January 20, 2016
Pricing, Value, and Emulating Classics
Editor's Note: Yesterday we ran a story about the impact of proprietary software lock-in, as reported from a manager's office where HP 3000s still do their work. Amid that story was a quote about predaceous pricing (love that word), the act of outre increases to the cost of emulator MPE server solutions because of upgrade charges. It's blocked several adoptions of Charon HPA, even among managers who love the ideal of non-HP hardware that keeps MPE apps alive. Tim O'Neill wrote the following editorial, prompted by our article. Although companies do need to generate capital to keep supplying software, the matter of how much to charge for a shift to an emulator remains a flash point.
Editorial by Tim O'Neill
James Byrne brings up important point about proprietary software running proprietary hardware: it enabled predatory pricing, both by HP and by third parties.
At this stage, it appears that Charon could be bought affordably, but the problem is the third parties' still seeing the opportunity to gouge existing customers.
This is why businesses become former customers and change to shareware and open source operating systems and databases, e.g. Linux and open database systems like Postgres. There are still costs as a part of such a change. They might need to hire more in-house staff to do what HP and third parties used to do for that one huge cover-all price. It might not be wise to entrust critical applications to shareware, but are customers avoiding doing so?
Pivital Solutions: Your complete
HP e3000 resource
January 19, 2016
It's becoming an MPE Server, this HP 3000
Hewlett-Packard stopped building 3000s in 2003, cutting off a product line in the belief that users would leave the server. But after thousands of them did just that, thinking there would be no more MPE/iX servers to be purchased, an emulator emerged. After more than four years, it might be changing the concept of what is an HP 3000. Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies wonders what's the future for the system that delivers MPE/iX apps.
"It seems to me that it's almost more accurate to call these beloved hosts 'MPE/iX' systems," he said, "rather than 3000s, since — eventually, at least — no one will be running 'original' HP hardware."
We have asked around the community about how this concept plays out. James Byrne, 3000 manager at logistics provider Hart & Lyne, offers one view on what makes up his idea of a device to use MPE/iX.
I consider our systems to be MPE/iX rather than HP 3000. The hardware does not really matter to us any more, since most of the rest of our critical infrastructure is already running on commodity Intel 64 bit boxes. We simply keep two or three of everything running on different 3000 hosts most of the time, and have them continually cross checking each other. That approach has covered us well in the one or two serious incidents we have experienced these past 15 years since HP gave up on the 3000.
If the Charon emulator was priced in the same range as a used HP 3000, and ran on Linux, and used KVM virtualization, then we would in all probability move to it as an interim step, if only to escape the aging hardware MPE/iX is running on.
January 18, 2016
The GSP makes the A and N worthwhile
It's a powerful part of an HP 3000 that runs whenever the server is plugged in. The Guardian Service Processor (GSP) is the maintenance control console commanding the ultimate class of the server to reboot, do memory dumps and even fully power down the 3000. Consultant Craig Lalley of EchoTech has noted the GSP has one fewer feature than its Unix counterpart, though.
"On HP-UX it is possible to reset the GSP from the host OS," he said. "I have not found a way from MPE."
From time to time a reset may be required for diagnostics services on A-Class and N-Class servers. If your 3000 gets loving care from a consultant or service provider outside your computer room, you may need a paper clip to keep up service levels.
The GSP can also reveal the 3000's speedometer, as profiled near the bottom of a webpage from Allegro Consultants.
The gap between 3000 and HP's HP-UX Integrity GSPs is a common shortfall of HP designs. Even though the 3000's MPE/iX includes a Posix interface, HP didn't engineer enough Unix into the 3000 to enable some administration that HP-UX users enjoy. (That lack of Unix can sometimes be a good thing when a security breach opens up in the Unix world.)
But when a 3000 needs a GSP reset, pressing a recessed button on the 3000's back will do the trick if a telnet command doesn't work. You can telnet to the IP address of the GSP, log in and do the reset. But you can also get someone to press the physical reset button at the back of the machine. It's recessed into the cabinet so you may need a magic paper clip bent just so.
Lalley calls the GSP, which HP introduced with its final generation of 3000s, one of the most useful things in the A-Class and N-Class boxes.
The GSP is a small computer that is always powered on when the plug has power. With it, it is possible to telnet to and BE the console. While multiple admins can telnet in and watch, only one has the keyboard.
It is possible to reboot, memory dumps and even fully power down the HP 3000 from the GSP. Use the command PC OFF.
It is probably the best feature of the N-Class and A-class boxes. The problem is sometimes it needs to be reset, usually with a paper clip. Since the GSP is a different CPU, this reset can be done during business hours.
January 15, 2016
Competitive upgrading lives on for 3000s
In the 1990s, HP contracted to send its ODBC middleware development to MB Foster. The result was ODBCLink/SE, bundled into MPE/iX from the 5.5 release onward. The software gave the 3000 its first community-wide connection to reporting tools popular on PCs. HP decided that the MB Foster lead in development time was worth licensing, instead of rebuilding inside the 3000 labs. Outside labs had built parts of the 3000's fundamental software before then. But ODBCLink/SE was the first time independent software retained its profile, while it was operating inside of the 3000's FOS. Every 3000 running 5.5 and later now had middleware.
Other ODBC solutions were available in that timeframe. Minisoft still sells and supports its product. That's one reason why MB Foster's running a competitive upgrade offer for users of the Minisoft middleware. The upgrade was announced yesterday. 3000 owners who make the switch from Minisoft for IMAGE ODBC to Foster's software will get a full version of UDALink for the cost of only the annual support payments.
This kind of competitive offer was one of Minisoft's sales tools while it competed with WRQ for terminal emulation seats. There was a period where NS/VT features were not a part of every Reflection package, but were a staple in the Minisoft MS/92.
Foster's ODBC software has been extended to use 64-bit ODBC drivers, embrace Suprtool's Self Describing Files, and more. UDALink was a part of the migration that the Washington State community college consortium pulled off in 2011 when it moved 34 systems to Unix. The vendor has continued to develop to make a state of the art middleware solution.
Almost as notable: seeing MB Foster compete for business like vendors did routinely in the 1990s. The upgrade offer tells us that there are 3000 sites out there still looking to extend their development cycles. UDALink is also built for platforms other than the 3000, but any outreach to capture MPE/iX customers is news here in 2016. Chris Whitehead is fielding the calls and emails for the upgrade offer, which runs through June of this year.
January 14, 2016
HP's 3000 now at $149 until Sunday
Google is happy to trawl the Web for HP 3000 news, a search that I've had in place for the past 10 years. I receive a lot of notices about horsepower of auto engines (the HP) and a few about printers. But today a link showed up that features a computer called the HP 3000, currently selling for $149 plus shipping.
There are a few unique and important qualifiers. To start, this is an HP3000 model with an Intel server, literally a PC powered by an Xeon X3330 CPU at 2.8 MHz. That's a quad-core processor, though, and the box is already loaded with 4GB of memory. (It's a start, but nowhere near enough RAM to power software such as, for instance, the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator.)
In short, this is an HP3000 built by Hewlett-Packard that can run MPE/iX, but does not use PA-RISC. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has not restricted the use of "3000" to the PA-RISC servers well-loved by the MPE community. Over on the HP Inc. side, there's a large-scale printer also called an HP 3000.
This HP3000 running a Xeon chip has another, less significant qualifier. It's being sold by a New Zealand owner on TradeMe.co.nz, "Where Kiwis Buy and Sell." And the shipping options don't go beyond Auckland, or the North and South Islands.
However, this TradeMe model might be something that could be shipped to the 3000 stalwarts Ken and Jeanette Nutsford. The former chairs of SIGRAPID and SIGCOBOL still live in NZ, when they're not gadding about the globe on their epic cruise calendars. Their total mileage easily runs into the hundreds of thousands. Trans-Pacific flights are embedded in their history. So perhaps the 6,693 miles to the US is not completely out of reach, in a hop. The Nutsfords travel regularly to the US, and this PC looks like it would be cargo-bay ready.
Yes, you could file this article under clickbait. It's an online auction after all, and $149 is only today's price. However, if you consider your systems to be MPE/iX servers by now, rather than the Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC 3000 hardware that hosts that OS, this is technically a server that can run your apps.
January 13, 2016
Using Store-To-Disk for Backup Preservation
By Brian Edminster
Second of two parts
Yesterday I outlined some of the powers of the Posix program pax, as well as tar, to move MPE/iX backup files offsite. Here’s a warning. There are some file types that cannot be backed up by tar/pax while also storing their attributes: ;CIR (circular) and ;MSG (message) files (and possibly others. I haven’t tested all possible file types yet. Also, there is an issue with tar that is a fairly well known and has been discussed on the 3000 newsgroup. Occasionally it does not un-tar correctly. It is unclear if and when this was fixed, but I’d love to hear from anybody that might be in the know, or which specific situations to avoid.
Regardless of these limitations, I’ve found a simple way around this. Use store-to-disk to make your backup, then tar to wrap it, so as to preserve the store-to-disk files’ characteristics, before shipping the files off-system. Later, when you retrieve your tar backups and un-tar them, you’ll get your original store-to-disk files back without having to specify the proper ‘;REC= , CODE= , and DISC=’ options on an FTP ‘GET’. I’ve been doing this for several months now on several systems, and I have not had any failures.
January 12, 2016
Backing Up Your 3000 Backup Files
By Brian Edminster
Once store-to-disk backups on the 3000 are regularly being processed, it’s highly desirable to move them offsite — for the same reasons that it’s desirable to rotate tape media to offsite storage. You want to protect against site-wide catastrophic failures. It could be something as simple as fire, flood, or a disgruntled employee, or as unusual as earthquake or act of war.
Regardless of the most pressing reason, it really is important to keep at least some of your backups offsite, so as to facilitate rebuilding / recovering from scratch, either at your own facility, or at a backup/recovery site.
