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's 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, selling 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."
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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.”
September 14, 2015
We keep meaning to shut it down, but...
There's always acquisitions and mergers afoot in business, and the events have triggered some HP 3000 migrations. An entity gets acquired by a larger company that doesn't want to integrate MPE. The next thing you know, Windows is getting its call-up into a batting order where the 3000 used to play. (Sorry, baseball season's heating up as it winds down to the playoffs.)
A transaction that was announced this summer continued the journey of the Open Skies application that began in 1998 in the 3000 division of HP. In that fall, CSY General Manager Harry Sterling purchased the application that had helped to drive the 3000 and MPE into the airline business. "Harry, did you have to buy the company?" HP's next-level execs reportedly asked him. He bought it to show how Software as a Service could work on 3000s. HP called it Apps on Tap at the time.
Roll forward to July and see that the Amadeus Group started the purchase of Navitaire from Accenture. Navitaire became the proud owners of a farm of HP 3000s when the company purchased Open Skies early in the previous decade. By 2008, work was underway to move off those 3000s, a farm of more than two dozen of the N-Class servers. The software tracks mileage revenues and reservations and has been used by airlines including Canada's WestJet.
We got a report last week that a final N-Class server still is in operation, but it's destined for a shutdown. If only the overseas airline customers would stop needing historical reports from MPE/iX.A large-for-its-time array is still connected to a 3000 that's escaped the reaper's scythe so far. Mark Ranft, who's chronicled the transition away from MPE at Navitaire, let us know what's keeping a computer built 12 years ago serving some Navitaire customers.
All the customers have been switched over from HP 3000s. We still run an N-Class connected to an XP128 disk array for historical legacy purposes. It could be shut down soon, but we occasionally have a customer ask for some information from it. I guess other countries have unusually long timeframes for keeping detailed records of airline flights.
Navitaire had plenty of airline data business before it purchased Open Skies, but the reservation revenue-tracking software covered a new niche aimed at small carriers. HP only owned OpenSkies for about two years, then sold it to a subsidiary of Accenture. Within 18 months, HP announced its takedown of its 3000 operations. Accenture began developing a replacement called NewSkies, and by 2005 it started to inject it into spots where OpenSkies had served. Before that time, OpenSkies got upgrades from Navitaire, until HP called its halt to MPE/iX futures.
Open Skies, and its progeny New Skies, was always aimed at the low-cost airlines like RyanAir and WestJet. The 3000 had its introduction to airline reservation systems at what was a low-cost airline at the time, Southwest. Of course, Southwest is now the largest US domestic airline in passengers carried, and is paired with overseas partners. At the end of 1993, it bought tiny Morris Air to acquire 14 new Western US destinations, and discovered it'd bought the Morris "online reservation system," back when paper tickets were the absolute standard for air travel. It was like finding change in sofa cushions, including a rare coin.
The New York Times account of the transaction that brought the 3000 into the airline business makes no mention of the server or the software developed in Utah. Legendary CEO Herb Kelleher of Southwest was sharp enough to know low-cost operations would grow the company he founded, however. Morris was shaped like the Southwest of the 1990s, a company that knew a good server when it found one.
Southwest is more focused than Morris on attracting business travelers and is likely to try to attract more by offering more frequent flights. No Southwest routes overlap those of Morris, which will give Southwest a new presence in the Northwest and West, adding 14 cities to its schedule.
Asked about the Morris acquisition, Delta executives appeared sanguine yesterday. "We really don't see that this is changing anything," said Bill Berry, a Delta spokesman. "If we've got to face a competitor, we would rather face a competitor with costs that are much closer to ours."
Delta's reaction prompted a burst of laughter from Mr. Kelleher during a telephone interview yesterday. The cost structures of Southwest and Morris "are virtually the same," he said.
Southwest's adoption of the reservation software made e-tickets so essential that much larger airlines were forced to take up the service. By now, ordering a paper ticket carries a surcharge. Today's Southwest fleet of 600-plus 737s -- built at 3000-user Boeing -- now average six flights per aircraft per day. Delta had to merge with Northwest Airlines to keep up. Southwest turned off its last 3000 in the previous decade, though.
The deeper you go into the Morris-Southwest story, the better it gets. June Morris built her airline out of a travel agency business she ran in the back room of her husband's photo finishing business. Eventually there was a small fleet of chartered planes. Morris was the only female airline leader in the US at the time of the acquisition. The president of Morris Air at the time of the sale was David Needleman, who after leaving Morris went on to found a little operation called JetBlue. And JetBlue used HP 3000s as well, relying on Open Skies software from the start — the App on Tap that HP booked from Day One of JetBlue's operations. JetBlue and Southwest signaled a victory of midrange servers running TurboIMAGE/SQL over mainframes. JetBlue started up with less than a $1 million yearly IT budget.
Open Skies made its money by charging a fee per ticket booked. At the time JetBlue took off, a Computerworld article reported that flight reservations could be made on the Web "and by Touch-Tone telephone."
More than 500 Navitaire employees will go to Amadeus, a company that did 3.4 billion Euros of business last year. Navitaire's sale price was reported at $380 million in a July announcement, a deal that may close as early as next month. In the meantime there's one N-Class 3000 waiting for its retirement date, flying a route with a terminal destination — if one without an ETA.
September 04, 2015
Taking on Partners for Data Migrations
We'll be taking Monday off in observance of the Labor Day holiday. Enjoy your long weekends.
Enterprise IT managers have a broad brief, as the English like to call a scope of interest. They manage development, operations, networks, planning. That last mission has included migrations for quite some time by now.
And the most crucial part of a migration is moving the data. A lot of companies have never done this before on their HP 3000s, and so finding help is their next step. But who to step toward? More partners are going to get their stripes for this migration by the end of this year. MB Foster is opening up its expertise and software toolbox to get partnerships in data migration started with integrators, consultants, and vendors.
The company's CEO Birket Foster explained in an email, one that notified us about a September 16 webinar.
MB Foster has established a partner program that will enable others to leverage this data migration solution in their projects. We are excited to tell you how you can take advantage of this partnership opportunity and grow your project margins by creating a migration factory.
Fulfilling a migration request shouldn’t be difficult or time consuming. Writing custom migration scripts is the way of the past.
You can safely make such statements if you've got a proven alternative to scripting. That's the business that Foster's been in the longest, crossing four-plus decades of 3000 service. From the 3000's explosion in the 80s, through the go-go dot.com of the 90s, across the wilds of the migration decade of the Oughts, and here into the Twenty-Teens, data has been Foster's thing.The company's been a force in the 3000 world for migration, and data access and delivery tools. They built Oracle loader files in 1985, using what was then called its DataExpress suite. MB Foster also established ODBC and then JDBC access to data on the 3000, then went onward to include Unix and then Linux. HP partnered with the company to create ODBC access for IMAGE/SQL. Eventually MB Foster took back lab support for their software that was bundled into every 3000's FOS package.
Foster said way back in 2006 that customer requirements kept things advancing. "With the persistence of our customers saying they need things simpler and faster, we now deliver data between all of these platforms using UDASynch, UDAConnector and UDACentral," he said. "Thanks to our customer base persisting on the HP 3000, we have been encouraged to evolve our UDA series to include the ability to allow BEA Weblogic, J2EE, Websphere and other Web Services Architectures to view the HP 3000 as a group of services."
It's a process of persistence, he added, to deliver the value of the 3000s, Unix and Linux to other parts of the enterprise. Teaching consultants, vendors, and system integrators to employ UDACentral — which works with 25 different types of data files and databases — looks like a natural next step.
The Webinar starts at 2 PM Eastern Time. Registration is at the MB Foster website.
September 01, 2015
Finding a Virtual Replacement for MPE/iX
This week HP and other vendors are presenting new products, and new ideas about older products, at VMworld. The conference is organized by VMware and offers a stage to show how IT strategies are being changed by virtualization. The only virtualization that MPE/iX hosts can enjoy is the Stromasys Charon HPA server. It makes Intel processors a virtual choice. Stromasys is at the conference, but what HP's got to say about Hewlett-Packard solutions is informative, too.
As it turns out, heading to Intel Xeon hardware is a good idea for all of the other HP enterprise environments. It's as if Charon and the Superdome brand are aimed at the same destination. HP-UX won't get there, though. And Intel Xeon is essential to VMware.
The 3000 customers who've been the slowest to move onward to other platforms might be the ERP companies. Manufacturers customize their applications more than any other kind of app user. This week HP's touting a server at VMworld that it says is the world's fastest 16-socket ERP server. Superdome X is driven by Linux and Windows, though, not the HP-UX environment that ruled HP's enterprise roost in the late '90s — an era when Windows was taking over IT.
HP bet heavy on Unix. Back then, the product which became Windows 2003, 2008 and then 2012 was called Windows NT. Everything that NT did was folded into those subsequent Windows enterprise solutions. Since then, meetings like VM World apparent that HP's Unix lost its high ground, but not because of any lack of virtualization. HP's Unix isn't ever going to the x86 family. HP-UX slipped as an enterprise choice because it was built upon the wrong processor.
That's what HP's manager Doug Strain used as a key point in his VMworld talk about Superdome X. "The only problem was that it didn't have x86 processors," he said of the machine that now can use up to 12TB of memory. "Well, we fixed that." So it seems that the right chipset — based on Intel's Xeon, not Itanium — will make Superdome as useful and fully-featured as it should be for virtualization. It's just one more way to see that Itanium and HP-UX has dropped from HP's futures.
Linux is taking the place of HP-UX in HP's ERP futures. It's not news that VMware and HP's Unix are not a match. What seems new is the way Linux and Windows are positioned as HP's VMware solutions — with specific mention of ERP applications.In a meaningful minute-plus, Strain sums up how the Integrity line is a real VM player, now that it's got Xeon capability. It paints the new-ish HP hardware (Superdome X has been out since this spring) as a powerhouse for ERP. Does it virtualize? Oh boy. What better reason for HP to have a slide show at VMworld, but to talk up this OS-chip combo? Integrity used to mean Itanium, still the only chip that hosts HP-UX. HP says that Integrity, "if you're familiar with it, going back," is now so much more.
Replacing MPE/iX as an ERP solution has been a challenge for a decade on the migration front. There are still major manufacturers using 3000s, and looking to what's next. Virtualization is important for shaping an advanced strategy that wrings the best use from IT investments.
How important? Here's what HP had to say today about its partnership with VMware.
"The software-defined data center enables companies to evolve beyond hardware-centric architectures to create an automated, easy to manage hybrid cloud platform that can meet the demands of both traditional and emerging cloud-native applications," said Carl Eschenbach, president and chief operating officer, VMware. "VMware and HP continue to help our mutual customers drive innovation with greater speed and scale."
Linux has won a victory by evolution. HP decided the best of HP-UX would go into Linux.
MPE/iX got replaced in the same way, by an HP environment that has now gotten eclipsed itself. MPE/iX has a role to play with VMware, as part of the Charon solution. The HP-UX environment certainly has partitioning, as well as virtualization. It just doesn't have enough HP mindshare at VMworld to earn a talk like Strain's. That conference is the epicenter of virtualization this week.
