October 06, 2017

Staying Secure with MPE/iX Now and Then

Account-relationships-securityThe IT news is full of reports about security breeches. If an Equifax system with 143 million records can be breeched, then Yahoo's 3 billion email accounts were not far behind, were they? Security by obscurity for outward-facing MPE/iX systems isn't much protection. That being said, the high-test security that is protecting the world's most public systems seems to failing, too. A few years ago, the US Office of Personnel Management had its systems hacked. Millions of fingerprints were stolen from there.

Hewlett-Packard built good intra-3000 security into MPE/iX, and third parties made it even more robust. Back in the 1980s I wrote a manual for such a product called EnGarde that made MPE/iX permissions easier to manage. Vesoft created Security/3000 as the last word in protecting 3000s and MPE/iX data. Eugene Volokh's Burn Before Reading was an early touchstone. The magic of SM was a topic explored by 3000 legend Bob Green in a Newswire column.

Homesteading managers will do well to make a place in their datacenter budgets for support of the 3000. Security is built-in for MPE/iX, but understanding how it works might be a lost art at some sites.

The fundamentals of securing an MPE/iX system go way back. A wayback server of sorts at the 3k Ranger website provides HP's security advice from 1994. It's still valid for anyone, especially a new operator or datacenter employee who's got a 3000 to manage. They just don't teach this stuff anymore. 3000s get orphaned in datacenters when the MPE/iX pros move on into retirement or new careers.

The printed advice helps. A direct link to the Ranger webpage can be a refresher course for any new generation of 3000 minders.

Managers of MPE/iX systems need to look out for themselves in securing HP 3000s. Hewlett-Packard gave up on the task long ago. In the era that led to the end of 3000 operations at HP, the vendor warned that its software updates for MPE/iX were going to be limited to security repairs after 2008. They weren't kidding. The very last archived HP 3000 security bulletin on the HP Enterprise website had stern advice for a DNS poisoning risk.

Read "Staying Secure with MPE/iX Now and Then" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:07 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

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October 04, 2017

Data on 3000s still needs to be synched

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

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

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

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

Read "Data on 3000s still needs to be synched" in full

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

October 02, 2017

Way Out in MPE's World, Desert Sands

BinzagrThe HP 3000 has had a presence in the Middle East since the computer was a new HP product. EMEA stood for Europe, the Middle East and Asia in Hewlett-Packard's business region lineup. The Binzagr Company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was an early subscriber to the NewsWire. The firm deals in "distribution and logistics for a wide range of consumer products, spanning food and drink, personal and beauty care, home care and automotive tires."

It's been quite some time since MPE/iX had a presence in the Middle East, though. That's changing for a little while this year. Stromasys is bringing its products to GITEX, the annual consumer computer and electronics trade show, exhibition, and conference that takes place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates next week.

The vendor selling software that preserves and extends MPE/iX applications will be showing off Charon at the Dubai World Trade Centre Hall 1, Swiss Pavilion Booth B1-40.

Old-DubaiThe GITEX website says that annual attendance at the show is 147,133. I've written about the HP 3000 since 1984, and I've never seen MPE associated with any show boasting an attendance in six figures. Comdex used to claim those kinds of numbers, and GITEX is as far-flung and diverse as Comdex in its heyday. More than 4,400 exhibitors will be on 92,903 square meters of show floor.

"Whether you're already using our Charon legacy server emulation solutions, or are interested in learning more, we hope you'll visit us," said a cheery email from Stromasys. That's right: it's taken an independent software company to put notice of MPE solutions in front of a vast audience.

Read "Way Out in MPE's World, Desert Sands" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:12 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 29, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Libraries, Large Disks

LibraryWhere can I find a list of HP DLT libraries and what version of MPE can drive them?

No libraries are supported on MPE in random mode. While autoloaders can easily be made to work quite well on the HP 3000, one requires specialized software in order to make use of the full functionality of a DLT library. What is important from an HP 3000 point of view is as follows:

• The tape drives in the library must be supported on MPE and can be connected to the 3000. This means the drives must be DDS or DLT4000, DLT7000 and DLT8000. If the system is an HSC (pre-PCI) architecture, the drives must be HVD SCSI. If the system is a PCI system (A- or N-Class,) the drives can also be LVD.

• The connection to the library robot or picker, must also be supported on the 3000, again HSC needs HVD and PCI can do LVD or HVD.

• Finally you must have software that will connect to the picker and drive it. This software can either be running on MPE or on another system, to which the picker is connected. MPE itself cannot drive a robotic library.

I want to install disc drives larger than HP's 144GB. What issues should I consider?

The maximum disk size for MPE/IX is theoretically 2^31 sectors. Due to overhead and rounding DISCFREE output will show 2,147,483,632 sectors for such a disk, this is equal to 549,755,809,792 bytes. So, a disk of this size would likely be sold as a 550 GB disk (powers of ten) though it contains 512 GB from an engineering perspective (powers of two).

Even with the Large Disk Patches, MPE/iX users should be cautious when considering the usage of disks larger than 18-36 GB on MPE/iX systems for the following reasons:

MPE/iX transaction throughput increases when MPE is allowed to spread IO across disks. Even though newer disks are faster than older disks there are limits to disk speed and bus speed which must be taken into account.

Moving from nine 2 GB disks to one 18 GB disk, for example, will often create a disk IO bottle neck. For best performance we recommend that the number of MPE LDEVs never be reduced - if one has nine 2 GB disks then they should be replaced with nine 18 GB disks to ensure no loss of throughput.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Libraries, Large Disks" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 04:45 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 27, 2017

Wayback Wed: HP green-lights emulators

Green-LightFifteen years ago this month, Hewlett-Packard gave the recently-orphaned HP 3000 customer base hope. The vendor was speaking at the first HP World conference since HP's plan to curtail 3000 futures. Customers were reluctant in 2002 to step away from MPE/iX, at least at the pace their vendor was urging. In a roundtable at the conference in LA, HP said PA-RISC emulators capable of running MPE/iX software could be licensed for HP's OS.

It would take most of the next 10 years to make an emulator a reality, a period when HP declined to share tech details that would've sped development from third parties like Stromasys (which was called Software Resources International at the time.) Charon came onto the market during the years when HP had run out the clock on issuing new 3000 licenses.

HP's Dave Wilde said at that conference that 19 of the top 20 application suppliers for the 3000 were already on the move to HP’s other platforms. 3000 owners were moving at a pace far slower than the app suppliers, though. Customer interests in 2002 were higher about ways to ensure a supply of newer hardware once HP quit making it 12 months from the conference.

HP was far off in figuring how to placate its customers devoted to MPE/iX.  The vendor would extend a 50 percent credit for N-Class systems to be used toward any HP-UX system. The discount was to drop to 40 percent during 2005 and 30 percent during 2006. 

The discounts were going to be too short-lived. Customers were so engaged with their 3000s that HP had to extend its end of support date beyond 2006, and then beyond 2008. Post-2008 was the period when the 3000 emulator's development started to take off.

HP’s announcements at the September, 2002 show represented its first tangible offer to customers with continued 3000 ownership as their most cost-effective strategy. HP did not release pricing for the MPE licenses to accompany such an emulator. At the time, there was the possibility that such emulator software could make Intel x86 as well as Itanium processors look like PA-RISC 3000 hardware. The pricing of the MPE/iX licenses was going to be an issue, the customers believed.