The problem comes in that the MPE/iX file system is far more structured than Unix, Windows, or any other non-MPE/iX file system-based storage mechanisms. While transferring a file off MPE/iX is easy via FTP, sftp/scp, or rsync, retrieving it is problematic, at least if you wish the retrieved files and the original store-to-disk files to be identical (i.e., with the same file characteristics: filecode, recsize, blockfactor, type, and so forth).
What would be optimal is automatic preservation of these attributes, so that a file could be moved to any offsite storage that could communicate with the MPE/iX system. Posix on MPE/iX comes to the rescue.
January 11, 2016
What HP's Synergy is Poised to Deliver
"Over the next several months, the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will be shipping a fresh IT platform it calls Synergy. This won't feature a new processor family and it's not going to feature a new operating environment for business customers. Understanding what Synergy might do was a big topic in last month's HP Discover show in London. The product seems to be aimed at changing your plans for IT investment, without sacrifices, as a regular business process.
HP and IBM have sold this concept before, going as far back as the days when you'd buy more computing power than you first planned, just by turning on CPUs and cycles. The vendors levied a temporary charge back then, a bill that would show up like extra long distance fees. Synergy is leagues more complex than that, but it's got a similar aim. Overprovisioning -- stacking up too much power in reserve — will be the black mark to be erased in IT planning.
Like all of HP's innovations, Synergy's only connection to the world of the 3000 exists in leaving the MPE platform. It's a destination, this product HP expects to ship before mid-year. No one knows about its pricing, but the fluid resource pools, auto discovery capabilities, and containerized applications are supposed to reduce the overprovisioning by as much as 60 percent. HP says that will cut immediate capital expenditures up to 17 percent, and cost of ownership capital expenditures up to 30 percent.
The challenge in adapting a new mindset that focuses on resources rather than platforms, one that thinks of apps as pop-up shops, lies in translating the IT-speak of our current decade. We've found an article that does a good job of that, so you can see the hardware and software inside Synergy from a perspective of the IT planning of 15 years ago.
January 08, 2016
Calculating Classic Value of 3000s
The market price for HP 3000s on the used market can hover between $1,500 and $3,000, using quotes from Cypress Technology. Jesse Dougherty just posted an offer for an A-Class single-CPU system at the low end of that range. Licensing such a 3000's MPE is usually a second step. If it's a replacement 3000, there's a chance no upgrade fee would be involved.
But for the company that's seeking a fresh 3000, determining the market value with license gets to be trickier. HP 3000 gear is available from Pivital Solutions and other resellers, systems that ship with license documentation.
What's a license worth in 2016? We found a classic price point for MPE/iX in the archives of 3000 news from the winter of 2007. It was a year when HP support was still available in full-on versions, so HP was selling something it called the Right to Use License. This was the means to upgrade a 3000, and the extra power could cost as much as $89,000, less the current value of your MPE system. Business manager Jennie Hou explained.
There seemed to be confusion in the marketplace on how customers could ensure they had valid e3000 systems. We’re putting a product back on the price list to enable this for the 3000. We’re really doing this to accommodate customers who need to upgrade their systems.
Client Systems was called out as the resource for the software upgrade, but that outlet may not be online in the market anymore. Midrange five-figure HP pricing for a server whose manufacture had halted more than three years earlier marked the final time the vendor put MPE/iX on its corporate price list. It's something to measure against when calculating licensed HP hardware value against the cost of virtualized HP 3000 gear.
January 07, 2016
TBT: Client Systems wanted, or missing?
In a routine check of what's available to help 3000 managers, over the holiday break I poked into a few Web locations to see where HP's Jazz papers and software were still hosted. Links from 3k Associates to those papers came up empty when they directed to the Client Systems website in late December. From all reasonable research, it appears the company itself may have gone into the everlasting shadows.
Many 3000 customers never did business directly with Client Systems, but the company had a hand in plenty of official 3000 installations. The vendor rose in community profiles in the late 1990s when HP appointed the firm its lone North American HP 3000 distributor — meaning they stocked and configured systems destined for companies around the continent. Thousands of servers passed through the Denver offices, each assigned the unique HPSUSAN numbers as well as the official HP CPUNAME identifiers that made a 3000 a licensed box.
That official license became a marketing wedge for awhile. We'd call it an edge, but the company's claim that re-sold 3000s from anywhere else could be seized by the FBI was designed to drive used systems away from buyers. There was never anything official about the FBI claims passed along by the company then. But in the era of the late '90s, and up to the point where HP pulled its futures plug, buying a 3000 included a moment like the ones from WW II movies: "Let me see your papers," an HP support official might say.
This was the strike-back that Hewlett-Packard used to respond with after widespread license fraud ran through the marketplace. By 1999 lawsuits claimed that a handful of companies had forged system IDs on PA-RISC hardware. A low-end L-Class box could be tricked up as a high-end 3000, for example. To push back, after the HP lawsuits were settled or had rulings dispensed, Client Systems started Phoenix/3000, something like an automaker's official resale lot.
Client Systems did lots of things for the marketplace much more laudable, operating a good technical services team that was upper-caliber in its depth of hardware knowledge. At its peak, the company provided 3kworld.com, an all-3000 portal in the days when portals were supposed to be important on the Web. The company was a partner with the NewsWire for several years, as we licensed our stories for use on the free 3k World website. 3kworld.com folded up, but the current clientsystems.com site still has Jazz tech information available, at least as of today.
Over the last two weeks we've received email bounces, even while the website is online. The whois information points to one physical address of a personal injury attorney's practice in Seattle. Our phone calls have gone unreturned, and we're not the only ones. Pivital Solutions, one of the last standing official HP resellers in that time when such things existed, still serves 3000 customers with hardware and support. Pivital's president Steve Suraci also has searched to find a light on.
January 06, 2016
Emulation's bones bared, speeds boosted
The year 2015 marked significant changes for the virtualization stable at Stromasys. The company now sells five products in all, providing emulation of processors from HP, Sun, and three off the Digital lineup: PDP-11, VAX and Alpha. Those last two Digital models represent the most mature virtualization software from the company. Homesteaders might consider what's being done with those models as a target for futures of the HPA product.
Stromays is making no predictions about whether the Barebones feature in its VAX version of Charon will emerge in Charon HPA. But the newest release for the oldest product line will strip down what's required.
CHARON-VAX Barebone brings the same security and peace of mind as traditional Charon solutions -- but with a Linux microkernel embedded in the Charon software. Barebone uses only the essential components of the Linux OS, increasing your datacenter's stability and performance, while eliminating your OS license cost.
It seems that reducing the need to manage Linux would be a good selling point for Charon in any of its platform versions. "CHARON-VAX allows customers to easily create and deploy new virtual VAXs," product manager Alexandre Cruz reports. "It uses a stripped down Linux version (with GUI) that saves the hassle of host OS installation, configuration and licensing."
This streamlining is not a part of the Charon HPA model yet, but the newest 3000-ready release will make the Intel-based emulation of the PA-RISC faster.
January 05, 2016
Migrating 3000 Data from Spoolfiles to Excel
I need assistance with putting an output spool file from MPE/iX 7.5 into Excel or other readable format. The file is generated by Query, then processed by Editor, then sent to the printer. Instead of printing it, I want to put it into a readable format.
I do not have QEdit or any smart tools on MPE, so my approach thus far has been to move the file to a PC before doing anything. However, that carries with it the initialization sequence for the printer to which the job is spooled. The job is set up to print on a PCL 5 laser, which means it has hundreds of lines of control before the data starts.
Tom Moore replies
I would put commas in between my columns (in the query, or using Editor). I FCOPY from the file to a new file with NOCCTL to get rid of carriage control byte. You could also remove the PCL 5 lines by subset in the FCOPY command. Depending on the data, I would use EDIT3000 to change all " ," to "," and all ", ","," to compress the file, removing the spaces before and after the commas inserted above, then save the file for download to the PC.
I would also consider using ODBC to directly extract from the IMAGE database, rather than Query and all the subsequent steps. The HP free ODBC driver would do the job very well.
Birket Foster of MB Foster notes
Not only did we make that free ODBCLink/SE as HP's lab resource from 1998 to 2006, but we have continued to develop the ability to work with data in all kinds of file formats. We do supply 32- and 64-bit versions for ODBC to the HP 3000.
UDALink-MPE was designed for the HP 3000. We provide data in several different formats including XLS for Excel, XML, CSV etc. We can have a discussion about what you are trying to do with data; perhaps UDACentral is the right product for your challenge and we can organize a demonstration for you.
January 04, 2016
Accident claims WRQ founder Doug Walker
Doug Walker, the man whose brilliance and energy helped found the 3000 community's largest connectivity vendor WRQ, died over this past holiday weekend in an accident on a Washington state snowshoe trail on Granite Mountain. Walker, 64, is the first 3000 community member of wide renown to pass away by way of accidental death.
In the early 1980s when Walker — along with Mike Richer and Marty Quinn, the other two WRQ initials — joined forces with co-founder George Hubman, minicomputer access required hardware terminals. The advent of the personal computer had the potential to expand that access. The WRQ purple boxes carrying a manual and floppy disks for PC2622, software named after the HP 3000 terminal the product emulated, became a fixture in HP 3000 shops by the mid-1980s.
Walker was reported missing December 31 while snowshoeing on Granite Mountain. Search-and-rescue volunteers found his body the next day. The Seattle Times reported that Walker had been hiking with friends when winds intensified.
His companions decided to turn back and wait for Walker, who continued climbing. He likely was caught in an avalanche, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“He has done this easily 200 times, he just does it for exercise,” said Karen Daubert, executive director of the Washington Trails Association and a close friend who has climbed the same route with Walker. “I have been up several times with Doug, including in winter.”
Close friends and partners expressed dismay at the loss of a man who'd devoted his life to philanthropy and mentoring after retiring from WRQ.
"Doug's death came as a shock and is a tragedy," said Hubman, who led the company's marketing and sales before retiring late in the 1990s. "It goes without saying that Doug was a genius. I often joked that if anyone could write a program that required no memory and no time to execute, it would be Doug."
December 31, 2015
Throwing Back, and Looking Forward
We'll be taking tomorrow off to celebrate the new year. But first, some HP news.