August 28, 2015
Virtual futures become more real next week
Sometime on Sunday night, learning about virtual computing will get more costly. VM World starts its program on Monday, and the last chance for $200 off the registration expires on August 30. Considering who regards virtualization as essential, a visit to the VM World expo floor, at least, could be worthwhile.
Stromasys will be on that show floor, one of the few companies which has a current 3000 project on display there. Virtualization is a reality the heart of the Charon concept, a product whose design was proven over 10 years of deployment in the Digital environment, then first introduced to a 3000 site in 2012.
VMware has a role to play in implementing a homesteading solution for 3000 owners. It can be part of the cradle that houses the software which transforms Intel x86 chipsets into PA-RISC processors. Learning more about VMware would be very good for any IT manager, but especially for the 3000 pros who need to keep enhancing the skills on their CVs.
Virtualization is a subject in heavy rotation these days. Not only is there a legacy of how it's changed choices for enterprise with foundational tech like virtual partitions, there's also a future being patented and proposed. Hewlett-Packard usually has a raft of patents issued each month. Among the 17 it was awarded over the last two weeks: one for virtual machine packet processing. It's a safe bet that the practical application of patent No. 9,110,703 B2 will not be on the HP Inc. side of the HP that's splitting up Oct. 31.
HP is still inventing, at least on the theoretical level. Although more than half of HP's patents are for printing advances, some inventions could exert a positive influence on keeping Hewlett-Packard Enterprise a suitable choice for migrators.The summary of the HP patent will only make a computer scientist's heart sing.
Packet processing for packets from a virtual machine includes receiving a packet from an external switch at a computer system hosting a plurality of virtual machines. If the received packet is a learning packet, storing a packet signature determined from the learning packet. For a packet to be transmitted from a virtual machine in the computer system, determining if the packet's signature matches the stored packet signature. If the packet's signature matches the stored packet signature, performing an action associated with the packet signature.
Packet loss is an issue that VMware customers deal with. "Even the best VMware networking setups hit snags, but you have tools," an article at TechTarget advises. "Adjusting specific VMware network settings can fix packet loss in a VM." HP's invention may be aimed at a problem that can hold back performance in virtualized servers.
There's a lot of nuance out there for virtualized computing. But the benefits of making many servers out of fewer processors are profound. A trip to the expo floor -- and that's a visit that is priced at $300, until Sunday -- would be a good start at making a virtual future more of a reality.
In the style of an Interex conference Convince the Boss letter of a decade ago, VM World offers a suggestion for these benefits.
Hands-on training and experience. You'll be able to choose from 350+ technical and content-rich sessions covering the latest innovations in the data center for storage, networking, security, management, workforce mobility, and hybrid cloud services.
Product research and analysis. In the Solutions Exchange, you'll be able to review the latest competitive solutions side-by-side with more than 275 exhibitors.
Networking with industry experts. You'll learn strategies for achieving top IT priorities and be able to compare notes with other IT professionals. We can leverage these contacts for advice and best practices for years to come.
August 25, 2015
ITIL is still the way to see IT's future
[Editor's Note: Seven years ago this month, CEO Birket Foster of MB Foster introduced what the ITIL best practices can offer for a company aiming their servers into the future. But ITIL can help any shop on the spectrum between entrenched homesteader and fresh migration convert.The version 3 of the ITIL practices from 2007 was so similar to the 2011 version that no bridge examinations for ITIL v3 certification holders were created — so everything Foster advised about dashboards and ITIL remains true. Your first encounter with ITIL strategy might be during an acquisition, through, and that kind of introduction is not going to help your career. "If you get acquired by a company that knows and practices ITIL processes, you'll get run over," Foster says. He shared other ideas about managing IT as an investment in his article.]
By Birket Foster
The world has certainly changed since 2001, especially for HP 3000 users — it is not just the HP-supplied parts, services and support, it is the whole ecosystem. Folks who were the captains of industry, managing robust growing companies for their organization have retired. For some of you this will ring a bell. There are very few HP 3000-savvy folks under 50, and none under 40. That means as more members of the community retire, the replacements just won’t be there.
Probably 75 percent of the 3000-using companies we visit don’t have the HP 3000 resources to make major changes of their application or the operating environment any longer. This puts companies at risk. The risk that if something goes bump in the night, the team will not know how to recover. Is your 3000 in a tested disaster recovery plan? (It ought to be – it is always easier to catch something in test then during the real thing). Developing and implementing a plan is a significant IT investment goal for your community.Investment in IT is always related to applications. I don’t mean Microsoft Office, but the applications that make it possible for organizations to take orders, build, ship and bill; or reserve a seat on a plane; or register a student, rent a car, or build an aircraft.
Yes, there are real companies in all those businesses still running on an HP 3000s. Some of them remain there because their investment in IT is working through a 5- or 7-year cycle, and then if the business is in good shape then they will take on the project of moving to something new. Some have failed in their attempt to migrate at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. In other cases, corporate is sending in the SAP team in a couple of years, and it will be five more years till they can decommission the 3000.
Your organization ought to have a dashboard which relates to the current state of each application and the ecosystem around it. The ecosystem includes staff, surround code, support plans and pledges from your third parties. And your senior management team should be made aware of the state of your systems. This includes all the tools to design/change, develop, test, integrate, deploy, operate, support the application plus the documentation, and the HR required to support and train new team members for each of the phases in the application lifecycle.
In a one-sentence motto, if you can't measure what you're currently doing, you shouldn't be doing it.
I am a big frameworks guy, so my thought is that if you have a framework you should compare what you have against an industry neutral way of looking at things – ITIL. This framework ensures you stay focused innovate and do the changes every company needs. For example, if you stay on the HP 3000 you need a plan to replace people who leave and take 3000 experience along with them.
ITIL v3, first published in May 2007 with a lot of input from HP volunteers, comprises five key volumes:
1. Service Strategy
2. Service Design
3. Service Transition
4. Service Operation
5. Continual Service Improvement
If you are serious about your organization’s IT you will need to have something similar. Colleges, universities and companies such as HP offer courses and certification in ITIL. You can build your dashboard once you understand the level of maturity your organization has in IT systems. Whether you buy commercial off the shelf systems or roll your own, you need a framework to make your systems supportable – plus something to help these systems focus on supporting your business goals and objectives.
Your HP 3000 can fit into an ITIL, and you will gather enough information to transfer the support of your applications to the next generation of employees at your site. I hope you are doing great work in the care and feeding of your HP 3000 based applications — and that this short piece has made you think.
August 18, 2015
A Future That Leads from Cheaper to Pricer
The latest notices for the HP-Intel Itanium chips could be read as another nail in the HP-UX coffin. Long ago, the processor family that powers HP’s Integrity servers ran into trouble, roadblocks that will vex the future for HP's Unix. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed that way. The 3000 gained extra years in spite of people thinking short-term and adopting mass market strategies for enterprise computing. Like the 3000 owners before them, HP-UX owners who’ve migrated from MPE need to think different than a Cheaper, if they can arrange any way to afford it.
What's a Cheaper? That's the manager or consumer for whom the price is the most important concern. They look at today's cash flow instead of the coming five years of ownership cost. They bought $299 netbooks with glee until those slabs of plastic were better suited to prop open windows than run Windows.
You could be a Pricer instead. It’s the kind of pay-what-it's-worth thinking that made the HP 3000 the best value in enterprise computing, at least for value circa the 1990s. So long as HP put its engineering muscle behind a platform that was a walled garden, adding features and embracing new tech, you couldn't buy a business computer that was a better investment than a 3000. When HP bagged its responsibility, the market got left looking for something else. Cheaper looked attractive, after being just stung by a top-shelf expense of dropped futures.
But every platform’s got that day when the futures die in the vendor’s mind. First came Unix, and the promise of everywhere adoption, cheaper than the BMW-caliber MPE. Then Windows, tuned up for running an enterprise with Windows Server and SQL Server. Each cheaper than the last. When Microsoft announced the end of futures for Windows Server and Itanium, MB Foster's Birket Foster pointed out Windows became a lot less cheap since it was made to perform at an enterprise level.
Foster said in 2010, despite Windows Server 2008 being the last version to support Itanium and Integrity, he liked the outlook for HP-UX and the only server which runs it. It all depends, he says, on how far out an IT manager is looking to expect any environment to deliver value. He had a clear view of the lifespan for an OS even then.
"One of my first questions would be, what's your timeframe?" Foster asked in 2010. "How long do you want this platform to be in existence for you?"
After all, customers are not planning out timeframes longer than 3-5 years for any other operating system, so why expect the HP-UX and Itanium picture to run farther toward the horizon? The current HP timeline for HP-UX is through 2025, but it’ll be served up with only revisions of 11i3 HP-UX.
"There are things people can do while they're making their conversions from the 3000 to make it easier to shift the next time," Foster said back then, processes that will make isolation happen. "HP already figured out how to build a hardware abstraction layer so they could run five operating systems on this Itanium chipset. Who's to say you can't build an operating system extraction layer and isolate yourself?"
Something quite like that came to pass with Stromasys and Charon.
Foster said his company did that kind of isolation when they migrated a large oil company off the 3000. And that abstraction layer? OS experts in the 3000 community hoped that eventually, instead of Itanium hosting x86/Xeon programs in hardware, the reverse would happen.
Cheapers may not embrace this choice, since it includes an OS priced for cost of ownership instead of the entry price. They really don't want to consider the extra 25 percent it takes to adopt a better-built, longer-lived product. Not when they can save that money from this year's budget. Pricers think about having to defend their choice in more than five years, instead of looking for another investment to replace one that was never built to last.
Built to Last was supposed to describe HP-UX and Itanium as much as Xeon and Windows Server. But a Pricer needs to know that the vendor will be there for them many years to come, to justify the extra expense up front. Think BMW to consider how much vendor zeal you will need. Can you feel that zeal from your migration platform vendor? Have they spent more in R&D, percentage-wise, than HP does as a company?
Windows will do the job for many migration-bound companies. But the long-term value of anybody else's environment except Linux never seems to be ensured. Even Windows desktop applications get replaced every 18 months. The future of HP-UX is probably not a "we're killing it off" demise like HP planned for MPE.
Instead, Foster says, "In the long run, HP-UX will probably morph into something like Linux." That will be the point when being a Pricer instead of Cheaper might pay off -- because your shop is now full of experts in enterprise-grade IT management solutions, built off the 20 years of the Unix investments, pricier than Windows.
August 17, 2015
Migrations can lead ERP onto new aaS
HP 3000 companies have already cited many reasons for moving onto another server and operating environment. I remember one CAMUS manufacturing user group meeting where an IT manager at a Gulf Coast company was eager to move away from MPE and his MANMAN. "I'd been wanting to get us off that stuff for awhile," he said. "It's old enough to get in our way."