Read "Wayback Wed: HP green-lights emulators" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 05:14 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 25, 2017

Changing the Changing of the Guard of Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Changing the Changing of the Guard of Tech" in full

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

September 22, 2017

Importing CSV Text Into COBOL II

CSV iconI'm importing a Comma Separated Value (CSV) text file into a COBOL II program. I want to compare a numeric field from the file to a number. But the input text field can be different for each record. How do I code in COBOL to accommodate the different number sizes in the text file?

Walter Murray, who worked inside HP's Language Labs where COBOL II was developed before moving out into the user community, noted that Suprtool was likely the best solution to the problem. But after someone suggested that COBOL's UNSTRING statement could be useful, he had his doubts. 

Along with suggesting that "importing the file into an Excel spreadsheet, and saving it in a more civilized format," Murray had these notes.

The UNSTRING statement will be problematic, because one of your fields may have one (or more?) commas in it, and you may have an empty field not surrounded by quotation marks. You might have to roll your own code to break the record into fields.  If you are comfortable with reference modification in COBOL, your code will be a lot cleaner.

Once you do isolate the check amount in a data item by itself, you should be able to use FUNCTION NUMVAL-C to convert it.  Yes, NUMVAL and NUMVAL-C are supported by COBOL II/iX, as long as you turn on the POST85 option.

Olav Kappert offered a long but consistent process.

First thing to do is to not use CVS; use tab-delimited. No problem with UNSTRING. Just use the length field and determine if the length = 0.

Do an UNSTRING of the fields delimited by the tab. Then strip out the quotes. Determine the length of each field and right-justify each field and zero-fill them with a leading zero. Then move the field to a numeric field.

You now have your values. Do this for each field from the unstring. You can create a loop and keep finding the ",".  By the way, determine the record length and set the last byte+1 to "~" so that the unstring can determine the end of record. Long process, but consistent in method.

Read "Importing CSV Text Into COBOL II" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:05 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 20, 2017

Hardware broker posts reducing numbers

SpeedChart-Series-997-IntroOut on the 3000-L mailing list, a hardware broker posts a message every month to report on pricing for HP's 3000 hardware. For many 3000 owners, HP hardware is going to take them to the retirement date of the MPE/iX applications. Hewlett-Packard built plenty of the boxes, ending in 2003. That's 14 years ago next month, so that's the youngest a 3000 built by HP can be. They're only getting older.

The pricing lineup from the hardware broker has listed N-Class systems in prior months. None are on the latest inventory. One notable addition is A-Class HP 3000s. They're for sale at the broker for $1,200. It's a one-processor model, but at least it's an upper-tier single-CPU A-Class. The broker's got discs and other needed peripheral goods, too.

One of the other items on the inventory list sheds light on how the world of HP hardware has changed. Just below that $1,200 A-Class server is a 2GB memory module, selling for $125. That's memory for a Series 997 system, a 3000 that was last built late in the 1990s. That 997 list price was in the six figures when first introduced, the top of the first 9x7 PA-RISC line in 1998. The memory module is available, and that's something of a miracle. HP's hardware still lasts a long time.

That it's priced as low as it is today, from the broker: encouraging for the 3000 site that wants to preserve HP's hardware to drive their MPE/iX apps. Customers believe they'll be able to get HP hardware for MPE/iX as long as they want. They might be right, depending on how long that date is into the future. Memory boards still for sale nearly 20 years after system introduction seem to prove that.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:57 AM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 18, 2017

Stromasys demos its app futures at VMworld

One of the last vendor chipsets from industry giants now has its future set, a tomorrow where apps need someplace to live. Oracle's not exempt from closing down its Sun workstation and server line. A recent announcement from Oracle introduces the beginning of the end of the Sun SPARC processors. HP turned off development of its PA-RISC chipset in 2008. The vaunted Itanium chips have now received their last generation, Kittson. What follows these announcements is always the end of the line for the hardware running them. Customers determine how long they'll go forward with vendor hardware.

Charon running SPARCStromasys made its annual trip to VMworld to show off its solution for two of these solutions. Charon for PA-RISC has been saving MPE/iX applications from hardware obsolescence since 2012. The company's VMware demonstration covered the solution that steps in for the SPARC end of life. As in its demos for the 3000's chipset emulation, the SPARC solution at VMware ran on a laptop.

The company's product manager Dave Clements was interviewed at the show about the overall capabilities of the product line. Stromasys started its lineup emulating DEC processors, moved to HP's PA-RISC, then added Sun's SPARC not long afterward. Alpha chips are also emulated using Charon.

Openpower-power-roadmap-newSystem vendors who relied on these specialized chips have become rare. It's true: Apple's newest iPhone 8 coming out on Friday uses an A11 processor, built by the phone's vendor. In the enterprise computing arena, only IBM sticks to a proprietary chip. The Series i continues to use the POWER chipset. No one can be certain for how long. Last spring, IBM rolled out a roadmap that would take POWER beyond the year 2020. IBM is the last vendor to commit to its chipset for that period of time. like HP Enterprise, uses other chips. Any industry-standard chip could only power the Series i apps through some kind of emulation.

PA-RISC-clockHP and Intel once had sweeping plans for Itanium. For a time in the 1990s, the chip was supposed to take over for x86 architecture. Then technical realities set in, followed by market rules. Apps that used the x86 software was too different from programs designed for PA-RISC. HP and a handful of other system vendors could not sell enough to make those dreams of market domination a reality. Finally, Microsoft dropped Itanium support five years ago.

When dreams fail, there's emulation here in 2017. The x86 foundation has been with the industry since the 1980s. It powers solutions like Charon, long after the SPARCs, Itaniums and PA-RISCs have left the field.

There's nothing announced yet for Itanium emulation. But there's little doubt which company would be first in line to build it.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 10:36 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 15, 2017

Friday Fine-tune: Disk and memory checks

The utility cstm has the ability to show the configuration of your current memory installation: the makeup of 3000 memory in terms of boards used. What command delivers this information?

First, enter the MAP command to see a map of the hardware on your system. Each item on the resulting list has a line number. Note the line number for “memory” and use it in the “select device” command, then enter the “info” command. For example, if the memory is device 64:

cstm>select device 64
cstm>info

If you enter the map command now, you will see the status of the memory will be “Information starting” or “information running”. When the status changes to “Information Successful,” you can display the result with the “il” (information log) command. Note: You can avoid the necessity of repeatedly looking at MAP to determine whether the info function has completed by entering “wait” at the prompt following the “info” command. You will not receive another prompt until the info process has completed.

Another answer without using cstm is to run SYSINFO.PRVXL.TELESUP and at the prompt type MEMMAP. You should avoid this solution if using Mirror/iX, since it will break the mirror.]

What MPE command shows me much total hard disk space I have available to me, and how much of that is being used? Also is it possible to break that up per account? For instance, can it tell me how much hard drive space I would gain by purging a particular account?

Use :DISCFREE C for checking disc space used and available by drive and in total. :REPORT z.@ will let you know how much your accounts are using. You may want to run :FSCHECK and do a SYNCACCOUNTING first.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 11:59 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 13, 2017

Lexicon migrates jargon, work remains same

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Lexicon migrates jargon, work remains same" in full

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

September 11, 2017

Songs of a Simpler Week of September

HP Song Book coverThere's tragedy a-plenty to ponder today, what with the news of Irma's landfalls and a somber anniversary of an attack right at hand. Over this weekend, though, an old friend of the HP 3000 passed along a memory marker. That's a piece of documentation that proves our 3000 world was a different place, but a place still related to what we know today. The marker for this month comes from Dave Wiseman, WisemanGatorwhose 3000 pedigree includes dragging an inflated alligator around a conference show floor as well as a 3000 performance dashboard with a Windows GUI, sold with a freeware version years before open source became an industry strategy.

