent company has acquired the rights to sell and develop VMS, HP's announcement — like the one the vendor made about MPE — has had a chilling effect on the VMS community. The customers have started to take their systems and applications to another platform. Like MPE's migrations, the way forward leads to Linux.
A couple of MPE veteran consultant-developers have checked in to report on the VMS-to-Linux work they're doing. Moving to Linux makes good sense because it loosens the hold of operating system futures. When something like a VMS or an MPE loses the faith if its vendor, migration becomes more compelling. Linux is not tied to a single vendor, and the OS is not proprietary on the operational level like HP-UX or IBM's AIX. If a SUSE or a RedHat Linux distro has its futures dashed, other Linux providers can be swapped in. Unix promised this but rarely could deliver; its vendor implementations were just too proprietary.
MPE migrations have provided experience that the MPE consultants are using in a fresh community. Many things seem the same to consultant Denys Beauchemin.
The VMS group reminds me a lot of the MPE group," he said, "just bigger and even more vociferous, but now all old and grey. The OS is excellent, and in some respects better than MPE, but in others less so." The similarity of the OS objectives has made migrations a bit easier to execute, he added."It's been difficult converting to VMS," Beauchemin said, "but the concepts are the same, just different names and a whole slew of new acronyms. It's all moving to Linux, so that makes it easier."
Linux is a good destination because of its flexibility and the scope of its abilities. The OS appears to have the capability to replicate most of MPE's inherent designs and features, although nothing will rival the efficiency of the IMAGE-MPE integration. HP 3000 hardware didn't have to be as powerful while driving IMAGE as HP-UX systems still must be while tapping Oracle, according to many reports. VMS has a cousin to IMAGE, Rdb, that's at the heart of a lot of the community's applications.
Many of these VMS-to-Linux consultants are available to do MPE migrations. Some of them are like Beauchemin, who said that "I was doing migrations of MPE systems, but that's pretty much done now." Migrating those databases from IMAGE to Oracle is one line of work for him — and data migrations are at the heart of the work that MB Foster does with its UDALink and UDACentral solutions.
"We are still asked for HP 3000 consultancy, development, and training occasionally," said Clive Allen at Baillie Associates in the UK, "although lately we have been executing more VMS-based work."
"We called it a day after the announcement by HP of withdrawal of support for the VMS and MPE operating systems," Allen said, "but continue to execute small projects upon request."
October 14, 2015
Data links make hardware migration possible
A one-system HP 3000 shop in Buffalo, NY brought its MPE-hosting hardware into the new era using the Stromasys emulator. The migration from HP's 3000 hardware to Dell servers was made possible by the use of an ODBC connection favorite, UDALink.
Bob Ammerman works at Conax Technologies, supplying his consultant system management and development for the maker of temperature sensors and compression seal fittings. The company has replaced its Series 928 with the Charon virtualized server, but a more modern interface to the historical data was an essential piece of the new solution, too.
"It wouldn't have been possible without the MB Foster software," Ammerman said of UDALink. The newest version of what began as ODBCLink in the 1990s has been keeping the company's data available for pivot tables in spreadsheets and much more. The software vendor of UDALink is hosting an MB Foster Cares class to launch a new webinar series tomorrow at 2 PM EDT. Cloud use of the software is on the agenda, as is distributed processing.
The manufacturing data at Conax goes back to the period when UDALink was ODBCLink. Keeping it all available meant reducing the need for the classic Cognos tools, according to the manager there. But some crucial programming by Ammerman kept those ODBC hooks vital. The idea was to bring history into the present day.Ammerman's home-grown software is SQLMAN, an interface that lets users tap into the MANMAN data with the touch of button to make those pivot tables for spreadsheets. While the Quiz software that was once sold by Cognos is still important, users at the company don't create their own Quiz reports anymore. The users choose from pre-developed reports, a move that slims down the need for so many licenses.