That company's catalyst for change was adopting new features and functionality. They must've been essential to meeting new business needs; it's a long-standing rule that companies will struggle to fund nice-to-haves, but they'll pay for gotta-haves. That IT manager was speaking up in a CAMUS meeting of more than four years ago. By today, there's a lot more functionality out there to trigger the journey away from MANMAN, if the business needs are genuine. Today's new features flow from cloud computing.
A new white paper by analyst Cindy Jutras details what an ERP migration can deliver if you're paying attention to platforms. Platform is one of the -asS categories. The asS stands for As A Service. The first such solution was Software as a Service (SaaS) followed by Infrastructure as a Service, Desktop as a Service, Backend as a Service, and finally, Platform as a Service. We've used the word "platform" here to mean OS-plus-hardware. But there's another platform definition, one that Jutras details: a software-based platform, such as Salesforce1.
Terry Floyd, whose company The Support Group has been advising 3000 MANMAN shops since the early 1990s, says he worked alongside Jutras in the early 1980s at ASK Computer Systems. MANMAN was shiny and new in that time, and ASK had only been formed in the mid-70s by Sandy Kurtzig as CEO. Kurtzig's made a return to the ERP market by helping to found Kenandy, and the white paper by Jutras explains why a platform like the one Kenandy utilizes makes a big difference when replacing ERP solutions like MANMAN.
Any company making an ERP purchase today, she says, should be cognizant of not only the features and functions being delivered, but also the platform on which it is developed. "Ask the tough questions about platform of any prospective purveyor of ERP."
- Does it take advantage of the latest technology that has brought us into the digital age?
- Are mobile, social and analytics built in?
- Can it support cloud, the great enabler of standardization and growth? In other words is it a platform “as a service?”
- Is it a platform that supports configurability over invasive customization?
- Does it easily facilitate any customization that truly is required?
- And finally... how popular is it? Will you be searching for developers or searching through a large marketplace of add-ons and extensions?
As a business leader, you may not understand the nitty gritty technical details of PaaS, but you shouldn’t let that limit your expectations for ERP. After all, it must keep up with you in running your business in the digital age.
Of course, those "nitty gritty details" are in an HP 3000 IT manager's wheelhouse. Those who have a migration on the boards are now looking at the cloud as a new platform. Jutras says that Salesforce1 has some built-in application services.
- Support for a multi-tenant SaaS environment, which we previously noted as a key enabler in delivering more innovation, faster
- A workflow engine, access and identity management
- Other rapid developer services include Salesforce standard user interface templates, (business) object orientation and built-in mobile support
- The ability to tie “social” online chats (through Salesforce Chatter) directly back to business objects
- Embedded analytics with Salesforce Wave, a cloud-based data platform as well as a data-analysis front end designed to analyze not just Kenandy, but also any third-party app data, desktop data, or public data you bring in
The typical ERP solution of the past saw a major upgrade every 12-18 months. That looked like a new version of MANMAN, for example, or maybe a Customizer revision, in-house, using MM/3000 (the software that became eXegsys in the late '90s). Jutras tells the story of how ERP upgrading worked, before Platform as a Service.
If you requested such a change (and your vendor agrees to it) before the cutoff for the design of the new release, you might wait 12 to 18 months. But timing is everything. If you miss that window of opportunity, you might have to wait for an additional cycle. So in reality you would wait 12 to 36 months, and perhaps longer if you were unwilling or unable to jump right on the newest release. Meanwhile your window of opportunity could close on that new business model and you could well be on the road to being the next Blockbuster store, disrupted into failure by Netflix.
A platform like Salesforce1, though, is used by 100,000 organizations, supports 3 million users and a processes a billion transactions a day. "If you find an ERP solution built on a platform that attracts a lot of developers, you are very likely to find a lot of extensions developed that can complement your solution," the white paper reports. "Salesforce estimates the platform speeds development by a factor of five, and cuts the cost of development in half. This translates to benefits for the customer in more innovation, at a faster pace."
Jutras points out that Kenandy — a Salesforce1 solution that the Support Group has been studying since 2013 — takes full advantage of the ready-made, easily personalized wheels of object-oriented computing.
While any solution built on the Salesforce1 platform has the potential of enjoying these benefits, Kenandy goes one step further in how it has architected the solution on top of that platform. It has developed a unified data model that takes full advantage of the power of business objects, by adding new dimensions to otherwise very familiar “objects” like orders, invoices, customers, and product. And Kenandy prides itself in saying it can personalize with “clicks, not code.” This means adding fields, changing workflows, rearranging the screens without the disruption and expense of invasive code changes.
It sounds a great deal like the functionality that Customizer used to offer, without the essential need for coding. The full Jutras white paper is definitely worth a read — if only to see what cloud computing can do for a mainstream application in the 3000 community like ERP. In the earliest days of the Kenandy campaign, the company was calling the product Social ERP.
August 14, 2015
HP drives its stakes between support posts
As August unfolds and HP's final quarter as a combined company unfurls, the corporation that services some of the targets and platforms for 3000 migrators has already divvied up support access. HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise have become separate support systems. Users are being invited to look in more than one place for answers that were previously at a one-stop shop
In early August, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. will provide two different support portals. When you access HP Support Center, you will be able to select a portal for HP Inc. products or a portal for Hewlett Packard Enterprise products.
HP Enterprise business might have fared a little better in the division.
As of August 1st the HP Support Center Mobile application will only be available for Hewlett Packard Enterprise products such as servers, storage, and networking. A message within the application asks you to update to the latest version.
HP is calling the move a "Welcome to our Two-Car Garage." Assigned to the Enterprise arm of HP (to be known as HPE on the stock market), the MPE/iX operating system still has its small outpost in HPE support pages. For the customers who hold an HP Passport login, access to the existing 3000 patches is promised. However, the web-driven access to patches seems to be locked behind the October, 2013 policy that a current HP support contract is required for patch access.
HP-UX customers can purchase such a contract to use the new HPE support site for patching. Since MPE/iX users can't buy such a thing, access to patches is supposed to be free. Getting the patches requires some extra effort, according to independent support providers in the 3000 community. At least looking into the rest of the official 3000 documents — including 64 PDFs of system manuals — remains in a logical place. A special order is still the order of the day to access the patches, though.
We've tracked down 3000 documents at HP before now, but this link is working as of the split up of support sites. (You'll need that Passport to get inside, no matter where you're heading, for migrated platform help, or researching archival documentation.)
August 11, 2015
Emulating the 3000's Strong Heartbeat
A full hardware emulation makes the Charon HPA virtualization package a viable choice for keeping MPE applications alive. But what about emulating the essential parts of the 3000's software stack elsewhere? The goal of getting MPE and its riches to operate inside another environment has been enticing, and sometimes elusive. The heart of the system lies in IMAGE, wired thoroughly into the 3000's file system.
HP wanted to be in this business itself, a few decades ago. Allbase was one of two attempts at doing a relational database on MPE. HP Image was the other. Allbase could not get traction in the 3000 base, and HP Image struggled to get out of HP's labs, although both of these products were compatible with the HP-UX environment. They were not faithful enough to the IMAGE structure and design — that 98 percent compatible curse vexed HP Image in particular.
Coming close to emulation's database potential -- where a relational database can behave like IMAGE -- is also in a couple of spots in the 3000's story. "It's fairly easy to use an RDBMS to emulate most of IMAGE," said Allegro's Stan Sieler, who created advances such as b-tree support inside IMAGE. "It's the last few percent of emulation that gets hard to do efficiently." The efficiency factor is what drove down the hopes of HP Image.
One of the few companies to make a good business out of IMAGE emulation is Marxmeier Software AG, which still sells its Eloquence database in HP-UX, Windows and Linux markets. The product has a TurboIMAGE Compatibility extension to accommodate applications that have been migrated from the 3000 to those commodity platforms. It's still the best database choice for any system that needs to move unaltered from MPE to an environment supported by many hardware vendors.
Long ago, Robelle summed up the compatibility — one way of looking at emulation — between Eloquence and IMAGE. "Eloquence supports the same data types as TurboIMAGE, the same record layouts, and the same indexing (plus new options). The transformation needed to convert IMAGE databases to Eloquence is simple and automatic. Either use Suprtool to copy the data, or use Eloquence's DBExport and DBImport utilities. However, the file formats and internal structures of Eloquence are dramatically different from IMAGE. Only the programming interface is the same."
Unlike the Eloquence offering, pitched to a distinct customer base but with benefits to 3000 migrators, HP had to stop thinking about attracting SQL-hungry customers from other platforms with its Allbase and HP Image designs. As it turns out, satisfying the needs of the IMAGE-using ISVs and users was more important. This might appear to be another case of backward compatibility, and investment protection, holding back the broader reach of the HP 3000. Sieler says the compatibility doesn't hold things back, though."I’d argue that “backward compatibility” doesn’t hold back growth," he said. "It enables growth by having a larger pool of software ready to run on your newer models! Remember, the HP 3000 had it easy. The hardware was developed by another HP group, so the hardware development cost was nearly zero. Few other operating systems, outside of Linux, have that kind of advantage!"
For the most part, the PA-RISC based 3000 hardware was developed by the 9000 people. Indeed, it’s 100 percent the same — except for some models where they decided to not deploy MPE. In some cases that was because a slightly different IO driver set might be needed.
In the 935 era, the only difference (other than the name plate and the price being higher for the 3000) was a single EPROM on a disk controller, with essentially one bit different, so MPE could refuse to boot on a 9000. That bit was eventually moved to Stable Storage, so the hardware was then identical other than the nameplate and model number plate.
August 03, 2015
HP-UX marks time after five years
When we last visited the HP-UX roadmap, the journey's destination was advice about when to expect the end of 11i v3 support. Plans for system and platform futures have changed greatly since that article of August, 2010. Back then, customers looked like they'd be facing a 2017 end of HP support for the version of the OS that replaced some MPE installations. The good news is that HP-UX support has now been promised through 2025.
The bad news is that HP's dropped plans to introduce any fresh generations of the OS. According to HP's 2015 roadmap, 11i v4 or v5 are nowhere to be seen. HP now plans to carry v3 from 2007 to 2025. An 18-year lifespan for an enterprise OS's major release is remarkable. Serving the expanding needs of enterprise customers with such a base OS, one that's eight years old today, is unprecedented at HP.
These roadmaps change, and sometimes the adjustments jettison implied promises which can form the bedrock of IT investment planning. The current hardware that runs HP-UX is Intel's star-crossed Itanium chipset in the Integrity servers. Support for HP-UX on the PA-RISC HP 9000s ended last year.
Five years have elapsed since any HP roadmap promised a newer future. This year's version of the HP-UX roadmap shows no forward march in a major release. HP's Unix is marking time, but there are promises of some refreshment. Like any platform roadmap of our modern era, the one for HP-UX "is not a commitment to deliver any material, code or functionality and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions." HP 3000 managers who remember 3000-centric conference roundtables will recall what those public promises add up to. Any of those managers who put dollars into Unix are looking at a future with few changes.In our research today we found this opinion about platform futures: "The hardware-software vendor dichotomy is so 20th Century." The comment was offered in reply to a chart that tracks the fortunes of technology suppliers. HP's valuation has waned while new-gen companies like Google and Apple have soared. But only one company that builds its own OS and hardware has seen its valuation soar: Apple. It's a mobile-hardware supplier in its predominant facet by now. And Apple promises nothing about prior OS release support.