Wiseman shared a sheaf of pages from the HP Song Book. Corporations of the 20th Century had official corporate songs, but these tunes first rose up on Sept. 11, 1989, sung at the Interex conference in San Francisco. They were written by Orly Larson, a 3000 division database expert who played guitar and strummed up good vibes from customers in the era before corporate Internet.

50th Anniversary SongIn addition to being a September a dozen years before the 9/11 tragedy, the 1989 conference opened on the 50th Anniversary of Hewlett-Packard. Unix was not yet HP's chief enterprise computing platform. The vendor wanted a seat at the desktop user interface table with its New Wave GUI, coupled with the HP Deskmanager office mail and software suite hosted on 3000s.

There was still more software to sell than HP could explain easily.

Database SongHP was trying out the concept of offering two databases for the 3000, TurboImage and Allbase. The song lyrics (at left) told the 1989 attendees that HP had already sold over 35,000 HP 3000s with IMAGE. Another product, HP SQL, was being touted for $15,000 "US list, that is," a line that somehow was scanned onto the melody of the ragtime hit Baby Face. Allbase's price was $30,000 in that year, "unconfigured, that is." This might have been the last time that HP software pricing made its way into song.

Read "Songs of a Simpler Week of September" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:12 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 08, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: Moving systems quickly

Here in the 14th year after HP stopped building 3000s, customers continue to use them. They use them up, too, and when that happens it's time to move a system from one machine to another. Here's some timeless advice from a net.digest column of the NewsWire on how to move quickly.

How do you move a large system from one machine to a completely new system, including disk drives, in the quickest way possible and minimizing downtime? In this particular case, it is a 7x24 shop and its online backup to a DLT4000 takes 16 hours.

Stan Sieler came up with an interesting approach to this particular problem, an approach that can be extended to solve a variety of problems in large 7x24 shops.

• Buy a Seagate external disk drive.

• Configure the Seagate on both the old system and the new system.

• Connect the Seagate on the old system.

• volutil/newset the Seagate to be a new volume set, “XFER” (REMEMBER: Volume set names can and should be short names!)

• Do one (or more) STORE-to-disks using compression with the target disk being the new Seagate drive.

Read "Fine-tune Friday: Moving systems quickly" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:58 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 06, 2017

HPE server sales and its CEO stay on course

HPQ3-ProfitsFive years ago this fall, Meg Whitman became CEO of HP. In 2011 Hewlett-Packard was a single monolithic company which just swallowed a $11 billion taste of Autonomy Software. One day after the company cut Autonomy loose, Whitman's HP Enterprise announced it beat analyst estimates on sales and profits.

It's not a bad trick for a corporation that's been shedding products and sectors ever since Whitman took over. The fortunes of HP might be of no more than casual interest for homesteading 3000 customers, including those who use the Stromasys Charon virtualizer for their MPE/iX platform. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise continues to sell servers that can host alternatives to the PA-RISC iron. Yesterday's results showed the vendor's server sales dipped only slightly in the period ending July 31.

Sales for the full company were $8.2 billion, ahead of the $7.5 billion predicted by analysts. Earnings were also out in front of estimates, 31 cents per share versus a prediction of 26 cents. The markets moved HP's stock upward on the news. One analyst said he's still concerned for HPE's future.

In a report from the San Jose Mercury News, Rob Enderle said "regardless of the firm’s structural changes, this is a firm that still appears to be in trouble and there is, as yet, no bright light at the end of the tunnel." Sales rose in the latest quarter on the strength of a strong period for storage and networking equipment. Moving Autonomy to Micro Focus earned HP $8.8 billion, according to Whitman, who had to address rumors she is in the running for the new CEO job at Uber.

Taking over a company with a top management strategy in tatters seems to be a one-time thing for Whitman. On the analyst conference call that delivers the business results, she said Uber's search spotlight fell upon her late.

“I was called in late in the Uber search,” she said. Uber reminded her of her former company, eBay, in that both companies made their name by upending traditional industries.

Read "HPE server sales and its CEO stay on course" in full

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

September 04, 2017

HPE takes a breath after its software flip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "HPE takes a breath after its software flip" in full

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

September 01, 2017

Steps for a Final Shutdown

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

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

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

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

Read "Steps for a Final Shutdown" in full

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

August 30, 2017

Wayback Wed: The Big Wet soaks HP's show

Sam-Houston-flood-HarveyDuring this week of 2005, a natural disaster the size of Hurricane Harvey sank the launch site of HP's conference debut. Hurricane Katrina socked New Orleans two weeks before the first HP Technology Forum & Expo was to make its appearance on the HP 3000 show calendar. Katrina's loss of life was staggering compared to Harvey's toll. In some way, though, the disruption for that conference devoted to HP business computing felt fated. HP's computer group bore down a storm of change on the Interex user group's shoreline that year, cooking up the Technology Forum all during 2005. The HP-led show was roping in exhibitor dollars which had kept the Interex user group afloat each year.

Houston-flood-totalsAs of this writing, HP Enterprise has not reported damages to the HP facilities in the Highway 249 corridor where the Compaq and HP facilities are located. The reported rainfall totals are staggering, however, and the hurricane is being declared the worst rainfall disaster in US history. HPE-Houston-Facilities

The company had its history with hurricanes and the Gulf Coast before this week, though. HP got close to Houston because of its Compaq acquisition in 2002. In 2005, Interex canceled its HP World show when the user group folded with millions in unpaid hotel deposits still on the books. At the time, HP said anyone who'd paid to attend the Interex show could shift their registration to the first-ever HP Tech Forum. The event was to be held in New Orleans in the thick of hurricane season. Katrina wrecked the city so badly that HP had to move its new show to Orlando.

The 2005 hurricane rescheduled an HP show that was not aimed to replace Interex's annual tentpole event. The scheduling might as well have been targeted at the user group, though. Interex got notice in 2004 it could collaborate with the DEC-driven Encompass user group on a 2005 conference, But the HP user group launched by HP 3000 customers was 30 years old by 2004. Interex had to go its own way to retain enough revenue from the event. User group leaders averred that the deciding factor was HP's insistence on steering the content and tone of the new event. In particular, the tone was cited by an HP liaison David Parsons. The Interex members had a history of going toe-to-toe with HP's executives in the legendary Management Roundtables.

As they often do, the storms triggered disaster recovery reporting. Before Katrina swept its broom of destruction in 2005, we ran a pair of articles about disaster recovery strategies. Our columnist Scott Hirsh has also weighed in with best practices on DR in hisWorst Practices column written in the wake of 9/11. Gulf Coast weather didn't sink Interex, but the tradition of an August-September schedule for North American HP trade shows was scattered for good by the storm. HP CEOs had a tradition of being in hurricane paths.

Read "Wayback Wed: The Big Wet soaks HP's show" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:09 PM in History | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 28, 2017

VMware ties virtualization to Amazon's tail

Comet-tailStromasys is a regular presence at the annual VMware conference. This year's event kicked off yesterday with an announcement that ties VMware to Amazon's Web Services. Businesses that want to run some VMware workloads on AWS can do so at Amazon's Oregon cloud datacenters.

VMware is also a regular in the Charon configurations for HP 3000 virtualization. Cloud-based offerings around Charon have been in the Stromasys lineup for several years. The opportunity to be the first 3000 site to operate from the cloud is still out there, but Stromasys is ready.