Hewlett-Packard employees are still having meetings around the 3000. They are employees retired from HP, mostly, and the meetings are not at the HPE campus. Before you get too excited about a wish for a new business prospect for the 3000's new year, I should say these are reunions of a sort. A holiday party happened for CSY happened just before Christmas.
The revelers from that party included some people still working for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Corp. But it was a way to look back, and in one of our Throwback Thursday moments it give us a chance to savor people who made the 3000 what it once was. The wishes are for what might still be.
The meeting was wrapped around a brunch held on the Monday before Christmas and held in Cupertino. Arriving at 9AM in Cupertino to enjoy the company of people with MPE savvy must have felt like a throwback. The notice showed up on Facebook, sent among 43 people with a lot of names you'd recognize from community leadership and tech savvy. "Just seeing all your names makes me happy," one CSY veteran said.
Like the HP3000 Reunion of 2011, people couldn't attend who wanted to do so. One said he was going to reschedule a meeting of his with today's HP so he could rejoin his comrades. Plenty of throwbacks in CSY work for other companies by now. Somebody else in the 3000 community wishes that current HP employees could work in the service of MPE. It won't be among HPE's New Year's Resolutions, but the sentiment illustrates where the 3000 could travel next year.
"Hopefully 2016 will bring renewed rational decision-making by the new folks running the new HP," says 3000 customer Tim O'Neill, "and they will once again concentrate on making excellent hardware matched with software that gives customers reason to buy HP. Maybe they'll bring renewed emphasis on MPE/iX homesteading on Stromasys, instead of a purposeful blind rush towards alternatives."
It's possible that HP, now morphing into Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, might have changed enough to be a company the 3000 community would want to associate with it. While looking over the replies to the holiday CSY party, I saw names of good people. Top HP executives were not among these retirees, although Winston Prather chipped in good wishes.
December 30, 2015
3000's '15 was littered with crumbs of news
It's the penultimate day of 2015, a date when summary and roundups prevail in the world of news. The year marked some milestones for the NewsWire, some losses of the community's oldest treasures, and one major breakup of an old flame. Here's a breadcrumb trail of stories of extra note, retold in the final stanza of the 3000's 43d full year serving businesses.
Checks on MPE's subsystems don't happen, do they? — We learned that HP's subsystem software doesn't really get checked by MPE to see if it's on a valid HP 3000 license. "None of HP's MPE/iX software subsystems that I've ever administered had any sort of HPSUSAN checks built into them," reported Brian Edminster, our community's open source software resource. Licensing MPE is a formality.
Virtualized storage earns a node on 3000s — A new SAN-based service uses storage in the cloud to help back up HP 3000s. The HP3000/MPE/iX Fiber SAN doesn't call for shutting off a 3000. It can, however, be an early step to enabling a migration target server to take on IMAGE data.
NewsWire Goes Green — After 20 years of putting ink on paper and the paper into the mails, we retired the print issues of the NewsWire and went all-digital. We also marked the 10th anniversary of service from this blog and waved a proud flag of history to celebrate our founding Fall of two decades ago. We miss the print, but you won't miss the news. Bless the Web.
Patches Are Custom Products in 2015 — HP licensed the MPE source code five years ago, and just a handful of elite support companies are using it to create customized patches and workarounds. If your support provider doesn't have a source license, it may be time to spruce up your provider chain.
December 29, 2015
Choosing antivirus via test sites, cloud AV
Editor's note: 3000 managers do many jobs, work that often extends outside the MPE realm. In Essential Skills, we cover the non-3000 skills for multi-talented MPE experts.
By Steve Hardwick, CISSP
In an allied article I describe the elements needed for any effective virus attack: motive, means and opportunity. A suitable anti-virus program must provide the following capabilities.
- Be able to detect a vast array of malware
- Be able to update the virus definitions as quickly as possible after the virus signature has been isolated
- Provide the capability to quarantine and remove viruses after infection. This must include the ability to prevent any spread of the virus after contamination.
- Run with minimal load on the operating system. This includes both foreground (interactively scanning files as they are downloaded) and background (scanning existing files and computer activity)
- Have plug-ins for the various methods to download the viruses, via web browsers or email applications
The following websites provide ratings for anti-virus products. Some websites' evaluations are are geared towards a consumer user. Others are more aligned to commercial certification of AV products. I've also included a note on how cloud-base AV is changing antivirus options.
Provides a good set of tests that cover all of the five areas outlined above. Updates their reviews on a monthly basis. Covers Windows, Mac and mobile devices. Includes a special section for home users.
December 28, 2015
Hello, who's still out there? Permanent 404s
2015 has seen comings in the 3000 world, but more goings. Some MPE veterans have signed off of the 3000 mailing list, headed to retirement or the new work on commodity platforms like Linux or Windows. There was a singular departure, too, as Jeff Kell passed away after leaving a legacy of the mailing list-newsgroup of HP3000-L.
Kell was so notable that the iconic tech website Slashdot devoted a front page article to him late last month. Tracy Johnson reported that "I cobbled together a few links from the 3000 mailing lists and managed to get a Slashdot headline accepted for Jeff. The message below is Slashdot's report."
Congratulations, your Slashdot submission was featured on the front page! Every day we review hundreds of submissions, but we can only post a few to the front page.
There have also been also the comings, goings and migrations of Web resources. Stromasys posted a case study about one of its new 3000 emulator customers. There have been other outposts that have gone quiet, or at reported missing, during this year. One of the temporary absences was one portal to the NewsWire. Another community resource is unavailable this week. Client Systems's website is off the radar, notable because it's the resting place for the HP Jazz resources including MPE utilities and tech reports.
In the meantime, those Jazz resources remain available on the Web at the HP Migration server of Fresche Legacy, formerly Speedware. Heading to hpmigrations.com/ HPe3000_resources/HP_jazz/ gets you third party utilities, software, as well as a link to Papers and Training. Speedware licensed everything that was stored on Jazz when HP closed off its server at the end of 2008.
December 23, 2015
Throwback: The Holiday Welcome Message
In the days when 3000 users logged on to their systems each day, the welcome message was a part of the social exchange between system managers and their customer base. Since the HP 3000 harks back to a day when only a specialized terminal could produce graphics, the server's messages had to be delivered using ASCII characters. This was a challenge that the 3000 manager of the 1980s and 1990s would warm to during the coldest of seasons.
On the archives of the 3000-L mailing list, we find messages on creating the ASCII tree as recently as 1996. "For those of you that have always wanted to put one of those Christmas Trees (with the blinking lights on an HP terminal) in your welcome message," said Tracy Johnson, "but never had the time to bother keying it in, I've attached (for those that can handle attachments) an ASCII text file you can upload."
The skills to create artwork that would be plugged into a welcome message probably spring from the era's necessary focus on detail. What also helped was perhaps the quieter days of the holiday week we're about to enter. “I use QEDIT's full screen mode,” Costas Anastassiades said when MPE/iX 5.0 was new, “and switch the terminal to graphics mode (Ctrl N/Ctrl O) and then mess around with the various graphic keys. It's all there, on screen, and I can see what I'm doing. So we've had some animation (blinking lights on the original X-mas Tree), and I've added some "Rich Text Format.” Now if only someone can get a terminal to beep "Silent Night"....:)"
Of course, that emoji at the end of Costas' 1996 message is the bridge between the era of ASCII messages and the social media of today.
We're taking a few days off for the Christmas holiday at my house, a time to enjoy grandsons who'll scarcely understand that a computer couldn't display pictures. I hail from the era when A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas were new holiday cartoons, so I'm of an age to understand why the magic of a terminal display was something to play with. I'll leave us all with an ASCII-style holiday poem shared by Paul Edwards, user group director and legendary 3000 trainer, back in 2002. Enjoy your good nights to come, the one before Christmas, as well as those after. We'll be back next week with our 2015 wrap-up reports.
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the nets Not a mousie was stirring, not even the pets. The floppies were stacked by the modem with care In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The files were nestled all snug in a folder The screen saver turned on, the weather was colder. And leaving the keyboard along with my mouse I turned from the screen to the rest of the house. When up from the drive there arose such a clatter I turned to the screen to see what was the matter. Away to the mouse I flew like a flash, Zoomed open a window in fear of a crash... The glow from the screen on the keyboard below Gave an electronic luster to all my macros. When what to my wondering eyes should appear But a little sleigh icon with eight tiny reindeer And a tiny disk driver so SCSI and quick I knew in a nano it must be Saint Nick. More rapid than trackballs his cursors they came, He whistled and shouted and faxed them by name. "Now Flasher! Now Dasher! Now Raster and Bixel! On Phosphor! On Photon! On Baudrate and Pixel! To the top of the stack. To the top of the heap." Then each little reindeer made a soft beep. As data that before the wild electrons fly, When they meet with a node, mount to the drive, So up to the screentop the cursors they flew With a sleigh full of disks and databits, too. And then in a twinkling I heard the high whine Of a modem connecting at a baud rate so fine. As I gazed at the screen with a puzzling frown St. Nicholas logged on though I thought I was down. He was dressed all in bytes from header to footer The words on the screen said "Don't you reboot 'er." A bundle of bits he had flung on his back And he looked like a programmer starting his hack. His eyes how they glazed, his hair was so scary, His cola was jolt, not flavoured with cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a GIF And the pixels of his beard sure gave me a lift. The stump of a routine he held tight in his code And I knew he had made it past the last node. He spoke not a word but looked right at me And I saw in a flash his file was .SEA. He self-decompressed and I watched him unfold, Into a jolly old elf, a sight to behold. And the whispering sound of my hard drive's head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He went straight to his work without saying a word And filled all the folders of this happy nerd. And 'tis the whole truth, as the story is told, That giving a nod up the window he scrolled, He sprang to the serial port as if truly on fire And away they all flew down the thin copper wire. But I heard him exclaim as he scrolled out of sight "Merry Christmas to All, and to all a good night."
December 22, 2015
Studying the Scripts for HP 3000s
A recent question on the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup asked for help on scripting. The question aimed at the automation prospects through terminal emulation programs. Does Minisoft/92 script, a manager asked. Of course, and Tracy Johnson replied to give details as well as an example.