However, that's not a market that's in decline like Unix (even though the heart of Apple's OS X is Unix). Choices for mobile environments can now command as much spending as a company's purchase of enterprise environments. But on average, the individual company's investment in HP-UX far outstrips any mobile choice.
What's a company that's commited to HP-UX to do? HP says they should mark time and stay put as long as they want, at least another decade. But with the final release of Itanium's chip line coming this year, and HP-UX parked at a major release that made its debut in 2007, signs point to much easier management for Unix customers who've bought from Hewlett-Packard. Such is the outlook for a company that's bought into HP-UX, a slide toward a stable environment that borders on static as the next 10 years roll by.
The refreshes are more than nothing at all — that post-2007 limbo that MPE/iX fell into. Improved IO and storage management, faster recovery times, extended data security, better and more dynamic virtualization uptime, converged infrastructure and cloud management: these are all that the Unix customer is being promised as of this year. Timing on these is as fluid as anything promised to MPE/iX from 2003-10. When to change horses for software platforms is a question for this year's IT planning, unless a 10-year march in place is a better strategy. HP 3000 customers have done that. They've done it without HP's support ever since the year that previous, v4/v5 HP-UX roadmap emerged.
July 31, 2015
Zero day attacks: reports are dangerous, too
News has started to roil through the Android community about a fresh MMS attack vector for those devices, and last month reports rolled out about a similarly dangerous zero-day malware attack for Apple iOS. But what is zero day, and how can the news of these exploits be as damaging as the malware itself? Our security expert Steve Hardwick explains in this edition of Essential Skills, covering the non-3000 skillset for multi-talented MPE pros.
By Steve Hardwick, CISSP
Many computer users do not understand the term Zero Day and why it is so serious. To understand the term, it is first necessary to understand how an exploit works. In general, there are different types of exploits used on computers
1. Social attacks, phishing for example, which cause a user to unintentionally disclose information to a hacker.
2. Trojan horses, viruses that hide in otherwise legitimate applications. Once the legitimate application is launched, the Trojan horse releases the virus it contains.
3. Web attacks that trick users into divulging personal information using weaknesses in browsers and web server software
4. Application and OS attacks that use errors in the code to exploit the computer's programming
With the exception of the first category, these attacks rely on exploiting weaknesses in the underlying operating system and application code that runs on the computer. To be able to prevent this type of illicit access, the mechanism by which the malware is operating must first be understood. Therefore many researchers will examine operating code and look for these types of flaws. So will thousands of hackers. The challenge becomes how to mitigate such a vulnerability before it becomes a virus in the wild. That's where the Zero Day marker comes into play.The first, obvious response would be to fix the broken code. Although it sounds simple enough, it is not as straightforward as it seems. In order to prevent this type of condition occurring in the first place, software vendors will have development and test cycles that may take days or even weeks to complete. After all, it would not be good to develop a patch for one hole in the code only to create more. So it takes a finite period of time to detect the exploitation method the malware is using and then produce a patch that will fix the hole.
In many cases the research is done behind the scenes, and the security hole is fixed before it ever is exploited by hackers. In other cases a virus is spotted and the failure mechanism is already understood and a patch is in the works. For example, an application is compromised and the developer notices similar conditions can occur in other programs the software vendor produces.
Another response is to use anti-malware to protect against the threat. One of the main ways that anti-malware works is to look for signature patterns in downloaded or executing code. These patters are stored in a virus definition database. The supplier of the anti-malware solution will develop a profile of the malware and then supply a new definition to the database. As in the distribution of software patches, it takes time to define the profile, produce the signature definition, then test and distribute it. Only when the signature profile has been distributed is the computer system protected again
The time at which the malware is detected is called the zero day — as this starts the clock on the time between the detection and the distribution of the remedy. In the case of the software vendor, this would mean a patch for the broken code. In the case of the anti-malware vendor it is the time to provide the signature and deploy it.
The anti-malware vendor has the advantage that they are not supplying software to the machine. In many respects it is quicker to generate the signature and distribute it. For the software vendor there is the task of verifying that any new code does not affect the operation of the product, nor create any new vulnerabilities.
In either case, it is a race against time between the hackers on one side and the anti-malware or software vendor on the other. Furthermore, the end user is also in the fray. Whether it is a signature definition or a patch, the end user must download and install it. In many cases this can be automated, however, end users must have selected this option in the first place.
So when a zero day virus is announced, it means that the vulnerability has been made public and the software community needs to start to respond. There is a lot of debate as to the merits of announcing zero day exploits. There is concern that lower-skilled hackers will take advantage of the free research, and start to deploy viruses that exploit the disclosed vulnerability. The counter concern, as portrayed in the article about iOS cited at the beginning, is that the software vendor will not act on the research. No matter which side your opinion falls, it does not change the fact that a virus without a known cure is a very dangerous beast.
July 28, 2015
Winds of change blow through HP's closets
It's time to check back in with Hewlett-Packard, the vendor providing enterprise servers and solutions for a meaningful section of the 3000 migrators. Our latest news update involves poaching employees and a nouveau dress code, a subset of the things that any splitting-up corporation might be handling.
Details of the HP split into HP Enterprise and HP Inc were rolled out earlier this month, and there's explicit language on how the workforce will be handled once it is halved. Each of the new entities has a one-year embargo on even approaching the other's employees for hiring. For the six months beginning in November of 2015 -- a period when a lot of serious hiring gets delayed -- the two companies cannot hire from the other's ranks. If an employee is fired by Enterprise or Inc, then it's open season.
To sum up, if a talented HP staffer wants to work at the other HP before next June, getting fired is the fastest way to get permission. That might turn out to matter more than it appears, since the company just floated a memo in the Enterprise Services group, including HP-UX and Proliant operations, about professional dress, according a report from the website The Register.
Men should avoid turning up to the office in T-shirts with no collars, faded or torn jeans, shorts, baseball caps and other headwear, sportswear, and sandals and other open shoes. Women are advised not to wear short skirts, faded or torn jeans, low-cut dresses, sandals, crazy high heels, and too much jewelry.
It wouldn't be unprecedented. When former CEO Carly Fiorina took her first tour of former Compaq facilities, post-merger, employees there were told to don "western wear" as a welcoming gesture.
That was at least a merger. Nothing the size of Hewlett-Packard has ever tried to cleave itself into two complementary pieces remaining in the same business sector. This is uncharted territory, but a dress code memo and limited job transfer options might deliver some new talent into the non-HP workforce. Meanwhile, the current CEO says that turning around the company has been relatively easy.That memo isn't public, but the workforce hiring practices are part of an SEC Form 10 filing that runs more than 300 pages. HP's issuing new email addresses for the employees leaving the full company to work for Enterprise. It will now be hpe.com, although the old addresses will work for a year from the Oct. 31 split-up date.
CEO Meg Whitman, who'll lead Enterprise, said latest chapter of her turnaround of the company is easier than running for California governor. On a Bloomberg TV show, Whitman said running her political campaign that lost the election was harder than a turnaround.
You know, you get up every morning, and you fight the good fight, and you win hearts and minds of HP people, and you restore the confidence of customers and partners. So it’s been hard but it’s been really gratifying. And I have to say, relative to running for governor, this is easy.
The nuances and operational detail of creating two $60 billion entities — which will partner to buy supplies, to jointly sell products to customers, and to share patents and other intellectual property — might start to tax Whitman's estimation. Intellectual property at HP is held in the HP Development Company. The MPE/iX licensing is probably going to remain with Enterprise. If there were any technical resources in the 3000 community that want to take on that license, HP may be up for cleaning out its Enterprise closets.
Sorry, just kidding. Nobody wants those engineers to stop wearing t-shirts, either, do they? It's an exercise for the reader to decide which proposition seems sillier in this season of change at HP.
July 22, 2015
Replacement rides on software selection
MB Foster's latest webinar on Applications Portfolio Management included an estimate that 80 percent of applications in a migration can be replaced. Migrating app code to a new platform is usually only a solution for 15 percent of the software in a 3000 environment, and an unlucky 5 percent of applications will have to be rebuilt.
So if 4 out of every 5 apps should be replaced, what steps make up the best practices for software selection? The webinar indentified nine.
- Add a detailed current workflow to the software assessment.
- Look at three to seven packages for each replacement
- Compare the selections to the app, to make sure you have no orphaned functionality
- Understand the business process re-engineering tasks. CEO Birket Foster said "If you're changing applications, there will be certain rules where there's a different way to do things, and people will have to be retrained."
- Make all data clean and ready, moving department by department
Then there's a step to plan for surround code, which can sometimes be the trickiest to replace.There may be interfaces plugged into your current applications, Foster said, "that feed data into or out of the application. You have to find those and see how they integrate into the big picture — because if you pull the application out of the middle, these are the loose wires. When you put the new application in, you have to re-integrate those wires."
After all of that work, there's a test plan, a go-live plan, and a plan for decommissioning the 3000.
"You have to have a plan if the computer is a system of record," Foster said. "Systems of record tend to require specific care and treatment when you're decommissioning them."
The webinar also listed a set of common mistakes during a replacement project.
- Not gathering enough information from each department
- Going straight to the software demo stage "without actually building a scorecard," Foster said. "It's hard to do a comparison of 3-7 packages without an objective scorecard. People from each different workflow should participate, to help the weighting of different scorecard items."
- Not having a broad enough Request For Information process; this can reduce the need for details in a subsequent Request For Proposal.
- Not appointing a software selection liaison — a person high up enough in the organization to bring all the company's stakeholders together
- Skipping the appointment of conference room pilots, individuals who explain how workflows operate during a boardroom-level meeting. "If you skip those, nobody has an idea of what they're about to see, and so they don't ask all the questions they should," Foster said. "It's not all about price. A lot of the questions have to do with functionality."
July 21, 2015
User group takes virtual tack for conference
A vendor with ties back to the 1980s of the HP 3000 world took several steps today into the new world of virtual user conferences. The education and outreach at the Virtual Conference & Expo came in part from Fresche Legacy, formerly Speedware, but it was aimed at that company's latest prospects: IBM Series i enterprises. Advances in long-form remote training, with on-demand replays of tech talks, gave the IBM COMMON user group members of today a way to learn about the IBM i without booking time away from workplaces.
The offerings on the day-long agenda included talks about vendors' tools, as well as subjects like "Access your IBM i in the modern world with modern devices." Customer-prepared talks were not a part of today's event; that sort of presentation has become a rare element in the conference experience of 2015. But some of the best HP 3000 talks at the Interex user group meetings came from vendors, lifted up from the ranks of users.
The virtual conference of today won't be mistaken for the full-bore COMMON Fall Conference & Expo of this fall. That's a three-day affair in Fort Lauderdale, complete with opening night reception and conference hotel rates at the Westin. A few days in Florida could be a perk for a hard-working IT manager, even in early October.