Charon's HPA product manager Doug Smith says VMware is by no means essential to eliminating a physical 3000. A lot of companies have VMware installed, though, and when they're spent that kind of money they're often interested in how to leverage their datacenter resource. Creating a virtualized Linux server to cradle the virtualization of PA-RISC demands a lot. Some companies have VMware on very powerful servers, so that can help.

Most of the Charon customers are on physical platforms. If VMware is available it can be used unless there's a customer requirement for direct access to a physical device like a tape drive.

Cloud promised a lot for a long time, but it has had costs to calculate, too. This is where the AWS partnership is likely to make a difference. Stromasys product manager Dave Clements said at the start of 2016, "A pretty good-sized virtualized server in the cloud costs about $1,000 a month. We don't discourage it, though."

VMware tried to launch its own cloud services and failed, so now their Amazon ally "gives us a strategic and long-term partnership." It's called VMware Cloud for AWS. The VMware show also included an introduction of a new Kingston SSD device, the NVMe SSD, to eliminate data bottlenecks. SSD is one of the hidden advantages of taking a 3000 host into virtualized Charon territory.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:56 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 25, 2017

SSDs: Not a long-shot to work with MPE/iX

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is not entirely sure if it's leaving the support forum it once devoted to the HP e3000. (After so many years, "e3000" is still the go-to keyword while looking at the HPE resources that remain online.) To test if the forum was still alive, or entirely in archive stasis, I posed a question. Could an IDE SSD drive get a hookup to a 3000 using an SCSI converter?

Is there enough bus connectivity in the e3000 to install an SSD on the server? There are SSD drives that can link up via IDE and I've found a SCSI to IDE converter.

One reply bounced back on the forum. "Torsten" said, "If this is really an HP3000 server, this sounds like the most crazy tuning idea."

Not so crazy, we've seen. In 2015, after one 3000-L newsgroup user compared putting SSDs in 3000s to a McLaren racing engine in an SUV, a more plausible solution emerged: using SSDs to support a virtualized 3000 running on an Intel-based PC. "You could house your 3000 in a Stromasys emulator running on a Linux box with VMware," said Gilles Schipper of GSA, "employing as many SATA SSD disks as you want on your host."

But there was a time in another May when SSDs running native in HP's 3000 hardware was a possibility worth investigating. It was also a necessity, because it was the only way.

Read "SSDs: Not a long-shot to work with MPE/iX" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:46 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2017

Wayback Wed: Lights Out for 3000 Classics

Series 70 with Disk FarmDuring this month 20 years ago, HP sent its death notice out about the original systems it built to run MPE. All computers running CISC technology, systems the community learned to call Classic 3000s, got their end of support notice in August of 1997. Hewlett-Packard officially labeled them and the software built for MPE V as "vintage software and systems."

As continues to be the case for HP's end of life plans, the finale for the 3000's original chip design arrived more than a few years beyond the EOL of September 1998. Series 70s were still in use when the original notice went out, at least a decade beyond their final shipping date. HP created the Series 70 when the RISC Spectrum project looked certain not to rescue the highest-end HP 3000 users in time. Series 68 users were running out of horsepower, and HP's final CISC server filled the gap for awhile.

HP was consolidating its support resources with the announcement. Even though 20,000 HP 3000s shipped between system introduction and the arrival of the RISC-based systems, the newer, lower-priced MPE/iX servers became popular replacements for Classic 3000s. By 1997 the software vendors had made a complete embrace of the new OS. But 3000 customers, ever a thrifty bunch, retained what continued to serve them well enough. Customers noted that the approaching Y2K deadline was not going to hamper the vintage software or its hardware.

Although the announcement sparked a 3000 hardware sales bump and hastened the journey of the two-digit systems like the Series 42 to the scrap heap, the old compilers remained under support. A community advocate then asked HP to free up Basic/V to the community, along with the original Systems Programming Language (SPL). The request pre-dated the idea of open source by more than a few years. HP's response was no different than the one it held to when it stopped supporting MPE/iX. Once an HP product, always an HP product.

Wirt Atmar of AICS noted that "If HP has abandoned Basic, it would be an extraordinary gift to the MPE user community to make it and SPL legal freeware. Basic still remains the easiest language to build complex, easy string-manipulating software that must interact with IMAGE databases."

Another community leader, Chris Bartram, made direct reference to freeware in seconding the move to give Basic/V to the customers. Bartram's 3k Associates already hosted a website of shareware for the HP 3000. He said donating the MPE V versions of Basic and SPL fit with HP's new policy of relying on shareware for its HP 3000 customers.

"It certainly doesn't hurt anything at this point to make it freeware," he said, "and fits in well with the wealth of other freeware programs that are becoming available on the platform -- almost all without "official" support or significant investments from HP." Old hardware, on the other hand, suffered from the same issues as HP's aging iron of our current day. Parts became a showstopper at some sites.

Read "Wayback Wed: Lights Out for 3000 Classics" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:32 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 21, 2017

The Next Totality: Will it be our last?

21stCenturyNorthAmericanEclipsesA wide swath of North America sparkled with zeal for the sun today. The total eclipse cut across the US from left to right coasts, scattering visions many viewers never knew before in person. We had a partial here in Austin and built a binocular viewer. On TV a stadium full of astronomy enthusiasts saw the clouds dash all but 11 seconds of totality hopes in Carbondale, Ill. Not far to the west, the Stonehenge knockoff Carhenge had clear skies and a stunning swing of darkness for about two minutes.

The talk today began to turn to whether this would be the last total eclipse in our North American lifetimes. The answer is easy enough for things younger than 70: this won't be the last, because less than seven years from now a top-to-bottom totality will swing through North America. Austin is in the path of 100 percent this time. We have to decide if we'll be renting out the NewsWire offices for viewing parties in 2024.

Next EclipseThe question that's harder to answer with certainty is whether this is the last totality for the HP 3000. For many years by now we've heard sites talking about plans to work in the 2020's. Ametek Chandler Engineering has a plan to take them into 2023. Earlier this month, the 3000 manager at MagicAire shared the news that he's deciding if clearing the 2028 CALENDAR roadblock is worthwhile for his operation.

The number of companies who'll rely on the 3000 may be zero in less than six years, but I wouldn't bet on it. Series 70 machines were running in the Dallas area more than 15 years after they were taken off HP's 3000 lineup. The odds of zero MPE/iX apps running in less than six years are probably nil. Virtualized PA-RISC systems from Stromasys will be cradling what we call 3000 apps in 2024.

Not-BrightOur community of experts and customers might take up their circa-2017 eyewear once again when I'm turning 67. If back in 1979 — when the last total eclipse sailed through a bit of the US — someone figured nobody would need to be wearing glasses to watch a total eclipse in 2017, they'd be wrong about that. Old tech has a way of hanging on once it's proved itself. The last total eclipse I'm likely to see is in 2045. I'll only be 88, and MPE will be just a tender 63 years old. Anything first created in 1954 and still in use is 63 years old today. That would be nuclear submarines and M&Ms. Think the latter (alluring, durable) while considering MPE's lifespan. There's also that song about the future, brightness, and shades. As we saw today, stranger things have already happened.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:29 PM in History, Homesteading, Newsmakers | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 18, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: SCSI codes, and clean-ups for UDCs and 3000 power supplies

Cleanup-siteI need to clean up COMMAND.PUB.SYS on my 3000. There's a problem with BULDACCT. Is there a utility to help manage the UDC catalog?