Minisoft scripts are plain text files with a file extension of .s92 and can be assigned to function keys f1 through f12. We use the keyboard mapping config menu to map it to Type "Script". Once you choose "Script" a blank box appears below where you put the magic words DO SCRIPT followed by a path including the file name.
Last week, the use of scripts also surfaced while talking to Birket Foster about data migrations. A client of Fosters runs five scripts to clean up phone numbers during a transfer of data. Being able to reach for the scripts improved the quality of data, and the work was automatic. the power of scripting reminded me of a fine column written for us by Ken Robertson. Its subject was an introduction for Unix administrators to the use of shell scripts. But the writing was the kind of operational lore that can make a 3000 look more powerful to an admin new to the 3000. Robertson wrote about it for the Newswire.
The marvels of scripting lie deep in the roots of MPE. When HP expanded the OS to MPE/XL in the 1990s, it added the Posix shell, which extended the 3000's scripting potential. The MPE/iX command interpreter has a generous command set, pushing the shell into the realm of a true programming tool. Its ability to evaluate expressions and to perform IO on files allows the end-user to perform simple data-processing functions. The Command Interpreter can be used to solve complex problems. Its code, however, is interpreted, which may cause a CI solution to execute too slowly for practical purposes.
For the average task, the MPE scripting language is easier to read and understand than most Unix scripts. For example, command line parameters in MPE have names, just like in regular programming languages. Of course, there are several script languages on Unix and only one on MPE. On Unix you can write shell scripts for any of the many shells provided (C shell, Bourne shell, ksh, bash, etc). Although there is also a Posix shell on MPE, most scripts are written for the CI.
December 21, 2015
ETL needs a C phase to migrate data
Extract, Transform, and Load make up the needed steps for a successful data migration. The larger an organization has become — or the longer its history — the greater the need to add a C, for Cleanse, to the ETL. Cleaning data is an essential part of decommissioning a 3000's data on the way to migration. MB Foster has been using its UDACentral for more than 10 years to do the ECTL steps in preparation to decommission 3000s. The software's gained some new features recently, on the way to becoming a tool for sale to system integrators and consultants. It's been in use at MB Foster's migration engagements up to now.
The product now can produce an Entity-Relationship diagram. This visual map can be created for documentation of existing database structures. It can be printed, or shared via email, because it's a PDF document.
During the ECTL process, UDACentral now can call a URL to pass in data and get back values that will be inserted into a virtual column. One customer, according to MB Foster's CEO Birket Foster, "had five scripts they ran in a row to clean up a phone number field. This enabled them to use those scripts. When transferring data, they're moving that column out, get the five scripts run, that place the result in that column." This kind of cleaning does slow down the transformation and loading, "but for most people that's not as big a thing as having clean data."
Clean data eliminates errors on a new platform. Data decommissioning typically occurs when
• An application is being replaced – by a new application or an upgrade.
• Hardware or an application no longer has support
• An OS vendor obsoletes a platform or chipset
• An operating system has reached its usable lifecycle
• A company has a change in status – being merged into or acquired, or an insolvency — and an application will no longer be used.
December 18, 2015
Will The Farce always be with us?
It was well past quitting time this week when I saw the force re-awaken on my TV. In our den, that television is a 7-year-old Bravia LCD, which in TV terms is something like an N-Class server today. A fine midrange machine for its day, but mostly revered now for its value. We paid for it long ago and it continues to work without worries or repairs. Remaining 3000 owners, raise your hands if that's your situation.
On the Bravia, Abby and I watched Steven Colbert's late-night show. Like all of the talk shows it opened with comedy, because by 11:30 Eastern you're ready to laugh and forget the troubles of the day. Colbert poked fun at the latest Republican Presidential debate. You probably can see where this is going now, since a famous HP CEO remains in the running for that job.
Within a few minutes I watched the comedy lampoon of CNN's teaser for its debate broadcast. The leaders in that race swoosh by in close-ups, each with a light that washes across their face and their name blazing below. Trump. Cruz. Bush, and so on, but the lineup of hopefuls this week remains too long for everybody to get their name ablaze. The rest of CNN teaser included faces of other candidates, including the infamous Carly Fiorina. No name there.
But Colbert wasn't quite done. Following Carly's face were other close-ups. Faces from the cast of The Walking Dead washed across. We couldn't contain our delight at the skewering of Carly and the rest. HP's third-most-famous CEO was still having the last laugh, though, since HP became two companies as a result of merging with Compaq. Her Farce continues, even while the HP split-up tries to recover from the Hewlett-Packard fall she induced.
We kept watching, even through the late hour, because a J.J. Abrams-Harrison Ford skit would air after the commercial. Oh, what an ad, how it pushed along The Farce. HP Inc. rolled out a commercial for its new Star Wars-themed laptop, a device so crucial to HP Inc success the laptop was mentioned in the latest quarterly analyst report. The tsunami of Star Wars branding is at its peak today while the critically acclaimed blockbuster opens to a sold-out weekend. HP's PC is just the kind of thing Carly would tout with a stage appearance. Thinking a laptop will make a $50 billion corporation's needle move is something of a Farce, but you never know. Nobody knew that The Farce of Carly's HP could cleave off a loyal customer base, either. Then there's the farce of Carly's convenient truthiness about her role in what she did while leading at HP.
It was leadership, but down into a ditch. HP's breakup is the evidence that becoming the biggest computer maker in the world — one that didn't want to make 3000s anymore — was a mistake, if not a misdeed. Low margins on big sales didn't endear customers for decades. The 3000 people stayed true to HP for decades, at least a couple. Unique products like 3000s, not Star Wars laptops, paid the bills with their profits.
Yes, it's a Farce. But will it always be with us, we luminous beings of the MPE community? How can we forgive the past when it's so difficult to forget? It made me wonder how and when we might let Hewlett-Packard off the mat, even while Carly's Farce plays out its end days.
December 17, 2015
TBT: When 2006 Meant 2008 to 3000 Owners
Ten years ago this week, our community was anticipating overtime news for retaining their 3000s. The year 2005's late December marked the HP announcement that the long-running "end of life" date for the server was being delayed an additional two years. After four years of telling customer that the promised end-of-2006 closing of Hewlett-Packard support was indelible, HP erased its plans and added 24 months of HP support availability.
The timing of the news included a message all its own about the 3000's expected life. When a full day-plus elapsed with nary a customer comment, we reported
As for the relative silence from the customer community, this might be the result of making an announcement three days before the Christmas holiday weekend. Much of the world is already making plans or departing for R&R. As for the business planning of the 3000 sites’ budgets, well, 2006 is already spoken for. All this does is change the options for 2007.
We'd heard all of that year that "2006 means 2006." But by the week before Christmas, 2006 meant 2008. The impact was mixed among the community. The companies who had invested heavily in migration looked up with some dismay at an extended deadline that meant those projects had an extra two years to complete. The homesteading customers who relied on HP's support to justify homesteading breathed a sigh of relief.
But it was the community's vendors who took the bullet for the rest of our world. Platinum Migration Partners were working to fill their project calendars. Some had hired on extra contractor and staff help to service an expected rush of migrations leading to the end of 2006. There was a serious glut of experts during 2006 because of the change. In the homesteading sector, independent support providers looked up to see HP moving the goalposts on the support game. Rather than having a 2006 when expiring HP service contracts could be replaced by indie agreements, the year to come was still more than two years removed from a mandate to switch to third-party support.
HP always like to call the finale of its support program the 3000's End of Life. Prediction of the server's death were like the notices of Mark Twain's demise. That icon of humorists said in 1897, to set the record straight in The New York Journal, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." HP could not be certain even the end of 2008 would be the new end of life for the 3000.
"HP intends to offer basic reactive support services for e3000 systems through at least December, 2008," the company's fact sheet reported. There was the intention part of the statement (no promise) and then the qualifier of "at least." Four full years had elapsed in the migration era by the end of 2005, and Hewlett-Packard had no firm idea of how long its customers would spend using a system whose lifespan was exaggerated — in the wrong direction. As it had for many years, the 3000 was getting short-changed.
December 16, 2015
Returning to Software, After Services
The majority of the HP 3000 community vendors started their practices as software suppliers. The realism of the migration era pushed more than a few out of the 3000 business altogether, while others made their transition to services. But one vendor is making a new push into software, using a product that's been sold as a service until recently.
"We hope to license UDACentral to the main migration group [of the Canadian government]," said Birket Foster of MB Foster. "We're helping to organize that right now. If it all gets to the point where we believe the deal will go, we get into a position where there will be 44 government departments using our software as they go through the migration center."
The licensing of the software is a end-product of Foster's work in the Built In Canada Innovation Program. Rather than using Silicon Valley tech resources, software like UDACentral was built in Foster's Canadian labs. "It was never product-ized to the level we wanted it to be, so we could hand it to a computer-savvy manager and say, "Now you run it.' "
In the summer to come, Foster expects a free version of UDACentral to be available for moving a limited number of data resources, 20,000 database entries, in a DIY data migration task. This Demo Version of the software will be available for personal projects where data must be moved. More importantly, Foster said the year to come will mark a rise in the percentage of software revenues for his company, where migration service has been leading sales for years.
"We used to employ UDACentral in jobs and get paid for our services," Foster said. "Now we're making our power tools available for people to do the job themselves." In the year 2000, MB Foster's revenue was 90 percent software and 10 percent services, but the changes of 2001 flipped that equation. Migrations of data are often handled by systems integrators or resellers, though. Sales and rentals of UDACentral will start to return MB Foster's focus to those pre-migration-era levels, Foster said.
December 15, 2015
Faster firewalls and free jobstreams for MPE
We are trying to set up HP 3000 to HP 3000 communication via NS and FTP. The traffic is going through a firewall. We have it working, but the speed is too slow. We are getting 2-3 Mbps throughput on HP transfers. PC to PC transfers through the firewall are 22 Mbps. I checked that the LAN switch port on the 3000 is set to 100 - Full duplex.