But the practices of remotely educating users about enterprise IT have become polished by now. Wednesdays in the 3000 world have often included a webinar from MB Foster, guiding managers in subjects like Application Portfolio Management or data migration. Those are more dynamic opportunities, with individuals on an interactive call using presentation software including a Q&A element. They also cover skills that are more essential to the migration-bound customers — although data migration skills promise great potential payback for any IT pro.But whether it's on-demand talks bolstered by chat requests at the COMMON event, or a phone and demo-slide package at a Wednesday webinar, training doesn't equal travel anymore. A three-day event would've looked small to the HP Interex user group member of the 1990s. Over the final years of that user group's lifespan, though, even a handful of days away to train and network at a conference became an on-the-bubble choice.
Making a migration from a legacy platform like the 3000 opens up the opportunity to increase the level of learning in a career. But even legacy computing like the IBM i can trigger reasons to train and explore fresh features. It's another reminder that what matters to a vendor is not necessarily the strength of a legacy server's ecosystem, but the stickiness and size of the installed base.
IBM's i still counts six figures' worth of installed customers, and many have links to other IBM systems. IBM could afford to take care of an established base of proprietary computer systems. The independent third parties like MB Foster and others that remained after HP exited have been left to care for 3000 users on the move, and otherwise.
July 15, 2015
How to Keep Cloud Storage Fast and Secure
Editor's Note: HP 3000 managers do many jobs, work that often extends outside the MPE realm. In our series of Essential Skills, we cover the non-3000 skillset for multi-talented MPE pros.
By Steve Hardwick, CISSP
One of the many cloud-based offerings is storage. It moves data from the end device to a remote server that hosts massive amounts of hard disk space. While this saves local storage, what are some of the challenges and risks associated with the type of account?
Cloud data storage applications have been compromised through different weaknesses. Firstly, there is the straight hack. The hacker gains administrative access into the server containing the data and then can access multiple user accounts. The second one is obtaining a set of usernames and passwords from another location. Many people use the same usernames and passwords for multiple accounts. So a hack into an email server can reveal passwords for a cloud storage service. What are the ways to defend against this level of attack?
Encryption is always a good option to protect data from unauthorized users. Many service providers will argue that they already provide encryption services. However, in a lot of cases this is what is called bulk encryption. The data from various users is bundled together in a single data store. Then the whole data store is encrypted with the same password. This gives a certain level of protection, for example of the disk is stolen. But, if administrative access is gained, these systems can be compromised. A better solution is to choose a service that offers encryption at the account level.Another option is to encrypt the data before it is stored.This is probably the safest method, as the encryption application is not part of the cloud server, and neither is the password. There is a penalty of performance and time in creating and restoring the file, as it has to be encrypted/decrypted. Today's computer systems normally make short work of this task.
Finally, there is a common misconception that an encrypted file is bigger than the original. For good encryption they should be about the same size. The only challenge with any encryption is to make sure the password is safe.
If you use the same username and password, the best solution is not to do it. But the difficulty is having 20 different usernames and passwords and remembering them all. One option is to let the browser do the remembering. Browsers have the option of remembering passwords for different websites. The browser creates its own local store of the passwords. However, if the computer's hard drive crashes, so does the password storage.
The next option is to use an on-line password account. The bad news is that they have the same weakness as other types of on-line storage. LastPass was recently hacked, so many users were worried that their password lists were compromised. I use a password vault that locally encrypts the vault file. That file can then be stored in online data storage safely. Plus, if you chose the right password application, the vault is shared across multiple devices. This way, different accounts and passwords can be used for each account and still be available from a secure, but available location.
Online storage, offline access
Most of the time many of us have access to the cloud. But there are times when I would like to have access to my data, but I don't have Internet access. The best example of this is on the plane. Although Internet service is available on many planes, not everyone has access. So it is good to choose a service that has a client application to synchronize the data. This will allow copies of the same file to be kept locally and in the cloud. This can be important when looking at mobile solutions.
In many cases, mobile storage is preserved by moving the data into an online storage location. Storing all the music files in the cloud, and then finding that they are not available offline, can be very infuriating on a plane ride.
Compression to be free
Free storage on-line services are limited to a set amount of storage. One way to get around this is to use data compression. Most raw data files can be compressed to some extent. But bear in mind that most media formats, such as mpeg, mp4, or jpeg, have already been created using compression. Many other files, though, can be compressed before they are stored. Some applications — for example back-up apps — will give the user a choice to compress the file before it is stored. Not only does this reduce the amount of space the data takes in the online storage, it is also faster to upload and download.
July 07, 2015
Migrated systems ready for app portfolios
Once an HP 3000 is migrated, its mission-critical applications are ready to join a wider portfolio of corporate IT assets. Managers who want a place at the boardroom table have learned to place a valuation on these resources. Many of them gained their value while working as MPE-based software.
Studies show that managers spend 80 percent of the IT budget maintaining their current assets. If you are forced to do anything radical you run into real issues, then overrun your budget. At most companies, the IT budget is set at operating level.
Migration can be a radical step. But the duty of an IT manager who oversees a 3000 is to keep track of what is productive. It’s not about the migration, it’s about the whole portfolio. You must assess the 3000’s risk versus the rest of the applications in the portfolio.
MB Foster is covering the high-level issues for APM in a Webinar on July 8 (tomorrow) starting at 2 PM Eastern time. Birket Foster's team says that a successful engagement to implement APM should yield a defined inventory and an action plan specific to your needs along with the business value, a desired strategic landscape and technical conditions for each application.Foster has said that migrating sites should consider the share of budget that a move to Windows requires. "There are lots of people who have never managed where they spend their money," he's said. "So APM offers the chance for some consciousness-raising going on. Sometimes, there's also the possibility that the senior management team doesn’t understand what their investment in IT should be."
Most important in the APM strategy? The concept of getting executive buy-in on IT projects by showing the applications' asset valuation. Just like a portfolio of stocks, or a stringer full of fish, the applications running HP 3000s can be assayed and then assigned the resources to maintain them — or tossed back to start over again.
July 01, 2015
Reflection dives deeper into new brand
Last fall, Micro Focus announced it was acquiring Attachmate and several other companies. The merger of these IT firms marked another step for a popular HP server connection product, Reflection, toward a new life with a new name, even if its functionality remains the same.
The Chief Operating Officer of Micro Focus, Stephen Murdoch, has reported to customers about the strategy to meld the products from Borland, NetIQ, Attachmate, Novell and SUSE. The scope of what these companies have offered is significant. Development, networking, connectivity and evironments make up these acquisitions.
We will be simplifying the branding and packaging of our portfolios. As an example, we will combine our leading host connectivity solutions of Reflection and Rumba into one set of Micro Focus branded solutions offering the best of both technologies. A similar approach of simplification and alignment will be taken systematically, resulting in one company operating two product portfolios, namely Micro Focus and SUSE.
By all reports, Rumba didn't meet HP 3000 manager standards in its versions available before Attachmate acquired Reflection. That was in the days when the blended firm was called AttachmateWRQ. Few HP 3000 sites, if any, have learned to rely on Rumba for their connectivity. Now the tracking will commence on how the feature sets of Reflection and Rumba survive this combination.The deepest level of 3000 integration in Reflection lies in its scripting language. When the news first broke about the Micro Focus acquisition of Attachmate, we checked in with a long-time Reflection user to see how Rumba might fill in. Reflection's macros have to be converted to a Rumba format called ELHAPPI, Enhanced High Level Language Application Program Interface. As with any acronymn that has seven letters, it's a design choice that's got quite a, well, legacy air to it. According to Glenn Mitchell of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
It's an API that goes back to the early PC days, and allowed a program running on the PC to "scrape" data from a terminal emulator session running on the PC. So it represents a big move backwards in technology from Reflection VBA.
Our guys figured out a way to run our VBA scripts in Excel and trap most of the Reflection API calls (e.g. getdisplaytext) and convert them to equivalent EHLAPPI calls for Rumba. The gotcha is that they've only done the most frequently used API functions, and Rumba doesn't support all of the functions Reflection makes available via API.
Scripting inside of a terminal emulator product represents a deep level of technology. Just the sort of tool a 3000 shop deploys when it can command petabytes of data and tens of thousands of users. When things change with vendor plans, whether it's a system maker or a provider of software, support staff shifts its support to migration tasks.
As an interesting footnote to the changes in the outlook for Reflection -- given that Rumba has been offered as a replacement -- we turn to the a recent comment by Doug Greenup of Minisoft. "Minisoft has NS/VT in its HP terminal emulator," he noted when we described the unique 3000 protocol in some versions of Reflection. "And unlike WRQ, we remain independent. We still have HP 3000 knowledgeable developers and support people." The company's terminal emulator for 3000s, Minisoft Secure 92, has a scripting language called TermTalk.
June 30, 2015
Run-up to HP split-up sees enterprise splits
Later this week, Hewlett-Packard will announce the financial roadmap for the business that will become HP Enterprise, holder of the futures of the HP 3000 replacements from the vendor. More than the accounting is in flux, though. Today the vendor announced the executive VP of its Enterprise Group will be gone before the split-up takes place.
Bill Veghte will split the HP scene, leaving "later this summer to pursue a new opportunity." Big vendors like HP rarely track where an exec like Veghte is heading next. It's not in the same direction as the business that makes Integrity servers, the HP-UX operating environment, or the competitive mass storage product lines that some migrators have invested in.
He's been leading the efforts to separate the consumer printer PC side of HP from its Enterprise sibling, a sort of cleaving of what's become a Siamese twin of business at the vendor. It's been a project underway since last fall, employing Veghte after COO work. This is not the kind of announcement you want to release before a massive split is completed. HP's original estimate for revenues of HP Enterprise was $58.4 billion, larger than the PC-printer side.
There have been exits from a seat this high before at HP. Dave Donatelli left the company, and now has landed at arch-rival Oracle. From a tactical perspective, or at least not quite as customer-facing, HP's got to clone 2,600 internal IT systems, extracting and separating the data inside. It's the opposite effort of a merger, with no safety net. The Wall Street Journal says the IT enterprise split could stall the split-up of the company, if the project doesn't go well.It's not all glum forecasting among the enterprise industry analysts, though. One report from banking firm Raymond James says the divided HP could purchase its longtime rival EMC. "We continue to believe that an acquisition of EMC by HP is more than a distinct possibility, as HP strives to increase shareholder value following its tax-free spinoff in November, while EMC deals with a high-profile shareholder activist," the report says.
Donatelli was an EMC kingpin before he arrived at HP, a move that EMC sued over during Donatelli's earliest HP months. The EMC scheme didn't have traction anyplace but the Raymond James report. But HP and EMC have tried to merge before, with almost a year of discussions that petered out last fall. HP announced its split-up plans in the same timeframe.
HP's stock dipped below $30 a share today, and it's down about 12 percent over the past month.