Stan Sieler replies:

One option is "PURGE," which ships on all MPE systems :) Of course, that means you have to rebuild the UDC catalog. We recently encountered a site where, somehow, an HFS filename had gotten into COMMAND.PUB.SYS. You can't delete UDC entries with HFS filenames, nor can you add them. I had to edit the file with Debug to change the name into something that could be deleted.

Keven Miller adds:

I believe you want the utility UDCSORT from the CSL, the UDC sorting and reorganization program.

There are so many SCSI types. It's got to be the most confusing four letter acronym. Is there a guide?

Steve Dirickson offers this primer:

SE (single-ended): TTL-level signals referenced to ground; speeds from 5 Mhz to 20 MHz

Differential (HVD): something around +/-12V signals on paired wires (old-timers think “EIA 20mA current loop”); same speeds as SE

LVD (Ultra2): TTL-level differential; 40 MHz clock

Ultra160: same as LVD, but data signals double-clocked, i.e. transfers on both clock transitions like DDR DRAM. LVD and Ultra160 can co-exist on the same bus with SE devices, but will operate in SE mode. HVD doesn’t co-exist with anything else.

Upon arrival this morning my console had locked up. I re-started the unit, but the SCSI drives do not seem to be powering up. The green lights flash for a second after the power is applied, but that is it. The cooling fan does not turn either. The  fan that is built into the supply was making noise last week. I can’t believe the amount of dust inside.

Tom Emerson responded:

This sounds very familiar. I’d say the power supply on the drive cabinet is either going or gone [does the fan ‘not spin’ due to being gunked up with dust and grease, or just ‘no power’?] I’m thinking that the power supply is detecting a problem and shutting down moments after powering up [hence why you see a ‘momentary flicker’].

Read "Fine-tune Friday: SCSI codes, and clean-ups for UDCs and 3000 power supplies" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:47 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 16, 2017

How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future

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

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

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

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

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

Read "How Free Lunch Can Cost You The Future" in full

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

August 14, 2017

Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Increasing Challenges of 3000 DIY Support" in full

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

August 11, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: A Diagnostics Tour

Newswire Classic
From Stan Sieler

There are two kinds of diagnostics: online and offline.

The online come in two flavors:

1. Older releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via SYSDIAG.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs DUI.DIAG.SYS). (MPE/iX 6.0 and earlier, possibly MPE/iX 6.5 (I'm not sure))

2. Newer releases of MPE/iX have online diagnostics accessed via CSTM.PUB.SYS (which is a script that runs /usr/sbin/stm/ui/bin/stmc).

Both are, well, difficult to use. (HP-UX also switched from sysdiag to stm.) Both have some modules that require passwords, and some that don't.

The offline diagnostics are on a bootable CD or tape. The lastest offline diagnostics CD (for PA-RISC) that I could find was labelled "2004."

That CD has seven diagnostics/utilities. I tried running all of them on an A-Class system. The "ODE" one is special; it's a program that itself hosts a number of diagnostics/utilities (some of which require passwords).

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: A Diagnostics Tour" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:00 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2017

Parts become hair triggers for some sites

Ordering parts for HP 3000s used to be painless. HP's Partsurfer website showed the way, letting a manager search by serial number, and even showing pictures in a full listing of components. Click to Buy was a column in the webpage.

PartsurferThat's a 3000 option that's gone from the HP Enterprise Partsurfer website, but there are options still available outside of HP. Resellers and support vendors stock parts — the good vendors guarantee them once they assume responsibility for a server or a 3000-specific device. Consider how many parts go into a 3000. These guarantees are being serviced by spare systems.

Parts have become the hair trigger that eliminates 3000s still serving in 2017. "Availability of parts is triggering migrations by now," said Eric Mintz, head of the 3000 operations at Fresche Solutions.

Homesteading to preserve MPE/iX is different and simpler matter. Virtualized systems to run 3000 apps have been serving for close to five years in the marketplace. That's Charon, which will never have a faded Partserver website problem. No hardware lasts forever, but finding a Proliant or Dell replacement part is a trivial matter by comparison. A full spare replacement is one way to backstop a Charon-hosted MPE/iX system, because they run on Intel servers.

"Some customers do want to stay on as long as possible," Mintz said. Application support helps them do this. So do depot-based support services: the ones where needed parts are on a shelf in a warehouse space, waiting.

Read "Parts become hair triggers for some sites" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:52 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2017

Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice

French-CuratorsJust a few weeks ago, we reported on the presumed disappearance of the HP 3000 Jazz lore and software. The resource of papers and programs written for the MPE/iX manager turned up at a new address at Fresche Solutions' website. Fresche was once Speedware, a company that licensed use of all the Jazz contents—help first compiled by HP in the 1990s.

Now it looks like HP's ready to flip off the switch for its Community Forum. These have been less-trafficked webpages where advice lived for 3000s and MPE. Donna Hofmeister, a former director of the OpenMPE advocacy group, noted that an HP Enterprise moderator said those forums would be shut down with immediate effect.

I discovered this little bit of unhappiness:
7/31 - Forum: Operating Systems - MPE/iX

Information to all members, that we will retire the Operating Systems - MPE/iX forum and all boards end of business today.

As far as I can tell, all MPE information is no longer accessible! :-( I'm not happy that no public announcement was made <sigh> If you can demonstrate differently, that would be great!

But a brief bout of searching this morning revealed at least some archived questions and answers at the HPE website about the 3000. For example, there's a Community post about advice for using the DAT 24x6e Autoloader with MPE/iX. It's useful to have an HP Passport account login (still free) to be able to read such things. The amount of information has been aging, and nothing seems to be new since 2011. It wasn't always this way; HP used to post articles on MPE/iX administration with procedural examples.

Not to worry. The established 3000 support providers have been curating HP's 3000 information like this for many years. No matter what HP takes down, it lives on elsewhere. "We gathered a lot of the Jazz and other HP 3000 related content years ago to cover our needs," said Steve Suraci of Pivital. "While I don’t think we got everything, I do think we have most of what we might need these days." Up to date web locations for such information should be at your support partner. Best of all, they'll have curated those answers.

Read "Support firms vet, curate online 3000 advice" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:58 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 04, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: HP 3000 DLT vs. DDS

Dlt Backing up enterprise-grade 3000s presents interesting choices. Back in the 1990s when the 3000 being built and sold by HP, DDS at first had only two generations, neither of which were reliable. A DDS tape used to be the common coin for OS updates and software upgrades. The media has advanced beyond a DDS-4 generation to DAT-360, but Digital Linear Tape (DLT) has a higher capacity and more reliability than DDS.

When a DDS tape backup runs slower than DLT, however, something is amiss. DLT is supposed to supply a native transfer rate of 15 MBps in the SureStore line of tape libraries. You can look at an HP PDF datasheet on the Ultrium SureStore devices certified by HP for MPE/iX at this link.

HP 3000 community partners such as Pivital Solutions offer these DLTs, At an estimated cost of about $1,300 or more per device, you'll expect them to beat the DDS-3 transfers of 5 MBps.

When Ray Shahan didn't see the speed he expected after moving to DLT and asked the 3000 newsgroup community what might be wrong. Advice ranged from TurboStore commands, to channels where the drives are installed, to the 3000's bandwidth and CPU power to deliver data to the DLT. Even the lifespan of the DLT tape can be a factor. HP's MPE/iX IO expert Jim Hawkins weighed in among the answers, while users and third-party support providers gave advice on how to get the speed which you pay extra for from DLT.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: HP 3000 DLT vs. DDS" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 01:53 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 02, 2017

Long-term value rests in short-life servers

Buried-treasureIt's a summer afternoon in Virginia when a 3000 expert takes inventory. He's got a declining number of billable hours this month, enough of a problem to reach for resources to liquidate. His pair of big 9x9 systems in offsite storage have been offline for all of this year, and all of last year, too. There's gold in them there chassis, he figures. They've got to be worth something.