In the webinar, Birket Foster says he'll "be highlighting product features that may already be included in your license, as well as some special uses for your product that you may have not thought of already." Manufacturing managers using 3000s have probably thought about how they'll keep years of historic data available.
In a classic migration, the ERP alternatives often can't make room for historical data. But shifting an MPE application to new hardware is a relatively new option. Given the right tools, it's a strategy that even smaller shops can embrace while using legacy software. At another manufacturing site, the MANMAN use is ending, but the data must be extracted and moved. UDALink is working there, too.
Foster says its design goals have been to make UDALink at least 10 times faster than scripting for data migrations. That describes the efforts to create the links. At that homesteading Conax site, Ammerman said the performance of the tool is "pretty snappy on the emulator." Time efficiency is crucial to maintaining and extending value, whether a site is migrating or sustaining its 3000.
October 13, 2015
Don't let your data become a Forgotten Man
"It's the most forgotten piece of the migration puzzle," said Birket Foster while he led a webinar on best experiences with 3000 transitions. "People are not always remembering that at the end of the day they want to shut off the old 3000."
What Foster meant is that even after removing data -- the most essential 3000 and company resource -- project managers need to track what data they must keep to satisfy an auditor. Many companies will still need long-term access to historic data. That's either a 3000 and its services that can be outsourced from a third party, or maybe an emulator virtualization of a 3000. Some audits demand that the original 3000 hardware be available, however -- not an Intel-based PC doing a letter-perfect hardware emulation using Charon.
After the Great War ended, the returning soldiers were not welcomed as productive citizens ready to return to work. This kind of veteran was called The Forgotten Man, from Golddiggers of 1933. Some information in aging 3000s is marching in the same kind of veteran's step.
Managers have to consider if they want to move their forgotten 3000 data after a migration, or leave it in a searchable format -- several questions to consider for an auditor's satisfaction. Many 3000 sites we've interviewed have a 3000 running for historical lookups. This is the sort of resource that would meet the needs of an audit."We often remind people who are migrating that even through the classic steps are assess, plan and execute, there's also decommissioning," Foster said. "So you can shut off the box."
Organizations which must meet extra-stringent requirements -- such as healthcare service providers facing HIPAA, or corporations bound by the Sarbanes-Oxley laws, or even credit card-processing merchants -- bear the greatest burden of auditing. For example, those PCI credit card audits are performed by PCI Qualified Security Assessors. One of the only companies, among the 302 listed as QSAs, which is likely to hold tribal knowledge of HP 3000s is Forsythe Solutions -- which once was a Systems Integrator for the 3000.
Archival 3000s have been an important part of the air travel business, due to the use of credit cards to process transactions. A few years ago, one consultant working in the business reported that more than a dozen MPE/iX systems at his site demanded archives for old data. There are fewer today, of course. Ranft said there's just one 3000 working today, but that's down from one of the largest 3000 sites running in the migration era.
"We have 21 HP 3000s," said Mark Ranft, "and 18 of them are the largest, fully loaded N4000 4-CPU 750 systems you can get. We have migrations to Windows in various stages, but there is also a very real need for legacy data access after the migration. The alternative is to migrate all the data and all the archival history, and that can be costly."
And perhaps less costly with a good plan for decommissioning data, drawn up by experienced providers of daa migration services. Shadow 3000s run in the community with little to do but wait for an audit from one of those 302 QSAs. There's enough shadow resources needed to demand power, lightweight adminstration, and support contracts for these servers -- the budget that might help to defray the costs to decommission.
On the other hand, shutting off these systems hasn't become urgent in some homesteading sites which are transitioning. That shutdown matters more while remembering what a responsible 3000 IT manager will leave behind for the next pro who takes the job.
October 12, 2015
Making Room for a 3000's Historic Data
One promise from migration projects is the brightening of skies through better user experiences. The futures get bright when they're reflected in new features, better interfaces and user experiences, faster performance and more complete connectivity.
However, some 3000 sites have discovered that while their futures look brighter on the way to a migration, their pasts fall in a dim light. In one example, a manufacturer in New York was on the way to replacing MANMAN with newer ERP software.