June 29, 2015
Retiring ERP Systems, or Not-Free Parking
About a month ago, a migration company offered a webinar on leaving behind one use of an HP 3000. But the focus at Merino Services was not on MPE, or HP's 3000. The company wanted to help with an exit off MANMAN. In specific, a march from "MANMAN/ERP LN to Infor 10X."
While many manufacturing companies will recognize MANMAN ERP, it's the LN tag that's a little confusing. Terry Floyd, whose Support Group business has been assisting MANMAN users for more than 20 years, tried to pin it down. "ERP LN is Baan, I think – it’s very difficult to tell anymore. It’s not MANMAN, anyway." The target is Infor's 10X, more of a framework for the migration destinies of Infor's parked software. Such parking keeps up support, but nothing else changes.
Merino, which hasn't been on the 3000 community's radar up to now, might not be blamed for conflating a couple of ERP names, or just running them together in a subject line. The state of ERP applications is changing so fast, and declining, that an ERP Graveyard graphic lists the notables and the little-known, next to their current undertakers. Infor, which is the curator of both Baan and MANMAN, has made a business of this in-active retirement for more than a decade. Younger, more adept alternatives have been offered for MANMAN for several decades.
About Infor, Floyd added, "they have bought a lot of near-bankrupt companies. As you know, a lot of people have been trying to migrate companies off of MANMAN for over 20 years." It's a testament to the sticky integration of ERP and the customization capability of MANMAN that this application leads the graveyard in the number of times it's been acquired.Cloud-based ERP is on the rise today, and a half-dozen newer ERP suites like NetSuite, Workday, Plex, and Kenandy are taking the place of classic MPE-based manufacturing IT. A few years back it looked like Microsoft Dynamics was the stable bet to take on some of this mission, but now people in the ERP world are wondering if Dynamics will be acquired, too. Ned Lilly is the CEO of open source ERP software company xTuple, and he writes about ERP gravesites at his ERP Graveyard website. He pointed out a Diginomica column by Phil Wainewright.
This alternative strategy would allow Microsoft to focus on its core platform and product engineering strategy without the conflict of having a sales team intent on winning business away from its growing army of third-party partner vendors. Some or all of the ERP products would doubtless be part of that transaction, while Microsoft would likely prefer to retain the CRM product because of the tight integration that’s possible to its Office properties.
But the ultimate decision may depend on who the buyer will be.... I think it’s more likely that Microsoft would look to sell off some or all of its legacy ERP portfolio to a ‘friendly’ competitor — one that’s committed to the Microsoft stack.
Open source ERP — the Support Group provided guidance for OpenBravo — looks like it may be a migration choice that wouldn't land in a graveyard. Commercial open source demands that some company product-ize the open software, in much the same way that Novell or RedHat turned Linux into an enterprise-worthy solution.
As for any Infor strategy that a MANMAN site would want to study, the busy world of its acquisitions is covered in an Infor Discovery Guide that runs more than 100 pages and 25 solutions, ranging from CloudSuite to a legacy stalwart like Lawson. Not mentioned anywhere in those pages is MANMAN itself, apparently because Infor considers there's not much to discover.
Software like MANMAN still runs the business of some manufacturers. But these customers pay support as if it's a parking fee, since their software is going nowhere. Well, not nowhere: the customers still have the capability to customize their applications themselves, carrying the companies into a future where parking places are discovered, and places to steer a migration are regularly mapped out, as shown below.
June 23, 2015
Migration platform gets Microsoft's retooling
Moving HP 3000 systems to Windows Server can include the use of the .NET framework, and Microsoft is retooling the framework to remain coupled with Visual Studio, rolling out a 2015 VS. The just-previewed development environment, a popular choice for migrating HP 3000 sites headed to Windows, means a new .NET release, as version 4.6 of the .NET Framework comes as part of the new Visual Studio 2015.
Microsoft is making its chief enterprise environment more feature-rich, but the retooling comes at a price. They all do, these revisions. The newest Visual Studio is powered by the new Roslyn compiler, and there are new APIs. Existing .NET apps aren't going to know much about new API capabilities, and so like everything in IT, the .NET frameworks from 4.5.2 backward will begin to age. But ASP.NET gets an upgrade and the Entity Framework data model increases its support for Azure data services and for non-relational databases. Alas, no IMAGE/SQL support in there, but that's what middleware from providers like MB Foster will continue to provide.
Users like the San Bernadino County Schools have been moving apps to .NET from MPE/iX, a project that was first scheduled to be complete at the schools by 2015. Four years ago, when the school system first started talking about using .NET, 2015 might've been outside of Microsoft's plans to keep .NET a strategic IT choice. VS 2015 as well as the newest framework put that worry to rest.
For more than four years, the COBOL code at the San Bernadino schools has been migrated into Microsoft's C#, and the dev environment has been Visual Studio. NET has been a Microsoft success, despite some bumps over the last 10 years.
As COBOL platforms go, Micro Focus has released Visual COBOL R3 to bring COBOL to a range deployment platforms including .NET, the Java Virtual Machine and the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform.
Dave Evans, who's going to migrate out of the district's IT shop before MPE does completely, said that initially the migration called for a "clean sheet" approach, rethinking and designing the apps from scratch. "As the amount of time left to get this done is decreasing," he said four years ago this week, "we're starting to switch to making a pretty screen for the user from the Windows world. Pretty much, the back end of this stuff we'll take as written on the HP 3000, and rewrite it over to .NET."
June 18, 2015
Throwback: A Zealous Emulator Wonder
Five years ago this week, Stromasys announced the launch of its project to emulate the HP 3000's hardware set. Emulation was a quest for many years before 2010, though. The OpenMPE advocacy group was founded on the pursuit of an emulator for 3000s that would not be built after 2003. By 2004, the community was hearing about the timeline for emulator development. It did not promise to be a short journey.
We revisit those days to remind our readers about a time when then-recent 3000 boxes were standing in the way of making a virtualized 3000. Our podcast for this week includes comments from one of the first emulator vendor candidates, as well as the ultimate developer of a product that marks five years on 3000 planning timelines.
Along the way, the tracks on the trail to making HP's 3000 systems virtually unneeded followed the hard road HP learned about migrations. More than half the systems that were turned off between 2003 and 2008 went to other vendors, according to one report from an emulator vendor. That period saw Hewlett-Packard lose many customers while they departed the 3000, according to the Chief Technology Officer Robert Boers.
What's remarkable about the emergence of Charon from Stromasys is the persistent dedication the vendor showed for the concept. It demands patience to be in the world of emulators. In 2004, nobody was even certain about the best release date for an emulator. HP-branded 3000s in that year were still commonplace, and all had falling price tags. By the time Charon made its debut, that hardware had become seven years older, and used systems were commonly more than a decade old. Time has not enhanced the vintage of these systems. An evergreen emulator, first announced five years ago this week, changed all of that.
June 17, 2015
Passwords, MPE, and Security Flaws
Editor's note: in the past 24 hours the world has faced another breach of the LastPass security database, putting hundreds of thousands of passwords at risk. LastPass assures all of its users their passwords are secure after the breach — but change your master password anyway, they add. This makes it a good time to revisit security practices as they relate to the HP 3000 (thanks to Vesoft's Eugene Volokh) as well as our resident security expert Steve Hardwick. Sound advice stays fresh.
More than 30 years ago, VEsoft's Eugene Volokh chronicled the fundamentals of security for 3000 owners trying to protect passwords and user IDs. Much of that access hasn't changed at all, and the 3000's security by obscurity has helped it evade things like Denial of Service attacks, routinely reported and then plugged for today's Unix-based systems. Consider these 3000 fundamentals from Eugene's Burn Before Reading, hosted on the Adager website.
Logon security is probably the most important component of your security fence. This is because many of the subsequent security devices (e.g. file security) use information that is established at logon time, such as user ID and account name. Thus, we must not only forbid unauthorized users from logging on, but must also ensure that even an authorized user can only log on to his user ID.
If one and only one user is allowed to use a particular use ID, he may be asked to enter some personal information (his mother's maiden name?) when he is initially added to the system, and then be asked that question (or one of a number of such personal questions) every time he logs on. This general method of determining a user's authorizations by what he knows we will call "knowledge security."
Unfortunately, the knowledge security approach, although one of the best available, has one major flaw -- unlike fingerprints, information is easily transferred, be it revealed voluntarily or involuntarily; thus, someone who is not authorized to use a particular user id may nonetheless find out the user's password. You may say: "Well, we change the passwords every month, so that's not a problem." The very fact that you have to change the passwords every month means that they tend to get out through the grapevine! A good security system does not need to be redone every month, especially since that would mean that -- at least toward the end of the month -- the system is already rather shaky and subject to penetration.
There's a broader range of techniques to store passwords securely, especially important for the 3000 owner who's moving to more popular, less secured IT like cloud computing. We've asked a security pro who manages the pre-payment systems at Oxygen Financial to share these practices for that woolier world out there beyond MPE and the 3000.
By Steve Hardwick, CISSP
There has been a lot in the news recently about password theft and hacking into email accounts. Everything needs a password to access it. One of the side effects of the cloud is the need to be able to separate information from the various users that access a centrally located service. In the case where I have data on my PC, I can create one single password that controls access to all of the apps that reside on the drive plus all of the associated data.There is a one-to-one physical relationship between the owner and the physical machine that hosts the information. This allows a simpler mechanism to validate the user. In the cloud world it is not as easy. There is no longer a physical relationship with the user. In fact a user may be accessing several different physical locations when running applications or accessing information. This has led to a dramatic increase in the number of passwords and authentication methods that are in use.
I just did a count of my usernames and passwords and I have 37 different accounts (most with unique usernames and password). Plus there are several sites where I use the same usernames and password combinations. You may ask why are some unique and why are some shared. The answer is based on the risk of a username or password be compromised. If I consider an account to have a high value, high degree of loss/impact if hacked, then it gets a unique username or password.
Email accounts are a good example. I have a unique username and password for my five email accounts. However, I do have one email account that is reserved solely for providing a username for other types of access. When I go to a site that requires an email address to set up an account , that is the one I use. Plus, I am not always selecting a unique password. The assumption is that if that username and password is stolen, then the other places it can be used are only other web site access accounts of low value. I also have a second email account that I use to set up more sensitive assess, google drive for example. This allows me to limit the damage if one of the accounts is compromised, and so I don't end up with a daisy chain of hacked accounts.
So the next question is how do you go about generating a bunch of passwords? One easy way is to go into your favorite search engine and type in password generator. You will get a fairly good list of applications that you can use to generate medium to strong passwords. But what if you don't want to download an application -- what is another way?
When I used to teach security this was one trick I would share with my students. Write a list of four or five short words that are easy to remember. Since my first name is Steve we can use that. This of four or five short number 4-5 digits in length 1999 for example. Now pick a word and number combination and intersperse the numbers and letters S1t9e9v9e would be the result of Steve and 1999. Longer words and longer numbers make strong passwords – phone numbers and last names works well. With 5 words and 5 numbers you get 25 passwords. One nice benefit of this approach comes when you need to change your password. Write the number backwards and merge the word and data back together.