Then the expert has a look at last week's 3000-L newsgroup traffic. The messages have dwindled to a couple of dozen even in the good months, but one hardware reseller posts messages monthly. Old 3000s are for sale at an asking price that doesn't exceed $5,000 for even the biggest server. HP only built one N-Class bigger than the 4-way 550 N-Class that tops the list. The 9x9s in the message? About $1,000-$1,200 apiece, even for a 989. Selling servers like that to a broker might net maybe half that to our expert.

Even though the servers are in great shape, stored in temperature-controlled storage units, and sport some nice peripherals, the resale value of the boxes isn't surprising. They're short-life assets, because eventually they'll break down. There's something in them that might be more valuable than $500 per system, though. The MPE/iX licenses for these systems could be worth something, even if the hardware isn't exactly golden.

Series 989A historical note or two: The Series 989 models sold for as little as $175,617 when HP launched them 18 years ago. MPE/iX 6.0 was the first OS to power them. Like everything else HP built for MPE/iX, the servers stopped being sold in 2003

How much such licenses would fetch is an unknown this year. A low-cost server in the used market usually has MPE/iX loaded on its disks. A clear chain of ownership, though, might not be a part of that discount price. Who'd care about such a thing? Our expert thinks of the one company more devoted to the everlasting future of MPE/iX than anybody: Stromasys.

Any 3000 customer with enough dedication to using MPE/iX in an emulated environment may very well want good MPE/iX licenses. HP promised to deliver an emulator-only MPE/iX license to the community, but the vendor stopped issuing licenses before Stromasys Charon got into the market. A license for a 3000 is the one element of the MPE/iX environment in shortest supply. For now, nobody has started to list server licenses as a product that can be purchased.

Read "Long-term value rests in short-life servers" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:47 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 31, 2017

Where 2028 fits in the homestead calendar

Calendar pagesTactical planning for the HP 3000's future is a current practice at shops like MagicAire. The company that manufactures mobile cooling units has a Series 939 that continues to run MANMAN and carefully-crafted applications. Ed Stein there has a need to think about something more pressing than getting his apps and utilities licensed for emulator use. He's thinking strategic.

Stein chooses to think about the end of the 3000's calendar days. He's interested in getting someone to fix the date issue that will arise at midnight on Dec. 31, 2027. The foresight is the first customer readiness we've seen that examines what can be done before that day arrives.

Developers and vendors have been talking about 2028, but not yet in explicit design language. Stein is the first customer who's doing the talking.

I am more concerned right now with the Year 2027 MPE issue. Not that we plan to be on MPE in that year—but if a fix is to be had, that fix needs to be done sooner than later, given the age and availability of the required expertise to develop a fix. There may be no one around in 2026 who knows how to fix it, in the event that in the worst case we are still on an HP 3000.

My company would look at paying for a fix now as insurance.

It's 10 years and five months away, but the end of 2027 is the deadline for regular date handing to stop working. It makes the challenge a Year 2027 issue if you consider Y2K to have been a Year 1999 issue. The most intense work always happens ahead of a deadline. If you're savvy, it's many years before a deadline.

Read "Where 2028 fits in the homestead calendar" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:35 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 28, 2017

Fine-Tune Friday: Moving Backup Files

Editor's note: Today's 3000 technique talk is written by Brian Edminster, an HP 3000 veteran who's been maintaining MPE/iX apps in a support role for many years. Edminster's experience goes back into the 1980s, making him a good match for some of the classic MPE/iX apps that are still serving companies. He's available for contract or long-term engagements through his company Applied Technologies.

By Brian Edminster 

First of two parts

Once store-to-disk backups 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.

Read "Fine-Tune Friday: Moving Backup Files" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:58 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 26, 2017

Wayback Wed: User groups, past and future

Connect logo partialTwelve years ago this week, the Interex user group became fully retired. Most of the community called the shutdown of the 31-year-old HP users group a bankruptcy, since millions of dollars of invoices went unpaid, while hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits and membership fees vanished. In its own way, though, Interex was stepping aside for user groups better built for IT of the 21st Century. The groups that have taken over during those years are better focused, streamlined, and understand their constituents better.

One of those groups is seeking directors this week. Connect, the latest generation of a group that was called Encompass on the day Interex retired, is searching for nominees to serve in three seats on its board. Members of a user group board have important duties, even while they're working for no pay. They oversee fiscal decisions, like the group on the Interex board was charged with doing at its demise. Directors propose advocacy, like the dozens of volunteers who served on the OpenMPE group in its eight years of existence. A board at its best looks forward toward how its organization should evolve. The ecosystem for IT is always changing.

That International Group for Hewlett-Packard Computer Users became Interex in 1984 and had mixed missions right from its beginnings. Built in an era without Internet or fax machines, Interex had to serve the needs of HP 3000, HP 9000, and even HP 1000 community members. The latter often didn't know they owned a 1000, since it was embedded deep in other devices. When I began covering HP in 1984, the HP 1000 group still was holding its own annual conference, even as it operated under the Interex banner.

Things got more complicated when PCs moved into datacenters and offices for good. By the time Interex locked its doors on Borregas Avenue in Sunnyvale, Calif., the HP 9000 members had overtaken the mission of the 3000, riding that pre-Internet wave of Unix passions. HP had announced its exit scheme for MPE/iX. Windows became the dominant environment for IT computing, a community too diverse for a vendor-centric group to impact.

The last executive director who left his job with the group still intact, Chuck Piercey asked repeatedly in the years before the bankruptcy what a user group built around one vendor might do in a homogenous landscape. Interex was built when the silos of vendors could stand distinct, and managers could run an all-HP shop and remain competitive within their industries.

Read "Wayback Wed: User groups, past and future" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:17 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 24, 2017

Catch up tech can save legacy 3000s

Keep-calm-catch-upAbout a month ago we celebrated the 12-year anniversary of this blog. We scooped up three of the stories from that summer week of 2005, including notice of Taurus Software's Bridgeware. Quest Software was selling Bridgeware in a partnership with Taurus in 2005. Then we added that Bridgeware product continues to bridge data between 3000s and migration targets like Oracle.

This was catchup news to one HP 3000 manager among our readers. "I wish I had known about Taurus BridgeWare before my A500 crashed," he said. "Now I cannot get the data out of it."

This can be a fate that a site in deep-static mode can't escape. If spending has stopped, but the 3000's data carries on in a now-frozen app, that's an imbalance waiting to become something more serious. Good backup strategies can mitigate that kind of failure. Last week we chronicled the failover capabilities of Nike disk arrays. However, the best failover plan is the one that loses little to nothing because it's all being mirrored all the time.

Manufacturing sites have taken to sharing their data across multiple platforms for many years. The Support Group keeps up with information on the best-preserved tools to move data between manufacturing 3000s and SQL Server databases in real time. Playing catch up with tech is a better choice than wishing you knew about things like Bridgeware. We covered that bridging tech in detail you can find here on this blog. Here's a recap.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:07 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 21, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Nike Arrays 101

Newswire Classic
by John Burke

Many 3000 homesteaders have picked up used HP Nike Model 20 disk arrays. For many years there has been a glut of these inexpensive devices on the market and they work with older models of HP 3000s. However, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about how and when to use them. One company posted the following to 3000-L:

Nike_Model_20_In_Close_Up“We’re upgrading from a Model 10 to a Model 20 Nike array. We're deciding whether to keep it in hardware RAID configuration or to switch to MPE/iX mirroring, since you can now do it on the system volume set. We’re considering the performance issue of keeping Nike hardware RAID versus the safety of MPE Mirroring. How do you switch from one to the other? You can use the second Fast and Wide card on the array when using MPE mirroring, but you can’t when using Model 20 hardware RAID."