There was a problem, and it lay in the reams of history the company had amassed after two-plus decades of creating temperature sensors and sealed fittings. The new ERP target application couldn't reach into the history of MANMAN transactions. This kind of need can spring up so innocently you don't see it coming. A C-level exec, or just a VP, wants a report to include history back to 2010. The new ERP package will track everything that's current, but history is another matter.
It's the kind of requirement that's keeping HP 3000s running the world over. Rigorous analysis demands looking back, in order to project the future.This afternoon we checked in with Wes Setree, a long-time HP 3000 expert who's moving out of the MPE world for good. He'd told the 3000-L mailing list group he's moving on, and his story includes a successful transition. Setree will be doing applications and Linux system management in a new job.
At his former employer, the HP 3000s are being pulled out of production use. But they're not going offline completely for another 14 months.
My previous employer was waiting to get one last line of business off their 3000, then look for a sunset on the platform. That occurred around Oct. 1, so their last few 3000s will be going offline most likely by end of next year -- since all the database info has been ported and they don't need to keep it plugged in.
Migration of data become the defining element of a 3000's life. Historical data needs to be migrated with care, and the right software can make the process an effective and efficient task. Setree lavished his praise on the system, as well as those on the mailing list who still work with MPE.
I, like many others on this list, am heartbroken for the demise of this incredible and stable platform, and I thought it would carry me through the end of my career. Sadly it didn't. For those of you who still run this platform I applaud you and wish you all the best. It could have and should have been the market choice for future generations.
October 09, 2015
Why Good News Can Stay Under Wraps
Life is full of bad news, the kind of events we seem to capture and yet are eager to pass along. There's drama in conflict, of course. The world of MPE and 3000 users has been rife with conflicts, pitting stability and legacy against the promises of modernization: mobile abilities, redundancy, commodity pricing, efficient scalability, and ease of use.
In contrast, making a go of staying with a legacy solution like MPE and the 3000 might be a development that's not often shared. There's the judgement to endure about not responding to change with new strategy. There might also be some clever moves, all upstanding, that make keeping MPE hardware a reality. Sometimes spreading good news starts with letting the light fall on reality.
We've heard a story from an IT manager about his ERP solution, one that is living in an emulated environment. "I want to keep a low profile about this," he said in a conference call. "The less detail they hear about me, the better I like it."
What's at stake there is keeping an operating budget in good order. Move to an emulator and you'll have to talk about licenses and what they're worth in 2015. But if you emulate a Series 900 with software that's got the same horsepower, what's really the difference? Application suppliers have their ideals about what an upgrade adds up to, while utility and middleware companies are sharper dealers. By sharp we mean smart. They want to keep a customer, regardless of their MPE platform.
Managing the transfer of MPE licenses to the emulator is of great interest to the legacy application community. In the first week of November, the CAMUS user group will have a meeting designed to learn about licensing, if anybody can share their experiences. Terri Lanza wants to hear from ERP sites who've moved licenses onto Charon. The conference call takes place on Thursday, November 5.Up to now, the best user profiles we could share about moving MPE software to Charon came from Warren Dawson in Australia, and Jeff Elmer at Dairylea Cooperative. Both of these IT managers relied upon third party software running on their 3000s. Almost everything made the move, legally and above board. What didn't move got dropped by these sites. A big-vendor application wasn't part of either of those stories, though.
We'd like to hear more from this community about the challenges of making a license transition, in part because this is a help-yourself task. Arranging these transitions is the responsibility of the 3000 manager, not an emulation company. You make your own deal, but hearing good news about it helps muster the effort.
There are vendors who are happy to transfer a license from HP's 3000 hardware to a Charon installation. That's the Good News, a report that might provide enough hope that a site would push forward with the HP-to-Intel transition. Vendors who didn't cooperate might be induced to do so in other circumstances. Everybody makes their own deal in the MPE world of 2015. Price lists for moving from tier to tier have been retired. It's worth a call -- and a call back, if there's no response -- to a vendor to get some good news.