I am being asked what are the the HP 3000 packet sizes or MTU. Where can I find and set the packet size?
Donna Hofmeister replies:
HP says, in the NMMGR Reference manual:
The Network Segment Size field specifies the largest packet (including all data, protocol headers, and link level headers) that will be sent by the LAN device. The only reason for entering a value smaller than 1514 is to make better use of memory for those systems where it is known that upper layer services will always send shorter messages. Note that whenever packets larger than the network segment size are sent, they will be fragmented to the network segment size, thus incurring fragmentation overhead at the source and assembly overhead at the destination node.
Default value: 1514 bytes
What the above is not saying is that for most systems, setting this to anything other than 1514 will result in abysmal network performance. It’s much like a 100 megabit system acting like it's configured for 10 megabit -- because the system is busy fragmenting packets to fit into whatever number you've got.
On MPE, the tcp headers are stored in those 14 'extra' bytes. Regarding your tcp timers, click on the Allegro link here and react accordingly.
There used to be a CSL program that managed 3000 jobstreams. Now that there is the JOBQ parameter for MPE/iX, our site hasn't used that program in years. Maestro was the jobstream solution you paid for. What was that CSL program?
Connie Sellitto replies:
We used STREAMER from a CSL tape: It was customized for our company’s passwords, and allowed you to schedule a job for a different day, any time. It also allowed variable parameters.
December 14, 2015
Migrations to Windows are game changers
Migrations have always been agents of change, and some of the changes are being triggered by another shift: from an older Windows to a newer version. We're talking Windows Server here, the host software that was once called Windows NT in the days when a 3000 needed an integration strategy with Windows. Plenty of former MPE shops run on Windows. It's been the top choice for migrated customers.
Windows 2016 is on the way, ready to push along the companies who've already moved from Windows 2003 to 2008 to Windows 2012. Application Portfolio Management is letting IT managers look forward to it with an eye toward making the most of investments. 2016 has changes to the datacenter game coming up, including a big hardware refresh. HP is counting on an uptick in its ProLiant business triggered by Windows 2016; the vendor's been looking toward that release date since early this year.
The Tech Preview 4 of 2016 dropped last month. Since there's been previewing and talk about this Windows change since last year, it's given IT managers time to conduct APM assessments. Or get one started, if they haven't already.
"It helps decide which investments need to be done, and when," said Birket Foster of MB Foster about APM. "For example, Windows 2016 uses Docker, and by May, it will be settled down for production use."
Docker will be helping Windows get into the cloud more easily. There are other benefits, payoffs for the Windows 2016 migrations. The open source project has a 1.5 release, one that aims to bring bigger IPV6 addresses to more systems.
Windows upgrades can trigger larger changes, according to another HP 3000 vendor. Dave Clements of Stromasys says that most of the company's Charon virtualizer customers "are on physical platforms. We see some of them moving to VMware when they upgrade from Windows 2003. It's a choice."
The Windows 2016 move is more accurately a re-hosting, to use one of the Five R's of APM Foster has discussed. The hardware stays the same, but it's likely to need an upgrade. Meanwhile, Docker looks like technology that could help in virtualization, too, according to our contributor and 3000 consultant Brian Edminster.
"Docker struck me as an easy mechanism to stand up Linux instances in the cloud -- any number of different clouds, actually," Edminster said earlier this year. According to a Wiki article he pointed out, Docker is based upon open source software, the sort of solution he's been tracking for MPE users for many years.
December 11, 2015
Virtual testimony: sans servers, sans apps
For the HP 3000 manager who looks at other platforms and longs for their range of choices, a testimonial from HP Enterprise Services might seem like catnip. A story about Lucas Oil that was touted in an email today shows how a 3000-sized IT department improved reliability with virtualization. The story also skips any chapters on application software. Sans servers, sans apps, sans uptime worries, to paraphrase Shakespeare.
It's a success story from HP Services, so it might not be so surprising that the details of custom software are missing. In summary, a two-person IT department (which sounds so much like 3000-class staffing) is cutting down on its physical servers by using a lower-cost quote for vitualization. Lower than Dell's, apparently, which is something of an indictment of VMware, perhaps. Dell and VMware are found everywhere together. Now they're going to belong in the same entity with the upcoming EMC acquisition.
But regarding the case study from HPE, it's more of a hardware infrastructure study rather than a full IT profile. Only Photoshop is mentioned among the software used at Lucas, the company somehow big enough to pay for naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts NFL stadium, but small enough to count on just two people to run a datacenter.
The basics in software tools are mentioned, the building blocks of Windows 2012 users: SQL Server, Windows, Active Directory. There's also a mention of an HR application, which tells us that there are custom apps in there, or HPE didn't consider software a part of the story. This is a testimonial about removing iron from IT. Garrett Geisert is the IT admin at Lucas.
Since we virtualized on our HPE ProLiant DL360 servers and HPE MSA 2040 SAN, management isn’t concerned about availability anymore, because we haven’t had an outage yet. Actually, we did have one outage in the last year but it was because of Google’s file servers, not ours. It’s sure been nice not having to tell people they can’t access their systems.
That's one set of choices that's not available to HP 3000 sites who haven't migrated, unless they consider Stromasys Charon to be a way to virtualize. Hardware failures were vexing Lucas Oil. It's the kind of problem any 3000 site has to plan for, with all of the drives out there being more than a decade old.
December 10, 2015
Virtual resources, real costs: VMware, Cloud
While doing stories on the Tomorrow of IT, virtualization of resources and platforms comes up a lot. In fact, the most popular choices for virtualization represent the today of IT for anyone budgeted for change. But for the company still tied to the traditional datacenter model, hosting an app on a cloud server or even virtualizing a processor might look like more distant futures. Their costs are very real, though, figures that represent a long-term investment that 3000 managers might find new.
Stromasys stories about the Charon HPA emulator for 3000 CPUs often feature VMware. The company's product manager Dave Clements says that VMware isn't essential to eliminating a physical 3000, replacing HP iron with a virtualized MPE server. A lot of the Charon customer base ends up using VMware, though.
Cloud has its costs to calculate, too. "A pretty good sized virtualized server in the cloud costs about $1,000 a month," Clements said. "We don't discourage it, but we don't sell it, either. We can do [cloud virtualization] but truth be known, it's not high on our list."
Budgets vary a great deal, and so $12,000 might look like a cost for a physical server where you only pay for it once every five years. A price for any virtualized software solution or a service could look out of reach for a smaller customer — plenty of those in the 3000 world — or a bargain for the big players (there are large corporations still in the 3000 user base today, too.). "Crazy expensive" is a phrase that's been tied to VMware. The company has a cost of ownership calculator that's educational, but even a five-server license is $16,000. Those dollars buy an IT manager the flexibility to host any array of platforms, though.
There is a small set of Charon users adopting VMware, according to Clements. "VMware is not a requirement for Charon," he said. "Most of our customers are on physical platforms. If VMware is available it can be used, unless there is a customer requirement for direct access to a physical device, like a tape drive."
VMware has a cloud product line, too. Clouds come up in many stories in 2015. While interviewing Birket Foster for a story about Application Portfolio Management, he made this case for walking away from physical hardware costs.
If we were to own a fleet of cars or trucks, there'd be a fleet manager sitting at the table. They'd be able to tell me the current mileage on each of their cars, when the next oil change was due, and what it's costing them to maintain each car. Ask somebody the same kind of questions, about a server or anything in their IT fleet, and they have no idea. That's one of the reasons why as soon as they virtualize, they typically get to reduce the cost of their IT infrastructure by 30 percent, maybe as high as 60 percent — just by virtualizing.
December 09, 2015
More R's for APM's Migration Uses
The third R of the application portfolio management process is Retire, but it might well lead to special storage for HP 3000 app data. A business application can be retired, said Birket Foster in a webinar today, when it has no more business value. However, just like the 3000 itself, retiring software can demand specific decommissioning procedures.
"The application may have to be a system of record," Foster said, "and although it has no more business value, it has a requirement from a compliance point of view. Its data must be preserved in the right manner." In some cases, such compliance has kept 3000s online years after an expected decommissioning date.
While using APM for migration planning, the R's of Rehost, Replace and Retire are most often the paths taken. But there's also a Re-Platform choice that can be appropriate. Rehosting can mean something as direct as migrating the data "and changing a database on the way over, and updating the toolsets in dev, test, and production environments." In a re-platform, "the old system might be dying, but it takes three years to go through the replacement process." Replacements can be done in as little as 3-6 months, but in a larger organization it can take years. Just picking up an app and moving is a re-platform.
"Sometimes, your time is worth more than money," he said. If it's going to take three years, "and my disk drives are already dying, I need to re-platform," Foster said. This is "a temporary move to get you to where to need to get to. You still don't know which of those three R's it would have been — it's just that you need to do an emergency fix."
If the app can stay where it is, "There could be a Retain, if I'm happy with the platform that's currently there," he said. "It needs to have the green light, if we're to use an application dashboard. Green apps can stay where they are. They work both for the business and for the technology."
December 08, 2015
Over time, app management changes its R's
Every application is an asset. Every asset deserves evaluation. Changing valuations will affect migration planning, software selection, and the career of the IT pro who manages software like it's a portfolio.
Application Portfolio Management rides on those three tenets. It's a strategy that's been practiced for more than a decade, and even in the HP 3000 world, APM has been promoted as good management. Birket Foster of MB Foster started talking about it in the earliest days, explaining how APM could get an IT managers a seat at the boardroom strategy table.
However, things have changed in the eight years since Foster wrote that article. In 2007 the Three Rs of Applications included Replacement and Rehosting. But back then, the Third R was to Remain. By now that Third R has become Retiring. Retiring apps through APM can be used as a strategy for tuning a migration plan. As Foster says
The quantification and conditions of applications in terms of business fit, stability, quality and maintainability allows for the 3 R’s of migration to be applied. Once the portfolio is triaged and divided into categories, it is time to prioritize, and execute on a plan appropriate to each of the applications.