“So, with hardware RAID, you have to consider the single point of failure of the controller card. If we ‘split the bus’ on the array mechanism into two separate groups of drives, and then connect a separate controller to the other half of the bus, you can’t have the hardware mirrored drive on the other controller. It must be on the same path as the ‘master’ drive because MPE sees them as a single device.

"Using software mirroring, you can do this because both drives are independently configured in MPE. Software mirroring adds overhead to the CPU, but it’s a trade-off. We are evaluating the combination of efficiency, performance, fault tolerance and cost.”

First of all, Mirrored Disk/iX does not support mirroring of the System Volume Set – never did and never will. Secondly, you most certainly can use a second FWSCSI card with a Model 20 attached to an HP 3000.

Another poster elaborated on the second controller. All of the drives are accessible from either controller but of course via different addresses. Your installer should set the DEFAULT ownership of drives to each controller. To improve throughput each controller should share the load. Only one controller is necessary to address all of the drives, but where MPE falls short is not having a mechanism for auto failover of a failing controller.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Nike Arrays 101" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:36 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 19, 2017

Pumped up pro, app teams serve 3000 shops

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

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

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

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

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:27 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2017

Does 3000 migration mean modernization?

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Does 3000 migration mean modernization?" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 03:57 PM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 12, 2017

Adminstrator to Architect, Aided by 3000s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:55 PM in Homesteading, Migration, User Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 10, 2017

Migrations often call upon the Mod Squad

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

Times change, and the current era is urging some manufacturing companies off HP 3000 hardware. In some cases the firms have retrenched and moved out of Hewlett-Packard's hardware limitations. Stromasys Charon had its evaluation at Magicaire, one of the companies allied to Carrier. One advantage of virtualization of ERP systems: it permits a company to hold onto their mods. The business software  built over several decades remains intact.

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

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

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

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

July 07, 2017

Fine-tune Friday: opening disk, adding HASS

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

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

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

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

Gilles Schipper, Lars Appel and Chris Bartram reply:

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

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

Read "Fine-tune Friday: opening disk, adding HASS" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 09:55 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 05, 2017

Heritage HP Jazz notes, preserved for all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Heritage HP Jazz notes, preserved for all" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:15 PM in Homesteading, News Outta HP, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 30, 2017

Fine-Tune Friday: Jazz refuge, Query-JCL tip

Editor's Note: We're taking Monday July 3 off to celebrate Independence Day, and we'll be back on July 5 with a new report.

Where did the files HP hosted on jazz.external.hp.com go? So many articles reference that HP 3000 labs site.

The Jazz server contents were moved to several servers. A system at Speedware (a company now called Fresche Legacy) has much of what was hosted on Jazz. Those Jazz links at Speedware (now Fresche Legacy, and deeply absorbed with IBM iSeries work) are tucked away under hpmigrations.com. Not exactly the place where you'd look for homesteading tools, but available anyway.

How can I supply to QUERY a variable from within a JCL job? The physical paperwork for a file on the 3000 is being copied to digital format. We mark the files as deleted, (logically, not physically). Tracking this destroyed paperwork is done manually (a tedious and error prone process). How can I write something on the 3000 to create a comma delimited file of files shredded the day before?

John Long replies

This may help:

:SETVAR PREVDATE, !HPYYYYMMDD - 1
:SHOWVAR PREVDATE
PREVDATE = 20170607

I'm not sure how (or even if) query reads variables. (Nothing in the manual about it). Which is why you might have to 'build' your jobstream daily and replace the date in the 'USE file.'

Read "Fine-Tune Friday: Jazz refuge, Query-JCL tip" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 07:31 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 28, 2017

Wayback Wed: HP makes 3000 fiber-fast

Server-rack-fibre-channelTwenty years ago this month Hewlett-Packard began to make its 3000s fast enough to use fiber connections. HP Fibre Channel was an implementation of the T11 standard, a serial interface to overcome limitations of SCSI and HIPPI interfaces. Although the 3000 wouldn't gain a full Fibre Channel capability until the following year, HP laid the essential groundwork with the first High Speed Connect (HSC) cards for HP 3000s.

It was peripheral technology nearly in parallel with Unix, a strategy the 3000 community was clamoring for during the system's late 1990s renaissance.

New IO cards rolled into the 3000 market in 1997, giving the server a road to bandwidth equality with its cousin the HP 9000. HP told customers Fiber Channel was the future of 3000 peripheral connectivity. HP's first family of Fiber Channel devices were first deployed in a Model 30/FC High Availability Disk Array for 9000s.

SpeedChart-Series-997-IntroThe advance for the server gave the 3000 an open door to a technology that's still in heavy use. By some estimates more than 18 million Fibre Channel ports are working across the world. The technology has rocketed from the initial 1Gbit speed to 128Gbit bandwidth. The highest-speed HP 3000s until the ultimate server generation were Series 997s, designed to replace the Emerald-class systems. HP charged more than $400,000 for 997s at the top of the range. It was the only 12-way HP 3000 the vendor ever introduced.

Today the Fibre Channel advantage is available in Linux server settings. One example is the Dell EMC storage solution. Linux is the host environment for the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator.

Read "Wayback Wed: HP makes 3000 fiber-fast" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:39 PM in History, News Outta HP | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 26, 2017

How to give Quiz good answers for email

HP 3000 manager John Sommers needs help with his Quiz reports. They used to work through the mails, but now they're not being delivered.

Greenbar-paper"I used to have Quiz send its output to users directly from the HP 3000," he said in a message to me. "I'm not sure how else to attach files to an electronic message in an automated fashion and distribute them. It might not have been pretty and fancy, but it was 110 percent functional and reliable."

Email and the HP 3000 don't have a close relationship by 2017. A few weeks ago we traced the options for emailing on the HP 3000 and saw that Netmail 3000 from 3k Associates is still supported and working in some datacenters. That's as good as HP 3000 email will get today. There's also Sendmail inside of the HP 3000 OS (plenty of configuration needed there) and a few other free options. Sommers' request is different, though. He didn't need his 3000 to distribute the mail. He needs email to distribute 3000 data -- in specific, Quiz reports.

Our newest sponsor Hillary Software has offered software for a long time that will do this. Well seasoned, byRequest is, and it works with enterprise servers across the Unix, Linux, and Windows worlds, as well as MPE/iX. Forms are another area where the 3000's data goes out to work, and Hillary's got forms software. Minisoft also has a forms solution it has customized and tailored for individual applications like QAD, SAP, Oracle, as well as strong links to the HP 3000 and application suites like MANMAN.

Read "How to give Quiz good answers for email" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:18 PM in Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 23, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: A 3000's Intrinsic Savvy

Homer-at-blackboardAs the clock counts down to the 10-year deadline for calendar services changes, our thoughts turn to HPCALENDAR. That's the intrinsic HP wrote for the 6.0 and 7.x releases of the 3000 OS, a new tool to solve an old problem. Alas, HPCALENDAR is fresher than the bedrock CALENDAR, but it's only callable in the 3000's Native Mode.