This subject is good news for a migrating company as well as anybody holding the position of homesteading. One common element among the Charon users is the reality that everything's got an expiration date. Stromasys helps companies buy time for transitions. How much time varies, just like the terms of any license deal in 2015.
September 29, 2015
ERP migrations move classics onto clouds
The largest company that's moved its ERP onto the cloud sells pet foods. Pets are one of the fastest-growing industries, and so demand agility and scalability. When Kenandy hosted a webinar today, the $2.3 billion Big Heart Pet Brands was at the top of the company's customer list. But there's also a family-owned sewing machine manufacturer in the Kenandy lineup.
That sounds like a mirror of the 3000 manufacturer community — companies large like Big Heart, a division of the JM Smuckers. And privately-held firms that have devoted followings. Everyone would like to be leaner in the IT department. If your reaction to that statement is "Well, not me," then you might be representing a view that won't sync with company directors and owners.
Cloud ERP promises to take the IT plumbing off a to-do list, but it can't carry business intelligence to outside applications running on web-connected hosts. ERP applications are notorious for being fine-tuned program suites that have been tempered and shaped by decades of insider business practices. From the invoice to the bill of materials practices, ERP touches every aspect of work.
Kenandy's Director of Client Services Rohan Patel dove deep into the particulars of what Kenandy can do to match a migrator's business intelligence. There's a whole new level of functionality in a modern ERP system. Patel mentioned that Kenandy (the name of the product is the same as name of the company, like Adager) can optimize sales order aggregation, "to combine orders to maximize the stuffing with trucks, define transit routes so you can have distance-based decision making -- in terms of if can you fulfill that order so it will arrive on time."
A manufacturer which hopes to sell to Wal-Mart will have to work around a delivery window the retailer sets. There's a fine at America's largest retailer if you deliver late. The next generation of ERP is supposed to give its users the tools to manage this new commerce.The Kenandy demo today started with sales and moved through leads to opportunities to cash. These are the classic features of a Customer Resource Management toolset, and they represent the power of Salesforce underpinning Kenandy. But a site could migrate its ERP to Kenandy without a commitment to becoming a Salesforce customer, Patel said.
"You can use our ability to create sales order lines quickly," he said. "There's a lot of hyper-search features that allow users to quickly input the data. Our system is tweaked around usability and speed."
That last sentence is as old as software sales itself. But integrating the functionality with available-everywhere cloud services, plus the delivery of reports to mobile devices using iOS and Android, is the reason for an ERP migration. Not the lifespan of vendor support for an OS, or the age of hardware, or the decline of the size of experienced IT personnel pools. People migrate because their companies need to do more to integrate with a more complex world of business.
Not that everything has changed. Paper documents are still part of nearly all workflows. The Kenandy app includes "a nice friendly toolkit that allows you to configure all the printed source documents," right down to disclaimers and company logos on pick and pack lists.
Sales orders can be processed automatically as well as manually. Batch jobs provided by Kenandy can automatically release sales orders and process validations. Orders can move from draft to open to allocated. "In all of these cases, if the system finds an exception, it will log it and stop that sales order, so someone can evaluate how to address that exception. You can get an automated end-to-end system that really is touchless."
Ever since enterprise-level companies have been moving their 20th-Century apps to commodity platforms, the effort has required intense energy to map existing processes onto the new apps. SAP was the first of many, followed by Oracle's software, that became legendary for presenting thousands of switches to set. Where Kenandy seems to have an edge is that it's built upon Salesforce, and this implementation was launched by the founding partner for ASK Computing, Sandy Kurtzig.
There are other features that manufacturers have integrated in an era where credit flows from Visa rather than lines of credit. Kenandy can be configured to process a credit card payment for any order. Outside PCI-compliant credit card processing is the only way a 3000 can integrate this kind of feature with orders. Making credit cards native to an ERP app will become a necessity for plenty of audits, and soon. Authorize.net handles this feature in Kenandy, so it's not like the app has its own certification, though. But Authorize does work with Chase PaymentTech, eBay and Wells Fargo.