Once you have created good passwords, your next challenge is how to remember them all. Some of the passwords I use I tend to remember due to repetitive use. The password for logging into my system is one I tend to remember, even through it is 11 characters long. But many of my passwords I use infrequently -- my router for example, and many have the “remember me” function when I log on.
What happens when I want to recall one of these? Well the first thing is not to write them down unless you absolutely have to. You would be amazed how many times I have seen someone password taped on the underside of their laptop. A better option is to store them on your machine. How do you do that securely?Well, there are several ways.
One easy way is to use a password vault or password manager. This creates a single encrypted file that you can access with a single username and password. Username and password combinations can then be entered into the password vault application together with their corresponding account. The big advantage is that it is now easy to access the access data with one username and password.
The one flaw: what happens if the drive crashes that contains the vault application and data? If you wanted to get started with a password vault application, InfoWorld offered a good article that compares some leading products.
Another option is to roll your own vault services. Create a text file and enter all of your account / username / password combinations. Once you are done, obtain some encryption technology. There are open source products -- truecrypt is the leader -- or you can use the encryption built into your OS. The advantage of using open source is that it runs on multiple operating systems. Encrypt the text file by using your software. Take caution to not use the default file name the application gives you, as it will be based on your text file name.
Once you have created your encrypted file from the text file, open the text file again. Select all the text in the file and delete it. Then copy a large block of text into the file and save it (more then you had with the passwords). Then delete the file. This will make sure that the text file cannot easily be recovered. If you know how to securely delete the file do that instead. Now you can remotely store the encrypted password file in a remote location, cloud storage, another computer, USB drive etc. You will then have a copy of your password file you can recover should you lose access to the one on your main machine.
Now, if you do not want to use encryption, let's look at why not. Well, most programs use specific file extensions for their encrypted file. When auditing, the first thing I would look for is files with encryption extensions. I would then look for any files that were similar in size or name to see if I could discover the source. This includes looking through the deleted file history.
The other option is steganography, or stego for short. The simple definition is the ability to bury information into other data – for example, pictures. Rather than give a detailed description of the technology here, take a look at the Wikipedia page. There is also a page with some stego tools on it . For a long time my work laptop had a screen saver that contained all my passwords. I am thinking of putting a picture up on Facebook next.
Here are a few simple rules on handling multiple passwords
1. Try and use uniques usernames and password for sensitive account. You can use the same username password combination for low sensitive accounts.
2. Run through an exercise and ask yourself, what happens if this account is hacked. So don't use the same username and password for everything.
3. Do not write down your passwords to store them.
4. Make sure you have a secure backup copy of your passwords; use encryption or steganography.
If you want to do some extra credit reading on passwords, there are two good references out there and they are free. The National Institute of Standards and Technologies has a library on security topics that is used by the federal government., a good publication on passwords.
The SP 800-118 DRAFT Guide to Enterprise Password Management focuses on topics such as defining password policy requirements and selecting centralized and local password management solutions.
Steve Hardwick is the Product Manager at Oxygen Financial, which offers advanced payment management solutions. He has over 20 years of worldwide technology experience. He was also a CISSP instructor with Global Knowledge for three years and held security positions at several companies.
June 16, 2015
Migrating Like Mercury, or NoSQL Is Plenty
More than a decade ago, database advocate Wirt Atmar said that "killing the HP 3000 was a little bit like hitting a drop of mercury with a hammer; it caused the drops to squirt out in every direction, with people migrating every which way to a whole host of new systems and new databases." The newest databases of that decade were modernized iterations of SQL, like MySQL and Postgres. In our current era, however, the schemas of Structured Query Language data management have begun to turn into a liability. What were once touted as an advantage over IMAGE (at least until IMAGE acquired SQL queries to become IMAGE/SQL) are now being viewed as not fluid enough.
The reason lies in how much we track today. Billion-record databases are not uncommon anymore. Establishing a query structure that remains in place for every search is slower than devising the best one on every search. That's the promise that NoSQL and its cousin file system Hadoop offer. When data leaps into the realm of the Internet of Things and tracks instances as small as light bulb blowouts, then database technology like SQL devised in the 1980s, no matter how much it's updated, won't be able to keep up.
SQL will be replaced with NoSQL, once the messiness of data becomes the norm. Oracle and PostgreSQL and MS SQL rule today. Even Microsoft Access has a ready enterprise base, as simple its structure is. But data is growing fast enough to become BigData. And the HP 3000 community which has migrated, or soon will, is going to look for newer data structures and tools to send its SQL data into NoSQL's schemas.
MB Foster is working to be this kind of tool provider. Tomorrow on June 17 the company will demonstrate how its UDACentral product moves the data today. The aim for versions in the years to come is support for BigData's tools of NoSQL and Hadoop.The demonstration covers the latest workflow for UDACentral, but the questions the company asks go beyond a tour of this year's features. What are the changes to prepare for over the next few years for data integration requirements and workflows? NoSQL and especially Hadoop, designed for managing BigData, tend to be championed by executives at the C-Level of companies.
That's a situation that will feel a lot like the push toward Open Systems in the early '90s. Less technical leaders will start asking for a tool that promises the most. It will be up to the technical managers to deliver, starting with the data they've got on hand today in SQL databases.
Looking ahead, even while increasing today's feature set, is an attribute of a vendor dedicated to the future of data. The HP 3000 was built around the intrinsic combination of file system and database management. The managers of these systems understand the exponential value that such a combination provides. For its time, the HP 3000 never had a rival that blended files and data so efficiently.
More than a decade ago Atmar's company AICS Research looked ahead to supporting "PostgreSQL on Linux, SQLServer on NT, Oracle on IBM, based on whatever migration patterns we see in the user community. Ultimately, it is our intention to support every common combination of host operating systems and databases."
A data extraction and loading tool makes that kind of support more than just a future requirement. Any tool like that — with a track record of embracing one database structure after another — can support the growth of data into BigData. The concept of BigData seems like a buzzword. So did cloud computing, too. And all it takes is one corporate acquisition for a BigData IT shop to develop a need to ingest data from something as relatively modest as an IMAGE/SQL database.
NoSQL and Hadoop offer another benefit, one that will resonate with HP 3000 managers. They're open source solutions, even if the technology is packaged by vendors like Cloudera or MongoDB. After a forced migration from the HP 3000 and IMAGE/SQL, migrators won't have to remain lashed to a proprietary data schema like Oracle's or Microsoft's. The BigData solutions will, as Atmar put it years ago, "be providing users with significantly more protection against vendor abandonment than they've had in the past."
June 15, 2015
ERP floats changes for classic models
Since the HP 3000 got popular in the 1970s, manufacturing has always claimed a majority share of its business use. MANMAN and the work of ASK led the new minicomputer into major corporations and thriving manufacturers. To this day, that software runs operations in places like Rockwell Collins, Calsonic, and Amatek Chandler. But the day of changes to classic ERP is coming. One of the things that's sparking it is the regularity of change.
Terry Floyd of the Support Group, which provides app support for companies using MANMAN and other ERP software, updated us on the use of alternatives to MANMAN. With a package as comprehensive as that suite, companies have to be cautious when replacing it. "Things have changed," he said. "The new stuff is NetSuite, Workday, Plex, and Kenandy, and a dozen others," he said. It's a lot better than Microsoft Dynamics, a solution we reported on earlier. The trend is illustrated in the chart above (click for detail.)
And among the changes taking place today is adoption of cloud ERP.
Kenandy says it's is making headway because it's more flexible and responsive to change in business than the classic ERP platforms. Cloud-based ERP is becoming a replacement choice because its fluid design can be responsive when business grows.
Companies running a legacy ERP system -- those are the MANMAN sites -- have to factor in the cost, time and effort of scaling a system to respond to new business requirements. Some of these MANMAN customers are being acquired, since they're efficient enterprises. "What happens when you open a new facility or attempt to integrate a new acquisition?" Kenandy asks in a white paper.
As a small company running on a combination of business applications, what happens when your business expands? Can you easily integrate new business lines? Can your systems easily adapt to new processes? What happens when you decide to scale and develop a global presence? Do the applications support multiple sites, multiple currencies and multiple languages? Moving to a cloud ERP solution allows you to easily scale across all these dimensions.
In addition to costs for integrating with an acquisition, or a new ownership partner, for additional hardware, ancillary software and maintenance, there's time needed to scale.
Any organization will go through the process of capital planning, hardware and software procurement, installation, and on-boarding — a process that could take weeks or months. Moving to a cloud ERP solution allows you to bypass much of this effort and scale more quickly. New users, new sites or new acquisitions can be on-boarded and then go live in a matter of days.
Floyd's company broke ground for MANMAN alternatives with the IFS ERP package. Kenandy, which traces its roots back to the ASK founders, is a point on the next horizon for ERP replacement.
June 10, 2015
Making Migrations of Data Your Big Tool
Data is the one element that every business computer user has in common. Whether they're still using MPE/iX or never had a single 3000 online, data is what defines a company's profile and mission. Even within the Windows environments that have been so popular for migrating 3000 sites, data must be migrated. The benefits go beyond consolidation and efficiency, too.
Birket Foster checked in with us to catch us up on what he's been showing IT managers for the past year about managing and migrating data. The tool for this kind of project is MB Foster's UDACentral. The software has been the crucial element in the company's services work, both for the 3000 sites on the move as well as companies that have no 3000 history at all. Foster's company does more business all the time with the latter kind of customer, he said.
"Not every 3000 vendor made this leap," he said. "These are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our revenues."
The UDACentral mission is going beyond a tool for MB Foster to use in engagements. The company's now offering it as Software as a Service. It can be rented for the duration of a migration, either of data or systems. On June 17 at 2 PM Eastern, the tool will be demonstrated in a Wednesday Webinar.
Foster said the software has evolved to include an entity relationship mapper, and the migration speed now clocks in at just 8 hours to move 300 million records. "Rows," Foster reminded us, because at one site the SQL term used for them illustrates how IMAGE never ran a day there.Customers are revising data structures when migrating data, in one case consolidating 40 separate databases down to a more efficient number. The Entity-Relationship builder tracks elements like keys, table names and record counts, all of those rows. At one site in the retail world, a migration of data simply wasn't going to finish soon enough to be possible.
"They told us that they had a rogue SQL Server database they wanted to move into Oracle," Foster explained, "and after using their in-house scripts for the migration, it wasn't finishing any faster than 8 days." The customer recognized moving the database, crucial for operations, could only take place on off hours, "and they knew they were never going to get any 8-day weekends. They wanted us to move it for them."
After a couple of days of tech support, it only took 90 minutes using UDACentral to move 80 million records. "We also trained them on our data migration methodology when we trained them on the software," Foster said. His company's already lining up more data migration projects for the fall.
Consolidating databases brings more than efficient management. In one customer site, data was being rekeyed as much as six times for various databases, so introducing errors and creating bad data was a real risk. But getting a Key Performance Indicator dashboard, and perhaps extracting data into a custom data mart, are genuine benefits that come from establishing an up to date relationship with your data structures. The biggest benefit might come from using the techniques in Big Data strategy.