More details are available Wednesday (Dec. 9) at 2 PM Eastern in a webinar Foster is hosting. Registration is on the company's website. Remaining, rather than Retiring, is the nirvana, available for any application that can sits in the coveted upper-right quadrant of the triage chart. Retiring an application can be the trigger for a migration, though, especially if it's an MPE keystone app. That's to say, an application that has been critical to your company's business success.
December 07, 2015
On MPE Chatting, B-Tree Plants and More
How we can chat on the HP 3000 system with the other users who have logged on?
Lars Appel replies:
You can try the TELL and TELLOP commands. For more information see :HELP TELL or :HELP TELLOP.
When I run dbutil.pub.sys, and type the command set MYDB btreemode1=on I get the message “Database root file must be at least “C”4 for SET <db> BTREEMODE1=O." Why can’t I set my btree mode?
Rene Woc replies:
Before you can “set btreemode1,” the database has to have Btrees. You add Btrees with “addindex MYDB for all (or specific master datasets)”. This command will also set root level to C4. To use “addindex” your system needs to be at least on TurboIMAGE version C.07.xx. So how do you find out what version of IMAGE you have? Use the version command in QUERY.
I need to take some groups off of the mirrored drives, and add (move) other groups onto the mirrored drives. Is it as simple to use the altgroup command and specify the volume set?
[Editor’s note: “mirrored drives” is a straw man that has nothing to do with the problem or answer.]
Craig Lalley and John Clogg reply:
It is simple but not that simple. What you need to do is create a temporary group on the target volume set. Copy files in the group you want to move to the temporary group. Delete the source group. Create the new group using
Note that it is a two-step command. Then rename the files from the temp group to the newgroup. John Clogg also noted that another approach would be to STORE the files, and restore them once the group was relocated. That way you could preserve creation and modification dates, and creator ID.
December 04, 2015
HP Enterprise discovers words for IT future
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE, as the business arm of HP likes to call itself) used the last week to revise its language for the future. This future is available to the migrated customers who once used MPE PA-RISC systems. It sounds like HPE is ready to admit that staying the traditional infrastructure datacenter course is a path that leads away from the vendor's desires. Wrapping up an hour of high-level presentations, Chief Marketing Officer Susan Blocher said transforming a datacenter is a polarizing path.
"Business transformation is a controversial statement," she said to the London attendees of Discover 2015. "You are either happy about the opportunities transformation provides, or you're scared to death of what transformation means, and how you're going to deliver the agility and speed that your lines of business demand."
The transformation points to what HPE called a hybrid infrastructure, with a combination of "traditional" and "on-premise cloud," Blocher said. The next step is to transition to public cloud, or off-premise cloud. It appears that cloud computing is in three of the four elements of the hybrid transformation. (Click the above graphic for the five-part lineup of HPE server offerings. Dead in the middle is Integrity, still destined for mission-critical although its adoption rate falls with each quarter.)
The conference demanded an Opening Experience, the level of marketing that old hands from the 3000 HP era once dreamed impossible, no matter how badly they needed it. So a pair of backup singers blended vocals behind a symphony rendition of HPE's theme music. A "new class of system to power the next era in hybrid infrastructure" was announced, HPE Synergy. The statement, and the specs and pictures on a website, confirms there is hardware there in that solution, but HPE's aim is to get its customers to consider Synergy as a compute, storage and networking fabric. It wants its customers to give their businesses "a cloud experience in their datacenters."
An SMB Hybrid Cloud "enables workforce productivity," she said. "This is a hot topic for every size customer, whether you're small or large enterprise, but it's particularly important for our small and medium-sized customers, where workforce productivity is essential to your business success."
Blocher said "We are your movers, [the company] that will help you accelerate what can be a daunting but clearly competitive opportunity for you to transform your business, in whatever way you need to, over the next few years." A thicket of video clips compressed the week's talking points into five-minute segments on YouTube. There were detailed charts for the CIO or VP of IT, such as this comparison of IT fabrics (click for details). But tactics of deployment were for another day; this was four days of dreaming up terms for enterprise aspirations.
December 03, 2015
TBT: When feeds and speeds led HP's talks
HP used to talk feeds and speeds to its faithful customers. This was never so obvious as in the product update talks delivered by Dave Snow, Product Planning Manager for the HP 3000 line. (He's shown here with Newswire Publisher Abby Lentz at the Chicago HP World conference, the last one where 3000 updates were delivered by Snow.) From those days when the server had its own division, I recall his gait across hotel and conference center meeting room carpets. He was lanky and dressed business casual, holding a mic with a lengthy cord that he'd reel in and coil as he talked in his Texas drawl, walking customers through the improvements to HP's iron. At another show in 2001 he carried in the smallest 3000 ever built, the brand-new A-Class system, tucked under his arm.
This week's HP presentations around servers stood in stark contrast. The high-level view (above) assigned entire product lines to segments ranging from SMB to Service Providers. In the 1990s, customers wanted to know CPU speeds and IO capacity, the number of disks that could be attached to the freshest systems, how fast the LAN speeds were. When HP talked to its customers this week in the London HP Discover show, entire lines of hardware like Integrity and Superdome could be summed up in six minutes. Snow could take six minutes on one branch of the 3000 family, answering questions along the way and pushing through dozens of slides.
Even as recently as a decade ago, Snow was unreeling tech data to customers at shows, but had shifted to the HP-UX servers in this picture from an HP Tech Forum. The passion remains in an HP presentation, but the technical details are often a throwback element. There was little Internet to deploy such details in a breaking news setting of the '90s. But Snow took on explaining details of upcoming hardware releases with relish, it seemed. In 1998 he prepped the crowd in San Diego with feeds and speeds like this:
Our first introduction of FibreChannel will be on the next generation platforms. We have decided to work on next generation platforms before we complete doing anything in the FibreChannel/HSC world. We are still looking at whether it makes business sense — in the timeframe of 2000 — to also bring the FibreChannel bus back to the current platforms. We’ve not made a commitment to do that at this point.
The 3000 really needs higher buses than HSC. The industry is moving toward PCI; not just PCI you might get on a PC, but times-two and times-four PCI. These high-speed interface cards will require a high-speed interface to the devices themselves, a place where Ultra-SCSI is being investigated for HP 3000 use.
Very quickly we see on the horizon gigabit Ethernet LANs coming down the pipe. That’s probably where we’re going to focus our first effort — allowing you to reuse the cable you’ve already put in for 100 megabit LANs, in the 2000 timeframe.
In contrast, during a six-minute segment at Discover this week, the director of Product Management for HP Enterprise Networking said that "Removing complexity is extremely time-consuming. When building a datacenter, the rule is 'Keep It Simple and Stupid." Native English speakers will recognize that the Stupid needs to be addressed to the datacenter designer, not at the solution itself. Meetings with customers today wallow in such simplification. Perhaps it's because the attendees are no longer "technologists," as the Encompass user group and HP started to call the feed and speed fans of the 1990s.
December 02, 2015
HPSUSAN resources enable long 3000 life
As if in lock-step, the issues about control of 3000 licenses rose up yesterday after we discussed control of performance numbers and HPSUSAN for 3000 CPU boards. Consultant Torben Olsen wrote from Denmark that creating a backup hardware unit for a 3000 would be in the best interests of his client.
As has been discovered before in your community, having control of moving an HPSUSAN identifier to a backup box has issues. For one, there are fewer resources available to make such a move. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, being a company in the throes of establishing new order and processes, is not one that Olsen wants to employ.
"I am not yet ready to spend weeks trying to get a valid answer on this matter from HP, so I hope there are another way," he wrote on the 3000-L mailing list.
I encourage my last HP 3000 client as much as I can to move on to another platform, one where they can be more sure to get required support in the future.
In the meantime, we consider getting a copy of the hardware. But we have the probably well-known problem that if that should work, we also need to be able to change the HPSUSAN. In the old days Client Systems could help with that, but my search for them did not give any usable result. Are they still in business? Are there any other possibilities?
Client Systems still operates a website that even offers HP 3000 hardware. Other HPSUSAN administration possibilities have revealed themselves on the 3000-L already. There's more at stake for the 3000 software vendors who still operate product support efforts, however. HPSUSAN is their way of knowing their software hasn't been copied illegally.
December 01, 2015
Having a spare 3000 board a faster strategy
At a CAMUS user group meeting, Terry Simpkins of Measurement Specialties once shared advice about the need for getting a 3000 CPU board configured by HP during a downtime crisis. Don't do it, he advised. You can be ready for this with an on-site spare, just like his worldwide manufacturing company does for its 3000s.
It was one of the last services available from HP, since it related to a licensing issue. Regarding this change that HP once did — for a Time & Materials fee — to copy an HPSUSAN number to fresh hardware, Simpkins said, "It baffles me about why anybody would get themselves into a situation where they had to react like that. Why wouldn't they have a spare processor board already set with their system name and SUSAN number sitting on the shelf?"
Now hardware is the customer's business alone. People are arranging to get the full power of their 3000s turned on. They want their horses un-hobbled.
Five years ago this month, HP stopped supplying 3000 hardware support. (Sometimes a rumor emerges about a company that can still call the vendor for support on a selective basis.) Simpkins said creating this kind of hot 3000 spare is an easy thing to do. "I wouldn't have anything to do with HP once I'd get my extra board set to my SUSAN number. They are not the only people in the world who can legally perform that service."
Simpkins' company is one arm of a much larger entity, one with operations in North America and Asia. It's not a firm that would fly under a legal radar just to have its 3000s supported independently. Even so, there are other hardware modifications available by now to give HP's 3000 hardware the horsepower it was denied by the vendor. The A-Class servers are the best example of how independence yields new power.
"The A400 has a 440 MHz processor that is crippled to run about 58 MHz (per MIPSTEST)," said Craig Lalley of EchoTech. "I uncrippled a customer, and their backup went from 6 hours down to 1 hour and 2 minutes."
"Color me unsurprised," said MPE veteran developer Denys Beauchemin. "But I am still disgusted at the level of crippling HP inflicted on the A-Class. The equivalent HP-UX version of that server was a workhorse."