One newer piece of functionality lets a user custom-configure a product on an order. A large list of SKUs can be combined to build out a sales Bill Of Materials. "The configurator helps the sales agent put that order together," Patel said.
Can requisitions be multi-line? Can they be converted to one or more POs? For one or more suppliers? The string of questions relayed to Patel during the demo never seemed to stump him. This is the payoff for the hard work of migrating away from a system that has served a company for several decades. The things you've done for your business can be replicated. Those things you've needed to add are now within reach, too.
September 28, 2015
Cloud ERP app suite to get demo event
Kenandy will be demonstrating its Cloud ERP suite on Tuesday, September 29 at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM Eastern) in a webinar led by Director of Client Services Rohan Patel and Marketing VP Stewart Florsheim. It will be an opportunity to see how the creators of MANMAN have re-imagined the benefits of resource planning software, using the "single source of truth" concepts that are inherent to the cloud.
Registration for the event is at the Kenandy website.
HP 3000 sites which continue to rely on software like MANMAN often don't have a migration target app vendor who understands the nature of MPE-based ERP. Kenandy, launched in 2012 by MANMAN's founder Sandy Kurtzig, has built a comprehensive ERP suite that includes order-to-cash, planning and production, procurement, and global financials, all upon the Salesforce1 platform.
The software promises scalability and agility, which may be important for a 3000 shop that's been acquired by a larger entity. On the other hand, The Support Group's Terry Floyd has said, "We think the latest Kenandy release is capable of handling some of the smaller, simpler MANMAN sites." This seems to be a software set that fits with two ranges of IT enterprise, although its first generation of success leans more toward the smaller than the larger.The Support Group has been a Kenandy partner since Kenandy's day one, Floyd added. His support, development, and consulting firm has been evaluating the needs of classic MANMAN sites against the projected benefits of Kenandy. The outlook has gone from "too early to tell" to a readiness that can give 3000 ERP users a better-connected solution.
Built as a native application that's driven by the Salesforce Platform, Kenandy automates all core business processes — order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, planning and production, global financials, and trade promotion management. The vendor calls it a cloud ERP platform for the modern global enterprise.
September 22, 2015
Meetings serve futures. Most rely on pasts.
Last week I got a note from Terri Lanza, consultant to MANMAN and ERP users, asking about any forthcoming meetings for 3000 customers. Terri was a big part of the last HP 3000 meeting, the 3000 Reunion meeting that kicked off four years ago today. Lanza also queried ScreenJet's Alan Yeo, since Alan drove the engine of that Reunion while I helped organize and publicize.
Lanza is on the board of CAMUS, the user group devoted to ERP and manufacturing tech. "CAMUS was offered a place in California to gather," she said, "so our board wondered about choosing between San Diego and LA." Alan replied in short order that nothing is being planned for a 3000 meeting, and if anybody would know, it would be him. He kickstarted the meetings in 2005, 2007 and 2011. He even tried to turn the crank on a 2013 meeting. These things need financial support.
There's a great deal less purchasing among 3000 users four years after the Reunion. Purchases drive these tech meetings, but not just the sales pursued on an expo floor. Purchases of the past prop up meetings, as people try to better use the tech they already own.
That's why it's interesting to look at the content for many meetings among seniors like those who were at the Reunion. Tech meetings serve the drive toward futures, with talks about the Internet of Things or the Etch-A-Sketch wisdom on rules for social media. Learn, erase, learn again.