But poking into the online resources for MPE Intrinsics, I learned that once more HP's re-shelved its 3000 docs. Things have gotten better: everything now lives on the much-better-focused HP Enterprise website. You can, for the moment, locate the guidelines to intrinsics for MPE/iX at hpe.com.

The Intrinsics Manual for MPE/iX 7.x is also a PDF file at Team NA Consulting. Independents like Neil Armstrong help the community that's using HP's resources for 3000s these days. It used to be much simpler. In the 1990s, the Interex user group ran a collection of well-written white papers by George Stachnik. We're lucky enough to have them with us today, cut loose from ownership and firewalls. One is devoted to the system's intrinsics.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: A 3000's Intrinsic Savvy" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:34 PM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 21, 2017

What must be waiting when a 3000 moves

File-typesTransfers have been in 3000 futures for many years. Until 2012, all of the transfers were to other environments. Unix, Windows, Linux. SAP, Oracle and its apps, Salesforce. All very different from the world of MPE/iX and IMAGE/SQL.

Then Charon arrived and companies could preserve their legacy environments inside new hardware. No more PA-RISC HP iron in this infrastructure. When a site decides to use the Stromasys software, though, the door comes open for new capabilities. Charon provides the MPE/iX bedrock, riding on top of a Linux base that's hosted on an Intel server. What else do you need?

There are other platforms to support and integrate into your IMAGE/SQL databases. These platforms run on many environments, crossing servers of all kinds, even those in the cloud. PDF files, Excel and Word documents. They're the specific carriers of information that started on the HP 3000. A well-known and up-to-date software package delivers those platforms to IMAGE/SQL data as well as reports.

Hillary Software's byRequest, as well as its other products, does this job. As it has for more than 20 years. The software runs under MPE/iX for maximum integration. Linux, Windows, the other operating environments that run on that Charon Intel server. A 3000 manager wanted to give his MPE/iX apps the power to appear as PDF providers.

Read "What must be waiting when a 3000 moves" in full

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

June 19, 2017

3000 consulting returns not so costly

Work-and-retirementLast week a reader sent a request for resources to help him re-enter the HP 3000 marketplace. We'll just let his question speak for itself to explain why returning to MPE is an option.

I spent 26 years on HP 3000 systems and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I have not touched one in the last six years. When the Charon emulator came out I never downloaded a copy for personal use; and now they don't offer that option. I am going to retire soon, and I am thinking about picking up some 3000 consulting work and get back to what I love. I was wondering if there is any type of online 3000 emulator that I could use to brush up with.

While the answer might seem to be no, HP 3000s can be much more available for a seasoned pro like this one who's taking on a retirement career. (That's a job that pays less than your life's work, but one you'd wait a lifetime to start again.) HP 3000s are in copious supply, if you're seeking HP's hardware, and they don't cost much anymore — if for personal training purposes, you're not particular about an MPE/iX license transfer. Earlier this month we saw notice of $500 Series 918 systems. Built in the 1990s, of course. But good enough for consulting refreshment.

Charon has a newer pedigree of hardware, but indeed, it's got no freeware personal-use download any longer. Professional and experienced installation of the PA-RISC emulator from Stromasys guarantees a stable replacement for HP's aging hardware.

OpenMPE set up a community HP 3000 that's become a managed asset operated by Tracy Johnson. One part of Johnson's server runs the classic HP 3000 game Empire, for example. The nature of 3000 consulting runs from operational to development. OpenMPE's server is open for $99 yearly accounts, including all HP SUBSYS programs.

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:39 AM in Homesteading, Web Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 16, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Cleaning Up Correctly

Classic 3000 Advice
By John Burke

Good intentions about maintenance sometimes stumble in their implementation. As an example, here’s a request for help on cleaning up.

Cleanup-tools“We have a 989/650 system. Every weekend we identify about 70,000 files to delete off the system. I build a jobstream that basically executes a file that has about 70 thousand lines. Each line says ‘PURGE file.group.account’. This job has become a real hog. It launches at 6 AM on Sunday morning, but by 7 PM on Sunday night it has only purged about 20,000 files. While this job is running, logons take upwards of 30 seconds. What can I do?”

This reminds me of the old joke where the guy goes to the doctor and complains “Gee, doc, my arm hurts like hell when I move it like this. What can I do?” The doctor looks at him and says “Stop moving it like that.” But seriously, the user above is lucky the files are not all in the same group or he would be experiencing system failures like the poor user two years ago who was only trying to purge 40,000 files.

In either case, the advice is the same; purge the files in reverse alphabetic order. This will avoid a system failure if you already have too many files in a group or HFS directory, and it will dramatically improve system performance in all cases. However, several people on the 3000-L list have pointed out that if you find you need to purge 70,000 files per week, you should consider altering your procedures to use temporary files. Or if that will not work, purge the files as soon as you no longer need them rather than wait until it becomes a huge task.

Read "Friday Fine-Tune: Cleaning Up Correctly" in full

Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:59 AM in Hidden Value, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017

Wayback Wed: Blog takes aim at 3000 news

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

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

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

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

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

Read "Wayback Wed: Blog takes aim at 3000 news" in full

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

June 12, 2017

Emulation proposes to fix 3000 antiquation

Antique serversA few weeks back, an ardent reader of the Newswire asked about our HP 3000 Memoirs Project. I shared a link to the History section of the Newswire, a subject we never featured in our printed editions. I figured I was chatting with a fan of the server until I asked, "What are you doing with your HP 3000 these days?"

"Dying, that's what. I cannot believe that my place of business still uses this antiquated platform as their system of record."

There's no reason to take this personally if you disagree. Webster's tells us that antiquated means "outmoded or discredited by reason of age; old and no longer useful, popular, or accepted." Some of this is true of the computing we still call HP 3000. (Some just call the server "the HP," which I take as a sign of less-ardent interest.)

However, the antiquated object in management cross-hairs begins with the 3000 hardware. HP's gear is a growing liability, unless you're smart enough to have independent support for the Hewlett-Packard systems. If not, there's a way to eliminate antiquated from the capital equipment list of problems.

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 08:30 PM in History, Homesteading | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 09, 2017

Friday Fine-Tune: Split up MPE/iX versions

Multiple-personalitiesHas anybody had success trying to split a single HP 3000 system into two different OS versions by using two sets of disks? There is no need for sharing of information between the two operating systems, and they would run independently of each other at different times of the day.

Guy Paul replies:
This is certainly possible, as we have done this in the past for customers who couldn’t tolerate any downtime for OS upgrades. Hence, we came up with a solution to have a duplicate set of SYSVS discs that we upgraded while they were still on the old OS. Come day of the ‘real’ OS upgrade, we brought them down, stored off any modified files, switched over to the new OS, restored any modified files and they had an OS upgrade in about 45 minutes. So it is possible.

You should probably consider using BULDACCT to synchronize the accounting structure.

Gilles Schipper adds:
This should be entirely possible. I do this sort of thing all the time. By simply booting from the appropriate boot path, you can do exactly as you wish. In fact, I have even shared common volume sets among different LDEV 1 system volume sets, with different MPE versions.

What's the name and syntax of the Posix utility that allows you to assign a new file, give the file the same name as the one you're replacing—and the new file will replace the old file when the last user closes it?

Andreas Schmidt replies:
You want to use mv, a utility to rename and move files and directories. The syntax is

mv [-fi] file1 file2
mv [-fi] file... directory
mv -R|-r [-fi] directory1 directory2

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Posted by Ron Seybold at 06:32 PM in Hidden Value | Permalink | Comments (0)

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