November 30, 2015
Final HP fiscal result toes an enterprise start
HP reported lower sales and profits as a combined company in its final fiscal report of 2015's Q4 and FY '15. Starting with the next report, two companies named HPQ and HPE on the New York Stock Exchange will post individual reports. They'll continue to operate on the same fiscal calendar.
The Q4 that ended on Oct. 31 showed an HP still fighting headwinds, as the company financial management likes to describe falling sales and orders periods. The year had $103 billion in sales, down 7 percent. Earnings for the combined company were $2.48 on the year, off 5 percent. But the final quarter of combined operations permitted HP to toe a starting line with a 4 percent increase for Q4 profits. Profits for the fiscal year were slightly off, dropping 1 percent.
Of course, those numbers reflect a company which won't exist anymore as we've come to know it. The vendor which created the HP 3000 and now sells and supports replacement systems at migrated sites lives on in Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. That company started out with stock prices behind the HP Inc company, the new entity that sells printers and PCs. But the headwinds are much stiffer there, so of late HPE has traded at higher prices than the business spun off on Nov. 1.
The two units supporting 3000 replacements held their own. A drop in Business Critical Systems sales, the home of Integrity and Itanium, continued, but at a slower rate.
Enterprise Group revenue was up 2 percent year over year with a 14.0 percent operating margin. Industry Standard Servers revenue was up 5 percent, Storage revenue was down 7 percent, Business Critical Systems revenue was down 8 percent, Networking revenue was up 35 percent and Technology Services revenue was down 11 percent.
Enterprise Services revenue was down 9 percent year over year with an 8.2 percent operating margin. Application and Business Services revenue was down 5 percent and Infrastructure Technology Outsourcing revenue declined 11 percent.
"Overall, Hewlett Packard Enterprise is off to a very strong start," said Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman. "First and foremost, the segments that comprise HPE have now had two consecutive quarters of constant currency revenue growth and we believe we are in a strong position to deliver on our plans to grow overall in FY 16 in constant currency."
November 25, 2015
3000 community keystone Jeff Kell dies
Jeff Kell, the man who founded the keystone of 3000 help, advice and support that is the 3000-L mailing list, died on Nov. 25 of liver cancer and complications from damage induced by a diabetic coma. He'd battled that illness in hospitals and hospice since 2014. Kell was 57.
"It is a very sad day when a good wizard passes on," said coworker and colleague Richard Gambrell at the University of Tennesee at Chattanoona. "Jeff had a gentle soul and brilliant mind."
Kell was the rare IT professional who could count upon 40 years of experience running HP 3000s, developing for MPE, and especially contributing to the state of the art of networking for the server. He created the ultimate network for the 3000's community by establishing HP3000-L, a LISTSERV mailing list now populated with several hundred thousand messages that trace the business computer's rise, decline, and then revival, rife with enduring high tech value and a thread of humor and humanity.
Kell's obituary notes that he came by his passion for scuba early, having worked for a short time at the Chattanooga Aquarium where he fed the sharks. A key contributor to the development of LISTSERV, Kell was instrumental in UTC’s earning the LISTSERV 25th Anniversary plaque, which lists UTC as the 10th University to deploy LISTSERV.
Kell also served as a volunteer to chair SIG-MPE, SIG-SYSMAN, as well as a 3000 networking SIG, but it's nearly impossible to sum up the range of experience he shared. In the photo at the top of this post, he's switching off the last N-Class system at the university where he worked. Almost 40 years of MPE service flowed off those university 3000s. In the photo above, from the HP3000 Reunion, he's updating attendees on how networking protocols have changed.
In the mid-1980s he was a pioneer in developing Internet Relay Chat, creating a language that made BITNET Relay possible. Relay was the predecessor to IRC. "Jeff was the main force behind RELAY, the Bitnet message and file transfer program," Gambrell said. "It inspired the creation of IRC."
My partner Abby and I are personally indebted to Kell's work, even though we've never owned or managed a 3000. The 3000-L and its rich chest of information was my assurance, as well as insurance, that the fledgling 3000 NewsWire could grow into the world of the 3000. In the postings from that list, I saw a written, living thread of wisdom and advice from experts on "the L," as its readers came to call the mailing list and newsgroup Kell started. Countless stories of ours began as tips from the L, or connections to people posting there who knew mission-critical techniques. At one point we hired columnists to summarize the best of each month's L discussions in net.digest. In the era where the Internet and the Web rose up, Kell was a beacon for people who needed help at digital speed.
He was a humble and soft-spoken man, with a wry sense of humor, but showed passion while defending the value of technical knowledge -- especially details on a product better-loved by its users than the management at its vendor. Kell would say that all he did was set up another Listserver on a university computer, one devoted to becoming crucial to UTC's success. Chattanooga is one of the best-networked towns of its size in the world. Kell did much more than that for his community, tending to the work that helped the L blossom in the 3000's renaissance.
Kell looked forward to an HP which would value the 3000 as much as the HP 9000. In 1997 he kicked off a meeting with HP to promote a campaign called Proposition 3000: Common hardware across both HP 3000s and HP 9000s, sold from an Open Systems Division, with MPE/iX or HP-UX as an option, both with robust APIs to make ISV porting of applications to MPE/iX "as trivial as any other Unix platform."
HP should be stressing the strengths of MPE/iX, "and not its weaknesses," he said. "We don't have to be told anymore what the 3000 can't do, because a lot of the things we were told it can't do, it now can. If we take the limitations of the Posix shell and remove them, we have Proposition 3000," Kell said to HP managers. "I would encourage you to vote yes for this investment in the future."
More than 16 years later, when MPE's fate had been left to experts outside of HP's labs, Kell offered one solution on how to keep the server running beyond MPE's Jan 1, 2028 rollover dating gateway.
"Well, by 2027, we may be used to employing mm/dd/yy with a 27 on the end, and you could always go back to 1927. And the programs that only did two-digit years would be all set. Did you convert all of 'em for Y2K? Did you keep the old source?" Kell's listserver is the keeper of all 3000 lore, history, and wisdom, a database that can be searched from a Web interface -- even though he started the resource before commonplace use of what we were calling the World Wide Web.
Some might dismiss that resource as a museum of old tech. Others were using it this week, to connect newer-age tape devices to old-school 3000s. He retired the last of UTC's 3000 at the end of 2013 (in the photo above). His own help to the community members on tech specifics and the state of this year's networking will outlive him, thanks to his work setting this keystone for the community's exchange.
November 24, 2015
The Wide World of Connecting Storage
IO used to be more complex for IT. Sure, the array of choices for disk is vast today. But in the era when 3000s used to think they were lucky to get SCSI plugged into them, configuring disk connections was not simple. HP-IB protocol, built to link HP's instruments, was simple, used for all HP devices, and slow. But it was integrated and seamless compared to the SCSI of single-ended, fast/wide, and Ultra Fast.
Such was the case for one 3000 manager seeking advice from his colleagues. You never think about these things on a 3000 until the hardware breaks. Or backups fail. Or storage media gets rare. Aging hardware is one of several issues that require expertise, even if a 3000 runs the ultimate 7.5 version of MPE/iX. Our manager hunted for his help on the longest-running 3000 classroom in the world, the HP3000-L mailing list.
A single-CPU A-Class was moving away from DDS technology, the DDS-3 that was first launched in the '90s. There are other options for 3000 tape backup. But these options include single-ended, fast/wide, and other cable and termination combinations. DLT technology, introduced more recently but still a 1990s choice, runs with HP 3000s. It helps to get the ends right, though, if DLT is to have a new beginning on an old-school 3000.
"Until now they have done their backup on DDS," a manager talking to the 3000 newsgroup explained. "Lately they had a failure on the DDS drive, and have realized that it is getting difficult to get new tapes. They have decided to move to DLT8000, model C6378A, and have bought two of them. One is supposed to go live on the 3000, and the other to be stored as a spare device."
The DLT is hooked to the Ultra Wide SCSI interface on the A-Class. But ODE/Mapper doesn't recognize the device."
There was an error, and no DLT joy. Soon enough, one veteran consultant said, "You will have trouble connecting a fast wide SCSI device to an ultra-wide SCSI controller." It wasn't a rookie mistake, but the veterans who still prowl 3000-L had a solution and even a link to an inexpensive fix. So it goes, here in the fifth decade of HP 3000 mission-critical service. Answers are everywhere.
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."
November 20, 2015
Multi-threading traces years of MPE service
Yesterday we explored the prospects of multi-threading for HP 3000 sites. It's an aspect of application and software design that can benefit from virtualization. In years past, when much of the 3000 application base was being created, separate hardware CPUs drove this multi-threading. Stan Sieler of Allegro, one of the authors of the textbook on Precision Architecture RISC "Beyond RISC," told us that multi-threading is likely to have made its way into 3000 software via Unix.
It's a concept, through, that's been possible for MPE ever since its beginning. The MP in MPE stands for Multiprogramming, Sieler reminded me, and that "Multi-threading is a form of multiprogramming or multiprocessing."
Generally, but not always (as words are often abused), “threads” are related to a single process. E.g., my video compression program might work on several parts of the video simultaneously with three or four threads. On some computers, two separate threads of a single process cannot execute at the same time … on others, they can.
On most computers nowadays, threads are implemented at the operating system level. On older systems, threading was sometimes implemented above the operating system, relying on user code to switch threads. (I’ll skip co-routines, which few systems have now, but the Burroughs MCP did.)
Multi-programming is the concept where two (or more) processes (or “programs”) appear to run at the same time, but in reality each gets a short time to run, and then the CPU pays attention to the other process, then back to the first one… or “time slicing.”
On the 3000, few programs use multi-threading, but it is available. It came about the same time as Posix did, perhaps one release later (I can’t recall). In general, if you show me a 3000 program that uses threading, I’ll bet it’s written in C and originated in the Unix/Linux world.
Essentially all computers nowdays have multi-programming. The original HP 3000 (pre-CX) did, too. (The HP 2100 (running RTE) had, IIRC, no multi-programming.)