Legacy technology, though, tends to pay the bills for the bright-future meetings we used to attend. CAMUS is the exception, since its futures cover the survival of datacenters and legacy servers. Those are the servers that don't seem to get airtime, because their days of futures are supposedly over. Even HP seems to think so, if you look at what it's talking about at user meetings.HP's not counting on its legacy servers -- and an Integrity box is legacy like the 3000, just further up the road -- to float much of the company boat. Continued support of legacy systems can finance a visit to a sunny-futures meeting, though. The older generation does this support, and it pays for the dreams and foresight around newer technology. Or you hold a reunion, and remember what made you close friends, while you fought the fires of yesterday together.
But these days everybody is looking forward at expected change. Not much is changing about 3000s except for the age of their components. Humans always overestimate the amount of change coming into their lives, though. There's talk about manual driving becoming outlawed as self-driving cabs abound, or signboard ads at Macy's that will work better than an Onion gag about them. Someday we may be living in a world like those of the movies Total Recall or Minority Report. Walk slowly past that signboard. It could be sharing data that might live in an archived IMAGE database, which will be more reliable than split-second smartphone recognition.
Meetings serve a social need, and you never want to slag anything people are still investing time and money in. You can talk about the future with its uncertain changes, or gather survival advice to extend investments past. Maybe Google Hangouts or YouTube will give 3000 users a no-travel meeting option by next year. Since there's nothing under non-disclosure, the cybersecurity won't need to be advanced.
I remember attending a BARUG conference back in the 1980s in Santa Cruz. We enjoyed an expo space that overlooked the beaches and the suntanned pulchritude all a-frolic on the sands. Good times, but there was also talk on how to improve and extend what was still in use. We're betting that's become a mission for today's Web. If there's no travel budget, that'll work — and you won't have keep those bright-future shades trained on the changes that may never wash up on the sands of your datacenter.
September 17, 2015
Making a Migration Work Like a Factory
There are many things to overlook or underestimate in a migration, and having a factory to move the data resolves plenty of questions. This week MB Foster took its UDA Central software for a webinar spin as a coming-out party, of a sort: The first briefing pitched directly to other integrators, consultants, and migration experts.
Cortlandt Wilson was on the call in the webinar, discovering more about how to help the MANMAN and ERP sites he's assisting in a migration onto other solutions. "He's really been the go-to person for moving data," he said of Birket Foster, CEO of the company.
Foster explained the triage of deciding if an application should be rehosted, replaced, or retired, and the factory concept shows how those decisions can be made more easily with UDA Central. The software has built a reputation for delivering insights about data.
"A lot of the customers out there don't know enough about what they own," Foster said in explaining the mission for UDA Central, which will rent by the job in the integrator-consultant model. The pricing will be offered in small-team and large-team tiers, meaning the size of the customer's IT team. The number of data targets, and the number of databases being migrated, will determine the price of the rental.
"Our goal was always to help in migrations so they're 10 times faster than using scripts," Foster said during the webinar. Scripting is the old-school way of moving data, something that UDA Central removes from the process. The software's been growing for 15 years, Foster added.Among the list of practices polished during that time, Foster notes that Application Portfolio Management is crucial to knowing where to send your migrated programs.
“About 40 percent of your apps in a portfolio will only require A to A mapping,” he said. “It is almost like a backup and restore for rehosting. You move infrastructures: the same database exists, it’s already in the right format, and the data is already current. This happens when someone decides to put a VM under it, or change the hardware out, or move the datacenter."
About 10 percent of apps will require A to B mapping, if you’re not on the current database version. About 5 percent have A to C mapping. This is moving data and apps to a new database type, new data types, or a new flavor of SQL.
Foster said typically about 40 percent of applications in a portfolio need to be replaced in a migration. That’s a 1-3 year project. Up to six months of that is the bake-offs between candidates and sign-offs from the users. "If you’re doing this, you really need a toolset," Foster says.
The third R is Retire, and MB Foster said it finds about five percent of applications need to go away. But this choice involves Policy Management, something you should be building. You need to have a process to get data in context; you can’t just shut down the system.
“We’re the guys who work with the customers to figure out how the database moves," he said, in explaining his company's role in working with the integrators and consultants. "We also know a lot about moving application code, because we’ve done it a bunch of times.”