"It's hard to steer your enterprise from the rear view mirror," Foster says. UDACentral will have support for Hadoop, Teradata and NoSQL databases in its next version, the kind of data resources used to develop forward-looking views of what customer transactions can predict in key performance.
"We're trying to help people master how to do Big Data," Foster said. Smaller companies can have this within reach now. "They'll have something to grab trends from their data, because there are patterns in there. Even moving from legacy systems, you can see better from a newer dashboard." That's the long-term benefit of being able to easily migrate, integrate and move data, he says.
June 09, 2015
What to Expect Out Of a Free Emulator
Emulation has been in the toolset of HP 3000 users for decades. It began with emulation of HP's hardware, yes, but it was the hundreds of thousands of HP terminals that were soon replicated in software. Just like with the Stromasys product to mimic 3000 CPU work, terminal emulators like those from Minisoft and WRQ virtualized hardware using Intel-based PCs.
Early in this century, even those emulators received some tribute: the first high-functionality 3000 terminal emulator distributed as freeware. But can you make that QCTerm software do the work of a Reflection, or MS/92? We asked Brian Edminster, curator of the open source repository MPE-OpenSource.org. An early adopter of QCTerm who worked to beta test the early versions, he says he uses the latest version and compared it to Reflection's V. 14.
"QCTerm has a number of things to recommend it," he said. "It's fast, and it's free. In addition to regular Telnet, it also supports Advanced Telnet — which can reduce bandwidth use and feels more responsive over a slow connection, because it works more like NS-VT."
Edminster says that QCTerm is simpler than Reflection, and acts more like a cross between a browser and conventional Windows program. But he notes that there are some drawbacks, too, such as the lack of support for the software.
"It also doesn't do NS-VT," he said, "which is not really a problem, since Telnet and Advanced Telnet are available for all late-model versions of MPE/iX. It is also less sophisticated than Reflection -- not as configurable, no file-transfer ability, and has no 'programmatic' interface."
Another downside for this free emulator is that it won't accommodate using the vi editor and Advanced Telnet. But the list of technology that QCTerm can employ is thorough.Edminster says he uses QCTerm with QEdit, QUAD, VPlus and Formspec, on Windows XP, 7, and 8 PCs. "In general, anything that would work on a 700/92 terminal works with QCTerm, including NMMGR.PUB.SYS, which is notoriously picky." I've heard that it'll work under WINE on Linux systems as well. Come to think of it, I can't recall anything that a CRT would do that QCTerm couldn't, but I'm sure somebody will prove me wrong someday."
The freeware was not intended to be an exact work-alike for a 700/92 terminal, nor was it designed to work like Reflection either. The documentation "makes it clear that QCTerm was intended to be something different, but better," Edminster says. "I think that for the most part, it hit the mark, even though the QCForms feature was never fully realized."
There is also a little-known basic scripting language for QCTerm. Unlike Reflection's scripting, QCTerm's commands are really only useful for automating connections and logins. It allows you to set up a script containing connection and login commands in a text file on the PC. This can then appear as a clickable icon on your desktop that can start QCTerm. "It will either dial a modem or make a network connection, then navigate the login process," Edminster said."I use this quite often now."
A page of the documentation includes instructions on how to utilize this Autolaunch Scripting, Edminster reported.
It's much simpler than what Reflection can do, but for most vanilla access to your MPE/iX based applications (that is, if your application doesn't expect Reflection) the scripting should work just fine. I'd urge testing it in your own environment with your own applications and tools before assuming that you can ditch other terminal programs.
One of the applications that I support actually has dependencies for Reflection coded into it (mostly to programmatically automate file-transfers). But aside from that specific functionality, QCTerm works like a champ.
June 08, 2015
In 20th year, NewsWire digital turns 10 today
A decade ago today, this blog received its first post. On June 8 of 2005, a death in the 3000's family was in the news. Bruce Toback, creator of several 3000 software products and a man whose intellect was as sharp as his wit, died as suddenly as HP's futures for the HP 3000 did. I wrote a brief tribute, because Toback's writing on the 3000-L made him a popular source of information. His posts signed off with Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem about a candle with both ends alight, which made it burn so bright.
I always thought of Bruce as having bright ends of technical prowess along with a smart cynicism that couldn't help but spark a chuckle. His programming lies at the heart of Formation, a ROC Software product which Bruce created for Tymlabs, an extraordinary HP software company here in Austin during 1980s and early 90s. Toback could demonstrate a sharp wit as well as trenchant insight. From one of his messages in 2004:
HP engineer [about a Webcast to encourage migration]: During the program, we will discuss the value and benefits of Transitioning from the HP e3000 platform to Microsoft's .NET.
Bruce: Oh... a very short program, then.
In the same way Toback's candle burned at both ends, I think of this blog as the second light we fired up, a decade after the fire of the NewsWire's launch. Up to this year we burned them both. Now the blog, with its more than 2,600 articles and almost 400,000 pageviews, holds up the light for those who remain, and lights the way for those who are going. This entry is a thank-you for a decade of the opportunity to blog about the present, the future, and the past.
We always knew we had to do more than give the community a place to connect and read what they believed. We're supposed to carry forward what they know. The NewsWire in all of its forms, printed and digital, is celebrating its 20th year here in 2015. A decade ago our June 2005 blogging included a revival of news that's 20 years old by now. It's news that's still can still have an impact on running a 3000 today.In the blog's first month of 2005, I wrote
"HP 3000 enhancements can travel like distant starlight: They sometimes take years to show up on customer systems. A good example is jumbo datasets for the 3000's database. Jumbos, the 3000's best tool for supporting datasets bigger than 4GB, first surfaced out of HP's labs in 1995, just when the NewsWire was emerging. We put our news online in the months before we'd committed to print, and our report of September 1 had this to say."
HP will make the enhancement available as part of its patch system, bypassing the delay of waiting for another full release of MPE/iX. But there are already discussions from the HP 3000 community that a more thorough change will be needed before long — because 40-gigabyte datasets someday might not be large enough, either.
"Why care about 20- or 10-year-old news? Because the 3000 has such a long lifespan where it's permitted to keep serving. In the conservative timeline of 3000 management, jumbos were the distant starlight, only becoming commonplace on 3000s a decade later. Jumbos are finally going to get eclipsed by LargeFile datasets. HP's engineers say their alpha testing to fix a critical bug in LFDS is going well."
"Like the jumbos before them, LFDS are also going to get a slow embrace. How slowly did jumbos go into production systems? Five years after jumbos first emerged, John Burke wrote in our net.digest column "it is hard to tell about the penetration of jumbo datasets in the user community beyond users of the Amisys application." His column also offered some tips on using jumbos, even while database experts in the community continued to lobby for a way to build larger files."
That reporting in 2005 marked the first time in a decade that 3000 customers could build a dataset as big as they needed. Up until then, LFDS had not been recommended for 3000 customers except in experimental implementations.
The nature of the 3000 community's starlight made a 10-year-old enhancement like jumbos current and vital. Alfredo Rego of Adager once said that his database software was designed like a satellite, something that might be traveling for decades or more and need the reliability of spacecraft to go beyond the reach of support transmissions. HP's signal for 3000s has died by now. We hope to repeat signals, as well as report, for more than another decade, onto the cusp of MPE's calendar reset of 2027. Thanks for receiving these transmissions.
June 04, 2015
More open HP shares its source experience
It's not fair to Hewlett-Packard to portray its Discover meeting this week as just another exercise in putting dreams of industry-rocking memristor computing to rest. The company also shared the source code for one of its products with the world, a tool the vendor has used itself in a profitable software product.
HP’s Chief Technology Officer Martin Fink, who also heads up HP Labs, announced the release of Grommet, HP’s own internal-use advanced open source app. The platform will be completely open source, licensed for open use in creating apps' user experience, or UX as it's known in developer circles. Fink said Grommet was HP’s contribution to the IT industry and the open source community.
HP says "Grommet easily and efficiently scales your project with one code base, from phones to desktops, and everything in between." The vendor has been using it to develop its system management software HP OneView for more than three years. The code on GitHub and a style guide help create apps with consumer interfaces, so there's a uniform user experience for internal apps. Application icons like the one on the left are available from an interface template at an HP website.
The gift of HP's software R&D to a community of users is a wide improvement over the strategy in the year that followed an exit announcement from MPE/iX futures. A campaign to win an MPE/iX open source license, like the Creative Commons 4.0 license for Grommet, came to naught within three years of that HP notification. There were some differences, such as the fact that HP still was selling MPE/iX through October of 2003, and it was collecting support money for the environment as well.
The 3000 community wanted to take MPE/iX into open source status, and that's why its advocacy group was named OpenMPE. It took eight more years, but HP did help in a modest way to preserve the maintainability of MPE/iX. The vendor sold source code licenses for $10,000 each to support companies. These were limited licenses, and they remain a vestige of what HP might have done -- a move not only echoed by Grommet, but reflected in HP's plan to move OpenVMS to a third party.
"I guess there is a difference between licensing the MPE code and then distributing it," our prolific commenter Tim O'Neill said last week.
I have heard that HP hangs onto the distribution rights because they are afraid of liability. Surely they do not, at this point, still seek to make money off it, do they? Is there some secret desire within HP to once again market it?
It feels safe to say not a bit of desire exists in HP today, even though Grommet shows the vendor can be generous with more mainstream tech. In at least one case, HP's offer of help with MPE's future was proactive, if not that generous.Steve Suraci of Pivital Solutions tells a story about that MPE/iX source license. He was called by Alvina Nishimoto of HP in 2009 and asked, "You want to purchase one of these, don't you?" The answer was yes. Nobody knew what good a source code license might do in the after-market. But HP was not likely to make the licensing offer twice, and the companies who got one took on that $10,000 expense as an investment in support operations.
Pining over Grommet or the sweeter disposition of OpenVMS won't change much in the strategy of owning or migrating from MPE/iX. Open source has become a mainstream enterprise IT scheme by 2015, pumped up by the Linux success story. O'Neill said he still believes an open source MPE/iX would be a Linux alternative. He reported he recently discovered the Posix interface in MPE/iX. Posix was supposed to be a way to give MPE the ability to run Unix applications, using 1990 thinking.
The aim for Posix was widely misunderstood. It was essential to an MPE/iX user experience that didn't materialize as HP hoped. But John Burke, our net.digest and Hidden Value editor for many years, noted in the weeks after that exit announcement that HP's training on Posix expressed that desire of bringing the Unix apps to the 3000.
The following is an example from HP training:
"Before we proceed, let's stop to ask a question, just to ensure you've got the fundamental idea. Which of the following statements best summarizes the reason why HP has brought POSIX compliant interfaces to the MPE/iX operating system and the HP3000?
- POSIX is the first step in HP's plan to move all HP3000 users to UNIX
- POSIX is a tool that HP is using to bring new applications to MPE from the UNIX environment.
- POSIX is a piece of software that HP is using to eventually combine the HP3000 and the HP9000 into a single system.
Choose the best answer, and press the corresponding key: ‘1’, ‘2’ or ‘3’."