November 19, 2015
TBT: HP rides into the cloud first on 3000s
In the month of November 17 years ago, Hewlett-Packard drove itself into cloud computing with HP 3000s. It wasn't called cloud computing in 1998. Resolving Y2K was still more than a year away. It was a year with a healthy dose of blue skies for the computer, including the lab manager's plan to put MPE/iX on the company's favored IA-64 chips.
However, HP was positioning the 3000 as a solution for a world that wasn't purchasing as many servers as before. It was a situation much like what HP faces today. New 3000 sales were tough to come by, just like Integrity sales of today. Thanks to HP's efforts, customers were moving off 3000s in favor of Unix and Windows and NT. Today they're all moving away from servers of all kinds, leaving the hardware to offsite management and administration. The Cloud.
The 3000's entry to cloud computing arrived in the form of an acquisition. The 3000 division bought Open Skies, a 38-person software firm which had airlines for clients. Not many major clients for the time. Westjet. Ryan Air. But these were lean airlines that wanted to track miles flown and customers served without developing and maintaining a software application. HP had called the concept Apps on Tap earlier in the year. The 3000's CSY division bought Open Skies to show the way, creating an application that could be tapped.
Roy Breslawski made a shift away from CSY marketing manager to Open Skies marketing manager. Breslawski, like his GM Harry Sterling, took the MPE mission seriously enough to disregard the accepted wisdom about the 3000. (Legacy platform. Fading fast. Jobs there a stepping stone.) Instead, Breslawski set up business with an earnest belief about the product's growth prospects.
The Open Skies deal was sparked by the needs of a much bigger airline, though. British Air was tired of being undercut by smaller operators like Ryan Air and EasyJet, so BA set up Go, a low-end carrier. Go wanted Open Skies to host and manage the HP 3000s handling their reservations.
Those systems came to be owned by HP and configured in a separate datacenter. That commitment led Open Skies to ask HP for help in meeting manpower arrangements, which developed into discussions about HP taking over the growing company.
November 18, 2015
Application threading a gate for performance
Many an HP 3000 app was designed in an era when threads were expensive. Multi-threading is another way of describing multiprocessing. It's the M in MPE. But few HP 3000 programs use multi-threading. Multi-processing uses multiple processors. These 2-way and greater 3000s could cost upwards of $200,000 over the last complete decade of sales in the 1990s. Since this was the MPE/iX value model, the cost reflected the combo of hardware and system software, during an era with user-count licenses for the OS driving up the capital cost of 3000 computing.
For any customer who had but one CPU propeller to push along their ship of software, a single-threaded app made good sense. But the single threading programs of MPE/iX are a gating device for engaging the full horsepower of virtualization. Dave Clements of Stromasys mentioned the common threading architecture for MPE/iX apps while we talked about VMware's connection with the Charon product. This is a common reason why every 3000 customer's Charon performance is one of those "it depends" solutions.
A user of Charon can sometimes get along with a relatively slow CPU clock speed for the Charon host hardware. At the Conax Technologies datacenter, a 2.7GHz Intel host is standing in for a Series 928 HP 3000. Virtualized CPU power is almost as fast as the original hardware there, according to the system manager — and then any application process that reaches out to the disk screams along, the manager added. But there's not a lot of multi-threading in the 3000 app world.
"We run into a lot of applications that are not multi-threaded," Clements said. "It makes a difference. We see that a lot in database applications. There's not a lot we can do about single-threaded applications," he added, in order to take advantage of the multi-threading abilities in newer and faster host CPUs. What makes Charon an effective emulator is, in part, its ability to excellerate multiple threading of processes. It's the same kind of lift as if the newer Intel chip designs were to give power upgrades to the PA-RISC CPUs. This is the promise of virtualization. Multithreaded apps get more from it.
Stromasys customers and prospects have not been reporting that speed is a barrier to their adoption of the product. Charon has the potential to run 3000 programs even faster if those apps have been written to use multiple threads. "Every customer poses the potential for a unique solution," Clements said. Other aspects can be changed, he said — things that are easier to update than application code which was probably first conceived before the Web was born.
November 17, 2015
Putting PDF Into a 3000's Data Flow
HP 3000 experts know of a wide array of techniques to create PDF files from the server's data, then move them via FTP to a Windows server. While the simplest answer for getting reports into PDF format and then out via Windows is probably Hillary Software's byRequest, there are other commercial solutions. There's also several bolt-together techniques if you've got very limited budget to homestead.
Bob McGregor reports:
We use txt2pdfPRO by Sanface. We had a job that would run and check a pseudo device for spoolfile output, and if the pri > 0, would run the sf2html process, convert to PDF and then FTP to a Windows server. The process would then delete spoolfiles=0 on the pseudo device the next day. Setup took a bit... but once done, worked well.
Lars Appel, author of the Samba/iX file sharing tool, adds:
I wonder if it might make sense to configure a "dummy" network printer on MPE/iX and have it send spooler output to a little socket listener on the Windows system (similar to the FakeLP example from the 3000-L archive) and then invoke GhostPCL on the Windows side for generating the PDF output.
The "dummy" network printer would let the MPE spooler take care of the PCL conversion and also perform the "file transfer" automagically. The GhostPCL software is probably easier to get (or build / update) on Windows than on MPE (okay, I admit that it did also build on MPE long ago.)
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 12, 2015
TBT: HP translates brags about fresh e3000
On a November afternoon fifteen years ago, users and vendors met in an Amsterdam conference center to celebrate integration. A handful of companies had melded their HP 3000 applications with the Internet. "All of the users I spoke with were already doing some kind of e-something, whether elementary or quite advanced,” said Adager CEO Rene Woc. One showed off how Java had helped create an interface for a company that was selling parts for power looms. Their customers were all over the world.
The users' presentations were especially notable because they were offered in five languages. Simultaneous translations were paid for by the HP 3000 division, the only time in more than 30 years of conferences I've been able to pick up a wireless headset and hear technical reports translated. Not into everyday C-level language, but into French, Spanish, German, Dutch and English. HP set up two rooms with a total of 10 translators. The vendor was working to encourage 3000 managers to speak the language of the Web. HP collected $365 per attendee to help defray the cost; 90 customers and partners attended from 14 countries.
Users wanted their 3000s to be better connected because they didn't want their systems left behind as IT expansion ramped up. Everyone had escaped Y2K worries by November of 2000. The dot-com boom hadn't gone bust, and in some segments like e-commerce, Web interfaces were bringing genuine innovation for interfaces.
The surge was less certain for companies which had limited their 3000 communications to data swaps over internal LANs. Some were using an intranet, employing the Web technology without exposing the 3000's data to the outside. Others like Lindauer Dornier used the Enhydra Web application server and Java/iX to send the power loom manufacturer's parts data to its customers across the world.
The HP 3000 at the heart of Dornier's operations was plugged in when Windows NT proved too slow. The Windows product that became Windows Server a few years later got dumped in favor of MPE/iX. The meeting "had a lot of flavor of the old days," said HP's Sally Blackwell. The emphasis was not on sponsorships. It was an exchange of information, with HP's help."
HP 3000 Division Product Marketing Manager Loretta Li-Sevilla made the trek from the HP 3000 headquarters, telling customers that “the 3000 is a rock solid foundation for an Internet future. With the 3000 as your platform of choice, that future is unlimited.” There was another 12 months of future remaining with an unlimited flavor.
November 11, 2015
Protecting a 3000 by Eliminating Its Services
Here on this day when we celebrate people who have served in the armed forces, a question emerged about enabling HP 3000 JINETD services. Or disabling them, to make a 3000 more powerful and secure. (Yes, it seems to defy the logic about more services being better, one that we can hear in national defense debates. We didn't have such debates at Signal Corps training for the Second Battalion.) The solution to the 3000 service problem included advice on how to trim back risk as well as performance drains on a 3000.
Grigor Terterian said he was having a Series 979 freeze up, because JINETD was receiving a call "for echo udb." Mark Ranft and Denys Beauchemin said the fastest repair would be to comment out echo in the inetdcnf file. Ranft got specific with an example.
:print inetdcnf.net # Internet server configuration database # #echo stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #echo dgram udp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #daytime stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #daytime dgram udp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #time stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #time dgram udp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #discard stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #discard dgram udp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #chargen stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #chargen dgram udp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal telnet stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS internal #bootps dgram udp wait MANAGER.SYS /SYS/NET/BOOTPD bootpd #tftp dgram udp wait NET.SYS /SYS/NET/TFTPD tftpd ftp stream tcp nowait MANAGER.SYS /SYS/ARPA/FTPSRVR ftpsrvr
In the example above, only telnet and ftp services are enabled, Ranft said. This led Art Bahrs, a Certified Security Professional, to add that the services you leave on are the ones that can cause trouble, if you don't need them enabled.
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.
November 09, 2015
Making 3000 Disk Faster By Virtualizing It
Age is an issue for HP 3000 homesteaders, a challenge that must be met on more than one front. Aging in-house expertise will require a replacement IT professional. That can be tricky to locate in 2015, but one way to approach the task is to train a consultant who's already a trusted resource.
At Conax Technologies, the veteran HP 3000 manager Rick Sahr was heading for retirement, an event that threw the spotlight on the suitability of MANMAN for ERP. Consultant Bob Ammerman stepped in to learn MPE/iX and the 3000's operations. That was a solution that followed an effort to replace MANMAN with another ERP software suite, running under Windows.
The trouble with the replacement application stemmed from its database. Oracle drove that app suite, and Conax and Ammerman were assured that having strong experience in Oracle wasn't a requirement of adopting the replacement app. "I'm a SQL Server guy," Ammerman said. His work to interface MANMAN with Windows helped to preserve the 3000's role. That rescue was the best way forward when the company chose to back away from the new app.
The shift in plans opened the door for the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator. As it turned out, the $100,000 of server and SAN disk purchased for the ERP replacement app was a good fit for virtualizing the 3000. Charon can just about match the CPU performance of the replaced Series 928. The bonus has been what virtualization has done for storage and disk speed. It's erased the other age barrier, the one presented by old disk drives.
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.
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.